The manager at Victoriaville Centre in Thunder Bay's south core says he's still working to bring business to the mall, as city councillors are scheduled to take a step towards deciding its future.

A report set to go to council on March 20 recommends the city proceed with an environmental assessment on the potential demolition of Victoriaville and the reopening of Victoria Avenue to vehicle traffic.

"There is a definite possibility to revamp the mall, to bring more people in and to give it a fresh start," said mall manager Brian Phillips.

"If we can show the city there is a continued effort ... it might be able to start turning a profit here or enhancing the downtown core."

City staff held an open house in 2016 to solicit feedback about what residents think about the mall's future. At that time, administration said it will cost Thunder Bay $8.6 million over the next decade to keep the mall open — that includes absorbing its annual deficits and doing needed repairs.

According to the city, the mall loses about $500,000 per year.

Brian Phillips propery manager Victoriaville centre and organizer of Fill the Pit G Ellis photo.jpeg

Brian Phillips is the manager of Victoriaville Centre in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Gord Ellis CBC)

New businesses have moved into the mall recently, Phillips said, including a clothing store, a spa and another eatery in the food court. He said he continues to field inquiries from merchants about potentially moving into Victoriaville.

"It's a continued effort every day, every week to get new tenants in here, but people aren't shying away," he said.

"I have lots of interest in the mall."

The recommendations to council also include a provision that the city continues to lease space in Victoriaville "on terms satisfactory to both the city and the tenant."

Phillips said there has also been a renewed focus on using Victoriaville as a space for public events — one of the original purposes for the space when it was built in 1979.

"A couple of times a month we have community events for the kids, for seniors, for everybody," he said.

"It's to put Victoriaville back on the map, to give it some [positivity] in the downtown core and help revitalize the core."