Monday, May 30, 2016

Cleveland's Water

The Greater Vancouver Water Board began operating in 1925 - bringing with it an amalgamated sewer system. Dr. E. A. Cleveland was put in charge and he began building the vast watershed and distribution system that gave Vancouver one of the finest water supplies in the world. It remains a monument to his name.

Cleveland liked to boast, "No case of disease has ever been traced to this city's water supply." He assured this by completely isolating the watershed with meticulous exclusion of all possible human disease carriers. 

During the Second World War, at the U.S. Navy's insistence (they were contracting port facilities here) the water was first chlorinated. Vancouverites were NOT happy about this. Many citizens travelled far afield to get untreated water.

Cleveland was heartbroken. The water system was his life's work and it all seemed for nothing now. Some public officials stated that the coliform bacteria count made chlorination mandatory. Cleveland fired back and said that this only proved dangerous bacteria could live in the water, not that it did. As well look to the perfect record of the system.

However, Cleveland was not successful with his arguments and the out-cry over the original chlorination died down, WWII ended and the water treatment continued. Albeit on a much reduced scale and it continues to this day.

According to a 1912 agreement between the CNR - Canadian National Railway - and the city, the CNR was obliged to build a hotel and a $20 million tunnel approach underneath the Grandview to the station on Main Street. The CNR was still using the Great Northern tracks to enter the city and had begun neither the tunnel nor the hotel.

Mayor L.D. Taylor took this project in hand and was determined to ensure that CNR held up its end of the agreement. During negotiations, he did compromise though. He yielded on the tunnel and persuaded Sir Henry Thornton to agree to a 600-room rather than a 500-room hotel. In December 1928, work began on the present day Hotel Vancouver at Georgia and Burrard Streets.

Thanks to the book Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis by Alan Morley for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

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