Wednesday, December 16, 1987 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will call the House to order. At this time we will begin with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
Are there any Report of Committees?
Are there any Petitions?
Petition No. 1
Clerk: I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 1 of the Fourth Session of the 26th Legislative Assembly, as presented by the hon. Member for Whitehorse Porter Creek East on December 15, 1987. Pursuant to Standing Order 66 of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, it is my responsibility to present a report upon any petition presented to the Assembly.
The subject matter of this petition may not be proper in that it appears to address a matter delegated by the Yukon Legislative Assembly to the Yukon Housing Corporation. In this respect Annotation 683(2) in Beauchesne states: A petition cannot be considered if it concerns a matter delegated by Parliament to another body. It is not clear, however, whether the precedents of the House of Commons of Canada should be applied in a strict fashion to petitions presented in this Assembly. In the absence of clear direction and in recognition of the spirit of the House as expressed on December 2, 1987, during the debate on Motion No. 9, I am reluctant to report to the House that Petition No. 1 is deficient on this point. The Table would request that the Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges, in its review of the rules governing petitions, give consideration to whether petitions such as this one should be reported upon favourably in the future.
In reference to the Standing Orders and forms by which this Assembly governs its proceedings, Petition No. 1 conforms in all respects.
Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order No. 66, Petition No. 1 is deemed to be read and received.
Introduction of Bills?
Are there any Notices of Motion for Production of Papers?
Are there any Notices of Motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Phelps: I have a Notice of Motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to amend sections 3 and 4 of the Garage Solid Fuel Fire Appliances Regulations, O.I.C. 1987/39, made pursuant to the Building Standards Act because these regulations impose an excessive financial burden on Yukoners who wish to install a solid fuel fired appliance in a garage; and
THAT the Government of Yukon develop less rigorous, more reasonable regulations to govern the installation of solid fuel fired appliances in garages that will meet acceptable and appropriate safety standards.
Speaker: Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: White Pass Railway
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions of the Government Leader with regard to the much talked about negotiations going on for the purchase of White Pass by a consortium of business people led by Mr. Rolf Hougen of Whitehorse. Of course that railway is very near and dear to the hearts of the people who live in Carcross. My first question of the Government Leader is that he has already expressed that this government was looking at two options to get involved in the sale: one was the purchase of land to reduce the total price of the railway to the consortium, and the other was shares.
I am wondering whether or not the government has a preference as to either or those two options.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I hope the Leader of the Opposition will understand my reluctance to answer that question directly and I will explain why. It is my belief that neither of those options, by themselves, would be sufficient to achieve a sale under the terms that are presently being negotiated.
Mr. Phelps: Very well, I will go on to the next supplementary question.
One of my main concerns about this proposed deal is that the train not be taken over and then run only from Skagway to Fraser or Skagway to Bennett, and not into the Yukon. I would like it to run at least to Carcross and preferably all the way to Whitehorse on a regular basis. I am wondering whether the government will make that a condition of any investment it might make in the purchase.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not believe there is any substantial difference of opinion between us on this question. Clearly, there would be little point in the Yukon Territory investing substantial sums of money in order to have the railway run a short loop from Skagway to the summit, or even just to Fraser. We would like to see it go to Carcross and preferably to Whitehorse. Whether we have a perfect community of interest between other potential investors and us on that score, I think, is a matter that is not yet clear.
Mr. Phelps: I certainly hope that they will insist on that before this government gets involved.
My final supplimentary is whether the government is at liberty at speaking about any kind of ball park figure as to the kind of money they are looking at on this project?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I am not at liberty to disclose sums. I think it would be wrong for me to encourage speculation on that point. I think it is evident from news reports that there is a gap between the asking price and what the proposed purchasers believe would be a market price that would give a commercial rate of return. It is that gap that governments are being asked to fill, essentially.
Question re: NorthwesTel sale
Mr. Phelps: My next question has to do with the much publicized sale or the privatization of NorthwesTel. I have been receiving phone calls from a good many constituents who are of like mind to myself, and do not believe the government ought to be investing in what is already a viable private business. My question is: has this government met with or is it going to meet with the Government of the Northwest Territories with regard to a possible joint purchase of NorthwesTel?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government has every intention of meeting with the Government of the Northwest Territories to discuss the announced sale by CNT of its holdings in NorthwesTel. At this point, the offer has been extended from the Yukon to the government of the NWT to meet; we have not yet set any time or date for such a meeting of officials or ministers. We have no idea what their position is with respect to the interests they would presumably try to protect. Our interests have been stated publicly on the record to influence the sale, and we would be carrying our position to the government of the NWT to determine whether or not there are common interests at stake.
Mr. Phelps: Our party would be opposed to the government buying that corporation. I would want to go on the record as being opposed. Will the Government Leader undertake to debate such a purchase in this Legislature before this government or its development corporation enters into any binding agreement to buy an interest in NorthwesTel?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We are still at the stage that we are assessing all our options in response to the sale of this company. Our options are grounded in the protection of what we believe to be the public interest, including the maintenance of the head office and the head office jobs here. Our response would also be dictated by a concern that the company fall into hands that may be not be northern based, or even Canadian based, and that we could lose that head office and those jobs.
I think I am safe in saying it is extremely unlikely that there would be any proposal under which the Yukon government would try to buy the whole thing, but we are going to, as the Minister responsible indicated, have conversations with the Government of the Northwest Territories and others about the sale, including the employees. No determination has been made yet about what options we are going to pursue.
The timing of the sale and the timing of the sittings of this Legislature may not mesh perfectly, but I would certainly give an undertaking to the Leader of the Official Opposition that, one way or the other, there would be a consultation by both sides and some kind of proper debate about our decisions. I just hope that he would understand that we may have to make some decisions expeditiously, and those decisions maybe required of us at a time when the House is not sitting.
Question re: Hyways, flying rock
Mr. McLachlan: I want to ask the Minister of Community and Transportation Services about some of the problems of rock that is flying off the Yukon Alaska trucks. When the Deputy Minister of the department was in Faro in September he made reference to the awarding of a contract, which I believe is a local contract in the territory, to a company to conduct an in depth study of the aerodynamics of the trucks and the trailer designs that are currently being used by Yukon Alaska. Can the Minister confirm that this contract or study has been awarded?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding is that the contract has not been awarded, largely because of the terms of reference by the contractor for the study itself. The issue has been referred to Transport Canada and their research facilities to see if they can ascertain what the reasons are, from the aerodynamics of the truck, for the spraying of rocks laterally out the side of the truck. The analysis has not been completed, to my understanding, and we have not received any word from Transport Canada as to whether or not they have come to any conclusions. We have attempted to determine through our own analysis - visual analyses, people driving along beside the truck - what circumstances and what conditions cause the flying rocks. There is some thought within the Department as to why the rocks come up. There have been some suggestions with action to be taken with respect to mud flaps, et cetera, and remedial action has been attempted jointly with Yukon Alaska Transport.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister advise, if the government is not doing a formal study, if the trucking company is attempting a remedy or have access to any of their specialized help through their Alaskan partners?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In terms of our own actions, we have taken the trucks on the road and done some visual analysis, and we have referred it to a research facility to try to do the technical work for us. The company, Yukon Alaska Transport, has been trying to redesign the trailers with axle loading and flying rocks aerodynamics in mind, as the major considerations for improvements. My understanding is at the present time they have not come up with a final design that will satisfy those two concerns.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister stated last April and May that the Safety Division of Transport Canada would be involved then. That was half a year ago. Can the Minister advise if the Ottawa experts have been able to contribute anything significant towards the cause of the problem or perhaps the remedy to the problem? Do we have anything formal from Transport Canada?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know if they can be classified as Ottawa experts. They are technicians who are trained in aerodynamics. They were asked to have a look at this matter. They have done air screen tests on the design of the trailers to try and determine what might cause the problems with rock flying. They have not come to any conclusions.
