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  • Writer's pictureCraig Baird

Utility Plans And Freight Service

In June 1935, Vermilion was going through the heart of The Great Depression. It was a difficult time, and the community banded together to help each other through the difficult time.

While The Great Depression was the major news of the day, there were several other things happening in Vermilion at the time.

Vermilion was hoping to pressure the Canadian National Railway to provide the community with 24-hour freight service. At a luncheon held on June 6, the Board of Trade presented a plea to the CNR asking that they utilize the facilities of the railway for shipping and freighting on a regular basis in the community.

The main cause for concern was the establishment of a 24-hour service.

Also at this time, the federal government took over the former Royal Bank of Canada building to use as a post office building.

At the same time, Vermilion attempted to impose a business tax on the Midland Bus Company that was operating between Vermilion and Edmonton. This was dismissed by the tax commission of Alberta. The company had appointed a hotel manager as its agent, and tickets were sold out of the hotel office. The town claimed the company was using the hotel for business purposes and therefore had to be charged a business tax. The provincial government felt different though.

Vermilion also rejected a plan for the sale of the community utilities. In a plebiscite that was held on June 28, residents were asked if they wanted to continue ownership of the utilities, or sell it to a private company. Canadian Utilities had offered to purchase the utilities and two-thirds of ratepayers had to vote in favour of the sale.

In the end, 71 voted in favour of keeping the electricity as a public utility, while 102 voted in favour of selling the electric plants. While more people wanted to sell the plants, the community did not get the two-thirds majority that was required for the sale.

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