Mayor walks out re City Engineer firing – Feb 23, 1891

The Board of Works report instructs the City Clerk to fire the current Engineering Department staff and advertise for a new staff (Alderman Brighouse, Godfrey, Templeton and Brown supporting the motion, Alderman de Pencier dissenting). Mayor David Oppenheimer refuses to put the question to council, as he considered the action of the Board illegal in discharging the whole engineering staff. He left the room stating that any further business would be illegal.

This transcript was made in 2016 by Transcribimus volunteer Christopher Stephenson
and sponsored by Shirley Barnett

original handwritten minutes here
City of Vancouver Archives
Series 23-A Volume 4, pages 235-245

Vancouver February 23rd 1891

The Council met on Monday February 23rd 1891 at 8 P.M.
Present His Worship the Mayor, and Aldermen Brighouse, Carroll, Godfrey, Scoullar, Hobson, Templeton, Brown, McDowell, DePencier, and Doering.
The Minutes of last meeting were read and adopted.

From Dr. Thomas thanking the Council for appointing him to the position of hospital physician.

From the Chief of Police reporting upon the electric lights.

From the Police Magistrate reporting upon the case of John McCulloch.
Referred to the Finance Committee

From B.T. Rogers asking for the deeds of the Sugar Refinery Site.
Referred to the Finance Committee

From the City Solicitor furnishing a copy of the notice served on the Vancouver Water Works Co under Section 35 of their Act.

From D. Robson, City Clerk of New Westminster acknowledging the receipt of the resolution of Council re the late fire.

From F.G. Twigg complaining about the Police Magistrate.
Referred to the Police Committee

From J.J. Blake asking for the British Columbia District Telegraph & Delivery Co asking for the use of the streets for their purposes
Referred to the Board of Works.

From the Market Clerk furnishing the weekly report.

From A.M. Tyson, Acting Adjutant Vancouver Rifles asking for the Market Hall for drilling purposes.

From James Curran et al asking for a sidewalk on Homer Street from Nelson Street South.
Referred to the Board of Works.

From His Worship the Mayor informing the Council that Mr. J.M. Browning would consent to act as Arbitrator for the City in the Water Works purchase and recommending his appointment unanimously.

From the Secretary of the School Board expressing disapproval of certain Sections of the proposed School Act and asking Council to endorse these objections

The following reports were received and read:-

Market. No 3.
The Market Committee met on Friday February 20th 1891.

Present Alderman Godfrey, Brown, Templeton, Brighouse and Doering
A plan drawn by C.W.H. Sansom, showing the proposed changes to the Market Building to provide for a rear exit, was laid before the Committee for consideration.

It was resolved that the plan be adopted with the exception that the stairway and doorway be made six feet wide instead of 4 ½ feet; it was further resolved that the specifications be prepared and tenders called for.

The Committee fixed the 1st and 3rd Fridays in each month at 3 P.M. for their days of meeting.

It was resolved that for churches and charitable purposes a rental fee of ten dollars a night be charged for the Market Hall and thirty five dollars a night for all other purposes; these charges to include lighting and heating but not attendance.

The following accounts were recommended for payment:-
W.S. Cook. Lime. $1.25
G. McFarland. Gates. 18.00
sgd A. Godfrey,

Moved by Alderman McDowell.
Seconded by “ Scoullar.
That the Report of the Market Committee be adopted.

Finance No 6.

The Finance Committee met on Friday February 20th 1891.
Present His Worship the Mayor and Aldermen Brown, Hobson, Scoullar, and Doering.
It was recommended:-
1 That the subscription to the Weekly World (now being sent to Great Britain) be not renewed.
2 That $6000.00 be paid over to the Trustees of the Sinking Fund.
3 That $2000.00 be placed to the Mayor’s credit for A.D. 1891.
4 That the following accounts be paid:-
Market accounts.
Board of Works accounts.
Deputy Returning Officers. $8.00
Queen Bros. Buggy hire. 5.00
News Advertiser, Printing 27.63
sgd. Wm. Brown

Moved by Alderman Brighouse
Seconded by Alderman McDowell.
That the clause in the Report of the Finance Committee in reference to the Mayor’s Salary be referred back to the Finance Committee.