Question re: Ross River arena
Mrs. Firth: After the Government Leaders visit to Ross River and discussions about the recreational complex, the residents of Ross River believed that this government was committed to completing the whole recreational complex. Can the Minister of community and Transportation Services tell me if that commitment has changed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Community Association has a long term goal to incorporate three components of the recreational complex in Ross River. The first is to build the arena. The second is to build a community hall, and the third is to build a curling rink. We have agreed, through our spending commitment, to finish the arena and the community hall portion. The community has some long term plans, so the government has made no commitment to meet all their long term aspirations at this point.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is telling the residents of Ross River that the government is not going to fulfill its commitment, that they made that up at that public meeting in Ross River, and that there is no commitment to complete the curling rink. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is not correct, no.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister is getting all red in the face, irritable and flustered. I am asking these questions on behalf of the people in Ross River - in your riding, Mr. Speaker. They were left with the impression from the Government Leader that the whole complex was going to be completed: the curling rink, the arena and the community hall, and it had to be completed. . .
Speaker: Order, please. Would the Member please get to the supplementary question?
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I will. It had to be completed for them to be able to raise revenues. Is the government committed to completing the curling rink or not?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government had indicated to the Ross River Community Association what its plans were with respect to supporting the communitys initiatives in its long term desire to upgrade their recreation facilities. There are, of course, aspirations shared by many communities to upgrade their recreation facilities. We indicated to the community association long ago that we were prepared to go with the arena and with the community hall portions of their plans. That was the commitment, and that commitment is being fulfilled.
Question re: Social housing policy
Mr. Nordling: I would like to follow up on the questions asked yesterday with respect to this governments social housing policy, or lack thereof. On December 10, 1986 it was reported that the overhaul of the Housing Corporation would include a policy paper on social housing to be delivered shortly to Cabinet. Was that document delivered to Cabinet and, if so, when? I am not asking for a speech; just a simple answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is going to have to pardon me, but if I detect a loaded question I will try to provide complete information.
The Cabinet did not receive a draft social housing policy proposal, because the Minister and the Housing Corporation Board both felt that a more community-based approach to developing such an improvement to the social housing policy was the proper way to go, and those improvements are being sought now.
Mr. Nordling: When was it decided that the social housing policy ought to be reviewed through thorough public consultation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That was decided approximately a year ago.
Mr. Nordling: When did the thorough public consultation begin, and how and by whom is it being done, and when will it be completed?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member asked the last question and I answered yesterday. With respect to who is conducting it, the Yukon Housing Corporation Board and board members are discussing - at the community level with the housing associations and through discussions with municipal governments and community organizations - the details associated with making the social housing policy more community-based.
Question re: Social housing policy
Mr. Lang: I do not understand how the Minister and the Housing Corporation can announce a $60 million program when there is no social housing policy in place. Does that mean that the cost for the program they are intending to undertake in the next three to five years could be significantly higher than the $60 million program that the Housing Corporation has announced?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government has approved its spending program last year and this year, through the Capital Estimates, in an amount to be voted by the Legislature. Last years was voted, and this years comes up for discussion in the Legislature shortly and is outlined in the Capital Budget book.
The Yukon Housing Corporation Board announced what it thought was a reasonable spending program for housing over the course of the five year period. Their thoughts have been communicated to the government and, for Members information, have been incorporated into the Budget book.
I reiterate that there is no approved $60 million program. There are some things I would like to say about this, but I am not permitted to elaborate at great length.
With respect to the housing policy, there is a social housing policy and there is a housing policy. We are looking to make improvements on it.
Mr. Lang: With respect to policy, I have a question that is the same as one I asked two days ago, so the Minister can say he has been given notice. On December 14, I asked the following question: Does the government have a policy in place that gives an upper limit to the number of social housing units that can be placed in a given residential area of a community?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member asked the question already. I believe I indicated, at that point, that there was no limit and that there was an attempt to try to blend in the allocation of units with the aspirations of the community, to ensure the clientele mixed well with the community and the subcommunity in which the units may be placed. That is the principle of the policy the government has.
Mr. Lang: I have raised an issue here, and tabled a petition from some very concerned residents and taxpayers in the Bamboo Crescent area of Porter Creek. Their major concern is the number of public housing units that are located on that street and within half a block of that street. Presently there are four public housing units on that street, and the government intends to proceed with four more. In view of the fact that almost half...
Speaker: Would the Member please get to the question.
Mr. Lang: In view of the fact that if the government proceeds with the program they have outlined, almost half of the houses on that street would be public housing, will the government reconsider the decision to proceed with the two duplexes on that particular crescent?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The petition was tabled yesterday and will be communicated to the government today. I will be transmitting the petition to the Yukon Housing Corporation for response from them. When I get the response I will respond to the petition and to the concerns expressed by the Member in the times that are dictated by the rules of this House.
Question re: Bamboo Crescent social housing
Mr. Lang: We are under a time constraint because tenders have been called for the construction of these two units and I believe they are going to be closed on December 18. Can the Minister assure me that prior to any decision proceeding with the construction of these two duplexes that he will report back to this House and let Members of this House know what the decision of the government is prior to any decision being made on construction?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not aware of the tender deadline. I will consult with the Housing Corporation on the matter. The Housing Corporation will be asked to respond as per the wishes of the Legislature with respect to the petition, and they will do so.
Mr. Lang: I want an answer here. He is the Minister of Housing. Can he make a commitment to the people that signed that petition, and the Members of this House, that no decision will be made with respect to going ahead with the construction until we have been publicly informed in the Legislature with respect to the decision taken by the government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is confusing the responsibilities of the ministry. The ministry is responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation and to this Legislature. It is not a line department, it is not to be considered to be a line department as established in the legislation. I will be requesting of the Housing Corporation its position with respect to this particular situation and will be discussing a response with them and will be reporting to the House in due course, as per the rules of this House.
Mr. Lang: If they are so powerful, why are we voting money for the Housing Corporation?
