The Railway and Forestry Museum is hopeful a pole shed would preserve some of its most compelling industrial artifacts.
The tall timbers holding up a sloped roof would look a lot like a train station, and with locomotives and rail cars under its umbrella the scene would add a striking visual effect to the facility but also some critical practical features as well, said the museum's executive director Ranjit Gill.
"I have already implemented a lot of changes, like improving the trails so they are wheelchair friendly, but what we really need to do is have this pole shed which you can see in the designs are all ramped. People in wheelchairs still won't be able to go inside the cars but at least they are up close and able to look in the windows."
Protection is another critical reason for building the replica train station, Gill said.
"All our artifacts are exposed to the weather," she said. "The passenger car that hosted Prince Charles and Princess Diana is one of our most popular exhibits. The roof is rotten. We are working to repair it, but because it is still exposed to the weather, it will just rot again. We need a roof over it, and some of the other train cars."
The proposal to build such a facility was launched at the Council of Forest Industries dinner held in Prince George earlier in the month. Gill was receiving commitments for donations and promises for future consultation that first night.
The pole will cost about $450,000 to construct, she said, but a large amount of that bill is for support poles (48 of them 28 feet long, 48 of them 36 feet tall) and lumber for the ramps, roof and platform (there are no walls). With all the forestry activity in the region, she is hoping mills can provide these materials free of charge or through cash contributions.
"We already have our first donation. Conifex pledged $20,000 the night of the COFI dinner," Gill said. Also, Scouten and Associates Engineering contributed some professional work to get the prep work done and GeoNorth committed to $6,300 in-kind for soil sampling services.
"I am already getting a lot of support on this," she said. "People I've talked to really understand the long-term community value of this project. We are creating an asset and it also protects other assets. It's exciting for us."