Thunder Bay·Audio

Preservation of historic Thunder Bay trolley buses stalls

A group that wants to keep a pair of restored trolley buses at Thunder Bay's Transit garage got no answers from city council Monday night.
The city has agreed to continue storing a pair of refurbished Brill trolley buses that were built in Thunder Bay as long as work on the museum continues. (trolleybuses.net)

A group that wants to keep a pair of restored trolley buses at Thunder Bay's Transit garage got no answers from city council Monday night.

Charlie Brown said he's frustrated that the city wants to move the restored Brill buses out of the transit garage by June.

"I've been trying to work with administration and the city for the last 14 years,” he said.

“I thought we were in partnership with the city. If we weren't in partnership, I wouldn't have been making presentations to the city for the last 14 years."

The city told Brown there is no longer space for the vehicles at the transit facility. But the group advocating for the preservation of the buses want the historic vehicles kept indoors.

Charlie Brown says he's frustrated the City of Thunder Bay wants to move the restored Brill buses out of the transit garage by June. (Jeff Walters/CBC)
Brown says the city bought the buses, in partnership with the transit union, over a decade ago, and has housed them ever since.

He said the hard work put in by volunteers shouldn't go to the back of transit's parking lot.

Councillor Frank Pullia agreed.

"Previous councils have supported the purchase of this equipment. So, I assume that they saw the value in it, and they didn't want to leave them outside to rust."

Pullia said council should help preserve a part of the city's history, and not have it under a tarp.

That's part of our heritage.- Charlie Brown

Mayor Keith Hobbs wondered why it’s not possible to “keep them at transit until we find a regular spot for them — a full-time spot for them."

Council did not make any decision on Monday night, which drew the ire of Brown, who’s also the past president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 966 (now retired).

"That's part of our heritage. I know we're amalgamated now, but that's part of our heritage, and that's part of what we'd like to preserve,” he said, noting that the buses are painted in opposite colours.

“And that's exactly why they're painted in opposite colours. One's painted in the livery style of Fort William, and one's in the livery style of Port Arthur." 

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