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Re-Imagine ‘The Old Barn’

3RDLINE STUDIO has spent COVID downtime to create a new vision for Sudbury’s Community Arena. 

Friday June 26, 2020 

For Immediate Release 

If there has been an upside to the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown, it has allowed us time to reflect, time to think, time to image the future after we’ve emerged from this most challenging present into a new, and likely different, future, according to Tim James, Principal at 3RDLINE STUDIO of his teams’ work in re-imagining community development for the future. His team choose to focus on how the Sudbury Community Arena could be revitalized as both an investment for the future and a salute to the past. 

“With the shutdown of construction in March, we found ourselves with time that we could choose to spend in many different ways – but we collectively thought, what better use of time than to look forward to what a post-COVID community might look like?” said Angele Dmytruk, one of the firm’s partners. “And we wanted to make a local contribution that would be both helpful and immediately actionable,” Dmytruk said. 

COVID-19 has hit the economy hard. Although Sudburians have been fortunate that major employers in mining, manufacturing and other ‘essential services’ have been allowed to continue operating, we have none-the-less been adversely affected by the impact of the pandemic. We have experienced cutbacks, layoffs, travel restrictions and border closures, social isolation and deaths. It has changed us. It has changed our outlook. It has created much uncertainty and anxiety for the future. And it’s not over. 

We can take some comfort in that all levels of government have been attentive and assistive. New programs have been implemented, refined, expanded and reconsidered. There will likely be more to come. But at some point, we must all face the reality that this is not a bottomless account. We need to think of new ways to invest wisely, with the resources we access in the near future. 

And that’s when we all will be called upon to do our part. We’ll need to help ourselves by working together to re-imagine what the future will bring and how we can shape it. This will take a concerted effort in fiscally responsible, imaginative thinking and visionary plans. In short, we need to rethink all of the assumptions we have made in the past to better plan for what is likely to be our new reality. 

“During our COVID downtime, we had the opportunity to communicate with many in our community as we move through this re-imaging of the community area process. As architects, we are trained to listen closely and consider what we’ve heard to create spaces that reflect our client’s needs, their available resources as well as the impacts on the environment. This is most important when we think of social spaces,” James said. “What we heard often is the anxiety around a deep COVID-19 driven recession; the need to develop a significant plan to address new economic realities; and how best to address the variety of community wants and needs. 

“We were both keenly aware, and often reminded, that the city has taken a $200M loan to make community investments and that the reality is this money can’t simply be returned,” James said. 

The architects considered how the Sudbury community can wisely invest our way out of this economic crisis. How best to use our available capital as a lever to obtain additional contributions from other levels of government, stimulate maximum investment from the public and private sectors and to upgrade our city’s amenities. 

“Our spending must be strategic,” James said. “It needs to support many projects throughout our ‘community of communities’. That’s why we are calling it project NOW.” 

Projects NOW is a multi-pronged plan targeting strategic projects throughout the city, using the existing borrowed capital as leverage, to make many important projects happen simultaneously: roads, infrastructure, community facility renewal and new builds. 

“Projects NOW does not pretend to have all the answers,” James said. It doesn’t claim to know all of the strategic projects that will come into play across our community. 

But a re-imagining of the Sudbury Community Arena is a very good place to start. As we reflected during our downtime and dug deeper into the possibilities of this project, we researched the recent history of community investments possibilities and found: 

▪ All the requirements for the new event centre were identified in the PWC report available online – all these requirements are embedded in the plan. 

▪ Renovating and expanding the existing building will be 40% cheaper than building new. The leftover capital can be used for other projects, such as a twin pad arena in Valley East, an aquatic centre in Azilda, a rebuild of Lorne street, or a motorsports park. 

▪ The renovation would support many businesses in the community. It would take about three years and would not interrupt the Sudbury Wolves or Sudbury Five schedules. 

▪ Most importantly, Projects NOW can start Right NOW! 

“No one has asked us to undertake this project, but we drew-up plans, develop models, perspectives and animations that described this new place anyway,” James said. 

“We’ve costed the project based on our professional expertise and experience. We’ve created a presentation that provides the details. We now want to share this idea with the wider community. We think it will start a community-wide conversation. And if our conversations to date are any indication, we think citizens are prepared to look at community development and investment differently.” 

To see the full presentation look for us at 

Projects NOW would love to hear what you think – share on social media. Call your city councillor and express your support. Write to your favourite media outlet. Tell your friends, neighbours and colleagues. 

Greater Sudbury is our city to shape. The COVID pandemic started our thinking but only thoughtful citizens like you can make it a reality.

We’re looking forward to your input. Let’s start the conversation today.


Tim James

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