May 08, 2014 - 10:57 AM
KAMLOOPS - Without much hesitation council approved more than $200,000 be signed over to the Kamloops Heritage Railway Society to repair the historic 2141 steam engine.
It has been over a year since the steam engine was shut down by Transport Canada and the group ordered to fix the boiler before the beloved old train could tour the city again. A few months later council approved a request, 8-1, for $54,000 in funds earmarked for their operations to be released so they could move on to phase two of the project, detailed inspections of the boiler.
“The City of Kamloops has contributed a tremendous amount of money for the ongoing maintenance of the train,” former councillor Nancy Bepple said at the July meeting. “$200,000 is coming from tax payers, they’re far from breaking even.”
Several other councillors expressed concern over the unknown future of the steam engine, how much the repairs would actually cost and the loss of revenue from trips not being made for at least a full season. Actual costs were presented to council this week and the society asked for more than $200,000 to complete those repairs.
“We have over 10,000 hours on the project so far,” Project Manager Doug Baleshta said. “We’re over the original budget of $54,000… but we covered that with donations.”
The society sold a coach, which has helped to cover much of the operating costs. Students from Thompson Rivers University contributed more than 140 hours of time to produce CAD drawings of the engine needed to move forward. They also applied for a $50,000 grant under the CN Railway Community Fund.
This commitment, along with the reassurance the money would not impact taxes, was enough for council to approve the requested $199,000 for phase three of the plan, the actual repairs, and another $27,650 for 2014 operating costs.
“It’s coming out of funds we already taxed for,” Mayor Peter Milobar assured council. “It’s already accounted for.”
The city still had the $131,000 reserved from last year’s budget and another $200,000 earmarked in this year’s budget for the society. It is unknown at this time if further inspections, customer work or additional testing and repairs will need to be done. The society allowed a $20,000 contingency in the repairs budget for these items but told council it may need an additional $30,000 in a worst case scenario.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014