July 18, 2013 - 12:43 PM
KAMLOOPS – The city is willing to provide about 25 per cent of the normal operations funding the Kamloops Heritage Railway receives from the city to take care of phase two of the renovations — taking apart the boiler to assess exactly what needs to be done to bring the ailing 2141 steam engine back to life.
Though council expressed some concern over whether the costs to fix the Spirit of Kamloops would skyrocket after the assessment and that taxpayers continue to fund the railway, eight of the nine council members ultimately agreed to forward the requested $54,000 needed to take boiler measurements, a step required to find out what the actual costs will be.
“No transportation seems to be free from taxpayer funding.... If it's to do with transportation, it's going to cost us some money.” Mayor Peter Milobar said in support of the request, “I'm comfortable at the ($54,000), I'm not saying it's a blank cheque in terms of what the results are, but I would be willing to at least find out what the true costs are.”
Repairs on the steam engine, required by Transport Canada after an inspection in March turned up possible issues within the boiler, are ready for phase two. This phase will see boiler measurement and a final cost breakdown take place by September under the funding from the city.
The final phase will focus on retubing the boiler and other maintenance and the group plans on having the engine back in operation next summer if sufficient funding comes through. The final stage will also come back to council for a decision on whether repairs can be completed.
The group has raised $23,000 to date, thanks to a major donation from Molycop, and has also sold the coach car to help pay existing expenses. Without the main source of income — rides on the historic steam engine — things are tight financially, another concern for some councillors.
Council was told the railway rarely clears a profit and in fact has only been able to make one payment, several years ago, on a loan with the city. Coun. Nancy Bepple, the only councillor to vote against the motion to provide $54,000 for the inspection, refuted the fact the railway has been breaking even.
“The City of Kamloops has contributed a tremendous amount of money for the ongoing maintenance of the train,” she said, “$200,000 is coming from taxpayers, they're far from breaking even.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013