Preston, streetcar, rezoning

Preston North of Somerset September 2, 1951

The photo shows a streetcar on Preston, running northwards towards to Albert Street (then called Wellington). The photograph is taken from the corner of Elm at Preston, looking south.  The store in the background is still there, now it houses Pubwells, at the corner of Spruce.

The thinner pole holding a guywire on the left seems to be a streetcar rail uprighted and embedded into the pavement.

Some cobblestones peek through the asphalt at the crosswalk. After tearing them all out, in favour of smooth road surfaces of asphalt,  the City reinstalled paver stone crosswalks in 2011.

Beyond the buildings a clump of trees marks the front yard of the Plant Pool building.

If we walk up to that corner of Somerset and Preston, and go back in time to c1920, we can look back to see the streetcar in winter. Every building in this picture, from Pubwells on the left to all the houses, are still there today. Maybe not for much longer.

1920 Preston St

While the street has been residential for over a century, the city is well underway to rezone all these houses for commercial uses.

I have no doubt that after they sever the residential neighbourhood into segments, the city will be happy to rezone the remaining blocks for “redevelopment” as they would then be too small to be viable. Like they did for Norman Street and others south of the Queensway.

Blockbusting used to be a tactic of nasty landlords and property speculators. Now it seems a preferred tactic of the Corporation of the City of Ottawa.

There will be a public meeting on this at 7pm Wednesday 21 January at the Rochester Room of the Plant Rec Facility.

Progress Ottawa style, 2015.


did you notice the hockey pucks on the street in front of Pubwells, awaiting kids coming home from school? Too bad they aren’t there today to take to that public meeting !

I haven’t been able to confirm this, but acquaintances tell me that under the new ONtario disability act that came into play Jan 1st, commercial conversions will have to be “accessible”, which means that each house conversion would require a ramp out to the sidewalk (most houses along here are 5 steps to 9 steps above sidewalk), raising the porch floor to be flush with the doorsill, replacing the railings with much higher ones, and removing the wood doors and cutting the façade of the building to create a wider doorway. I’m sure the resultant carpentry will be an asset to the historic rowhouses and streetscape. Is any reader familiar with the provisions of the new Act?

One thought on “Preston, streetcar, rezoning

  1. I am not against the commercial rezoning- with the hope of making this stretch a mixed use area, shops on the ground floor and apartments upstairs. I would be upset if the side streets were converted to condos. If the City thinks the short side streets are nonviable, they should start with the ‘Glebe Annex’ area between Bronson and Dows Lake (Madawaska Dr, Old Sunset and the rich football bus hating folks on Lakeside.).
    It will be interesting to see how this stretch of Preston deals with accessibility. Ramps to the ground floor will be tricky, but so will buying all the houses in the 2 rows on the West side, between Spruce and Elm.

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