The Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society still does not have a new lease agreement with the City of Surrey.
Councillor Linda Annis introduced a notice of motion at the city’s regular council meeting May 15 regarding Heritage Rail’s struggles.
“The Fraser Valley Heritage Rail has become an integral part of the City of Surrey’s heritage tour destination,” Annis said. “(They’ve) invested hundreds of thousands of hours in the restoration and operation of the rail at no cost to the city.”
Annis’s motion sought to help the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society (FVHRS) come to an agreement with the city over its lease. FVHRS operates the railway out of the Cloverdale Station and the restoration Car Barn at Hwy 10 and 176A Street, in Surrey.
The society leases a city building and the volunteer-run organization has invested $327,000 into infrastructure improvements to bring the building up to code. They’ve put in a concrete floor and installed heaters to protect historical items from damage caused by temperature swings.
“The Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society has limited financial resources,” Annis added. “I’m therefore putting forward the following notice of motion that the city agree to offset the cost of utilities until the amount invested in the infrastructure improvement to the city building that they are leasing is used up.”
Mayor Brenda Locke said the issue was already being worked on by city staffers.
“I think that one’s already underway, that staff have been working directly with the heritage society,” Locke said.
Annis said she knew staff are working on the issue, but she wanted to preempt their final decisions by asking them to consider offsetting the investment that Heritage Rail made about a year ago into infrastructure improvements in the city building, which would allow FVHRS to defray costs for utilities.
“I’m not really sure that that was really part of the agreement that they have.”
Annis asked that city manager Vince Lalonde update council at their next meeting and that council decide what to do with her notice of motion at that time.