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Station renovation builds steam in Nanaimo

Nanaimo’s historic E&N Railway station is rising out of the ashes of a fire that charred its original timbers, foreground, and severely damaged the structure in 2007. The station will be home to an Irish style restaurant and a VIA Rail passenger terminal by Christmas. - Chris Bush/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo’s historic E&N Railway station is rising out of the ashes of a fire that charred its original timbers, foreground, and severely damaged the structure in 2007. The station will be home to an Irish style restaurant and a VIA Rail passenger terminal by Christmas.
— image credit: Chris Bush/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo's historic E&N Railway station should have tenants all aboard by Christmas.

The first phase of the project to restore and renovate the building, which was heavily damaged by fire in 2007, is nearly complete.

"We've done all the exterior and structural upgrades," said Darren Moss, of Tectonica Management Inc. and the project's director. "Now we're just waiting for commercial financing [$1.1 million] to come through."

That should be in place by mid-April when the second phase of the reconstruction, including interior renovations, electrical systems and exterior landscaping will get underway.

Tenants should be able to take over and start fitting the building interior for their needs by late August or early September.

Via Rail passenger services will take up about 15 per cent of the building, but the major tenant will be an Irish style restaurant, created by the owners of the Fox and Hounds British style restaurant on Milton Street.

Ownership of the building will remain with the Island Corridor Foundation.

"A reasonable guess will be up and running for Christmas," Moss said.

Moss said costs are still within the $2.4-million budget projected for the entire restoration.

VIA Rail has contributed $869,000, the Young Professionals of Nanaimo raised $410,000 through a series of fundraising campaigns and the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership Society contributed $40,000.

"It's going to be an exciting building," Moss said. "It plays into the Island Corridor's vision of the railway by seeing each station taking on the character and a life unto its own, promoting tourism and travel up and down the corridor. This is the first station to try to implement that strategy, so it's an exciting project."

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