Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's to close railway museum, but mayor says something new will fill the vacancy

The City of St. John's is closing the Railway Coastal Museum on Water Street to narrow the gap on its fiscal deficit this year.

Mayor Danny Breen mum on details as to what will replace Railway Coastal Museum

St. John's Mayor Danny Breen says the city is closing the Railway Coastal Museum, but added the space will be filled with something else for public use. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

The city of St. John's is closing the Railway Coastal Museum on Water Street to narrow the gap on its fiscal deficit this year and balance next year's budget. 

Mayor Danny Breen said the city needs to save about $18.5 million, a deficit that grew because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the record blizzard that stalled the city and surrounding municipalities for eight days in January. 

The Railway Coastal Museum opened its doors in 2003 under the umbrella of the Johnson Family Foundation, which later turned over the museum to the City of St. John's. 

The building itself was constructed in 1903, and is also a designated national historic site. 

Breen told reporters Thursday the space itself will not go to waste.

"We're looking at an opportunity to repurpose that building for public use," he said. "That decision should be announced shortly into 2021."

The Railway Coastal Museum in St. John's opened in 2003. The building was constructed in 1903. (Railway Coastal Museum/Facebook)

Breen said he couldn't get into details about what will fill the space without discussing it with the city's "partners."

But, he said, it's "something that the city will find pretty exciting," adding there's no consideration about selling the building. 

"It's going to have a good purpose, I can assure you, into the future," he said. 

"We have a very short list [of ideas] but we won't get into the ideas right now. I'd love to tell you. I'm bursting here to tell you, but our partners are still working out the details on that.

"We'll have something in the new year. I'm sure everyone is going to be interested."

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