I have asked for a commitment from the Minister that prior to any decision being made to go ahead with that project would he commit himself, and the Housing Corporation, to answer to this House when we reconvene January 4, prior to a decision to being made to go ahead with it, so that we are aware of what the decision is and so that we do not have to read about it in the newspaper?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will ask the Housing Corporation, as per parliamentary rules, as per the rules of this Legislature, to respond to the petition, within the deadline.
The Member constantly refers to the Housing Corporation as though it were a line department. In legislation, the law, the law says what the Housing Corporation is. The law says that and, irrespective of the Members own private opinion, which was expressed through illegal actions taken to draw the Corporation into the Department when he was Minister, the law says that the Corporation is an independent, arms-length body from this government. That is the law.
Question re: Bamboo Crescent social housing
Mr. Lang: As a Member of the House here, on behalf of the people of the Yukon Territory, I intend to pursue this a little further.
Is the Minister of Housing saying to this House that he cannot direct the Yukon Housing Corporation to proceed with a project without having its consent?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Government of Yukon sets the policy for the Yukon Housing Corporation, the general policy guidelines, the principles; those have been communicated to the Corporation. The Member for Riverdale South said there are no policy principles communicated to the Corporation; that is fallacious, that is wrong. It is not true. The Government of Yukon has communicated those policies to the Yukon Housing Corporation and we will ensure that the Housing Corporation abides by the policies that are established by us.
Mr. Lang: Obviously, we know who is reporting to who, now. And now that we have got the new presidento coming in, I guess another local hire from the east, I am sure that everything will be okay. I hope he gets a seat in this House, so that he can explain to the people of the territory what he is doing.
I would like to talk about the Housing Corporation a little further. I would like to refer to an issue that was raised yesterday about a home that the Housing Corporation owned in Ross River, commonly referred to as the Kings residence. Yesterday the Minister told us that he could not utilize that house for social housing or staff housing because it would cost $40,000 for improvements to make it liveable.
Is the reason that this house is not liveable is because after the Yukon Housing Corporation bought it, they cut off the maintenance to it and all of the pipes froze and it now needs $40,000 in improvements?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The house was purchased. When it was in possession of the Yukon Housing Corporation, through error pipes did freeze, and the house suffered water damage.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps you can convey this question to the new president of the Housing Corporation when he comes on stream. What steps are being taken to ensure that these empty houses throughout the territory are maintained on an ongoing basis so that we are not looking at $40,000 worth of damages as the year goes on?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When we assumed the responsibility for the Yukon Housing Corporation, the maintenance procedures were in very poor shape. There was no preventive maintenance schedule whatsoever for Yukon Housing Corporation units. They, as a consequence, were in very poor shape. The maintenance undertaken by the Corporation has been improved considerably, and every attempt is being made to ensure that maintenance is done on a timely basis and in a preventative way.
Question re: Ross River housing
Mr. Lang: After an answer like that, the Minister wants us to give $60 million to convey to this all powerful neutral board way out there beyond the grasp of any living human being in the Yukon. It is stretching the faith of good Yukoners to ask for something like that.
In Ross River we are proceeding with the construction of two homes that were prefabricated in Prince George, costing $230,000. Prior to the decision to go ahead with this construction that defies local hire policies and local purchase policies that the government espoused, could the Minister tell this House whether or not the Yukon Housing Corporation was aware that there was a home available, owned by CMHC, for sale?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know what the Member is referring to. The Yukon Housing Corporation has a stock of 14 units. They were full. There were two units that were vacant and were suffering from considerable problems. They were built in the late seventies - I know that is a period we do not want to talk about in this Legislature but nevertheless they were built in the late seventies - and they were suffering considerable trouble with respect to foundations etcetera and could not be used. When the lessee came forward with the buyback unit, the Members are aware of what transpired. The Corporation and the Ross River Housing Association determined that, given the need in the community, they would construct two more units, of which the Members are also aware.
Mr. Lang: My concern, again, is the question of mismanagement. If we accept the fact that two houses had to be purchased or built by the Housing Corporation, the question first off is why would the Housing Corporation shut off the maintenance to a home that was bought for roughly $40,000? The second point is that there is another house built in the community available in the neighbourhood for $65-70,000. In view of those two circumstances, I do not understand how the Minister can stand up in this House and ask the people of the territory to provide $230,000 to purchase two homes from Prince George. I would like to ask the Minister if he would go back to the Housing Corporation and report back to this House: did the Yukon Housing Corporation approach CMHC to purchase this home in view of the fact that it was available?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am going to check on that detail. Many of the details the Members have brought forward in the past which have, in fact, been fallacious. The Member himself asked, as recently as yesterday, whether the Housing Corporation had spent $30,000 on the Kings buyback unit prior to selling it, which was quite untrue. I hesitate to call it a lie because that would be unparliamentary, but it was untrue. I should be very careful about the information the Member brings to the House. It is important that the Legislature be treated to true details.
Question re: Territorial Court Act
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Justice regarding the Bill Thomson affair. As we all know, today is December 16, and it is court date for the Government of Yukon and Mr. Thomson. I am wondering if the Government of Yukon has finally come to its senses and agreed to compensate Mr. Thomson for his losses that he incurred in this unfortunate firing?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: The Member opposite is asking questions about a lawsuit, specifically a court date, on the very day it is to be tried, or was scheduled originally to be tried. He ought to know that is clearly against the rules. For the Members information, the case was adjourned.
Mr. Phillips: The Minister of Justice is wrong. First of all, it is not a trial. Secondly, could the Minister confirm that his department has written a letter to Mr. Thomsons lawyer that says they are prepared to sit down and negotiate with Mr. Thomson now?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: It is not my intention to talk about particular events in a trial that is presently before the courts.
Mr. Phillips: When the government sits down and does what it is already doing - even though the Justice Minister refuses to talk about it - will the Government Leader compensate Mr. Thomson with funds he receives from the Justice Minister and take it off his salary? Obviously, he is the one who has bungled this whole affair.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No.
Question re: Highway, flying rock
Mr. McLachlan: With respect to the Yukon Alaska trucks, one of the most surprising things that has arisen out of this case is that, when people are travelling on the asphalt section of the road between Carmacks and Whitehorse, they will still incur rock damage to the windshields of the vehicles. There is only one source that rock could come from: the shoulder of the road.
Can the Minister of Community and Transportation Services confirm that one of the options the department looked at to stabilize the cost was the laying of BST on the shoulders of the road to prevent fly rock?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That option is being costed. It appears that drivers, in some cases, in order to give as much clearance as possible to the vehicles coming in the other direction will pull over to the side or try to squeeze over to the side to ensure the oncoming vehicle has plenty of room. In so doing, they whip up rocks from the shoulder. That option is being costed. There is definitely a cost associated with it. When the road is upgraded, it will be upgraded to a standard that ought to accommodate vehicles travelling fully in lanes without having to hit the shoulders.
