Community is the foundation of a healthy, vibrant city and the core is the heart of that community. For the core to be beneficial to the entire Greater Sudbury region, it is imperative that it be accessible for all to reap the benefits of the City's current and future investments. This proposal seeks to link the many downtowns of Greater Sudbury, increase residential initiatives, and consider all capital projects currently in the City's pipeline by establishing a dedicated department committed to ensuring oversight for a cohesive and inclusive deployment of the 2050 vision and beyond.
The EV Loop
Sudbury is a community of communities - an urban destination whose essence of place is multifaceted, and the citizens of Sudbury celebrate the diversity of their various downtown areas. It is an aspect of the city that makes this Northern Ontarian destination one to be explored, cherished, and studied. Major development in the core must also focus on connecting its nodes, making the investment in the downtown beneficial to all residents of the Greater Sudbury area.
A phased electric bus transit route will operate on a dedicated loop, tying a new main terminal downtown with micro terminals throughout the community. These terminals would incorporate park-and-ride and bike share programs, as well as parking for winter vehicles, providing inclusive, accessible and multi-modal opportunities for accessing the core for residents and visitors alike.
The development of the Transit Hubs will be paired with a design competition, allowing young architecture firms and students to participate and contribute to the creation of the loop via a call for built tourist/transit stops Pavilions, keeping all community members and visitors 'in the loop'.
A downtown is only as active and diverse as its residential developments. For each major development zone proposed 'In the Loop', a minimum of 40% of growth must be dedicated to new residential developments, two-thirds of which would be below-market value to ensure diversity and accessibility in the core. Five major housing typologies will be introduced: townhouses (or row housing), greater than five-storey residential, less than five-storey residential, student housing (or co-housing), and the renovation of existing infrastructure.
Developments would be encouraged to create loft spaces, using locally sourced mass-timber, ensuring future flexibility. If residential units needed to expand or shrink, their timber-based structure would be static and easily adaptable to changing market conditions or an evolving neighbourhood. The residential strategy proposed in 'The Loop' would be carried to each of the downtowns in Greater Sudbury and particularly around or near the new transit hubs.
Downtown as a Park
In 1978, Greater Sudbury embarked on one of the most ambitious regreening efforts in the world. Severe changes were made by operating industries to improve the quality of the air, soil and waterways - thereby fostering the regrowth of plant-life and biodiversity across the region. Since that time, the mass addition of crushed limestone and fertilizer have completely reinvigorated Sudbury's soil composition. Sulphur dioxide emissions have reduced by more than 90%, and almost 10 million trees have been planted; dramatically transforming the northern moonscape. Our proposal suggests using that same community vigour to extend the regreening effort throughout the core.
In the 21st century, the term regreening is often applied in a vague context. Our team's regreening strategy on the other hand, involves several initiatives. These include mandating the utilization of northern Ontario materials for construction (exhorting mass timber innovation and use to work toward a net-zero 2050), incorporating storm water management into the core (revealing Junction Creek as both an urban amenity and storm water management), introducing new indigenous planting throughout all developments both at grade and on roofs, and initiating an energy sharing system to make net-zero downtown developments lucrative investments.
To generate funding for these improvements, 'In the Loop' proposes introducing a downtown development fee, requiring that developers be responsible for a percentage of regreening. Based on the development size or a cash-in-lieu payment, the funds generated would be dedicated to regreening and street improvements in proximity to said development within a 3-year time period.
Several large projects are slated for development in downtown Sudbury. 'In the Loop' elaborates on these keystone projects as well as those proposed in the 2012 Downtown Master Plan. Projects such as the under construction Place des arts, the in-progress Junction and the Elgin Street Greenway, and the new Library & Art Gallery are key for this proposal and act as anchors for residential and green space development throughout the core.
'In the Loop' expands on these big ideas and proposes that, with their success and urban stimulation, precious city blocks in the core can be made available with the development of the Kingsway
Entertainment District (KED) which would house a new arena, convention centre, and hotel. This strategy allows for more residential and mixed-use development in the core; a school, daycares, a new YMCA and the Performance Centre to name a few transforming the downtown into the hub for arts, culture, and education. Expanding the University campus and introducing associated student housing in the Core will add to the dynamic culture and support existing local business.
Introducing select health care programs, currently under consideration for expanding Health Sciences North, in the Core distributes theses crucial support systems for the community making them more accessible and in proximity to the aging population.
A New City Department for Development
To oversee the execution of this proposal over the next three decades, we recommend the City of Greater Sudbury establish a new municipal department tasked with ensuring recommendations made both in the downtown core and in the cores of the many surrounding communities come to fruition. Additionally, diversity should be at the forefront of this department's composition, ensuring that all voices from the north's cultural groups are heard, respected, and incorporated in all projects proposed.
To encourage downtown development to date, the City eliminated development charges in the core. Resembling an experiment gone awry, downtown development to date have been predominantly public buildings which are already exempt from said charges. 'In the Loop' proposes the reinstatement of smart development charges that would be put toward physical street improvements, improvements to the overall well-being of the downtown and surrounding nodes, as well as funding the newly formed City department.
This new municipal body would be staffed with professionals such as architects, planners, urban designers, and accessibility experts who would work to liaise between existing departments and take the lead in gaining approvals and the necessary bylaw changes, ensuring the overall vision is consistently met over the next 30 years.
Sudbury is poised to become the electric vehicle power capital of the world. The nickel produced here will be found in EV batteries the world over and the City should be at the forefront of this electric transport revolution. Like the use of locally sourced wood for mass timber construction, 'In the Loop' proposes an extensive electric vehicle network, connecting all communities in Greater Sudbury with green power. To support this innovation, key unbuilt elements like the proposed municipal department and a downtown innovation sector to support wood and electric vehicle innovation will prove critical. Like the McEwen School of Architecture, 'In the Loop' would help to develop locally grown experts with the skills to ensure a sustainable, connected, net-zero Greater Sudbury.
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