It’s a steady one step forward, two steps back for the Kamloops Heritage Railway Society.
While undertaking the responsible task of sending an old train to the scrapyard, the volunteer group ended up being criticized by the B.C. chapter of the National Railway Heritage Society.
The locals were intent on removing something that was a potential liability — an unsightly, rusting coach used by the homeless and pigeons that CN Rail wanted off its tracks.
But the salvage job fired up a representative from the provincial society who said his group was under the impression they could have the train car’s wheels. They were even willing to pay for the “rarer than hen’s teeth” collectibles.
Kamloops society director Art Styles said the deal-killer was the B.C. group had refused to take the whole car.
And, as is so often the case, somewhere in the middle, the truth lies.
The groups acknowledge bad blood runs between them over another old deal gone sour, but at a certain point, petty grievances have to be put aside in the name of progress — particularly for a society that relies on public funding and is in desperate need of cash since its raison d’etre has been derailed.
The Spirit of Kamloops 2141 wasn’t able to operate this year when an inspection revealed the steam engine needed a $300,000 overhaul.
The City doesn’t provide its annual $200,000 grant for the tourist train if it’s not operating, and the society doesn’t have the money to fix it, despite a good start this spring with a $15,000 donation from an anonymous donor.
Given the local society needs every penny, how is the board allowing petty grievances to override opportunities for funding? Did the past cloud the potential for a compromise to be found between the two societies?
And this is already a new board of directors steering the Kamloops society, put in place in March after infighting led to the dissolution of the former board in spring 2012.
The 2141 is a tourist draw for the city, volunteers put thousands of hours over nine years to restore it, the City is funding an inspection to the tune of $54,000 — the society needs to get back on track and not let past issues derail its future potential.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.