The Transit Hotel first opened its doors over a hundred years ago, in September of 1908. Strategically located at the corner of Fort Road and 66th, the hotel and bar became known as the “Frist and Last Chance Saloon,” where travellers could grab a drink after stepping off the train to Edmonton. The hotel was also where people would go for one last beer before getting on the train to travel to Fort Saskatchewan.
The current owner of the Transit Hotel, David Egan, remembers driving by the building when he was growing up in the Edmonton area. Egan shared that it was sad seeing the building start to degrade over the years, which led to a complete shut-down of the business in 2017. After the closure, some Edmontonians took it upon themselves to preserve the charm of the building, including a 112-year-old smoker oven.
To learn more about the Transit Hotel’s interesting history, check out this video.
New Chapter for Edmonton Landmark
The Transit Hotel underwent a renovation process in 2020, bringing new life to the historically significant landmark building in Edmonton’s core.
Egan and his team took over ownership and management with the goal of restoring the century-old building to its historic glory. “I’m absolutely a history buff,” Egan stated. The team still has big plans for the building’s future as a restaurant, bar, hotel, and historic landmark for Edmontonians and tourists to experience. Unfortunately, they hit several snags, costing them more time and bringing their renovation plans from three months to over nine months.
"We are in the process of putting together our third engineers' report, then our second city inspection. After that, we are ready to open."
We asked David Egan what changes to the process would have made a difference for their opening schedule. Egan replied, "To allow us to apply for permits while awaiting our business license that took 4 months. The department refused to look at our application until that point."
New Permit Policy Proposals for Edmonton Businesses
Recently, Edmonton City Councillor Mike Nickel used his social media platform for the announcement of a “Launch Permits” policy for city growth which Nickel states will “provide more certainty to business and help them open months quicker, with guaranteed timelines.”
Egan spoke on issues with the City of Edmonton regarding permit applications. Egan stated that it took four months to acquire the Transit Hotel business license with multiple delays. Permit applications for the much-needed renovations were put on hold, pushing back the restaurant’s opening to 2021. Egan’s team also struggled with obtaining the structural permits, BBQ smoker permits, and permits to re-designate the building from “pub” to “hotel-restaurant.”
Nickel, a mayoral candidate, has become known for putting pressure on Edmonton’s city council and management for better services for new and expanding businesses. Nickel consistently raises issues on tax dollar spending and has proven himself to be a voice of the people.
“Hundreds [or] Thousands of times a year, businesses get unnecessary delays, 7, 8, 9, months to get permits to simply open their businesses. Let’s be honest, it’s having a real impact on jobs and the economy in the city. I’ve released a plan to reduce taxes by 3.5% for all businesses.” Nickel continued, “There’s more to come. I’m sick and tired of special interest groups gaming our system. For small and medium-sized businesses to flourish in this city, we need a level playing field. No more special deals for special friends.” - Mike Nickel
Whether or not Nickel delivers on these hefty statements, the fact remains that the City of Edmonton is in need of change. Businesses like the historic Transit Hotel will flourish under better organization of administration for permits and license applications.