Public meeting gathers input on what public wants, attracts protesters concerned about future of horseracing
The city should know by early next year which developers are interested in building a casino in Greater Sudbury.
Ian Wood, the city’s director of economic development, said the latest indication from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is a request for proposals (RFP) should be issued sometime in January. And the RFPs will include detailed proposals of not only who wants to build in Sudbury, but also what they want to build and where.
“As it stands right now, our expectation is it will be sometime January when we hope to know who the key players are and to begin detailed discussions,” Wood said Oct. 12. “The direction I have is to be as open as possible so that we get the best proposal with the most benefits for the city.”
About 200 people attended an Oct. 10 open house at Tom Davies Square on the casino development. Several of those in attendance were people who depend on Sudbury Downs to make a living and their supporters, Wood said.
The Downs, where the current slots facility is located, depends on money from gambling to support horseracing. In the spring, the province announced it was ending that deal with racetracks, leading to expectation the Downs and facilities like it across Ontario will be forced to close as a result.
Woods said their presence at the public meeting was understandable, if somewhat misdirected, since the province made the decision, not the city.
“But it’s their livelihood and they’re concerned for their futures,” he said. “It wasn’t exactly the venue for it, but when you present an opportunity for public input, you have to expect that people will come out and talk about what’s on their mind. And they certainly did that, which was fine.”
The OLG has fast-tracked the casino process, with a request for pre-qualification expected to be issued before winter. That tender will determine who is qualified and interested in building a casino in Sudbury, and is expected to take 30-45 days. The RFP will follow.
We’re a long a way from knowing who the key players are, and having anyone come to us with a full blown proposal...
director of economic development
Wood said he gave an update on the process at the Oct. 10 meeting, and the public had an opportunity to say what they wanted to see in a casino development.
“All the interest that we’ve had from the 15 or so proponents that we’ve talked to up to this point has generally been in four areas within the city … Sudbury Downs, the South End/Four Corners area, downtown and Kingsway East,” he said.
“What we were asking the public was how they saw a casino development in those areas – what are the advantages, what are the disadvantages to those areas. And also, what they’d like to see included in a casino developments.”
The city is in the process of going through the feedback, Wood said. Anyone who couldn’t make it to the meeting but still wants to have a say can fill out a form online until Oct. 24. It can be accessed at here.
“We’ll be pulling that information together, for our purposes, but also to pass it along to the OLG and to potential proponents.”
While city council hasn’t come out in favour of a specific location, Wood said it has signalled that any development that requires use or sale of city land must include an arts and convention centre.
“If a proponent is, by any chance, thinking they want to access municipal property, or purchase municipal property, to use in their endeavour, they need to come to the table with something that benefits the community,” he said. “We’re already sending those signals, and we’re hearing back from the proponents that they’re listening.”
“But we’re a long a way from knowing who the key players are, and having anyone come to us with a full blown proposal.”