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“Pacific Press To Pay For Street Vending Boxes”, reads a headline in the Vancouver Sun, as the city’s newspaper monopoly airs its grievances with City Council in a very public fashion.
“Pacific Press, which publishes the Sun and the Province, is going to have to pay for the privelege of selling newspapers from vending machines on city streets,” the paper reports bitterly. “City council voted Tuesday to charge $10 a year license fee for the 1,000 vending machines in the city operated by Pacific Press.”
“Three years ago, the tax on books was removed,” complains Alderman Bill Gibson, the sole alderman who opposed the charges, in the first quote of the story.
Until recently, newspapers have avoided the traditional license fee charged on all public vending machines, owing to the fact that the Sun and Province were sold from unlocked boxes, on the honour system. However, since the creation of the Pacific Press monopoly, and the subsequent institution of locked newspaper boxes, council has voted to change the terms of the agreement.
“This is not a question of freedom of the press,” Alderman Harry Rankin tells reporters. “If you use space on city streets and you charge for newspapers what’s that got to do with freedom of the press?”
Tax exemptions, the paper reports, are still granted to the B.C. Jockey Club, and Burrard Amusements Ltd., both of whom operate on the PNE grounds.
Mayor Jack Volrich responds tersely to questions on the development, noting that the city currently pays close to $100,000 per year for legal advertisements to Pacific Press.
“The city,” he replies, “doesn’t get a break from them.”
IMAGE: Vancouver Province delivery boys, circa 1940s. Image courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.