URBAN MATTERS: Sudbury’s $200M Urban Redevelopment Plan, Sault’s?

Sudbury is undertaking a $200M urban redevelopment plan to transform their South Downtown District into an entertainment zone. 

Sudbury acknowledges their South Downtown District requires an aggressive urban blight removal and urban redevelopment strategy.

Of the $200M, approximately $12M will go towards the purchase, expropriation, demolition, and removal of nineteen (19) buildings in their South Downtown District.

Sudbury Council and their City Administration will on some properties use the Expropriations Act to carry out this urban redevelopment strategy. 

Why did Sudbury Council decide to use the Expropriations Act to obtain these properties for this historic investment?

“It is Sudbury Council’s initiative to make their downtown renewal happen.”

“Send a strong message to the community and the private sector that Sudbury Council intends to lead, with a focus on Sudbury’s future.”

“Thoughtful investment in community infrastructure, especially in Sudbury’s South Downtown District will demonstrate an important first impression and welcoming image for those entering Greater Sudbury.”

Sudbury City Website.

In Sault Ste. Marie, too many areas of our downtown have been allowed to fester in a culture of blight for decades.  Our City Council and City Administration, especially the City Planning Department must start employing new strategies for urban blight removal and urban redevelopment.

For too long, outdated urban redevelopment strategies have been used with the “hope” that urban renewal and private sector investment will follow; these strategies have not worked.

Fixing the sidewalk did nothing for the Gore Street redevelopment that was supposed to follow.  The problem with the plan was the failure to acknowledge and understand that the vast majority of the buildings on Gore Street are Dead Asset Buildings.  These buildings are at the end of their life cycle and need to be torn down.  It would be also important to note that these Dead Asset Building owners are not willing to invest in these Dead Assets any longer and should be expropriated.

The recently completed Downtown Plaza will also fail at its number one goal: bringing private sector investment for the creation of mixed-use housing to the Sault’s downtown core. 

The reason it will fail is simply because this is an outdated urban redevelopment strategy that does not address the number one thing that needs to be done first: get rid of the Dead Asset Buildings and the people that own them!

 So the question remains; what will work as a modern urban redevelopment strategy? 

For the past fifteen years, since the great housing crises, Michigan Cities have been provided funds from their Federal and State Government in a program called “TARP”, Temporary Asset Relief Program.  After the great housing crises of 2008; both the United States Federal Government and the Michigan State Government understood that Michigan Cities needed help in removing the over-supply of Dead Asset Buildings and blighted houses in their cities. 

Cities, like Midland, MI have taken full advantage of the millions of dollars for Urban Blight Removal.

I am particularly aware of the transformation of Midland, MI as I have visited the city often over the past fifteen years.  Midland, MI has transformed itself from an old rust belt city to a Tech. City and it looks like a Tech. City.  Gone are the blighted Dead Asset Buildings; gone are the boarded, blighted downtown housing replaced with purpose-built mixed-use downtown housing developments.

Sudbury understands that to transform their city from the old rust belt downtown to a modern city, they have to spend the money to remove the old end-of-life-cycle Dead Asset Buildings. 

Our Canadian Federal Government has also finally understood that cities, like Sault Ste. Marie, require help in removing these Dead Asset Buildings.  This admission comes under a new program called the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF); however, to get these funds the City of Sault Ste. Marie, must have a solid urban redevelopment plan and compete against other Canadian cities for the funds.

There has to be a change in mindset for our City Administration.  Our City Administration must take the leadership role in infrastructure development.  No more abdicating the duties and responsibilities of city planning, urban blight removal, and infrastructure development to the private-sector.  Too many times our city has allowed private-sector developers to take over large valuable parcels with blighted, Dead Asset Buildings resulting in disastrous consequences.  For too long we have allowed a culture of blight to persist in our downtown core and centre, centre/west housing that will require direct intervention by our City Administration; just like Sudbury.

The status quo is no longer good enough!  We need a comprehensive urban blight removal plan to eradicate the old blighted Dead Asset Buildings, free up the existing infrastructure, and build much-needed affordable housing.


Thank you City of Sudbury website.

One thought on “URBAN MATTERS: Sudbury’s $200M Urban Redevelopment Plan, Sault’s?

  1. The “In Michigan” comparisons were getting old 20 years ago. Quit beating this dead downtown horse and spending tens of millions that are beyond desperately needed elsewhere with the multiple increasing urgent problems in the city, and this is not even taking into account that the majority of the roads are completely shot, even the one leading past city hall, where there seems to be an abundance of dunderheads that don’t seem to know the definition of insanity.

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