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Summerland Chamber looking to move visitor centre into train car

The business car currently belongs to CP Rail, but they are willing to part with it
Canadian Pacific Engine No. 5468 and Business Car No. 4 in Revelstoke, 1993. The Summerland Chamber of Commerce is looking at the possibility of aquiring a different business car to use as the community’s new visitor centre. (Revelstoke Museum and Archives, P-5831)

The Summerland Chamber of Commerce is looking at moving into a former business railcar for its new location.

The organization has previously talked about moving into a new location closer to downtown Summerland.

The current visitor centre and land was put up for sale in March, but no location has been found yet for where they will go.

READ MORE: Summerland chamber office to relocate downtown

On May 21, Sally Pierce, executive director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce, presented mayor and council with an option that the chamber is now looking into; using a former business car from Canadian Pacific that would be converted into their new visitor centre.

“This is only our suggestion, there are many other options we could research if we feel that’s the right direction,” Pierce said.

The specific business car they are looking at is CP 71, the Killarney, which was built in 1916 and most recently refurbished in 2019. The car has a lounge seating area, four bedrooms that could be converted office space, a counter and a washroom.

Pierce was before council to get approval before submitting the formal proposal that CP Rail requested. CP Rail had expressed interest in donating the piece if it would keep its history being shared.

“They said what they didn’t want to see is it hidden away in a museum, so I explained that it would be the home of the visitor centre and that the history of not only Summerland but of British Columbia and Canada itself would be told and kept alive with the visitors coming,” said Pierce.

Pierce noted that CP Rail took over the Kettle Valley Railway’s operations in the 1930s and thus has a strong connection to the community.

“They were very excited about it being lived in, and they were excited about the theming with Summerland and the history of the Kettle Valley Railway,” said Pierce.

One of the main hurdles with the train car option will be getting it to its final destination, a concern that Coun. Richard Barkwill raised.

Pierce said that she had spoken about the topic with the past president of the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, as they had brought a locomotive up to Summerland in the past from Kamloops.

“A locomotive is going to be heavier than a business car, but the business car is not going to be an easy move either,” said Pierce.

The locomotive move had cost $50,000, and there is no estimate for how much it would cost to move the car. Pierce noted that if the chamber were to purchase a lot or building for the visitor centre there would be costs attached to those options.

The chamber has proposed three locations, all on district-owned land, where the car and the new visitor could be located: the former Summerland Asset Development Initiative’s (SADI) youth centre property on Prairie Valley Road, the parking area by the badminton building, and the space between the badminton building and the museum.

Pierce said the current preferred location is the SADI building for several reasons. The first is that it wouldn’t impact the museum, which she said has plans to do an expansion.

The second is that due to the need for cranes to put the car into place, there is more than enough room on the Sadi property to maneuver it.

Summerland CAO Graham Statt noted that the SADI site was also attractive because the site would otherwise sit unutilized due to the nearby electrical substation.

All of the councillors and the mayor expressed their support for exploring the idea of the train car.

The proposal for the visitor centre relocation will return to council at a later date.

Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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