By Kate Irwin
After a cash injection from the District of Invermere this week, Invermere’s historic Canadian Pacific Railway Lodge is on schedule for completion by the end of May.
A further $50,000 will be poured into the project by the District of Invermere after council voted at a meeting on Tuesday, April 25th, to approve the funding.
But despite controversy at the project’s outset as to whether it was something Invermere should be funding, many of the detractors have been won over as the lodge nears completion, said Invermere’s mayor, Gerry Taft — one of the strongest supporters of the renovation.
“Some of those who were against the project, now they’ve seen it close to complete with the wraparound deck and all in place, have gone from not understanding why this is needed to thinking it’s an asset for the community,” he told council on Tuesday as they considered the funding request.
It was May, 2010, when dozens of Invermere residents gathered at Fort Point to watch as historic building made its slow journey via flatbed truck to Rotary Park.
Since then the building has been lowered onto its foundations, the site has been landscaped, new plumbing and wiring has been installed, a wraparound deck added, new roof installed, and restoration done to the interior to return the lodge to its former glory.
Work has also begun on the public washrooms being installed beneath the building, but further funds are needed to finish the facilities and put the finishing touches on the exterior, Mayor Taft told council.
With the funding approved, and with $7,500 also coming in from CP Rail, who purchased an old piano from the lodge, the project is on track to be finished before the month of May is out, he added.
“Bob [Kelly, of Maggie Street Developments] is ready to move on this,” Mayor Taft said. “Everybody is lined up and ready to go, so we hope to be done by the end of May.”
The lodge project was originally predicted to cost around $100,000, with close to that amount already raised and spent by the time work closed down at the end of last summer. The money came from a variety of sources including the District of Invermere, CP Rail, the Columbia Basin Trust, and private donations from families and individuals.
A further $50,000 from the District of Invermere will go towards finishing construction of the washrooms, the completion of exterior painting, replacement of broken windows, and masonry work.
“We’re saving a heritage building and this project is part of the bigger picture of revitalizing the Kinsmen Beach area,” Mayor Taft added. “A lot has been accomplished with the amount of money available … this is the last push.”
The Canadian Pacific Railway Lodge was constructed in Invermere in 1920 by CP Rail. While the building started out as a tourist camp, over the years it went on to be used as a girls’ ranch camp, a social hall and a summer home.
But when landowners Larry and Nancy Ballard, decided to sell the land the lodge sat upon in 2008, the future of the building became uncertain.
Although many wanted to see the lodge preserved as a piece of Invermere’s history, in 2009 the District of Invermere council voted against getting involved to help save the building due to concerns over cost, feasibility of the project and a lack of suitable site to move the building to. The decision was reversed in 2010 and the move went ahead.
“We wouldn’t have got this far without volunteers and donations of time and materials,” said Bob Kelly, project manager. “When you think about it, it’s excellent value for money. The concessions stand and washrooms being constructed at Kinsmen are costing more than $350,000, whereas the lodge will be less than $150,000 all in.”
Once complete, the lodge will be available for rental by groups and individuals.
If you would like to volunteer your help to complete the CPR Lodge, call Bob Kelly: 250-342-5229.