Councillors in Thunder Bay want city administration to look into future uses for the Royal Edward Arms building.

A resolution presented by Councillor Andrew Foulds at council’s Monday night meeting, specifically asked about the possibility of using the Royal Edward Arms for social housing, supportive housing, or how it could help develop the south core.

Mayor Keith Hobbs supported the idea, and wanted to go one step further.

"I'd just like to see … one more word being added, and that's the word senior.  We're talking about including social housing, supportive housing. I think we should also be looking at senior housing," he said.

"We have a mining readiness strategy. I think we need a social readiness strategy for this city. So, I'd like to see it go a step further."

Councillor Joe Virdiramo originally supported the resolution, rhetorically asking why council would even debate the idea. But then, he changed his mind.

"I gave you some leeway there," he said.

"Tell me … about the … appropriateness of this resolution in relation to the issue of social housing, which is not in the purview of city council."

Administration said it would prepare a report on the building's condition even without the resolution, but this gives city managers some direction on uses for the Royal Edward. City staff will also look into the possibility of selling or re-developing the building.

The building is currently leased to the District Social Services Board, which currently uses it for rent-geared-to-income housing.

Royal Edward Arms was originally the Royal Edward Hotel, which was built in 1929. It has been leased to the DSSAB for about 25 years, but it will be returned to the city in 2015.