MP Colin Mayes says local Conservative candidate Stephen Hill (inset) did play a role in transferring Nelson's old train station to the city.

MP Colin Mayes says local Conservative candidate Stephen Hill (inset) did play a role in transferring Nelson's old train station to the city.

Hill helped CPR station transfer, Mayes says

Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes says local Conservative candidate Stephen Hill deserves credit for “indirectly” helping obtain the order-in-council that transferred Nelson’s historic CP Rail station to the city.

Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes says local Conservative candidate Stephen Hill deserves credit for “indirectly” helping obtain the order-in-council that transferred Nelson’s historic CP Rail station to the city.

In an interview last week, Mayes said his office was “very much” involved in the project.

“We worked to coordinate that order-in-council and make sure it was done and follow up on it,” he told the Star. “I kept in contact with Stephen, knowing what the issues were. Obviously he was not the sitting MP but he was on the same page as me.”

Asked if Hill played an instrumental role in the transfer, Mayes replied: “Indirectly, yes. He followed up all the time. He definitely did phone me and ask me where it was at, so he did help out.”

Mayes says he discussed the order-in-council with Nelson mayor John Dooley. “He came to my office in Ottawa when he was out for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting and we talked about it and kept following up until we finally got it done.”

Mayes says being on the government side “definitely is an advantage,” when approaching a minister or their staff, and “I think that’s the reason I was contacted by the people interested in seeing this go forward.”

Mayes says the transfer, which became official on April 22, 2010, didn’t happen as quickly as he hoped, “but we did get it done.”

He adds he doesn’t mind working on behalf of a neighbouring riding.

“Often I went down to the Southern Interior riding to do announcements on behalf of ministers,” he says. “I got to know the mayors, some of the councilors, and regional district people, and told them if there’s any issue you need a hand on, let us know.”

Some took him up on the offer, asking him to help expedite funding for projects.

“I believe I’m an elected civil servant, so I would serve the people in the Southern Interior the same way I serve the people [of Okanagan-Coquihalla],” Mayes says. “I wanted to help.”

• New Democrat Alex Atamanenko, who doubts Hill had much influence in the CPR station’s transfer to the city, noted at an all-candidates forum in Trail last week that the Chamber of Commerce had been unaware Hill was working on the project.

However, Hill says at the time he was assisting the city, not the Chamber.

The city subsequently turned the building over to the Chamber, which is redeveloping it as a community gateway and visitor centre.