Mr. McLachlan: Is it the intention of the Department to use the road compactors again next year on the Campbell Highway between Carmacks and Faro, or was that only a one-shot effort designed to tighten up the highway when the new surfacing was laid down last summer?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is the intention to continue to use compactors on the Campbell Highway because it has proven to reduce the number of complaints, if not the number of rocks flying. There is a feeling that it, along with some applications of calcium, certainly does reduce the number of rocks flying and improves the situation considerably. So we will continue those mitigative measures that work.
Mr. McLachlan: Yesterday during Estimates debate the Minister made reference to a $102,000 expenditure on the Campbell Highway by saying that clearly the people of Faro and Ross River cannot expect, under the present circumstances, to drive forever on that type of highway. May we anticipate from that remark that it is the long term plans of the Department to lay down BST, or better, between Carmacks and Faro?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The short answer is yes.
Question re: Mammography unit
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources. Concerns have been raised, and representations made to this government, by the Medical Association and by the Yukon Advisory Council on the Status of Women about a diagnostic cancer device to detect breast cancer in women. I am talking about the mammography machine. Since there are about 2,000 women in the Yukon over the age of 40 and only some 41 mammograms billed to the insurance services here in the Yukon - and the fact that the British Columbia government is looking at a mobile mammography unit to service northern British Columbia there is some potential that it could service the Yukon as well. I would like to ask the Minister if she has made any contact with her counterpart in BC regarding this machine.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I am well aware of the concerns and have had discussions with individuals with regard to the mammography machine. We are in discussion stages at this point in time, but I have not had any personal discussions with anybody in BC. We do understand that they do have a travelling unit and that is a possibility.
Mrs. Firth: I do not know who the Minister is in discussions with, unless it is simply with someone here in the Yukon. Would the Minister not agree that it is very critical that if the BC government is looking at the purchase of these units and obviously putting a very high priority on this issue, that she immediately get in touch with them to see whether the government could in any way work some kind of cost-shared arrangement with the government of BC.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There is no question in my mind that it is a high priority with me and my department. We have had discussions internally, with doctors, and with the Advisory Committee for the Status of Women, and if there is a unit that could be available then we certainly will look at the possibility of having it come up here.
Mrs. Firth: If it is as high a priority as the Minister claims, she will be in touch with the government tomorrow. I have already been in touch with them, and with the British Columbia government, regarding this. The time to act is now, when they are making the decision about the mobile unit. I would like to request of the Minister and get a commitment from the Minister that she immediately telephone or write the Minister of Health in British Columbia so that women in the Yukon can be taken care of, and we can look at having this service provided jointly to the Yukon people.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I would not doubt that a letter has already gone out to the B.C. government in regard to that, because we have had discussions.
Mrs. Firth: It has not gone out.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: It appears that she reads our mail that goes out of our Department - but it is the priority. Things are being done about it. I would like to thank her for writing a letter to the B.C. government.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed and we will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Porter: On behalf of the House leaders, I would like to request the unanimous consent of the House to have only Motion No. 1 called under Motions, other than Government Motions, and once debate has concluded on that Motion, it would be my intention to move that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?
Some Members: Agreed.
Speaker: There is unanimous consent.
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
Motion No. 1
Clerk: Item No. 5, standing in the name of Mr. Phelps.
Speaker: Is the hon. Member prepared to proceed with Item No. 5?
Mr. Phelps: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Leader of the Official Opposition
THAT it is the opinion of this House that:
(1) the Yukon Legislative Assembly possesses the responsibility for ensuring the development of minority language services in Yukon;
(2) the Government of Yukon has been diligent in developing and presenting to the Yukon Legislative Assembly programs and services which enhance the use of French and aboriginal languages in Yukon;
(3) the Yukon Legislative Assembly has been consistent in its support of these initiatives which further bilingual development;
(4) the introduction into the House of Commons on June 25, 1987 of Bill C-72, which does not apply to any institution of the Council or government of the Northwest Territories, but does apply to those similar institutions in Yukon is an affront to the rights and responsibilities of the Government of Yukon and the Yukon Legislative Assembly for the ongoing development of French language services in Yukon; and
THAT the Yukon Legislative Assembly urges the Minister of Justice of Canada to introduce an appropriate amendment to Bill C-72 to ensure that the Official Languages Act does not apply to any institution of the Yukon Legislative Assembly or Government of Yukon.
Mr. Phelps: It gives me some pleasure to speak to this motion, which is virtually the same as a motion moved by Mr. Pearson and passed unanimously by the Yukon Legislative Assembly on March 26, 1984.
That motion spoke to Bill C-26, which was tabled in the House of Commons on March 21, 1984. That Bill has, essentially, been reintroduced in the House of Commons. It was introduced on June 25, 1987, as Bill C-72. Once again, I am hoping and expecting that this House will give unanimous passage to this motion.
Back on March 26, 1984, the hon. Mr. Pearson, who introduced the Bill, gave a short speech, in which he said on page 43 of Hansard, I wish to emphasize that the Government of Yukon is not opposed to bilingualism, we are proud of our record of achievement in this regard. We already have in existence a rational, well-balanced approach to bilingualism as well as for Native languages in the schools. We insist that it is the right and the responsibility of the Legislative Assembly to ensure the development of French and Native language services to Yukon.
I would certainly applaud those comments and say that they are true today.
I had occasion to write the hon. Ray Hnatyshyn with regard to Bill C-72. I am going to read from that letter and, also, table it now. It is dated October 20, 1987.
Dear Mr. Hnatyshyn: The Yukon PC Caucus wishes to register its strong objection to the attempt by the Government of Canada to unilaterally impose official bilingualism on Yukon through the proposed changes to the Official Languages Act. Official bilingualism does not make sense in Yukon. We are opposed to it. Most Yukoners are opposed to it, and many francophone Yukoners believe it is too excessive for meeting their needs.
What is the point of providing simultaneous translation in the Yukon Legislative Assembly when none of the Members in the House are francophones?
What is the point in translating all Government of Yukon statutes, policy manuals, memorandums, et cetera, into French, when virtually no one will read them. Official bilingualism in Yukon is a waste of taxpayers money. Instead, the cause of bilingualism can be better served by improving French and Native language services. Yukoners are quite proud of their record in this regard as these services are being improved year by year. I suspect that the bilingual services provided here are equal to, or greater than, those provided to our own constituents in Saskatchewan.
The previous federal government attempted a similar action in March, 1984 when Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, John Munro, introduced Bill C-26 in the House of Commons, which was intended to make the territories officially bilingual. Mr. Munro then said that he would not proceed with the Bill if the Yukon and the Northwest Territories imposed official bilingualism on themselves by passing appropriate legislation in their respective territorial legislatures. The Northwest Territories succumbed to the pressure. The Yukon did not. We do not like being dictated to by a distant national government.
