Kingsway Entertainment District back in front of city council Wednesday

The controversial Kingsway Entertainment District is back on the agenda at a special city council meeting Wednesday night.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, city council commissioned a new study to determine whether the Kingsway is still the best location for a new arena.

City council already voted in favour of the location back in 2017, with Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger making the tie-breaking vote.

In light of the special council meeting, KED developer Dario Zulich wrote a letter to Bigger asking for his support on the project once again.

"I believe that you and I have always been on the same page, that doing nothing is not an option, especially as we look to boost our local economy emerging from COVID," Zulich wrote.

"You have always had what is in the best interest of Greater Sudbury at heart, and we count on your leadership in your doing what’s right for our city and future."

Zulich said the event centre will include a hotel and casino, and said the project won’t proceed until partners in the KED have been properly vetted.

For the first time, Zulich put a timeline on getting shovels in the ground, outlining a six-month timeline to ensure all criteria are met, otherwise he would consider the project cancelled.

"We are completely aligned… there will NEVER be an event center built at the KED without a casino and hotel," the letter said.

Meanwhile, Downtown Sudbury released a statement ahead of council on Wednesday rejecting the findings in the newest report, prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"It appears as if this is a report looking for content to support a predetermined conclusion," said the statement from Rob Jones, co-chair of Downtown Sudbury

"We were told this would be a fact-based report, and yet it is made up almost entirely of opinions and conversations with predictions of success on the Kingsway framed as facts, and downtown information ignored or dismissed."

The statement said that downtown parking issues were ignored as well as the Project NOW proposal that called for renovating the existing arena.

"The post-COVID reality of decreased demand for commercial space and retail square footage, due to increased e-commerce and work-from-home trends," was also ignored, the statement said.

The report will be presented at 6 p.m. during a special city council meeting. While no vote is scheduled, it is expected opponents of the project on city council will introduce a motion to stop the project.