© Dave Mathieson - Amherst Daily News
Ryan Beattie hopes he can work with government officials to keep his business, Hairstyles by Ryan, at the historic train station in Amherst. Beattie has been told to vacate the building by April 1.
AMHERST - Commerce might be all that keeps the historic Amherst train station from falling into dilapidated disrepair.
"As of April 1, I have to be out," said Ryan Beattie, who runs his business, Hairstyles by Ryan, out of the Via Rail train station.
"I can relocate, but that's the last thing I want to do. If I can work something out to maintain this location, I'm willing to do that."
Federal funding was cut to Via Rail by $6.5 million this year, and the Amherst train station hit the chopping block and closed Oct. 27.
The federal government owns the building, and Beattie's business has become collateral damage in the cutbacks.
"They want me out of here because they want to be able to shut the heat down, but if they do that this place will become dilapidated and fall apart," he said. "These old buildings need to be maintained, they have to have somebody in them to give them some love."
The building is a historic property that sits on Crown land, and town councillor Robert Bird said there are steps that need to be followed when the government tries to sell a historic property.
"Keeping with my understanding with how that process works is, it's a federal building, and it's first offered up for provincial use, and then offered up for municipal use so, sooner or later, it may fall to the town to do something with it," said Bird.
"The process is unfolding as we speak," he added. "The thing about it is that it started with the closing of the Via Rail passenger service here and the loss of those jobs, now it's having a potential negative impact on a business person in this facility.
"The last thing the town wants to do is to make it difficult to do business here, but we certainly don't want another boarded up, vacant building, especially a heritage property such as this.
Bird says the town is open for solutions and suggestions, so that whatever happens is thought out in a methodical manner that is beneficial to everyone concerned.
"We don't want what happened in Sackville with their heritage train station, and other trains stations all across the country, that are just sitting there and deteriorating," he said.
Bird said it's a ‘wonderful old building for a commercial venture.'
"Id like to see something positive come of this opportunity, and we're wide open for suggestion," he said. "Everyone talks about heritage until it comes time to write the cheque."
Beattie has been running his business out of the train station for about 18 months, and has put a lot of time and money into the property.
"This is something unique. It's tough to replace," he said. "The biggest thing to me is that this station is something to be proud of. It's something we should fight for. I don't see why they can't have a tenant in it.
"I want people to know that this building could be lost forever if we don't take the time to address the problem now."