City council has approved $6.3 million in funding to build a new barn for the train at Fort Edmonton Park.
The decision was made at city hall on Tuesday, but the vote was not unanimous.
“I’m struggling with this just because it came as a surprise,” said Councillor Bev Esslinger, who eventually voted in favour of the funding.
“We’ve been doing other work and we were trying to avoid those kind of surprises.”
The barn was built 40 years ago by volunteers and has lasted longer than it probably should have, according to Jason Meliefste, branch manager of Infrastructure Planning and Design with the City of Edmonton.
The barn, which is used to house the train for regular maintenance, is structurally unstable and no longer a safe working space.
READ MORE: Fort Edmonton Park renovations to start late
During debate Tuesday, council heard that without the barn, there would be no train at Fort Edmonton Park.
“It’s sort of a $6-million investment in hundreds of millions of dollars in investments already,” Councillor Sarah Hamilton said.
Mayor Don Iveson said everyone he’s talked to told him the train is an integral part of the park experience and the timing was right.
“I think it’s worth it to the business model of the park,” Iveson said. “We have an opportunity to do it when the park is under construction. So that’s the urgency. I think administration was right because it’ll be less destructive to patrons, hopefully it’ll cost less than if we were trying to work around a busy park and then the train will be up and running when the park is up and running.”
The budget for the new barn includes costs to demolish the old building. The barn will be built when Fort Edmonton Park is closed for larger renovations.