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Wednesday, 21 November 2012 15:28

City to fund feasibility study on acquiring historic CPR station

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The CPR depot and dining hall in Swift Current around 1918. Photos from Swift Current Museum The CPR depot and dining hall in Swift Current around 1918. Photos from Swift Current Museum

The three historic Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) buildings located at the bottom end of Central Avenue in Swift Current is a constant reminder of the city’s railway past and a new feasibility study will look at ways to preserve that heritage.


The City of Swift Current is providing funding for a study by an architectural company that will investigate the options with regard to the City’s acquisition and preservation of the properties.
Councillors pre-approved an amount of $87,745 from the City’s 2013 municipal budget for this study at their regular council meeting Nov. 13.
The City has been discussing the potential acquisition of the three heritage buildings with CPR and the Historic Sites and Monuments Boards of Canada. The aim of the feasibility study is to consider the acquisition, restoration, protection and future use of the buildings.
“What we need to do is to show through a feasibility study the condition of the buildings and to enter into discussions about how we can best preserve them and restore them and protect them,” Swift Current Museum Curator Lloyd Begley said. “Certainly, one enormous aspect is its heritage value and to tell the story of the city of Swift Current and it’s foundation.”
The Swift Current station dates from 1907 and includes a garden space that was just on the eastern edge of the CPR yard, but it is now paved over.
“We’re looking at how can we use this space and bring it back and restore this garden space to its original Edwardian complexity,” he said.
If acquired by the City, the properties will be dedicated as a municipal heritage site and it will become a key part of the City’s downtown revitalization plan. It may also become a feature of the City’s 2014 centennial program.
“The redevelopment of our downtown core continues to be a priority for City Council,” Mayor Jerrod Schafer said. “Certainly, it’s in our strategic plan and we’re not a downtown that has a waterfront like many other urban centres do. A huge part of our history is the rail and I think it forms a great base of our downtown core.”
While is is somewhat unusual to pre-approve funds from an upcoming year's budget, Begley explained it is necessary to accommodate the start of the feasibility study before the end of this year.
The funding will be used from next year’s budget because the study will only be completed around April 2013.
The feasibility study will be conducted by Saunders, Evans, Plosker and Wotherspoon (SEPW) Architects of Regina and their associate firm Goldsmith Borgal and Company Architects (GBCA). Both companies have been involved with high profile heritage restoration projects, including the Queen Elizabeth II Wing at Government House in Regina, the RCMP Drill Hall at Depot Division in Regina and various heritage railway stations and gardenscapes around Canada.
The study will include a series of public consultations to determine public support for the initiative and to obtain ideas from residents and businesses about the future use of these buildings.
One of the buildings is currently used by CPR for office space and the other two are vacant.
Begley said there are a number of successful examples of historic railway buildings being preserved next to an active rail yard.
“Public safety is the most important aspect of it and so we’ll look at all those avenues going forward,” he mentioned.

Read 1262 times Last modified on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 16:09