Train disposal shocks ‘Save the Train’ group

‘Save the Train’ co-chair Jim Becksted. (The Leader/Comfort photo)

MORRISBURG – The St. Lawrence Parks Commission’s Monday announcement that it will be getting rid of the historic train display which has sat in Crysler Park for decades was probably most shocking to Jim Becksted.

In the July 22 media release from the SLPC, board of commissioner chair Bob Runciman said: “While the SLPC would like to see the train remain in this location, unfortunately, the costs for restoration are simply beyond what can be reasonably invested in this asset. The SLPC has significant aging infrastructure that urgently needs repair and we must allocate the capital budget towards the highest risk infrastructure needs such as aging septic systems and washrooms.”

The SLPC states that the repair costs would be about $1.1 million.

Becksted, along with Gardner Sage had been meeting and working towards planning a community effort to once again Save the Train, and keep it in its longtime home.

He had met with SLPC staff and thought that they were going to have an opportunity to do something, and then Monday’s announcement came.

“I’m absolutely flabbergasted,” Becksted told The Leader. “They never even gave us a chance. There is so much we could have done.”

Beckstead said that based on his meetings and discussions he absolutely felt that the train was staying put.

Ultimately, decisions about the collection, including the historic train come from the SLPC Board of Commissioners.

The chair and commission members are responsible for providing strategic direction to the SLPC and governing the affairs of the SLPC within its mandate.

Bob Runciman is commission chair and Linda Ann Daly is vice-chair. Commissioners include Margaret Fancy, James Garrah, Linda Shanks, Pierre Santoni, Robert Tchegus, Guy Tondreau, Debora Daigle and Tammy Hart.

These appointments are made through the province’s Public Appointments Secretariat.

The Leader has learned that the commissioners made the decision to divest itself of the train at its December 2018 board meeting and recently reaffirmed it at their July 2018 board meeting.

With that, the SLPC is now proceeding with a request for expressions of interest.

“As part of a collections review, the SLPC is currently offering the following items of railway rolling stock for transfer to museums, institutions or associations/organizations,” reads the listing which is available on the Upper Canada Village website.

Listed are Grand Trunk Locomotive 1008, baggage/refrigeration car and passenger car.

“All items listed above are intact, but require extensive work to bring them to functional or exhibitable condition,” reads the listing.

Items are being offered on the condition that the accepting party arrange and pay for removal.

Presently, the SLPC is saying that preference will be granted to parties interested in acquiring the whole assemblage or whole major components rather than parts.

As part of the expressions of interest, parties are asked to describe their organization and the intended use.

While the initial press release stated that the request for expressions of interest would close at the end of August, the website now shows that the request for expressions of interest will close at 4:30 p.m. October 4, 2019.

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