Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Assiniboine Park train picks up steam

Owner doubts surge in business will last

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Business is booming at the Assiniboine Park's steam train for the first time this summer, says owner Tim Buzunis.

"I've had more people today than I've had in months. I think it's a wave, though. Once the dust settles from all this media coverage, I think it'll go back to bad," said Buzunis, whose father brought the train to Winnipeg in 1964.

Buzunis experienced a boom in business Friday after the Free Press published a report that the train's business was failing, thanks to a gate closure by the Assiniboine Park Conservancy that Buzunis said he was never informed of.

Due to the gate closure, traffic no longer drives past the train when entering the park.

The conservancy has since apologized for failing to inform Buzunis of the closure, a change initially announced April 4.

"The best I can say is that was an oversight on our part. He, of course, should have been told. We apologize to him for that," said Kevin Hunter, the conservancy's director of marketing and communications.

Hunter said he has since met with Buzunis, and new signs will be posted to direct customers to the train.

"We want to help his business, absolutely. We certainly don't want to see the steam train disappear," Hunter said. "We've been talking about things for a few weeks now, some way to help increase exposure. We're going to add new, larger way-finder signs so people can find the train easier."

Buzunis didn't try to put up his own signs in the park because it isn't allowed, he said. The land in the park is owned by the city, and he doesn't have permission to put up his own advertisements.

Even with new signs, Buzunis said unless the east gate is reopened, it won't save his business.

"I still believe that if they don't open that east gate somehow, I don't see things getting any better for me," he said.

Buzunis will meet with the conservancy board of directors next week to discuss the situation.

katherine.dow@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 14, 2012 A5

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