The Royal Hudson could be steaming along the tracks as early as spring 2006.
The West Coast Railway Association has received a grant for $110,000 from Western Economic Diversification Canada to put towards the rebuilding of the Royal Hudson.
"Those funds are allowing us to have all the special parts for the boiler custom manufactured," said Don Evans, the executive director for the West Coast Railway Association. "A steam locomotive from 1940 - you don't just go to the corner store for parts."
John Reynolds, the MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country and the official opposition house leader announced the funding on Saturday (Nov. 13) in West Vancouver.
The Royal Hudson is on display for the public at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish.
A total of $600,000 is needed to completely repair the Royal Hudson and the boiler, and only $160,000 has been raised so far. The recently-announced grant makes up most of that amount."That is enough money to get all the parts made," Evans said.
Evans said the rest of the necessary money would go towards hiring people to complete the repairs and paying for labour. The association is in the process of looking for a project leader, and people who have the skills to repair the train, which is over 60 years old.
"They are around, but they aren't easy to find," Evans said.
Evans isn't worried about coming up with the rest of the funding.
"I certainly am confident we'll get the rest of the funds together and get the job done."
Work on the train will run through 2005. And when it's completed, it will get back on the tracks.
"We expect to use it for some specialty excursions," he said. "It's a very high profile tourist attraction."
The West Coast Railway Association also received $100,000 last year from the Western Economic Diversification Canada.
That money funded the purchase of three rail cars for an already-operating excursion train, Evans said.
Although the grant was given last year, it was announced at the same time as the grant for the Royal Hudson rebuild.
On Nov. 10 Stephen Owen, the minister of Western Economic Diversification Canada and Sandy Santori, the British Columbia Minister of State for Resort Development, confirmed their support of a Western Canada tourism strategy.
Western Economic Diversification Canada plans to contribute $2.4 million to the strategy, while the four western provincial governments and industry partners contribute $3 million over two years.
"Western Canada has some of the most renowned tourism destinations in the world, as well as some of the best-kept secrets," Owen said in a press release.
"These initiatives will help western communities work in partnership with local residents to increase tourism potential and take advantage of business opportunities arising out of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games."
The tourism strategy responds to reduced travel and tourism in Western Canada brought on by events like forest fires, flooding, BSE, SARS and West Nile Virus.