Moved by Alderman Godfrey
Seconded by “ McDowell.
That the balance of the report be adopted as read.

Works. No 6.
The Board of Works met on Thursday February 19th 1891.
Present – Aldermen Brighouse, Godfrey, Templeton, Brown, and DePencier.

It was recommended:-
1 That the following accounts be paid:-
S.T. Tilley. Stationery. $6.20
F.W. Hart. Map Rollers. 3.66
Thos. Dunn & Co. Hardware. 31.17
H.A. Berry & Co. Drayage. 4.50
D.A. McFarland. Clay. 4.00
Brown & White. Sheeting 2.50
J.M. O.Toole. Plumbing. 77.40
Bradshaw & Urquhart. Hastings Park. 348.44
D. Morgan. Victoria St. 737.10
Henderson Directory Co. Street Numbers. 25.00
R.C.P. Mills Co. Lumber. 124.23

2 That the City Clerk be instructed to advertise for a Chief engineer for this City: all applicants to enclose testimonials; all applications to be sent in by the 16th of March before noon. The successful applicant must be able to show experience as a Sanitary and hydraulic engineer.
That the City Clerk notify the present engineer and his staff that their services will not be required after the 31st of March 1891.
Alderman DePencier dissenting

3 That tenders be invited for the lumber required by the City delivered where required.

4 That tenders be invited for a 20 horse power water motor for the rock crusher.

5 That circulars be printed notifying property owners re fencing along all sidewalks which are dangerously high.

6 That a sidewalk be built on the South side of Barnard Street from Gore Avenue to Dunlevy Avenue and a crossing to the West side of Gore Avenue.

7 That permission be granted to Sinclair Harcus to remove his building from Lot one, Block 13, 196 to Lot 3, Block 13, 196. Subject to the conditions of the By-Law in the matter of advertising etc. He to remove said building outside of the fire limits after the 15th of May 1891

8 That the City Solicitor be instructed to advise the Board on the subject of the location of Westminster Av between the property of Mrs. H.E. Henry and James McGeer; also that he be instructed to ascertain where Powell Street his [sic?] and that steps be at once taken to open it up.

9 That permission be not granted to Messrs Boyd and McWhinnie to erect a frame building on the corner of Oppenheimer Street and Columbia Avenue same being contrary to the By-Law.

10 That the City Engineer be instructed to have the hospital fence on the east side repaired.

11 That the petitions from F.W. Sentell etal re Harris St. and Chas. A. Beals etal re Davie Street be laid over until the Estimates are being compiled.

12 That the communication from Bodwell Bros. re repairs to fences on Openheimer Street be referred to the City Solicitor for his opinion thereon.

13 That the communication from Edward Heastie re wages for work done on South Park be received and filed; also the communication from the Pacific Asphalt Co. Limited.
sgd S. Brighouse

After the Report was read the Mayor stated that he would not put the report to a vote of the Council as he considered the action of the Board illegal in discharging the whole engineering staff.

Moved by Alderman Templeton
Seconded by “ Brighouse

That the Report of the Board of Works be adopted as read.

The Mayor refused to put the motion

After a considerable amount of time was spent in argument the Mayor left the room for a few moments calling upon Alderman Carroll to take the Chairman

It was then moved by Alderman Templeton
Seconded by Alderman McDowell,

That the Report of the Board of Works be adopted.

Before the motion could be put the Mayor returned and took the Chair.

After another period of waiting the Mayor again left the room calling upon Alderman DePencier to take the Chair.

It was moved by Alderman Templeton
Seconded by Alderman McDowell,

That Alderman DePencier be appointed Chairman

Moved by Alderman McDowell
Seconded by “ Brighouse

That the Report of the Board of Works be adopted.

The Chairman stated that he wished to look over some papers first.

After this statement was made it was moved by Alderman Templeton seconded by Alderman McDowell
That the City Clerk put the motion as the Chairman refuses.

