Dennis Hanagan –
Railway buffs are steaming about Toronto Hydro’s plans for the machine shop at Roundhouse Park.
The machine shop is located near the intersection of Bremner Blvd. and Simcoe St. The city had authorized railway buffs to make it into a Toronto railway museum, but Toronto Hydro wants it for a substation to service growing Downtown condo intensification.
But the Toronto Railway Historical Association (TRHA) says the site is historic and an appropriate place to build a museum dedicated to Toronto’s railway history.
“I have a problem with the fact it (Toronto Hydro) is a utility taking up a national historic site,” Glenn Garwood, museum project spokeman, told The Bulletin.
The machine shop is on the northwest corner of the 83-year-old roundhouse. Originally, Toronto Hydro agreed to build its substation underneath the machine shop then rebuild the shop to house the museum.
But Toronto Hydro has changed its mind. Now it wants the machine shop, too. That leaves TRHA and its museum in the lurch.
Garwood insists Toronto Hydro burrow underground.
“I’m saying you (Toronto Hydro) are a utility. You can actually go underground, and we’re a museum. We need some space in the machine shop so we can educate people on the history of how this city came to pass.”
Toronto Hydro spokesperson Tanya Bruckmueller indicated the utility will find space for the railway museum.
“We’ve always been open to working with them,” she told The Bulletin.
“We’re still working with them on what it will look like at the end. But it has always been on the table that we would maintain space for them.”
According to Garwood the most recent meeting between Toronto Hydro and the TRHA was about mid December. “It’s still up in the air. We still have issues,” he said.
“There are small signs of encouragement, but until it gets put down on paper so you can see it in black and white, I remain a bit skeptical.”
Garwood hopes for another meeting between the two sides. “I’m sure it will happen soon because there’s pressure on both sides to resolve this,” he said.
Garwood’s message to Toronto Hydro is “you’ve got real estate all over town … but what you’re trying to do is take the best of the best.
“This (museum) means more to the citizens of the area, and we want to tell the story of the history of how Toronto evolved and that’s the perfect place to do it.”
Meanwhile, the TRHA is waiting to get to work refurbishing a newly-acquired coach built in 1867 that was parked behind the Halifax train station in 1917 when a munitions ship blew up in Halifax Harbour.
The station took the explosion’s impact saving the coach on which a railway official and his family were having breakfast at the time.
“It really is a piece of Canadiana,” said Garwood. “We have an army of carpenters that want to get their hands on it.”
TRHA General Manager Bob Dickson said.
He added, the association “has a ton of small artifacts that are in storage because we have no space to show them.”