THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – Want to start an argument? Take a stand on Victoriaville Mall in downtown Fort William. Heck, just call the area ‘Fort William’ instead of the ‘Southcore’ and you might start a battle of words. Victoriaville has become a bone of contention for a number of local property owners.
The group has taken to Facebook, creating “Tear Down This Mall“.
It has been a debate years in the making. Victoriaville was created in an era when closing off streets was in vogue. Today many people in Thunder Bay see the ageing structure as well past its prime.
At a meeting years back hosted in the mall to discuss what should be done, a sudden rainstorm led to mall staff rushing to put out the rain buckets. As that happened mall proponents were telling media “not to shoot pictures” of the rain buckets.
Victoriaville is a facility where they seem totally aware of where to place the rain buckets to catch the drips leaking from the roof. They don’t seem however able to figure out how to fix the leaks.
What is the Solution?
In 2016, the City of Thunder Bay hosted a meeting in the mall to look for solutions. The presentation said that the facility costs $9 million to operate annually, and would cost about $9 million to demolish.
In 2016, at that meeting participants were told, “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”.
There is a growing sense of optimism developing in the downtown Fort William neighbourhood. That optimism is something that the City of Thunder Bay, the Victoriaville Business Improvement Area, and property and business owners need to come together to foster and encourage.
The entire area is in effect the proverbial diamond in the rough. Right now rents and prices are fairly low. Several building owners report that they have invested in upgrades to their buildings.
Will tearing down the mall make a difference?
What do you think?