Council has endorsed a staff recommendation to seek federal and provincial funding for the Valley East twin pad and library/art gallery projects.
Council debated the twin pad at Tuesday’s meeting before ultimately voting 8-4 in favour of the project. Most councillors were friendly towards the twin pad, but a few, including Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo, said they are concerned about the loss of existing arenas, which have become important community hubs.
At the very least, council needs more information, Jakubo said.
“There’s no question it is going to benefit the people of the Valley,” he said. “But if council moves to build this facility, council is going to be looking for other facilities to shut down. What could be a great benefit to the Valley will be a huge detriment for a place like Capreol, which currently has the benefit of two ice pads.”
Jakubo said those two ice pads have double the economic impact a single pad would have and they have created jobs in Capreol. He told his colleagues he would not support the resolution to push the project along (council first voted on whether to pursue a business case for 2020; then they voted on whether to submit a funding request.)
“I think we need to look at the economic impacts this decision would have – not just the benefits the Valley would see, but how hard it would hit Capreol,” Jakubo said.
Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini said councillors still need information on several aspects of the twin pad, including its environmental impact; storm water management; the impact to traffic and the existing trail system; as well as heating and cooling strategies.
“We should get more information before we make a decision on something of this magnitude,” Vagnini said.
The twin pad is proposed to be adjacent to the Howard Armstrong Recreation Centre along Elmview Drive. It will cost nearly $30 million and will include a number of amenities, including two NHL-size rinks, each with 400 seats; eight change rooms and referee change rooms per ice surface; a gym that includes space for indoor soccer training, pickleball, roller hockey and classes; a heated viewing area; concessions; and a possible restaurant. There will also be upgrades to the existing trail network and the addition of an outdoor skating loop. There will be parking for 400 vehicles.
The estimated cost is $22.7 million for construction costs and $28.4 million for total project costs, a staff report said.
Unsurprisingly, Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan is an ardent supporter of the twin pad project. He said the idea for a twin pad predates amalgamation and goes back to the days when Valley East was a contained community. There are 25,000 people presently living in the Valley and the site where the Howard Armstrong Recreation Centre sits was always envisioned as the town centre, Kirwan noted.
“The support for putting the pads together and making it more environmentally friendly, and actually using the space to meet a lot of our population health concerns, and providing a real hub in the centre of Valley East and Capreol together just makes sense,” he said.
Kirwan said he is confident staff has a plan to repurpose the arenas that will no longer be necessary once the twin pad is operational. By building now, he added, the city can avoid paying escalating construction costs.
“The Valley needs this; Capreol needs this,” Kirwan said. “We do view the Valley and Capreol as being neighbours. I don’t think this is going to be detrimental to anybody.”
Ward 6 Coun. Rene Lapierre said he has met with users of the proposed arena, as well as soccer groups in the Valley and they are all “ecstatic” about the project. Current facilities are insufficient for the number of users, as well as inefficient, Lapierre said. He commented that boys and girls are forced to share change rooms – either curtains separate the space into two or the boys wait for the girls to change before they take over the space.
During a later discussion on submitting the twin pad and library/art gallery projects to senior levels of government for funding under the Investing in Canada infrastructure program, Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland introduced an amendment to include the therapeutic leisure pool in Azilda in that request.
Council voted unanimously to endorse McCausland’s amendment, but not without some concern. Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer and Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh both said they would support the amendment as long as it means a pool will close once the therapeutic pool is operational, since that would mean Sudbury would have 1.5 surplus pools (currently the city has 0.5 surplus facilities).
The new Art Gallery of Sudbury and library co-location will cost about $42 million. The 92,700-square-foot building will include 27,000 square feet set aside for the gallery. The pool would cost $4.7 million.
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How they voted on the twin pad:
- Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti: yes
- Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini: no
- Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier: no
- Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland: yes
- Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan: yes
- Ward 6 Coun. Rene Lapierre: yes
- Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo: no
- Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer: yes
- Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh: yes
- Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier: yes
- Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc: no
- Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann: absent
- Mayor Brian Bigger: yes