The Kimberley Underground Mine and Railway Society held their annual general meeting this week, and as usual President Mick Henningson delivered his annual report on the year.
2016 was a challenging year as the downtown station was behind the detour signs for Gerry Sorensen Way construction. This led to a decrease in revenue, but one and all did the best they could.
“The event of the year was working around the reconstruction of Gerry Sorensen Way for our whole operating season excepting Victoria Day Weekend,” Henningson said. “Our highest ridership of the season was on the Sunday of this weekend with the Detour to the Resort Area starting right after. Replacing of the sewer and water mains from the Platzl to our station entrance took place for the next six weeks followed by sub base construction and paving up to and beyond our station entrance till mid-August. The result was our revenue was down 8 per cent up to August 17th compared to last year.
“The Detour to the Resort remained for the remainder of the season but the barricades began beyond our Station Entrance. We appreciate this construction was very, very necessary and that the City and paving contractor did the best they could to accommodate our tourist attraction.
“One of the highlights of the year was we had over 10,000 riders for the first time. This was the result of more but low revenue school trips and reducing fares on both the Labour Day Weekend and on an extra weekend of operation in September.
“We had expected approximately $35,000 more in revenue as a result of over a full pre-season year of our joint marketing campaign with Fort Steele Heritage Town and the Cranbrook History Centre, both of which reported an increase in business compared to our understandable reduction.
“Another highlight of the year was the great operating performance this past season. We had no reportable safety incidents and only had to cancel one train all season because of the excellent maintenance and upgrades to our rolling stock and track bed.”
Another highlight was acquiring an extensive collection of Sullivan Mine core samples.
“Early in the year, Paul Ransom offered us his superb geological specimens and map collection. Paul was an exploration geologist for 33 years with Cominco and probably the leading authority on the geology of the East Kootenay. By year end, we had acquired most of the funding required to put this fabulous collection on secured display in the old part of the station basement and early in January of 2017 all funding required was confirmed. The major contributors of the “hard” funding for this $70,000 project are Columbia Basin Trust through funds administered by the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance and the RDEK followed by the City of Kimberley. Several Mining and exploration companies have contributed the remainder.”
Construction in the old basement area of the station for the Sullivan Mine Geological Display commenced in December. This was after the large collection of mining books dating back to 1885 and other artifacts were moved to the new section of the basement. This new section of the basement is also being finished with bookcases and display cabinets with Society funds and Memorial Funds in memory of long time volunteers John Mackenzie and Bill Spence. These two new display areas, expected to be completed before July 1st of 2017 will add yet another major feature area to our many attractions.
“We again received the Trip Advisor “Certificate of Excellence” for 2016, the third year in a row. We were also rated “#1 of the 17 things to do in Kimberley”. This award is entirely the result of 50 odd volunteers and paid seasonal staff who make our visitors feel very welcome, along with the enthusiasm and knowledge shown which only further adds to the ambiance of the whole physical experience.”