On March 26, 1984, the Government Leader, Mr. Chris Pearson, presented a motion, enclosed, in the Yukon Legislative Assembly asking that Bill C-26 be withdrawn. It passed unanimously. The mood in Yukon with regard to this issue has not changed. I will be introducing a motion similar to Mr. Pearsons when the Yukon Legislative Assembly sits this fall, asking the Legislature to withdraw the proposed changes to the Official Languages Act, and I anticipate unanimous support for the motion. The proposed changes to the Official Languages Act will only breed hostility and resentment and promote the feeling of alienation that is now so prevalent in northern Canada as a consequence of the 1987 Constitutional Accord.
We, in the Yukon PC caucus, must always take the side of Yukoners when federal policies are inappropriate to our territory. Therefore, I appeal to you, as Leader of the Official Opposition in the Yukon and as a fellow Progressive Conservative, to withdraw the proposed changes. To proceed in the present fashion would be doing a grave disservice to furthering the cause of bilingualism in the Yukon and in Canada."
Copies were sent to the Prime Minister, to the Hon. David Crombie and to the Hon. Bill McKnight.
One of the concerns that I have and that I know is shared by many, if not all in the House, is the way in which the Yukon seems to drawn into the ambit of this Bill.
That comes about as a result of Section 3, Interpretation, where a federal institution is defined as follows: Federal Institution includes any of the following institutions of the Parliament of the Government of Canada, (a) the Senate, (b) the House of Commons, (c) the Library of Parliament, (d) any court, (e) any board, commission, council or other body or office established to perform a governmental function by or pursuant to an act of Parliament or by or under the authority of the Governor in Council, (f) the Department of the Government of Canada, (g) a Crown corporation established by or pursuant to an act of Parliament, and (h) any other body that is specified by an act of Parliament to be an agent of Her Majesty in right of Canada or to be subject to the direction of the Governor in Council or a minister of the Crown, but does not include, (i) any institution of the council or government of the Northwest Territories.
This clearly implies that we are constitutionally a mere agent or institution of the federal government. That is the supreme insult to this Legislature. I cannot understand, for the life of me, why the federal government persists in this in view of the recent court cases that have shown that view to be erroneous in law, and in view of the reaction of northerners, particularly Yukoners, to that kind of insulting suggestion as used by the federal government from time to time in court cases of a constitutional nature.
I put forth this motion in the hope that it will be of some assistance to this government in dealing with this grave issue that faces us. I anticipate and hope it will enjoy unanimous support.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is not often that I rise to speak in favour of one of our friends motions. However, today is appropriately one of those rare occasions. As all Members of the Legislature are aware, the Yukon Government has consistently committed itself to the enhancement of the minority language services. We have been frustrated, though, by the federal governments efforts to fit our initiatives into the framework it has developed for federal institutions.
This government, this Legislature, this Cabinet, are not federal institutions. The interests of the Yukon are not necessarily identical to the interests of the provinces or the national government. We have seen plenty of evidence of that in this year. Alone, the presence of our aboriginal people in this community, and the strong claims of their language and heritage would dictate otherwise.
The Yukon government has attempted to negotiate an agreement with the federal government whereby there will be increased French and aboriginal language services available to Yukoners. Our policy is that there should be equitable treatment of both groups, rough parity, if you like, in terms of services.
Of course, the aboriginal community is the much more significant minority here. If, in Hugh McClellands words, there are two solitudes in Canada, French and English, in Yukon historically the two solitudes have been aboriginal and nonaboriginal. If regional governments - territorial institutions - are to mean anything in confederation, in the fabric of this nation, we must allow for institutions to evolve in a way that they reflect the local realities, the local facts of life. There has been for a long time, and continues to be, a significant francophone minority in this community who are entitled to services in their own language, but I do not even believe that even constitutionally they have any greater claim than do the aboriginal people of this community.
Unfortunately, the federal government seems determined to impose official bilingualism on the Yukon, and this decision has resulted in an impasse under which all minority language speakers are the losers. Briefly I would like to provide the House with some of the history relevant to our negotiations with the federal government.
When I say our negotiations, I speak of the Government of Yukon, and not just the present administration, but those that went before it.
In 1969, the Official Languages Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada. This legislation gave French and English equal status in the federal sphere. In 1979, a policy directive was issued by the Yukon government and stated that, Where practicable, departments will be responsible for providing services to the public in either official language. Attempts were made to begin to carry out that directive.
In 1980, the Commissioner of Official Languages suggested that the level of service provided by the Yukon government could be improved. I do not think there was a great deal of dispute about that.
In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted. This enhanced the language rights contained in the Official Languages Act.
I would remind all Members that, during that time, the Yukon government was still acting pursuant to the 1979 policy directive and attempting to provide services in French where practicable.
In the following year, 1983, Daniel St. Jean, a Whitehorse resident, applied to the Yukon courts to have a traffic ticket, which was printed only in English, declared unconstitutional under both the Official Languages Act and the Charter. The federal government, anticipating a victory on Mr. St. Jeans part, declared that it would enact federal legislation declaring that both territories were bilingual.
To that end, in 1984, the hon. John Munro introduced Bill C-26, An Act to Amend the Northwest Territories Act and the Yukon Act, an act to amend the constitutions of both territories, without consultation with either the government or the people of either jurisdiction. That Act would have, in effect, made us officially bilingual.
At the time, I argued that this was an onerous burden to place upon a jurisdiction with a relatively small francophone population and, especially, one in which the claims of aboriginal language speakers had not yet been met. As the Leader of the Official Opposition has reminded us, the Yukon Legislature debated the federal government legislation and unanimously opposed it. With the dissolution of Parliament in June, 1984, Bill C-26 died on the Order Paper.
However, as the Leader of the Opposition has indicated, it has been resurrected again by the present Minister of Justice, Mr. Hnatyshyn, in the form of Bill C-72. I believe the Leader of the Opposition has described its intentions well.
During the late summer of 1984, in response to the federal initiative, the Government of the Northwest Territories agreed with the federal government to enter into an agreement. The agreement was articulated in an ordinance to recognize and provide for the use of the aboriginal languages and to establish the official languages of the Northwest Territories. Under this legislation, French and English were recognized as official languages of the Northwest Territories and seven aboriginal languages were designated as official aboriginal languages of the Northwest Territories. It is important to note that this Bill, presented in the Legislature of the only jurisdiction in the country with an aboriginal majority in its population, does not place the aboriginal languages on the same level as French and English. Rather, it created a new classification, one that falls outside the parameters of the languages protected by the Official Languages Act and the Charter of Rights - the new designation being official aboriginal languages which were and are, by law, in the Northwest Territories, separate but not equal.
The Yukon Government, in its own way, also wished to resolve its differences over language with the federal government. But, after careful consideration, we decided we were not willing to follow the path of the Northwest Territories. We felt that any agreement as to the provision of services must be sensitive to both our francophone community and our aboriginal peoples. Unfortunately, federal insistence on official bilingualism has resulted in a deadlock and, since June of 1986, no progress has been made in our negotiations.
If I could just add something more: since reaching this impasse, several external factors have altered the language situation. In September of 1986 the St. Jean case was heard by the Supreme Court of the Yukon and in his decision the Hon. Mr. Justice Meyer stated that, constitutionally, the Yukon was an infant province.
