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This article was published 4/6/2019 (355 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Just one week after playing host to hundreds of visitors during Doors Open Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Railway Museum has been closed due to risks regarding certain elements of the structure.
The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club, which operates a display of tiny trains at the museum, made the announcement Saturday on Facebook.
"There are some code violations that have to be addressed by Via Rail. No one will be allowed into the museum until the green light has been given by Via Rail," said the post.
The railway museum logged more than 1,100 visitors on May 25 and 26, during the 2019 edition of the annual event run by Heritage Winnipeg that allows the public a peek inside some of the city’s storied structures.
However, Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg, said had the non-profit known about the unspecified problems, the railway museum would not have been allowed to participate in Doors Open Winnipeg.
"If there were issues, then we shouldn’t have been there. Absolutely not," she said.
"We get each building owner for Doors Open Winnipeg to sign a liability waiver saying that they believe it is a venue that is safe for the public. We have liability insurance of our own for each venue. We also expect them to have insurance, so we would never have people go in an unsafe place."
Officials from the railway museum could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The closure of the facility located at Union Station, just outside The Forks National Historic Site, wasn’t sudden, said Marie-Anna Murat, senior director of corporate communications for Via Rail Canada.
"We started engineering analysis in order to refurbish the train shed housing the Winnipeg Railway Museum at the beginning of this year," she said Monday in an email.
"As we were progressing and getting a better assessment of the work involved, an inspection revealed that there were some risks regarding certain elements of the structure. Since safety is our No. 1 priority, as we owned the building, we decided to close the museum to pursue different renovation options."
The Winnipeg Railway Museum houses more than 37,500 square feet of railway equipment, displays, history and artifacts, including Streetcar No. 356, Winnipeg’s last wooden streetcar. Heritage Winnipeg is in the process of restoring it for Rail Days, an event in September celebrating the evolving history and culture of the railway.
The lack of communication between Via Rail, the railway museum and Heritage Winnipeg about the structural issues could be an obstacle in completing the vehicle's restoration, Tugwell said.
"It’s a surprise there’s a code issue and they’ve closed it all of a sudden, and we didn’t know," she said.
"It will be interesting to know if they had any lead time to know that this was going on. Maybe they didn’t want to share it with anybody, but I think they had an obligation... we had a car in there and they knew we were working very feverishly to get it done."
The Winnipeg Railway Museum has participated in Doors Open Winnipeg since its inception in 2003.
Updated on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at 6:03 PM CDT: Final version.