Toronto

Toronto's Lancaster bomber could be headed to B.C. after group loses fight to keep it

Toronto's historic Avro Lancaster will likely be heading to a new home in Victoria, B.C. The city's economic development committee says there's no viable option to restore and display the bomber in Toronto.

The plane was built in Malton in 1944 but never saw combat

Toronto's Avro Lancaster bomber was displayed near the waterfront at Coronation Park from 1965 to 1999. (Submitted by #SaveLancasterFM104)

Toronto's historic Avro Lancaster bomber may soon be heading to a new home in British Columbia.

The city's economic development committee will likely approve a motion Monday to give up possession of the plane and transfer it to the British Columbia Aviation Museum in Victoria.

While the motion would also require approval by city council, a group that had been fighting to save the plane now considers its fate sealed.

"It's pretty discouraging to think that the city doesn't see the potential for reclaiming their history," said Lynn Berry of #SaveLancasterFM104.

Berry's group had been trying to come up with $25,000 to cover a year of storage costs for the plane, in addition to a multi-million dollar, long-term plan to restore and display the bomber.

They did not raise the money, and the city says the group never came up with a viable plan for the aircraft.

Still, Berry recalled feeling "total devastation" after learning the plane would likely be on its way across the country.

Her uncle was killed while serving as a Lancaster tail gunner during the Second World War.

Victory Aircraft in Malton built more than 400 Avro Lancasters throughout the Second World War. (Submitted by Malton.org)

The city's plane was built in 1944 by Victory Aircraft in Malton, which produced 430 of the 7,377 Lancaster bombers built during the war. It was shipped to England in 1945 but never went into service.

The bomber is now one of just 17 remaining Avro Lancasters anywhere in the world, eight of which are in Canada. It was previously displayed outdoors at Coronation Park from 1965 to 1999.

Restoring planes 'not the business' of the city

According to Coun. Michael Thompson, chair of the economic development committee, Berry's group was given a real opportunity to save the plane, but it simply did not present a feasible, funded plan.

"My heart goes out to the group in that they will want to do everything possible to take the bomber and restore it, but the reality is that there's a requirement that we look at the feasibility of them being able to do it," he said.

Thompson added that the city does not have the financial capacity to restore the plane, let alone the $10 million it may cost to build a dedicated hanger to display the bomber on park land.

"The restoration takes a tremendous amount of resources," he said. "That's not the business that the city is in."

If the transfer is approved, the Lancaster will join the collection at the British Columbia Aviation Museum, which includes four other aircraft from the Second World War.

The museum has plans to restore the bomber to an airworthy standard. It will be retro-fitted as a maritime patrol and rescue aircraft, as many Lancasters were used in B.C. and the Maritimes after the war.

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