Earlier this summer it was announced that the Rivers Train Station Restoration Committee was the recipient of a $25,000 grant from the CN EcoConnexions From the Ground Up program. The goal of the program is to promote community sustainability through the greening of municipal and community properties across Canada.
The grant will assist with the committee’s Loco-Labyrinth and RV Park project.
A “loco- labyrinth” is a shrub maze in the shape of a locomotive engine that, in its centre, will have a seating area and monument to past rail workers. Adjacent to it will be a 16-bay RV park.
The project is part of the bigger mandate of the Rivers Train Station Restoration Committee, which is to create sustainable tourism options for the municipality. The park will act as a source of revenue for its work.
The site of the labyrinth and RV park is just a couple of kilometres down the track from the train station.
Rivers has a long connection with the railway. In 1907, it became a hub for the new Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, which eventually stretched from Winnipeg to the Pacific Ocean. This meant a train station, two roundhouses for train repairs, a machine shop, freight buildings and accommodations for the hundreds of men who worked there.
The station itself has been vacant for a number of years but, thanks to the committee, it is slowly being brought back to life. Currently it is getting a new roof.
The end goal is for the station to house a tourist information booth, museum, a VIA Rail waiting room – Rivers is the only passenger pick-up and drop-off point for VIA in Western Manitoba, offices for the Rivers and Area Community Foundation and an arts and culture space.
The grant ceremony took the form of a mass tree planting on Sept. 23, 2016.
On hand for the event was the Holy Trinity of elected officials: area MP Bob Sopuck; MLA Greg Nesbitt; and Rivers mayor Todd Gill. Also speaking were Donna Morken, chair of the Rivers Train Station Restoration Committee, and Raymond Carriere, founder and president of Communities in Bloom, which, along with Tree Canada, administers the CN EcoConnexions program on behalf of CN.
Students from Rivers Elementary and Rivers Collegiate schools planted the 235 little leaf lilacs which will make up the outline of the labrynth.