This meant that although it did not have the powers of a province, it was not a federal institution, and as a result, the Yukon was not automatically bound by the federal governments official language legislation. As I believe all Members of the House know, Mr. St. Jean is now appealing this decision.
The Native language study prepared by the linguist Daniel Tlen was released in October of 1986. It contained 28 recommendations which suggested that the Yukon Government was not doing enough in regard to the Native language services being offered its aboriginal people. Continuing discussions have been held with LAssociation des Franco-Yukonnais, in which this government made clear that although we have not yet reached language agreement with the federal government, we do take our responsibilities to the francophone community seriously and that we will continue to improve our French language services and to lobby the federal government to extend and improve theirs - as we would wish to do, as well, with the aboriginal language community.
Further to this, we are working on a plan of action on French language services and we have consulted with other governments about this matter. We have also consistently reiterated to the federal government that the Yukon Government cannot enter into an agreement - any agreement - whereby French is designated one of only two official languages in the Yukon. Just as consistently, the federal response has been that they will accept no other situation. In June of this year, amendments to the Official Languages Act were introduced, as the House has been told. These amendments stated that the provisions of the Act would not apply to the Northwest Territories. Legal opinions which we have received indicate that those provisions do apply to the Yukon, and the effect of these amendments would be to make the Yukon officially bilingual. The exact implications of this regime on our Legislature and public service are perhaps not yet completely clear, but we do know that they will be profound.
What the Yukon wants is an agreement with the federal government whereby the equality of status of French and English languages are advanced - at the same time, measures are provided to preserve and enhance aboriginal languages. We need an agreement which will reflect the cultural and linguistic reality of our population, one which will be flexible enough to meet the real needs of our citizens - anglophone, francophone, and aboriginal.
I must say this very clearly, and I believe that I am speaking for my party, this government and the whole House when I say that we have no mandate, any of us here, to enter into an agreement with the federal government that confers official bilingualism upon the Yukon. However, we can, and have acknowledged the legitimate rights of the Yukons francophones. We are, therefore, truly sorry that the federal government has seen fit not to ratify two draft agreements, which earlier had been prepared, and in which we gave undertakings to provide services to both francophones and aboriginals and which the federal government would have financed. These were two draft agreements that we believed met the real needs of minority language speakers in the Yukon.
We are of the opinion that many Yukon francophones were also disappointed when they saw their legitimate expectations being lost to, what I believe, is a no win federal negotiation position.
It remains our intention to work toward achieving a linguistic balance in the Yukon, one in which the rights of minority language speakers are respected instead of played off against each other. If we are ever to achieve this civilized state, we will need the federal governments assistance. The proposed amendments to the Official Languages Act are quite certainly a step away from what we want to achieve in the Yukon, and we have no hesitation in supporting the Member opposites resolution before us today.
Nous allons continuer a developper et a ameliorer nos services aux francophones, mais en acceptant limposition du bilinguisme officiel nous violons nos obligations envers les autochtones de notre territorire.
(Translation not available0
Dat-at datsun nadaday-a dun kay gwinjee tsan/ookay jaw shaw tsayin dun gwinjee tsan na-nih-ji doonayna sothan kenadum shoo ketsedun ku tat.
(Translation not available)
We will continue to develop and enhance our provision of French language services, but to agree to the imposition of official bilingualism in the Yukon would be a betrayal of our obligation to the original inhabitants of our territory.
Mr. McLachlan: It is with a great deal of pride that I stand in this House to address this motion on minority language rights. I remind all Members that it was the Liberal Party of Canada that first passed the Official Languages Act in the late 1960s and it is this party that has stood for the furtherance of minority language rights all across Canada for a good many years. I am sure that all Members would agree with me when I say that Canada is a better place today because of its official bilingual nature and because we as Canadians, by and large, do respect minority language rights.
There is no doubt in my mind that our territorial government possesses the responsibility for ensuring the development of minority language services here in the Yukon. However, the extension of minority language services is something that Yukoners must debate and upon which we must come to a consensus. It would be reprehensible and unforgivable if the federal government were to force official bilingualism upon us now. The exact meaning of the references that the Leader of the Official Opposition read out in Bill C-72 are unclear in that the subject of Yukon is not mentioned as an extension of the federal government. It behooves the question, If inclusion is not mentioned, is one excluded?
I presume we will hear later from the Minister of Justice on the subject of bilingual speeding and parking tickets, the subject of which has caused the situation of the unquestionable status quo at the moment.
There have been other times when the federal government did not always listen to the concerns of Yukoners, and I am sure there will be other concerns in the future. The one that comes to mind, of course, is the controversy over the Meech Lake Accord. We have no official language act in this territory, but the Government of the Northwest Territories does have. Now they are locked in a fight over the federal government over the amending formula and find themselves unable to change their official languages act unless it is with agreement with the government of Canada. I have been in personal touch with the MLAs who have some pretty distinct feelings on that subject.
In my conversations with the members of lAssociation in the Yukon, I have been petitioned on a number of occasions, but only to the extent that they expect French language services in some of the larger customer services areas.
They complain that there is no one readily available at the front counter of Canada Post to provide French language services. Yet, I believe the RCMP, where available, and are doing a credible job in providing services in Canadas second official language. There are now three bilingual detachments: Watson Lake, Whitehorse and Faro. It is these services that the French language community strives for, but does not overly push for.
It is my partys hope that someday the province or territory of Yukon will be officially trilingual. We would like to see French recognized as an official language here in the Yukon - but only on an equal par, in such a way that we would also see one or more of the indigenous native languages recognized in the same manner. My party holds the position that official trilingualism is an objective that this House should slowly but steadily move towards. I recognize, as does my party, that this objective is indeed a long term one and that the path to it will be filled with problems and obstructions. The objective will not be reached tomorrow, next month or next year, but it will be reached when Yukoners are ready to accept it and when Yukoners decide to have it.
For these reasons, I am prepared to support the motion which urges the Minister of Justice for Canada to introduce an appropriate amendment to Bill C-72 to ensure that the Official Languages Act does not apply to any institution of the Yukon Legislative Assembly or the Government of Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I thank the previous speakers and the mover of the motion. Because the Government Leader has outlined many facts which have occurred in the general course of action in the last two years, my speech can be quite brief. I would point out to the Member for Faro that Bill C-72 does specifically refer to Yukon and I would also point him to page 45 of the 1984 Hansard, March 26. At that time I went through some history at some length, specifically the legal history of this Assembly as it pertains to bilingualism. It is clear that this is a bilingual Assembly and the Charter, of course, is clear in my view.
