After being painted white by the District of Sicamous, a community-driven effort is underway to restore the yellow facade, logo and other markings of a CP Rail caboose donated by CP to the district in 2004. (Andrea Horton-Salmon Arm Observer)

After being painted white by the District of Sicamous, a community-driven effort is underway to restore the yellow facade, logo and other markings of a CP Rail caboose donated by CP to the district in 2004. (Andrea Horton-Salmon Arm Observer)

Sicamous council onboard with plans to restore caboose after district effort derailed

Community group hopes to restore rail car donated to district in 2004

Though initial plans to rejuvenate the Sicamous caboose have been derailed, district council is onboard with a community effort to restore the donated rail car.

Public discussion around the caboose, donated to the district by CP Rail in 2004, was recently sparked when the district painted it white. Some residents were upset the piece of local history had been repainted to make way for district branding, instead of its original colours being restored.

After a week or so of making the rounds on social media, the caboose controversy rolled onto the agenda for the June 8 Sicamous council meeting.

Town manager Evan Parliament explained the work was prompted by Sicamous’ involvement in Communities in Bloom, and the district’s desire to win the coveted five blooms – representing the most points a community can receive through the program. Parliament said an attempt was made to “try to restore some of the glamour and the sizzle of the caboose, and the intent was to rebrand it.”

However, he said the district has since changed tracks and “will assist as much as we can” a community-driven effort to restore the caboose.

Coun. Colleen Anderson questioned how the caboose came to be painted white, “because now it’s costing money.”

“I take full ownership of this,” commented district operations manager Darrell Symbaluk, explaining he’d been talking about the caboose with Sicamous Communities in Bloom chair Deb Heap for the past few years.

“I know she’s mentioned it in her updates but I don’t think we got this out in front of everybody,” said Symbaluk. “That’s on me. I kind of looked at this as being a transformation and a nice surprise, and one day people are going to drive by it and just go, ‘Wow.’ The problem with this project was the execution of the plan.”

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Heap said she’d communicated plans for the caboose with council earlier in the year. She said she’d spoken with CP Rail about restoring the caboose and was told it would cost $40,000. From there, Heap came up with a Plan B and said she brought it forward to council. She said she’d spoken with the local historical society about doing the restoration work and was told they needed grant funding and that could take a few years. Heap said she’d support that, but wanted something in the interim that “isn’t embarrassing.”

“My apologies – but honestly, I did bring it forward to all of you guys and I was pretty clear, and I worked with Darrell,” said Heap, adding she supports efforts now being made by Tia Ciseralla-Lemieux and other community members who, as part of a society, are working to restore the caboose. Heap said she’s also asked Ciseralla-Lemieux to be a local delegate for when the Communities in Bloom judges come to town.

While relaying his involvement in the matter, Mayor Terry Rysz noted he had staff check to see if there was any paperwork regarding the donated rail car. He said there was no contract with CP stipulating the district keep the rail car painted in CP colours.

Rysz said the committee is looking to do the restoration work for about $5,000.

“I applaud Tia for stepping forward and now I think we need to support this new society as much as we can throughout their efforts to restore it,” commented Coun. Malcolm Makayev.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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