The City Clerk then put the motion which was carried.

The Mayor returned a moment afterwards and resumed the Chair.

It was moved by Alderman Brighouse
Seconded by Alderman DePencier

That the Council stand adjourned

The Mayor stated that the Council stood adjourned but Alderman Templeton said there was no adjournment as the motion was not put to Council.

The Mayor said the Council stood adjourned from the time he rose from his seat.

He refused again to take the Chair and left the room stating that any further business would be illegal.

It was then moved by Alderman Godfrey
Seconded by Alderman Templeton

That Alderman McDowell be appointed Chairman.


Moved by Alderman Godfrey
Seconded by “ Templeton.

That leave be granted to the Vancouver Rifle Corps to use the new market hall two nights a week on unengaged nights; not more than one hundred men to drill at once


Moved by Alderman Carroll
Seconded by “ McDowell.

That Mr. J.M. Browning be and he is hereby appointed on behalf of the City of Vancouver to act as Arbitrator between the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Water Works Co. Ltd. His remuneration to be fixed at the same amount as the Vancouver Water Works Co. Pay to their arbitrator.

Moved by Alderman Brown
Seconded by “ Templeton

That the Council confirm the notice of intention to proceed arbitration for the purchase of the Water Works System of the Vancouver Water Works Co. served on the Secretary to the Company on the 18th of February 1891 be confirmed and that the arbitration be proceeded with, with as little delay as possible.

Moved by Alderman Brown
Seconded by “ Scoullar.

That the following resolution of the School Board be adopted by this Council and telegraphed to Victoria:-

“That this Board desires to emphatically express its disapproval of the following principles in the Bill now before the legislative assembly of British Columbia intitled an Act respecting the public schools.

1st Constituting the Executive Council a Council of Public Instruction

2nd appointment of City Trustees by the Council of Public Instruction & the respective City Councils.

3rd Withholding from Trustees the power to name the number of Teachers to be employed by them and to fix Salaries of the same.
And that this Board desires further to express

1st Its firm conviction that the Council of Public Instruction should be as nearly as practicable independent of the Executive Council.

2nd That all Trustees should be elected by the people they are supposed to represent.

3rd That in order to maintain the public school in a thoroughly efficient condition it is absolutely necessary that Trustees have full power to determine both the number of teachers to be employed by them and the salaries to be paid the same.

And be it further resolved that a copy of the resolution be transmitted to the Vancouver City Council with the request they endorse the same and have it telegraphed immediately to Messrs Cotton & Horne”


Moved by Alderman Brown.
Seconded by “ Templeton.

Whereas the City of Vancouver has for some time past been desirous of entering into an arbitration to ascertain the value of the Water Works system of the Vancouver Water Works Company

And whereas considerable correspondence has passed between the City and the Water Works Company with a view of carrying out the above object

And whereas the City have exercised the privileges granted it by the 35th Section of the Vancouver Water Works Company’s Act 1886 and given notice of the intention to proceed to arbitration and to acquire the said works under the provisions of the said Section

And whereas the Vancouver Water Works Company have introduced a Bill into the house of assembly at the present session having the object of forcing the City to arbitrate and pay any award that might be arrived at within a too limited time and have also in the same bill provided that in the event of the City not purchasing the said works within such limited time that an exclusive monopoly shall be granted to the Water Works Company to supply the said City with water for a period of 20 years.

Be it therefore resolved that a petition be forwarded to the House of Assembly urgently protesting against the passing of the said Bill on the grounds amongst others,

That no legal notice of the said Bill has been given by the said Water Works Company.

That the City have already availed themselves of the powers contained in the said 35th Section and given the notice required by that section

That it would work a great hardship and injustice to the citizens granting any exclusive monopoly to any Water Works Company to supply the City with water.

That the City if such an Act is passed will be absolutely without any adequate protection in the case of fire within the City as there is nothing in the Vancouver Water Company’s Act obliging them to keep up a proper pressure of water in the event of fire.


The Council then adjourned

D. Oppenheimer
Thos. F. McGuigan
City Clerk