It has been announced that Fredericton’s York St. train station is going to be fixed up and turned into a liquor store:

A lot of people are celebrating, but there’s one line in the article that makes me wonder:

Officials from J.D. Irving said they continue to pursue a development on the site that will facilitate the restoration of the train station.

This is almost telling me that the restoration must be attached to another project. If correct, this means one of two things:

  1. The announcement will only be of a tenant who will occupy the restored train station when they get around to restoring it.
  2. A major development is planned for that parcel of land, so JD Irving is going to use the train station as a catalyst to get the project approved.

Essentially, options 1 and 2 are the same with the only difference being the timeline.

As that neighbourhood has a history of being difficult to develop, pitting the train station restoration supporters against the NIMBYs is a smart move on JD Irving’s part.

I am predicting that the NIMBY brigade will complain with the following arguments:

  • “Liquor stores attract the wrong types of people. There will be drunks and hobos passed out in the bushes.”
  • “What they are proposing won’t ‘fit in’ with the rest of the neighbourhood”
  • “The new buildings won’t complement the look of the train station”
  • “Digging up the old railbeds will contaminate the groundwater”

JD Irving won’t have to do anything to quell the protests, they’ll have an army of restoration activists who will be more than willing to defend the project online. Heads will explode for anyone who is both a restoration activist and anti-development.

The other question that will be raised is: Who will be paying for all of this? I suspect that due to sealed lease terms, we’ll never know. JD Irving will probably foot the cost up front, but as it will cost 4x the market value of the building to restore, they can recover that cost by charging 4x the normal rent. Maybe someone else will be able to provide more info on this.

As a reference, here’s an overhead shot of the site:


By using the zoning boundaries on the City of Fredericton’s mapping page, I was able to guess the size of the lot. As you can see, it’s pretty large. Hopefully they’ll be able to use that lot to its full potential. They could even connect Carleton St. to Beaverbrook Ct. to provide access to the rear of the property.