The Nelson Electric Tramway Society has received a provincial grant of $5,360 to help with COVID-19 related expenses during the pandemic.
“It’s going to help us bridge the gap between red ink or black ink,” says society president Jim Robinson.
The funding is one of 83 grants given to tourist attractions around the province to help them recover from losses during pandemic restrictions.
“A lot of the utilities, insurance, licensing fees are due anyway,” Robinson said. “Even if we don’t have the revenue coming in, we still owe the funds.”
In 2020, the streetcar was shut down until July 6, then ran on a partial schedule until October, with difficulty finding volunteer drivers because of the pandemic.
The streetcar opened again in May and is now operating from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., and until 5 p.m. on weekends and statutory holidays.
Robinson says as he gets more volunteer drivers the activity will increase, provided the COVID-19 variants don’t ruin those plans.
Streetcar 23, which functioned as part of Nelson’s downtown transportation in the first half of the 20th century, was later restored in the 1980s and since 1992 has transported tourists on scheduled runs between Lakeside Park and the airport.
In 2019, the streetcar logged 2o,000 visitors from around the world.
Society members and volunteers are famous for their dedication to the streetcar, their love of trains, and their commitment to keeping that part of Nelson’s history alive.
“It’s like taking a young boy to a railroad track and seeing the train go by,” Robinson says. “It’s just something that catches your imagination.”