“That should be more than enough to replace what we’ve already got,” said Dan Melanson, president of the Greater Sudbury Taxpayer’s Association. “If there’s some grandiose to take Market Square to the next level at its new location, it better be self-financing.”
The city sold the existing building on Elgin Street to Laurentian University for the new school of architecture. On Monday, Mayor Marianne Matichuk announced an agreement with CP Rail to buy its former station further up on Elgin. The sale price hasn’t been released yet, but under a plan released by the city’s Market Square Renewal Advisory Panel, renovating the Market would take place in two phases.
The first would cost $3.36 million and would see about 82,000 square feet of the 188,000-square-foot CP Rail site developed with the new market. The interior of the station would accommodate 16 vendors, as well as a small kitchen to provide basic support for catered events. VIA would remain on-site in a new office space. Outside, 30 outdoor tent-covered units would be put in place, and there is room for 169 parking spaces.
Phase two would cost about $2.4 million and would see more room built onto the east and west sides of the station for a combined total of an additional 3,320 square feet. The addition would be able to accommodate an additional 14 indoor vendors, bringing the total of 30 indoor stalls.
The kitchen would be enlarged into a community kitchen and a permanent outdoor canopy structure will replace the temporary tent units. There is a plan in place to submit funding applications to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to leverage the city's investment and realize both phases of the project.
Melanson said he has no problem with phase 2, as long as no tax money is used to finance it.
“The city has already committed the funds that they’re getting from the old Market Square,” he said. “The city should not spend one more thin dime beyond what they’re already put in -- that $3 million – to move it any farther along.”
Members of the GSTA were at Northern Life on Oct. 2 for an editorial board interview. Vice-president Paul Demers said Market Square should follow the model used by the Greater Sudbury Airport. Like Market Square, the airport used to cost the city money. But under a new, independent board structure, the airport is now profitable and rapidly expanding, becoming a big success story for Greater Sudbury.
“Somehow I think they have the opportunity now to look at the entire picture and rejig whole thing, rather than just change buildings,” Demers said. “But you can’t sell something for a dollar and then go spend $2 on something. It’s not fair to taxpayers.”
Market Square is not a “core service” that municipalities provide, and therefore when tax dollars are tight, no new money should be spent renovating it, he added.
“Instead of going to the taxpayers for more money, concentrate on the core services you should be supplying to your citizens,” Demers said. “It’s not a core service. It’s not something the city is mandated to provide.”
“Our tax dollars could be better spent on infrastructure than on building a larger, better Market Square,” added Melanson. “(Money for Phase 2) should come from the revenues that are generated by the businesses that are going to be in the thing.”
Like other people involved in the aviation industry, Melanson said he’s been impressed by what has happened at the airport.
“Sudbury Airport … I can tell you, it was a nightmare to do anything at that airport before the city brought in a separate board to run things,” he said. “Now it’s a growing concern. They’re open for business … And it’s all private sector. That’s the same business model the city should be using for Market Square.
“Maybe they’ll get the same result. And if you do, that’s what’ll pay for your second phase and it won’t come out of taxpayers’ pockets.”
Key is getting government out of the business of trying to run a business, he added.
“Anytime you have any level of government running some kind of a business, it’s not going to be as efficiently run or as prosperous as it would be in private hands,” he said.