Casino critic got his fact wrongs, senior city staffer in Sudbury says in affidavit

Proposed casino and arena facing a host of legal challenges

Ian Wood is the City of Greater Sudbury's executive director of strategic initiatives, communications and citizen services. Supplied photo

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Ian Wood is alleging Jeff MacIntyre got his facts wrong when it comes to a controversial casino planned for Greater Sudbury.

Wood, the city’s executive director of strategic initiatives, communications and citizen services, says in an affidavit filed to Superior Court the city made no mistakes in its early handling of the casino question. But he alleges MacIntyre, the former chair of the downtown BIA, erred in understanding on several occasions.

Wood’s affidavit forms part of the city’s response to submissions filed in Superior Court by Tom Fortin.

Fortin is suing the city, alleging bias and fettering. He filed his evidence with the Superior Court last fall. The submission spans more than 1,500 pages.

Fortin is challenging the city’s approval of the casino in court. He and others are challenging the city’s rezoning approval of a casino and a new, $100-million arena/events centre proposed for the so-called Kingsway Entertainment Centre.

In addition to Fortin’s affidavit, it contains affidavits from MacIntyre; Rowan Faludi, a consultant with urbanMetrics Inc. and author of an economic and financial analysis of the Kingsway Entertainment District; Henry Vincenzo Goegan; and Stephanie Fleming.

The evidence includes media stories, social media posts, the urbanMetrics report, private messages between members of council and other stakeholders, rezoning bylaws, meeting agendas and minutes, as well as email exchanges.

Jeff MacIntyre, former chair of the downtown BIA, takes part in a press conference on the release of a report on the economic impact of the Kingsway Entertainment District last year. John Lappa/Sudbury Star file photo

The city filed its rebuttal to Fortin’s submission in December. In addition to Wood’s affidavit, the documents include affidavits from David Shelsted, the director of engineering services; Jason Ferrigan, director of planning services; and Keith Forrester, manager of real estate.

In his submission, Wood argues the city agreed to become a host for the casino in 2012.

“On May 15, 2012 council unanimously passed a resolution stating the city would continue to support gaming as approved by council, and would continue to be a willing host for gaming as it evolves,” he wrote. “The effect of this resolution was not the establishment of a gaming site, but rather a general expression of agreement to host a gaming site.”

MacIntyre, however, alleges in his affidavit the city did not follow proper procedure.

“On May 15, 2012, without prior notice or public consultation, council passed a resolution advising OLG they supported expanded gambling in the city,” MacIntyre wrote. “I was in attendance at this meeting as our BIA budget was up for approval by council.”

Wood points out that in more than seven years, not a single member of council has ever put forward a motion to reverse the city’s official position as a willing host.

He also argues that ancillary benefits have never been part of the deal.

“It should be noted that at no time did council indicate that approval of a casino site would be dependent on the provision of ancillary and complementary amenities, and at no time did city staff represent that this was the case,” Wood wrote. “However, facility investment proponents were going to be strongly encouraged by the city to provide those amenities.

“As we approach the eighth anniversary of the announcement of the OLG modernization plan, I can say that three separate council administrations have been briefed on this file and the consistent direction has been to seek the best outcome for the city, acknowledging the private sector will ultimately determine when and what they are prepared to invest.”

Wood argues the city’s handling was appropriate. He says the city informed residents of its intentions since the agenda was posted online before the meeting.

A view of what the KED might look like. courtesy of the City of Greater Sudbury

“In accordance with the city’s procedure bylaw 2011-235, which was in force at the time, the agenda for the meeting was distributed publicly prior to the meeting, by way of posting to the city’s website on May 11, 2012, the Friday before the day of the meeting, and included a motion in respect of the OLG modernization plan and the city’s intention to be a willing host for gaming.”

The two also disagree about the locations that were made public in 2012. Wood says four areas were identified as potential locations: Four Corners, Kingsway East, downtown Sudbury and Sudbury Downs.

“The reference to Kingsway East includes the lands along The Kingsway from the area of Barrydowne Road to the intersection with Highway 17, which includes the site that was ultimately chosen for the (Kingsway Entertainment District), contrary to the statement made at paragraph 31 of the MacIntyre affidavit,” Wood wrote.

MacIntyre says during an open house the city hosted in 2012, “participants were asked to vote on their preference of the four sites identified. Kingsway East was identified on the location map as the area of the intersection of The Kingsway and Barrydowne Road. The site at issue in this matter, the KED, was not included as one of the four sites. At this meeting, the attending public was not asked the very basic question of whether or not they supported expanded gaming in Sudbury. Further, no economic or social issues were discussed during the presentation.”

Wood also disputes MacIntyre’s claims that Sudbury Downs is located between the former towns of Chelmsford and Azilda in a rural area that cannot be reached by public transport.

“I also wish to correct the statement made by Mr. MacIntyre at paragraph 17 of the MacIntyre affidavit, to the effect that the current location of gaming facilities at Sudbury Downs is located in a rural area and that this location was key to its initial approval. This statement is inaccurate, as that facility is located fairly centrally within the boundaries of the former town of Rayside-Balfour, close to a main regional route,” Wood wrote. “In addition, the location was dictated by the pre-existing location of the Sudbury Downs racetrack, as the development was part of OLG’s Slots at Racetracks program in the late 1990s.”
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