GRAVENHURST - The municipality has received no bids for a service provider to take over operations at the historically designated Gravenhurst Train Station.
Town chief executive officer David Weldon said the tender process that closed in late January bore no fruit and while a few potential service providers did show up to an on-site, pre-tender tour of the building and meeting with town staff, none submitted proposals.
“We’re going to have to go back and get a better handle on what the needs are there,” Weldon said. “The source of income there has kind of dried up and that’s why the last provider got out of her lease; we are going to be having discussions with ONR (Ontario Northlander Rail) to determine what their future needs are there.”
The Gravenhurst station had been the last manned station between Union Station in Toronto and North Bay, but in September of 2012, Ontario Northlander stopped its passenger rail service, severely curtailing income at the station. Shortly after, the corridor 11 bus service was introduced and further cut back on traffic at the station, where Ontario Northlander-operated buses also stop. Longtime leaseholder and former station manager Glynis Allen, who shut down her operations at the end of January, said the halting of the passenger rail service alone cost the business some $17,000 in annual revenues for providing food to the trains as well as a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales, making it too difficult for her to continue.
“It is a shame, but with the loss of revenues and uncertainty, I couldn’t keep this up,” Allen said. “There’s too many ifs and people can’t live on ifs.”
The town owns the facility, having purchased it in the mid-1980s to save it from demolition by the previous owners, CN Rail. It was historically designated a few years ago and was plaqued during a special ceremony in spring of 2012. Complete with recently upgraded bathrooms, a full café and kitchen and sitting area for the travelling public, Weldon said as the building is historically designated, alterations can’t be made to its exterior and due to its proximity to the rail line at Brock Street and Bethune Drive, “the potential users are limited.”
“It’s a train station, right by the tracks, so it’s not the type of place you’d want something like a daycare. Really, the uses there are limited, so we need to get a handle on what we could have in there,” Weldon added. “We need to step back and take a close look at this.”
One of the potential bidders who attended the pre-tender meeting and who wished to maintain anonymity added that they did not bid due to the uncertainty of bus services continuing there.
“Because of the uncertainty of the Northlander bus service we decided against it (bidding),” they said. “There’s too many ‘what ifs’ for us to be able to take that on.”
The station is still serving as the bus stop, but since Allen shut down Jan. 31, the building has been vacant and closed to the travelling public.