Greg Hasell of Chilliwack lived in the Hope Station House as a youth, when it was an active train station and his father was a CN Station Master. After his father passed away, the family moved out, to make room for the new Station Master — but when the station was formally closed, the Hasells were allowed to move back in, until the early 1980s. (Barry Stewart/ Submitted)

LETTER: Hope’s honking protest has no plans on stopping

T-shirts also on sale now to help support the Hope Station House’s resurrection

Editor:

Twelve vehicles, 15 people and one dog spent about an hour, driving in a noisy 18-km parade through downtown Hope, Silver Creek and the Kawkawa Lake area, Wednesday afternoon, in support of saving and restoring the town’s 1916 CN train station.

It was the second of a series of COVID-friendly honk-a-thons planned by the Coalition for the Preservation of the Hope Station House. The group’s chairperson, Arlene Webster said, “We’re gaining momentum! Recognition of our campaign is growing. We had a dozen cars in our cavalcade today, and people on the streets were waving and honking their support. The community was definitely getting their HONK on for the Hope Station House.”

The Station House is owned by the District of Hope but it sits on Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure property. A planned transfer of land ownership to the District in 2018 was overridden when a local First Nation expressed interest in the property and, with the District’s lease about to expire this year, MOTI required the building and foundation gone and the property cleared by May 31.

What was not required was a demolition of the Station House, the second-oldest public building in Hope. District Council chose that route, rather than move the building — which was rated as structurally sound by an engineer hired by the District in 2017.

The Coalition contends that, once restored, the building would make an excellent new home for Hope’s museum and tourist info centre, which recently had its old building demolished and currently has no permanent location.

While the District was seeking for bids on demolition, members of the Coalition contacted BC’s Office of the Ombudsperson and that office was instrumental in negotiating a temporary stoppage of proceedings with the District.

It was timely, as the building could have already been on the way down when 80 people gathered on March 20 for a protest walk from District Hall to the Station House.

Station House supporters got even better news on April 12, when a 120-day stop work order — pursuant to the provincial Heritage Conservation Act — was put into effect by Richard Linzey, Director of the province’s Heritage Branch.

The four-month pause will give all stakeholders a chance to, hopefully, come together and make plans for fundraising for a move and restoration of the 105-year-old building.

The stop work order was a result of the collective action of Hope Station House supporters, in Hope and across the country. Coalition member, Emili Losier, regularly attends meetings via videoconference from Ottawa.

All told, the Coalition and supporters have put in hundreds — perhaps thousands of volunteer hours since January — and without their efforts, the Station House would have been levelled by now.

Where will the building stand, past mid-August of this year? The answer is in the hands of the District of Hope Council… but we’ve seen what collective action has done so far.

“The Coalition has no plans for slowing down!” added Webster. “This is just the beginning. We will continue hosting our Honk-a-thon every Wednesday at 1 p.m. for the foreseeable future. We encourage everyone to come out to join us and get their HONK on!

“We will also be selling the new and improved Hope Station House t-shirt for $15. It was kindly redesigned and printed by Ryan Ellan who is the founder and curator of the Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum.”

The Hope Station House has an important connection to Tashme: it was the first stop for many of the 22,000 Japanese Canadians who were unjustly and forcibly removed from the west coast of British Columbia during the Second World War.

If you’d like to lend your support, in saving and restoring the 1916 Hope Station House, see the Coalition’s website at savethehopestationhouse.ca, or visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/savethehopestationhouse. Donations appreciated at gofundme.com/f/save-hope-station-house.

The Coalition for the Preservation of the Hope Station House

Letters to the editor