Yeah, lots has changed since then. Keskus Mall is gone, there is a casino in its place, that area is now the entertainment district with 10 bars (decent ones, not dive bars), and condos (a few existing, while those under construction will increase the residential population of the area considerably).
Across from Intercity (which doubled in size in 1996), what used to be bush, is now a nearly fully developed power centre right to the CP rail yard. Walmart, located at Fort William and Central, is also completely developed. Hotels are going up along the Harbour Expressway at Carrick (which is being prepped to become a new north-south arterial).
County Fair Mall has died, there are only two businesses located in it right now. It's been bought by a multinational company and is going to be redeveloped, though. I don't know if you were around then, but in 1994 the old truck repair shop at Strand and Dawson was replaced by a Safeway. The K-Mart in Thunder Bay Mall became a Zellers, and then the mall was rebranded as Arthur Street Marketplace. That Zellers, as well as the one at County Fair, are now Walmarts.
A&P took over most of Grandview mall in the early 2000s. There are only 7 stores in that mall!
Several new buildings have been built at LU, mainly on the northeast corner of it. River Terrace, east of Junot/Golf Links and south of the river, is entirely built out. The new hospital is at the northeast corner of Oliver and Golf Links, and that intersection is surrounded by businesses now. A nearby Days Inn has expanded three times since it was built in 2007. Two clinics, one three storeys and one six storeys, are being built at that intersection right now.
Hogarth Riverview Manor is entirely gone. In it's place, a bunch of plain, modernist apartment blocks. McKellar Hospital has been replaced by a Shoppers Drug Mart. Only the newer white part of the hospital remains, it's been converted to a seniors retirement home. We have a lot of seniors retirement homes, btw.
The courthouse pictured above has taken up the area between Victoriaville and Miles/Archibald and Brodie. Buses now park around City Hall for transfers. The alleyway just north of Victoriaville is now a wide, one-way street called Justice Avenue.
The Northern Woods Site (home of The Blob, which has been gone since 2005) is now almost entirely cleared out, and a couple redevelopment proposals are in the works for it, but moving slowly.
Simpson Street/East Victoria and Pearl Street, while still shitty, are no longer the armpits of town. That title now belongs to South Court, North Cumberland, and North May. A lot of buildings on Simpson Street are gone now, including the West Hotel, Dease/Simpson/Manitoba Hotel, a few apartment blocks, the ANAC building, the Triple Nickle (and the buildings on North Street), the St. Louis is gone, the Victoria Avenue Bank of Commerce burned down in 2007. Saskatchewan Pool 8, south of downtown, mostly burned down in 2002. Two teenagers were held criminally responsible. The Kam River is no longer dredged, but the only shipping customer is a small grain elevator in Westfort anyway. Swing Bridge is still around, rickety as ever. We're seriously talking about replacing it.
Port Arthur General Hospital is almost entirely gone. The only piece remaining, the regional cancer centre (now a biotech company), was probably built after you left: 1997. The OPP station is also gone, it was replaced by a shiny silver building a couple years ago. The LPH is going to close (a new building gone in beside St. Joseph's, where the yellow brick building used to be beside the courthouse), and Dawson Court is going to close soon.
The Jackknife Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 2004, and its road deck was dismantled in 2005, after Island Drive was built. To get to the islands, you have to go down Main Street or Pacific Avenue and then head south.
The airport has a longer runway (and its terminal was built in 1994; not sure if you can recall that), and a lot of businesses are now located around it. Parkdale has finally started developing at a decent pace.
Jumbo Gardens has doubled in size, the area north of John Street Road and west of Valley Street is very built up.
Innova Park is still mostly empty. We're still debating what to do to replace the Fort William Gardens.
Only Mount Baldy and Loch Lomond ski hills are still operating. The reserve has a big business park on it now, the largest office building is 3 storeys tall and full of INAC.
Crime has become a very big issue in the past 5 years. In 2012, we tied our record high murder rate of 7 in one year.
David Hamilton was probably mayor when you left (if you remember?). After Boshcoff defeated him, he went into the US to work as a county administrator in Minnesota and later Florida. He refers to his time as mayor here as "the bad times". His political career ended in 2011, when Hermanson County, Florida fired him for being too corrupt. Our current mayor is an ex-cop, he's a pretty cool guy but not the most effective leader, so since the late Boshcoff years, we've basically stayed the course with a moderately progressive city council.
The second Boshcoff term, from 2000 to 2003, was absolutely insane. City council basically accomplished nothing because they were all suing each other, and in the meantime, the forestry industry was facing total collapse. 2002 was probably the city's lowpoint.
In 1997, the Loch Lomond water supply was contaminated with Giardia (beaver fever), so all of Fort William was under a boil water advisory for some time. Shortly after, the city started expanding the Bare Point water plant (which is now absolutely huge). In 2007, the Loch Lomond supply was turned off, and now the entire city, from Shuniah to South Neebing, has its water from Lake Superior. The change was almost perfect: the only problem was a watermain on the reserve exploding from the pressure.
That's about all I can think of off the top of my head.