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How the heritage railway society went off the tracks

The Spirit of Kamloops will not run this year, though it has nothing to do with an apparent misappropriation of funds.
Image Credit: SOURCE/Kamloops Heritage Railway
March 28, 2013 - 6:43 PM

By Jennifer Stahn

A City of Kamloops audit of the Kamloops Heritage Railway Society was born of financial irregularities but society vice president Bill Abley says no money is missing and contained no allegations of fraud.

When the society announced this week the train was off its tracks for this year, word got out the city requested an audit and the RCMP were brought in to investigate. Abley said the city was within its rights because it owns the locomotive and a review of the books showed money wasn't where it was supposed to be. The money is all there, Abley said, but was used for different purposes.

“Everything is there,” he said.

He was unable to disclose the amount of money in question.

The misappropriation took place sometime between 2010-2011 and was discovered in 2012. The board was in the midst of changing over after it became “dysfunctional” and several directors resigned, he said. A minimum of five directors are needed, according to regulating by-laws. The society was immediately frozen and a new board had to be elected.

Approximately 110 society members from around B.C., with about 90 from Kamloops are now focusing on how to raise money for the necessary repairs to the Spirit of Kamloops. At an estimated cost of $300,000-$500,000, Abley said they have a lot of work to do, especially since there is no back-up locomotive for the tourist season.

“There is a contingency fund,” he says, "but the city holds it in their accounts, and it's nowhere near $300,000.”

The society originally planned for the repairs to take place in 2015 but the process was expedited after a letter was sent to Transport Canada and an inspector from Alabama inspected the “2141.” While the rolling components were all fine, an inspection of the boiler still needs to take place.

According to Abley the engine needs to be stripped down so it “makes more sense to do it all now, to undertake the overhaul right now. It is really saving money in the sense of doing two jobs.”

Abley estimates it will take about a year to raise funds and get the repairs completed, meaning the Spirit of Kamloops, the Ghost Train and the Spirit of Christmas rail tours will not run this year, though tours of the grounds will still be available.

To contact a reporter for this story, email or call (250) 819-3723.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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