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Paul Lefebvre addresses Sudbury sports infrastructure

Blessed with children who have all been quite actively involved in sport, two at levels that sees them competing right across the country, City of Greater Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre knows full well just how much money can be spent by families who have to attend events out of town.

It is precisely why he welcomes the efforts of local groups to turn those tables around.

Addressing an enthusiastic crowd at the second annual Great North Winter Classic at the Lancer Dome two weekends ago, Lefebvre took time afterwards to discuss the importance of Sport Tourism and the local venues required to achieve same.

"I think I am a little surprised with how quick this has grown," he stated, making note of entries from Darlington and Gloucester in addition to the northern and central Ontario contingent that returned for a second year.

"It just goes to show that if you build it and if you have the right people organizing it, the right energy - well, this shows what can be done."

In fairness, the Lancer Dome was fully funded by the Rainbow District School Board - while the City tries to deal with a sporting infrastructure that parallels the aging infrastructure seen in so many other aspects around the region, balanced against the reality that there is not a bottomless pot of money available to address every single wish list around.

Still, when asked if it is reasonable to expect to see some rejuvenation of local facilities, Lefebvre sounded an optimistic tone.

"Guaranteed," he stated emphatically. "The needs were already there ten years ago. There are challenges and these are tough decisions - but we need to make those tough decisions to show that we believe in our municipality."

"If we want to grow it, these types of facilities are key."

Perhaps even more pertinent were the words he used to give hope to some transparency as to what the road that lies ahead looks like for sporting venues in Sudbury.

"I think we need to have a plan - not a one year plan, but a ten to 15 year plan," said Lefebvre. "We have aging (sports) infrastructure and a lot of it has to be replaced or renovated to a much higher standard."

"But we have to be honest with the taxpayers in Sudbury that we need to do this, but also need to be responsible in how we approach it. What is the business plan? How are we going to pay for this?"

"Right now, there is not a lot out there for federal funding or provincial funding for sports facilities," Lefebvre continued. "However, we have a responsibility if we want to grow our city, attract people here and keep people here."

"To me, these are facilities that attract people and retain people here as we're trying to grow our tax base."

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