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Lions Gate: The Bridge Free Enterprise Built

2. Opening Moves 1

Originally published at About.com - June 7, 1999

Taylor had considered three different projects for Vancouver; a hydro-electric plant at Indian Arm, a bridge across the First Narrows and the development of a high class residential community on the north shore. He wanted to lure British capital to invest in one or more of these projects and his good friend W.S. Eyre had already agreed to invest.

In 1930, Taylor dropped by in Ottawa to visit the Prime Minister, R.B. Bennett, to ascertain what opposition he might face from the federal government. Surprisingly, Bennett seemed enthusiastic about the idea of a bridge and British capital investment. It looked like federal opposition would be minimal.

Fortuitously, the City of West Vancouver offered to give away considerable tracts of land for the back taxes owing on them to anyone who would build a bridge. The poor access to that community had not been good for its economy and the default rate was high. In October, 1931 Taylor's newly incorporated British Pacific Properties concluded the land agreement with West Vancouver.

The two companies holding charters to build a bridge had merged in June of 1930 as the First Narrows Bridge Company. On December 4, 1931, Taylor and Eyre bought the company and its charters.

Taylor had insisted on buying the company rather than obtaining a new charter because he wanted to avoid any suggestion of graft or sharp practice. He told his wife, Mona, that someone in Ottawa had warned him to "take care. When you deal with a government, you are dealing with things that matter to a lot of people. Some men will go to great lengths to persuade you to do things their way, or else to break you!" 2

To proceed with their project, Taylor now needed to obtain Provincial Government approval to build at that site and to attach the bridge to a Provincial road, permission from the municipalities to build the bridge approaches, approval of the Parks Board to build a road through Stanley Park, a Vancouver City Franchise to operate the bridge with tolls, and Federal approval under the Navigable Waters Act. By late August of 1933, Provincial approval and the approval of the North Shore communities had been obtained. The major roadblock was the City of Vancouver. Federal approval, it was thought, would be routine.

Continue to next section - The Vancouver Plebiscite

Prologue | Opening Moves | The Vancouver Plebiscite

"Bennett's Private Blockade" | Endgame | Epilogue | Footnotes



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