Work to help preserve the historic Duncan train station is being planned.
Sheila Kitson and Tony Irwin, from the Cowichan Historical Society, told Duncan city council at its meeting on Aug. 17 that under the lease for the building from the Island Corridor Foundation, the society is responsible for the maintenance of the building, which was constructed in 1912.
But Irwin said the society is not looking at just fixing what needs to be repaired, but to preserve the facility, located in the heart of downtown Duncan, into the foreseeable future.
He said a grant to paint the outside of the building, which also contains the Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives, and take care of needed outdoor repairs from the Heritage BC Fund has been recently denied, but the society is not discouraged.
Irwin said the society is looking for grants from other sources not only for the outdoor painting and repair project, estimated to cost approximately $25,000, but for all the other repair and improvements projects at the station as well.
“We’ve asked a local heritage expert to help us come with a costed plan for the project, and we intend to send a letter to the city asking for its support for approval of the plan when it’s completed,” he said.
“It might seem odd to be planning to do this work during a pandemic, but there are several levels of government that are looking at economic stimulus plans to help the economy recover, and heritage projects are expected to be in line for a significant part of that funding. When that funding is ready, we want to have a shovel-ready project ready to go at the train station.”
The station was built in 1912 by the Canadian Pacific Railway on the Esquimalt & Nanaimo rail line.
A previous restoration of the station was completed in 1980, and it was designated a Heritage Railway Station of Canada on Jan. 7, 1994.
A plaque on the side of the building states that the station was built in 1887, but the current building replaced the original 1887-built station building.
VIA Rail, the primary passenger train operator in Canada, took over operation of CPR’s passenger service in 1978, but service was suspended on March 19, 2011 due to track maintenance issues.
Negotiations are currently still underway regarding the restoration of train service.