Protest to save Locomotive #17

Nick Seebruch
Protest to save Locomotive #17
Locomotive #17 at the corner of Ninth and Brookdale Avenue. Notice the sign on the front side of the train asking people not to climb on the structure (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

CORNWALL, Ontario – A group of 15 to 20 citizens braved the rain and the cold on the night of Friday, Feb. 24 to protest the lack of funding for a piece of Cornwall’s heritage.

Locomotive #17 was once operated by Cornwall Street Railway, the precursor to Cornwall Transit. It was once used as an engine of transportation in the City’s early days.

Now located at the corner of Brookdale Ave. and Ninth St. the locomotive is only one of four of its kind remaining in Canada.

The train was moved to its current location in 2006. At that time the City passed a by-law to give Locomotive #17 a heritage designation. At the same time, the City also committed to spending $10, 000 to maintain the train.

That $10, 000 was never spent on the train, and this year, the Budget Committee again cut badly needed funding.

This year, the City of Cornwall is facing a significant rate hike for its property taxpayers. Things like money for the arts, new soccer fields and money to maintain the Locomotive #17 were cut.

At a budget meeting in November, Councillor Andre Rivette called the train “an eyesore” and recently said that the city should “scrap it”.

Cornwall’s Little Historian Sara Lauzon organized the protest on Friday night and disagrees with the Councillor on this one.

“Its one of those things where you think of all the things Cornwall’s lost like the Capitol Theatre and I think why do this again,” she said. “I love Andre, I really do, but I disagree with him on this.”

In a report to the Budget Committee in November, Municipal Works cited the price tag of $60, 000 to “stabilize” the train and $100, 000 to restore it.

At the next meeting of City Council on Monday, Feb. 27, Council will vote whether or not to receive a petition from citizens of Cornwall asking them to protect and restore Locomotive #17.

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