The city announced Friday that it was releasing a tender for a general contractor to start renovation work at the historic train station, which used to be owned by VIA Rail and is now owned by the city.
“The renovation to Guelph Central Station will improve our city’s intermodal transportation hub by creating a shared space for Guelph Transit, Greyhound Canada, GO Transit and VIA Rail services that’s accessible and convenient for all riders,” Mario Petricevic, the city’s general manager of facilities management, said in a news release.
The renovation work will include:
• improvements to the main entrance, including new steps and concrete wheelchair ramp
• upgrades to the two public washrooms and an new accessible washroom
• new ticket booths for Greyhound Canada and GO Transit
• the addition of a small management office
• the addition of a lunchroom for Guelph Transit drivers
• new access to the basement
• upgrades to windows, south entrance doors and public seating area.
Existing heritage features of the station will be preserved, the release said.
The station is to remain open to the public during the renovations. The construction work will be done in phases to allow GO Transit, VIA Rail and Greyhound Canada to operate out of the building while it’s renovated.
The $2.1-million renovation job is expected to start this May and take 12 to 14 months to complete.
The city previously released a tender for the renovation work in 2013, expecting the project would be finished by the summer of 2014. However, the city was unable to find a contractor whose fees were within the council-approved $925,000 budget for the project, the release said.
Council approved additional funding when it finalized the city’s 2016 budget in December, allowing the tender to be reissued this year, it said.
Originally, the city expected renovations to the station to be finished by the fall of 2012. That’s what it announced in July 2011.
However, it took a lot longer than anticipated to get ownership of the train station transferred from federal to city ownership. The city finally took ownership of the station in March of 2013, and it then started the process of designating the building under the Ontario Heritage Act. Up to then, the station’s external heritage features had been federally protected.
VIA signed a deal in December 2010 to sell the train station to the city, but getting ownership transferred to the city was a long and complicated process that required a federal government order-in-council.
VIA sold the station to the city for the token amount of $1. “It was only a buck, but we are spending money to renovate it. It’s not like it was in pristine condition,” city solicitor Donna Jaques told the Tribune in the spring of 2013 when asked about the token sale price.
The design for the brick and stone train station at 79 Carden St. blended two popular architectural styles of the time of its construction – Romanesque Revival and Italianate.
The station was designated in 1993 as a heritage railway structure under the federal Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act.
It was constructed in 1911 by the Grand Trunk Railway, which had arrived in Guelph around 1855. It was built on a triangular piece of land east of city hall that had been occupied by a vegetable market structure in the late 19th century and then by a small park in the early 20th century.
Plans for a new train station were presented to Guelph council in 1896, again in 1904 and then again in the early months of 1911. But council rejected what it considered “too modest” designs for the new station proposed by Grand Trunk Railway, and a great deal of council debate preceded the eventual approval. Council “desired to have a first-class landmark station as the gateway to their city and to accommodate the increased rail service into Guelph,” according to a city staff report.
The station was finally built in 1911 as part of Grand Trunk Railway’s upgrading of its existing lines from Montreal to Sarnia, which was tied to the railway’s desire to expand into Western Canada.
Source: Guelph Tribune