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Barbara Mote is an engineer with the Heritage Railway - 2013 Photographer unknown.
4 March 2017
Rain Dampens Mini Train's Bottom Line


North Bay Ontario - When it rains on one of the most busiest days of the summer for a business it will undoubtedly hit the bottom line.
 
The Heritage Railway and Carousel Company had around 3,000 fewer rides last year compared to previous years.
 
According to the treasurer of the volunteer organization there's an easy explanation.
 
"We lost Canada Day," Don Coutts said Saturday.
 
"It rained all day. That's a big day for us. We usually provide 3,000 rides on that day alone."
 
Coutts said the Heritage Train and two carousels at the North Bay Waterfront is weather-dependent.
 
"So when it's extremely hot and humid there are very few people looking to take a ride and it's the same when it rains, there's fewer people hanging out at the waterfront."
 
The tourist attraction site usually garners 45,000 rides in a typical season, not including school groups that travel to the site for year-end parties and outings throughout June.
 
The highest ridership a few years ago was 50,000 rides.
 
Volunteers have attempted to attract new and returning riders by offering discounts, such as seven rides for $10.
 
"That went over very well," Coutts said.
 
"We did it one day per week, which was different every week, over the eight weeks in the summer."
 
Money raised from the carousels and train is reinvested back into the operations.
 
Coutts said hydro, water, and diesel fuel isn't cheap.
 
"We always have to replace a number of railway ties during a season," he said, adding there is only one paid employee on the payroll.
 
Members of the Heritage Railway and Carousel Company will be paying close attention to city council's decision when it comes to the Waterfront Master Plan.
 
When the mini train and carousels first opened in 1994 the plan was to construct an underpass for the train to go under when travelling back and forth through the Waterfront Park.
 
But that may change now.
 
The underpass might now be used for pedestrian traffic.
 
Coutts said the board hasn't sat down to discuss the plans and the impact it could have on the carousels and train.
 
"Most likely we'll be doing that next month," he said.
 
"The plan was originally to have a second train travel over and around the area near the North Bay Museum, but if there's changes it doesn't surprise me."
 
Coutts would like to see the mini train grow and expand, but only time will tell.
 
He would also like to see the Heritage Train be more accessible for people in wheelchairs and scooters.
 
Coutts said the carousel is now equipped with a lift to allow those in wheelchairs an opportunity to enjoy a ride.
 
"We had this one lady last summer, she must have been in her late 70s or early 80s, and she had never been on the carousel. We used the lift and she was able to enjoy the ride," he said.
 
"She was having so much fun we must have left her on for two or three rides."
 
Coutts said since the tourist information center closed volunteers have been acting as ambassadors for the city.
 
He said volunteers are often inundated with questions like what is there to do in North Bay?
 
"We're seeing a lot of families from the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and Sudbury coming to North Bay. I ask families why they're here and they are coming to enjoy our beaches and our waterfront."
 
Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles.

Quoted under the provisions in Section 29
of the Canadian Copyright Modernization Act.
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