McAdam Railway Station going green

(Submitted photo) The McAdam Historical Restoration Commission is receiving a combined $1.1 million from the federal and provincial governments for its geothermal heating and cooling project. On hand for the announcement on Aug. 26 were, from left, Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin, St. Croix MLA Kathy Bockus, Elsie Carroll, president of the commission, commission treasurer Frank Carroll, and Village of McAdam Mayor Ken Stannix.

McADAM – A geothermal project years in the making got a boost recently with the allocation of federal and provincial government dollars.

The two governments announced on Aug. 26 a total of $1.1 million for the McAdam Railway Station for its project that will see 30 vertical geothermal wells installed.

“The timeframe is meant to be in the government calendar year, so hopefully everything can be finished by the end of March 2024,” said Frank Carroll, treasurer for the McAdam Historical Restoration Commission’s board of directors.

“The project began initially about three and a half years ago, and COVID was a factor in much of the delays we’ve seen.”

Along with the federal and provincial government funds, the commission is spending around $225,000 for the project.

Carroll said they were able to secure engineering firm Tweedie and Associates with the help of ACOA two and a half years ago.

“They really are the experts in the field of geothermal and they’ve been exploring the site to see where geothermal wells could be installed.”

Thanks to the Village of McAdam, the railway station will use village property in front of the station for the wells.

“They will be a closed system, so we will be taking no water and no materials out of the ground,” Carroll explained, adding pipes will be filled with the materials needed to bring the heat to the surface.

When they’ll break ground on the wells depends on when they can secure well drillers to begin the work.

Carroll has been involved with another project in the local area with geothermal heating and says they’ve experienced excellent operating cost savings. When the station was looking at other sources for heat, geothermal came out on top.

It’s expected the project will save the railway station 50 per cent of heating costs, and, with an annual bill around $80,000, Carroll says it would be a significant savings.

“We have figures on today’s current costs, and it’s estimated to be a little higher than 50 per cent, but we know heating costs are going to continue to rise, as will the cost of geothermal.”

Through ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund, the commission will receive $750,000 for the project. The provincial government is contributing $350,000 through the Regional Development Corporation.

During the current season at the railway station, they see around 30,000 visitors from May 1 to Dec. 31, however the present heating system doesn’t allow much in terms of visitors or events from autumn on. By improving the heating system, Carroll says it will allow them to extend the season properly.

“That’s a very important factor for us,” he said.

Because of the number of wells and the infrastructure planned for this project, Carroll says it is designed to heat the entire building. The first year, however, will only be the main floor.

But, the system being designed to heat the entire building means the commission can look at the development of the second floor.

“We are hoping that will be a 20-room hotel like it was back in its heyday.”

He said development of the second floor will also allow for more participation in events later in the season, which is something they don’t have at present.

“This is a major initiative that addresses the future of the building.”

St. Croix MLA Kathy Bockus, also minister of Seniors for the province, was on hand for the announcement along with Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin.

“The McAdam Railway Station is the hub of the community of McAdam and a beloved attraction for residents and visitors to and from the province,” said Bockus in the province’s press release about the funding. “With this investment, the McAdam Historical Restoration Committee will be able to install geothermal heating, extend the season, increase visitation and contribute to the local economy.”