City staff ask for public input on streetcar restoration during open house

The City of Windsor wants the public to weigh in on the best use for a streetcar that needs refurbishing.

The city has budgeted about $750,000 to restore the trolley

Several dozen people turned out to a public open house on uses for the city's historic streetcar. (Dale Molnar CBC News)

Streetcar number 351 once carried passengers on Windsor's streets. It now sits at RM Auto Restorations in Chatham-Kent awaiting a new life.

The streetcar was donated to the city last year and in return the city issued a tax receipt for $100,000. Now the parks department wants to hear ideas from the public about the best uses for the old trolly.

City staff held an open house at the Chimczuk Museum Wednesday night to hear input from the public.

"We're going to take forward all the suggestions, see what's really possible in terms of space and parameters and we'll be taking a report forward to council based on community input and asking council for final direction," said Cathy Masterson, manager of cultural affairs.

Streetcar No. 351 was built in 1919 and was purchased used by the city in 1926. (Dale Molnar CBC News)

The streetcar was built in Trenton, N.J. in 1919 and ran for a while on Staten Island, N.Y. before it was purchased by the city in 1926.

The city has budgeted about $750,000 for the restoration. 

One of the possible uses floated at a council meeting was a concession stand, but streetcar historian Bernie Drouillard thinks it should be restored to its original glory and set up under a canopy outside the art gallery building.

"With the amount of money being put into it and the quality of work being put into it it should go as a museum piece," said Drouillard, who attended the open house.

You can still see the number 351 on the side of the 99-year-old streetcar. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"Restore it and keep it out of the elements," was the suggestion from streetcar enthusiast Julien Wolfe. "I think it's a wonderful idea to preserve it."

Anyone who was unable to attend the open house can provide feedback online until the end of February.

Dale Molnar