Newfoundland T’Railway Charitable Organization established to help raise funds
For years it has been a source of tourism and provincial attraction, and now the Newfoundland T’Railway Council (NTC) has established a charitable arm to help cover the cost of operating and maintaining the trailway.
NTC president Jamie Warren said it’s just a way to keep business as usual.
“The charity is set up as a foundation, which is a separate board from the council,” said Warren. “It is an arm we can use for fundraising activities, issue tax receipts to companies who want to donate and issue tax receipts to individuals who want to donate, whereas before we didn’t have that option. It gives us a source of revenue that we wouldn’t have had before.”
Setting up the Newfoundland T’Railway Charitable Organization (NTCO) is a big plus for the NTC and is a logical step that comes at a convenient time.
The NTC lost 21 per cent of its operating funding through last year’s provincial budget cuts, and having the NTCO will make up for the loss, said Warren.
“That’s the cycle for the different departments, I guess, so to try and turn it into a positive we formed this charity to be able to give us that option of looking at that revenue stream.”
The cost of running the provincewide trailway, he said, can be high, depending on what needs to be done. The NTC deals with a wide variety of issues.
“There is all kinds of stuff, from fixing the decks on the trestles, to fixing washouts, to brush-cutting, dust-clearing operations. It really runs the gamut in terms if things that need to be done.”
The T’Railway Provincial Park (NTPP) runs 883 kilometres from St. John’s to Port aux Basques along the former CN railway, which closed in 1988. The NTC works closely with governmental departments to keep up the trail, while trying to minimize the environmentalal impact.
“It is a provincial park,” said Warren. “That’s first and foremost, and our relationship with parks is really strong. We work with them in terms of what can be done and where we are at with things.”
The NTPP is intended for recreation and tourism. It’s popular among snowmobile and ATV users, as well as hikers, bikers and cross-country skiers. It has come a long way since its opening in 1997, said Warren.
“It’s the effort of us, along with the provincial government, and the different departments. We’ve come a long way over the last dozen years, and, hopefully, we can keep it that way for 2017, when the trail opens right across the country.”
The province is rich in tourism destinations, and the NTPP is among the top must-sees in the province, and having the NTCO will help to continue that interest, Warren said.
“The trail, as we often like to refer to it, is the backbone across the province, with all the other trails spinning off in so many different places,” he said. “You can walk along the trail and shoot off into community A, shoot off into community B, and then come back to the trail. The charitable arm will certainly help to maintain that backbone.”
The NTPP has been a big economic stimulator for the province and will continue to grow in value, and offers a wide range of benefits for the province and the people who use it, said Warren.
“I think it gives the province some continuity in that it’s a common link right across,” he said. “It also preserves a piece of history because it is a former railbed. You can go up on the Gaff Topsails and see that the trains did go through there, and go through all the communities the same as the train used to.
It not only lends itself to history, but geography as well.
“If you look at the trail across the province, you see very distinct features. You’ll see the gamut of different natural features as you stroll across,” said Warren.