Benalto Train Station may be on foundation for summer centennial

Work is continuing to transform Benalto Train Station into a hub of information, recreation and activity for the hamlet

A station profile drawing by Lisa Bauer shows what Benalto Train Station may look like on its foundation. The lower floor shows possible locations for windows and doors.

A station profile drawing by Lisa Bauer shows what Benalto Train Station may look like on its foundation. The lower floor shows possible locations for windows and doors.

Work is continuing to transform Benalto Train Station into a hub of information, recreation and activity for the hamlet, as Benalto Booster Club prepares for the station’s next move.

Eventually, the station will be relocated to its permanent site a short distance from where it’s currently situated.

There, it will undergo a number of changes to ultimately house a museum and archives, a meeting room and a games room, as well as several other possible options over the span of two floors.

Benalto Centennial Committee chair Dave More said it’s currently unclear when the station’s final move will happen, although the aim is to have it in place in time for the hamlet’s centennial celebrations in early June.

“We’d love to have the station sitting on its foundation by then — that’s our dream,” he said. “Whether it can come to that or not, we don’t know. There are a few little things we’ve got to sort out first.”

Once the station is on its foundation, plumbing and wiring upgrades and a number of renovations will need to be carried out.

If it does make it in time for the centennial, it’s unlikely to be open to foot traffic, according to More.

“It will be there, but it will be a construction site for quite some time,” he said.

Although money has been set aside for the move, the Booster Club is still fundraising to help cover the costs of other aspects of the project.

A $28,000 Red Deer County capital grant provided a boost, and additional grants will be pursued in the future, said More.

“We always have some grant applications in at various places, and that will be ongoing,” he said. “This is a long-term project, and it’s going to take place over several years before it’s fulfilled.”

Community donations are also being sought. More said people so far have been immensely supportive of the project.

“Because it’s going to be such an ongoing process, we’ll constantly need donations, and we’ll be looking for that and looking forward to it,” he said. “People have been very generous. This is major for our community.”

The station’s return to the hamlet last April marked a major triumph for the Booster Club and members of the community, whose fundraising and rallying efforts made the move possible.

It’s timing proved impeccable as Benalto gears up to celebrate its centennial June 6, 7 and 8.

At press time, celebration plans had yet to be confirmed, but were likely to be finalized within a week or two. At that time, a complete schedule of events will be created and distributed.

Among the events planned are a Benalto School Reunion, a car rally, a catered dinner, stage performances showcasing local musical and dance acts, and fireworks.

More said the weekend will provide a “full, three-day series of events”.

“The list (of events) is quite extensive,” he said. “There will be no shortage of things for people to do.”

Donations to the train station project may be sent to Benalto Booster Club, Box 135, Benalto, AB, T0M 0H0.