I rise primarily to add another little perspective, or vignette, to the saga of Bill C-72 and its predecessors. Since becoming the Minister of Justice, I have had conversations with two federal Ministers about bilingualism. With both of them, I have raised a question about the specific section of the Yukon Act that requires the federal government to table in the House of Commons the Ordinances or Acts of our Assembly. That is clearly in the Yukon Act, and I do not think anyone can dispute the fact that it is clear and means what it says. Things tabled in the Commons must be in both official languages. It is a fact that our laws have not been so tabled for many years, indeed decades. It is a fact that it becomes a responsibility of the federal government, through the provisions of the Yukon Act, to translate our laws. They have not been doing this. I suggested to the federal Ministers that, if they wished to promote official bilingualism in the sense of official documents, the place to start is translating laws. I told them both that those translations, if they exist in the federal bureaucracy somewhere, do not exist in the Yukon. I said it would promote their cause if they came up here and deposited a set of our laws in French in the public library, or in the law library or in the legislative library. They have not done that, because they have not translated them.
I would suggest that the federal government should follow its own direction and translate these laws. On behalf of the territorial Department of Justice, I will offer every assistance and suggest that the translation actually occur physically here in the territory.
It is also the case that, under our present criminal laws, there is a right to a French language trial, in many cases.
The federal Crown Attorneys office had taken the position at one time that they could meet that through translators, as opposed to French trials. I think they have now seen the legal error of their ways, but I would again point out to the federal Minister that he should lead by example, rather than simply direct us to do something that the federal government, although required by law, is not itself doing.
I promised I would be brief, and I will conclude by simply saying to my federal counterpart, Mr. Hnatyshyn, Please, Colonial Master, listen to all of us in this House.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question? Are you agreed.
Mr. Lang: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called. Mr. Clerk, would you kindly poll the House?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Porter: Agreed.
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Agreed.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: Agreed.
Mr. Joe: Agreed.
Ms. Kassi: Agreed.
Mr. Webster: Agreed.
Mr. Phelps: Agreed.
Mr. Brewster: Agreed.
Mr. Lang: Agreed.
Mr. Nordling: Agreed.
Mrs. Firth: Agreed.
Mr. Phillips: Agreed.
Mr. McLachlan: Agreed.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker the results are 15 yea, nil nay.
Motion No. 1 agreed to
Speaker: May I have your further pleasure.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will now recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 5 - First Appropriation Act, 1988-89 - continued
On Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
Chairman: General debate continued on Community and Transportation Services Branch.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When we left yesterday afternoon, there were a few issues that I promised to get back on to the Members today. I will briefly go through some of those items now.
There was a question with respect to development of the Campbell Subdivision in Watson Lake as to the expenditures voted this year and the expenditures to be voted next year, and why the subdivision had not been opened this year. The subdivision was not reactivated this year at the request of Watson Lake, as they felt quite strongly that the take up this year would not be sufficient to justify the reactivation of the water sewer system. Things have transpired to the point now where there is an expectation that the subdivision ought to be open. I believe there are 13 lots. We have incorporated it into the Budget next year to reactivate the water sewer system as early as possible.
There was a question about the Haines Junction MOT airstrip and what the plans are in terms of capital upgrading of this strip. The capital plan, at this point, shows the preliminary design to be undertaken in 1988-89, and the work to be undertaken between 1989, 1990 and 1991, with only minor work to be undertaken in the following year. So, it should be substantially completed by the spring of 1991.
There is a question respecting the standards for resource roads and to give an idea of what is expected of the contractors. With respect to roads that are built under the governments auspices, such as the Casino Trail, a low volume road standard width of six metres is chosen; roads for private applicants, built by private applicants, are built depending on the applicants requirements and quite often are four wheel drive tracks or two wheel drive tracks.
There was a question with respect to residential lots in Porter Creek and especially in Watson Lake, whether or not they were serviced; the answer is yes, they are serviced.
On the question of the land, which comprised 294 lots, to be transferred December 31, 1987, the sale of those lots will depend mostly on federal government policy with respect to the release of the land and the bands wishes. As I indicated before, there is no way at this point to determine what the bands wishes are due to some internal difficulties they are facing at the present time.
On contractor guidelines for municipalities, the initiative is being undertaken jointly between the municipal administration and the communities for the support of government services and there are community initiatives being undertaken at the present time. It is expected that the draft model bylaw will be developed in the early months of the new year.
On the Shakwak project, there is an expenditure anticipated this year, 1988-89, of approximately $5 million, with a further $5 million in 1989-90 to complete the Haines Road totally.
On the Whitehorse/Carcross road, it was reconstructed between the years 1982 and 1985 and cost $7.1 million. We have some work in the budget, as Members already noticed, for some subgrade upgrading.
The Carcross to U.S. border section is now estimated to cost $27.6 million - I think I said $28 million, I am not sure - but it is $27.6 million and is scheduled to be completed in the year 1991.
With respect to the Alaska Highway, the federal government has not established final budget levels for next summer. I presume that they develop their budgets in the same manner that DIAND does and final approvals are not possible until March or April of the year. But it is projected that they will spend approximately $15 million in British Columbia and they have indicated that if additional monies can be found - not particularly at this point - but if additional monies can be found they will work on the section of road in the Squanga Lake area. If other monies can be found, they will do more things, but nothing is final at the present time. There will be some work done on guard rails along the whole route. We could not define exactly the stretches of road. That is considered generally money for capital work.
Mr. Lang: I want to thank the Minister for the break down and the information that he brought back. There is one area that I would like to have a little bit of further discussion on and that is in respect to the plans for 1990-91 for the work to be done on the Haines Junction airstrip. My colleague from Kluane is a little worried that we are now going to be entering into another decade, for the purposes of this particular project. I would ask the Minister if he is prepared to ask his Department to look at the Ministry of Transport projected capital programs and see whether or not the priorities can be shifted so that the Haines Junction airport could be upgraded - not this year, but the following year, 1989, as opposed to 1991. It would seem to me that it is just a question of priorities. Obviously they have other programs that they are going to be going into and if we in this House decide that it is a priority, I am sure that under the Ministers guidance and direction, that serious consideration would perhaps be given to moving that up and moving something back, because that is the name of the game. And I am just wondering if I could have the Ministers comments on that.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would certainly like to see the work take place on the Haines Junction airport, and I am sure the Member for Kluane would also. I will undertake to have the Department approach MOT and see what can be done to advance work on the Haines Junction airport. It is scheduled to spread over two construction seasons starting next year. It will probably be in the neighbourhood of $2.6 million in total. In terms of the budget that is allocated to the Yukon, better than $1 million in one year, on a Yukon wide basis, is really pushing it. Certainly this is the only significant project in the territory for those two years, apart from what might happen with the Dawson airport, which is not yet determined. We can certainly approach MOT about advancing the budget so the work can be done sooner than planned. There is no harm in trying.
