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Lions Gate: The Bridge Free Enterprise Built

3. The Vancouver Plebiscite

Originally published at About.com - June 7, 1999

As expected, Vancouver approval did not come so routinely. Sir Edward Beatty, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, stirred up controversy over the proposed bridge, suggesting it should be longer than planned. Sir Alexander Gibbs, a noted authority on bridge building retained by the bridge company, had studied the site and concluded that a 1200 foot span 170 feet above high water would be adequate. Taylor and his partner set a 1500 foot span and 200 foot height as minimum requirements, leaving a considerable margin over the figures recommended by their expert. In spite of this the bridge was rejected by Vancouver City Council.

On November 9, 1933, a revised proposal was presented to the Council. Taylor, his Vancouver manager John Anderson and the company's lawyer were in attendance.

The first item on the agenda was the proposed road from the Georgia Street entrance of Stanley Park to the bridge site. There was a traffic problem at the entrance and a new road and bridge would solve the problem. Further, the company had agreed to build the road at their own expense, a cost of $400,000, thus saving the Vancouver taxpayers the cost of a road that the city would have to build anyway. A sour note came from the City Engineer who thought, no doubt, that his department was being deprived of a job that was rightfully theirs.

A lot of bickering arose among the aldermen over the proposal. One alderman accused the Mayor (who favoured the bridge) and certain aldermen of trying to stampede through the proposal without a plebiscite. The issue remained unresolved.

The next day Taylor approached council and urged a plebiscite. He overcame any objections and amazed his audience by stating that the bridge company would pay the expense of conducting such a referendum. Council voted approval and set the date for December 13.

Beatty and some Board of Trade members tried to discredit the bridge proposal, but to no avail. Out of 24,000 voters, 17,000 voted in favour of the bridge. Now only one more formality remained, the Federal Government.

Continue to next section - "Bennett's Private Blockade"

Prologue | Opening Moves | The Vancouver Plebiscite

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



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