THUNDER BAY – An open house was held tonight at Victoriaville Centre to share information with the public on what the future of the facility should be. A large crowd gathered to listen to a presentation from the City of Thunder Bay on the costs of maintaining the facility, as well as some of the history of Victoriaville.
Victoriaville was built in the late 1970s, utilizing funding from the Ontario Downtown Revitalization Program. The intention of the program was to bring shoppers back to the downtown area, Victoriaville has been in operation for almost forty years.
Joel DePeuter, the Manager for Realty Services for the City of Thunder Bay said, “Victoriaville Mall is currently running at a deficit and has been since 1980. We are looking for public input relative to options for its future”.
The City reported to the audience that it is estimated that Victoriaville requires an investment of $8.6 million in order to maintain the facility over the next ten years. Of that total, $4.4 million includes capital repairs, and a $4.2 million operating deficit.
The issue of demolishing the facility was raised. The cost of demolition was estimated at $9 million dollars.
Citizens speaking on the facility had many differing points of view. Many of the business owners simply said, “Knock it down”. Other viewpoints were to repurpose Victoriaville to put in more retail shops and services that would attract potential customers.
Citizens were asked to help answer the following questions:
1. Does Victoriaville Mall improve the downtown? i.e. Is the intended purpose met?
2. Is there sufficient public benefit to continuing to operate Victoriaville relative to its operating deficit? i.e. Is Victoriaville good value for money?
3. Is the cost to demolish Victoriaville and reopen Victoria Avenue justified if recovered by savings over time?
The data collected will help guide Administration to recommend next steps for Victoriaville Mall. A report will be presented to Council in Fall 2016.
The questionnaire will be available until July 15. Hard copies of the questionnaire will be available at the Realty Services Office in the Victoriaville Civic Centre. The meeting to seek public input also has an online survey, available at www.thunderbay.ca/vicville.
The efforts to revitalize downtown Fort William are a work in progress. The City of Thunder Bay has done repairs at Kam River Park that have made the facility far more user-friendly. Those efforts appear to be working. Growing numbers of residents are arriving at the park to enjoy the calm and peaceful vistas on the Kam River.
There are a lot of people who have, over time expressed deep concern over how Victoriaville Mall has cut downtown Fort William in pieces, and that having the facility opened up would improve things.
City Councillors Aldo Ruberto, Shelby Ch’ng, Paul Pugh, and Larry Hebert were in attendance at the meeting at Victoriaville.
The rain storm that happened this evening almost drummed out the sound system with the heavy rain. That had Victoriaville staff busy putting up the caution signs and rain buckets to catch the leaks from the roof that happen whenever there is a rainfall.
Perhaps the rain buckets were a message from Mother Nature that the aging structure needs some form of action.