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District of Hope commits $450,000 to Hope Station House

The project hinged on funding from the District, and otherwise would have died on the vine
The Hope Station House came perilously close to demolition in 2019, but with funding committed from the District of Hope, the building will get a new lease on life. (Photo/ Adam Louis)

The Hope Station House saga took a positive turn Monday night (March 14) as District of Hope Council voted to provide a significant amount of funding.

A resolution was put forward by councillor Scott Medlock to deliver $450,000 from Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) money previously set aside for the Station House. There is $655,869 in that reserve.

The motion passed 3-2, with councillors Medlock, Dusty Smith and Heather Stewin in favour and councillors Craig Traun and Victor Smith opposed. Traun and Smith both put their opposition on the record.

It was an interesting discussion to get to the motion.

Ryan Ellan and the Tashme Historical Society, the organization that will be driving the Station House relocation and renovation, came to the District asking for $448,800, saying he wanted the District to be an equal partner.

Council was originally considering the idea of giving $300,000 with Medlock leading the way.

Victor and Dusty Smith and Traun were all OK with that figure but opposed to going any higher.

“I’m not willing to put any more than that into it,” Victor Smith said. “I think we’ve done a lot. The $240,000 we put into it previously saved the building, otherwise we wouldn’t even be capable of moving it. We have invested a lot of money into the building.”

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He suggested that there are supporters of the project waiting to see if it would go ahead who would be swayed by a $300,000 commitment.

“Initially I was against delving into the MoTI money, but I’ve given it thought and I’d be on board moving that to Ryan and his team,” Traun added. “But I put a cap on it there. I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting any more taxpayer funds toward this project, but I believe in what Ryan and his team can do. I know it’s not what he was looking for as a total, but I’m interested to see what he can do with it.”

It was Stewin who proposed going higher, floating a figure between $450,000 and $500,000.

Medlock seized the opening, suggesting the District use COVID restart money granted by the provincial government to get to the requested amount.

“It’s a gift of funding that’s not easy to spend,” he said. “It has restrictions to it, but we’ve been able to put some capital to other projects. That funding is all about getting people to come to Hope, and that is part of this project.

“It’s an investment in the community, not necessarily an investment in a building.”

The COVID restart idea resonated with Dusty Smith, but for simplicity’s sake he said council should just take the entire amount from the MoTI money.

“That makes it cleaner, rather than putting more staff time on something that I want less taxpayer money going towards,” he said. “Let staff spend their time on something else.”

With the District’s commitment, Ellan and his group can now pursue matching grants to move the project ahead.

There are still details to hammer out about what it will eventually look like. It’s been suggested previously that the Tashme Historical and Society would share the building, but it’s looking more likely there will be two buildings on the property.

“It was a great night!” Ellan enthused. “We are grateful to Mayor Robb, Hope Council, and District staff who have given the Tashme Historical Society this amazing opportunity, and responsibility.

“We are excited to move forward with the planning stages of the project. Until we knew the level of commitment from District, the project was at a standstill, and we are thrilled that the District has shown this level of faith to the Tashme Historical Society.”

Ellan said there’s a lot to do before the Station House is relocated to its new Water Avenue home, and he expects that would happen in early 2023.


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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