Donating Locomotive #17 back on council table

In this February 2017, file photo, Locomotive #17 sits in a green space near Ninth Street and Brookdale Avenue in Cornwall, Ont. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – A city councillor is reigniting debate on donating Cornwall’s historic locomotive to an Eastern Ontario railway museum instead of restoring it.

In a new business motion for tonight’s council meeting, Coun. Elaine MacDonald says Locomotive #17 has “languished” at the corner of Brookdale Avenue and Ninth Street and no council has “made the commitment to refurbish the car or relocate it in a more accessible pedestrian-friendly location.”

In February 2019, council voted 7-4 against a motion trying to sell or donate the locomotive before scrapping it.

There had been $100,000 earmarked in 2017 for a restoration project but MacDonald thinks it would be “just the first installment of (a) perennial draw on (city) finances.”

The Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario in Smiths Falls has twice expressed interest in having the locomotive.

MacDonald’s motion, supported by Coun. Claude McIntosh, asks the city to explore whether there are an obligations that have to be met and to find out the cost of shipping Locomotive #17 to the Smiths Falls Museum.

The engine was designated as an artifact of cultural, heritage value or interest in 2006 but there’s been little upkeep since that time.

Locomotive #17 was a gift to the City of Cornwall in April 1977 from the Canadian National Railway after CNR bought all the railway assets from the Cornwall Street Railway Light & Power Company Ltd. – known today as Cornwall Electric.

In 1977, it was the last operating electric motor locomotive in Canada, according to Heritage Cornwall.