Sudbury's Kingsway Entertainment District planning appeals dismissed

The Kingsway Entertainment District (KED) has passed its final legal hurdle.

The controversial arena and event centre planned for Sudbury was supposed to be built this year, but was held up with a number of legal challenges.

On Wednesday, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal dismissed the remaining appeals against the development.

The developer behind the project, Dario Zulich, said he considers the ruling to be an early Christmas gift.

"This has been a long time coming, for sure. I've always been confident ... that it would end up this way," he said.

"I was not quite counting on it happening just before Christmas this year — on this unbelievable year that we'll never forget. I think Christmas has come early for all Sudburians."

In the decision issued Wednesday, the tribunal says the appellants failed to establish inconsistency or non-conformity with planning policy or the city's official plan. An appeal before the Superior Court was also dismissed in September.

Developer Dario Zulich says he's looking forward to moving ahead with the Kingsway Entertainment District project. (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

Zulich said the KED will be "a gift that's going to keep on giving for generations."

"This is going to create jobs and economic prosperity … I'm looking forward to working with everyone and all parties and all stakeholders to make sure that we move forward positively and build our community. I think 2021 could be one of the greatest years Sudbury's ever had."

He noted though, the community has other matters "still at hand that are more important," such as the pandemic.

"The COVID cases are rising. People are getting sick and going to the hospital. We got to deal with this, even though there's a vaccine and that we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we still got be diligent and careful with this disease so that, when the world starts turning again, we will be ready to go. There's no question I'm very happy that the decision has come before Christmas."

Zulich said waiting for the decision has been very difficult.

"There's my blood, sweat, tears, my life on the line. When I heard the news, I needed to pull over and compose myself because I was moved by the thought that it's over with. And we can move forward as opposed to this constant waiting. And I can't tell you how grateful I am right now. It's just a relief that I feel and I'm looking forward to the hard work ahead of us."