Mr. Lang: I want to go a little further on this issue. The reality of the situation is that that particular area of Yukon has experienced a decrease in tourism traffic when every other area has experienced an increase. This type of work, in conjunction with the upgrading of the airport, and also some work with Kluane National Park can serve as a catalyst to get the numbers back up where they should be and increase the numbers of visitors in that particular area. That is an economic factor that then goes to the question of the intangibles which are the social factors concerned. Right now I emphasize that it has suffered a decline in tourism and this type of work would definitely be a plus for the community and the whole area.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is no doubt about this governments will to upgrade the Haines Junction airport. We have communicated it to MOT and also communicated quite strongly to transfer negotiations. We recognize the importance of the airport for economic development purposes. The point I am making here is that the Yukon does not get generally more than $1 million a year from MOT and we would essentially be asking them to more than double their standard commitment to the Yukon, if we were to ask them to advance the construction work to the year 1989-90. I am prepared to push that cause because I feel that there is an extremely good case to be made, and I will do that.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to clarify what is going on the Crestview truck terminal intersection. There was a Takhini area transportation study done, and apparently the report was given to the Minister. On December 10, 1987, he had not had a chance to review it. I went to the public meeting, and the consultant said that they looked at traffic flows only in that area, not at safety. Their understanding was that the Department of Community and Transportation Services was looking at the safety aspects. A spokesman for the Government of Yukon was there and told me that they were looking at putting lighting in. I asked the Minister on December 10, 1987, and he was going to check on it. Apparently, his department put in lights. There are four of them. My question, on December 10, 1987, was whether the Minister had had a report from his department on what would be done on that intersection. The Minister was going to check on that. Does he know now what the plans are for that area?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The report has formally come to the government, and we have made no decision regarding the spending suggestions that are incorporated in the report. There is a lot of money involved, even spread out even over a number of years. The government will have to deliberate on how it approaches the recommendations.
The first decision that can be made in the very near future is relatively minor - in size, not importance, one on access to the truck terminal. I will be discussing the matter with the department shortly. We have not yet made a decision on whether or not to install turn lanes at the site. The decision ought to be made within weeks of the Christmas vacation.
Mr. Nordling: I am talking about something to the report. The consultants report recommended that there be an acceleration lane and a left turn box to provide better traffic flow. The consultant also looked at the intersection into Crestview at Kathleen Road and said that there was no problem with traffic flow, that the trucks would not back the traffic up. That is all they looked at. My question was completely separate from the consultants report and the Takhini area transportation study. The Department of Community and Transportation Services was looking at the safety aspects that involved, the question of lighting, some signeage, signals and that sort of thing.
I would like to hear from the Minister what his department is doing in the area of signs and lights. I would like to know if the department is looking at the Kathleen Road intersection and, also, the intersection that turns into Crestview at the south end near the MacKenzie RV Park, because there were 38 new lots released in Crestview and the RV Park has gone in. The traffic in that area will be a lot busier than it was at that intersection. The consultant did not look at that intersection at all. Is the department looking at that intersection with respect to signs, lighting and traffic flow, and what are they doing with respect to signs and lighting at Kathleen Road and the Crestview truck terminal?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The department is aware of the increased traffic as a result of the projected increased activity and as a result of the release of lots in Crestview. With respect to the issue of a coordinated and coherent plan, that has not been finalized yet. Some work may have taken place to improve the situation at various locations - it certainly did at the truck terminal - but, in terms of the departments recommendations about the safety aspects of the traffic flow in and around the truck terminal and near Crestview, the finalized consideration has not yet been made. No final plan has been developed to address what is seen as an increased traffic flow.
Mr. Nordling: Will the Minister report back as soon as he finds out what the plans are and what will happen in that area? Before we leave it, I must thank the Minister for the lights. I had several calls from constituents, especially in the MacPherson subdivision, saying the lights were up and they felt a lot better about it. They could see the trucks turning in and out.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Merry Christmas to the Member opposite, as well. I will respond directly to the Member about the specific concerns he mentioned.
On Highway Construction
On Planning and Engineering
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister outline to us why there is a decrease? We are talking $110,000, yet at the same time we are talking as much dirt work as we did last year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was a lot of work planned in the previous year; there were no plans on the shelf that we could use in previous years. Now there is a lot of work on the shelf. It is expected in future years we could hold it at this amount. Given what is projected to take place in terms of the budget and what the government can hold true with plans on the shelf, this is projected to be a reasonable expenditure.
Mr. Lang: Then we will not expect to see any Supplementaries in this area in view of what the Minister has said.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I certainly hope not.
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $250,000 agreed to
On Klondike Highway No. 2
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I refer Members to the map that shows in coloured areas where various things are taking place. Perhaps for Members information, I can more or less give a break down of work that is projected to take place on this particular section of road. Kilometre 248 to 276, $660,000. Kilometre 309 to 346, $1,741,000. Kilometre 360 to 388, Members will remember that is the section north of Carmacks that was just chipsealed and hydroseeded. Kilometre 510 to 538 is the area from Eleven Percent Hill through to Crooked Creek; this is primarily earth work and general upgrading and road realignment. Kilometre 538 to 660 is the chipsealing of the road done north of Stewart Crossing through to, I believe, Flat Creek, approximately, or Gravel Lake. That is the finish. Therefore, there will be chipseal totally between Stewart Crossing and Dawson.
The $350,000 is a kind of an ongoing expense that is projected for chipseal overlays. Some of the chipseal is breaking down, primarily around Dawson airport and the City of Dawson, and will require replacement depending on its age. It is projected on this road to be between five and seven years before replacement is necessary so there will be some activity here on a Capital basis every year to upgrade the chipseal.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the map the Minister has provided to us. Once again, like my colleague the MLA from Kluane, I find it disturbing that Aishihik is so forgotten, continuously, year after year; but I understand it will be rectified here before too long. We were given notice last year and this year that has been reinforced, so I think enough notice has been given to those who are the architects of the map that Aishihik will be prominent, and I am hopeful there will be a lot of colours in the area that will reflect a fair amount of work and thought going in to upgrading that particular area. I just want to make the observation that it is interesting that there are so many colours on the Stewart Crossing/Mayo/Elsa area of the map. It is prominent, when you look at the centre of the map you will see the obvious attention that has been given, probably unbeknownst to the Minister, to various projects and programs being instituted in the area. My first question to the Minister concerns pre-engineering. Is it the plan to go ahead and upgrade the Mayo/Elsa portion of that particular road?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It certainly is, and I am happy to have been somewhat involved. It is not an inadvertent expenditure, by any means. I would like to say, if I might be permitted this - I am possibly dealing with another Members riding, but I would like to be able to say that this government has gone to some lengths to upgrade the Stewart Crossing to Elsa portion of the Silver Trail Highway. It is long overdue in terms of the numbers of highways that should be upgraded. There is no good reason why there should be any further wait for upgrading this road. The standard of road between Stewart Crossing and Elsa has notoriously not been good. The mining activity and the tourism that is taking place, I believe justifies the intention of the government to upgrade this road.
I would like to just clarify for Members that the work on this road is not done inadvertently; the department is not trying to sneak this work in under my nose without telling me. I certainly did deliberate with respect to this particular piece of work in determining the expenditures that might be appropriate.
With respect to the work done on the Stewart Crossing section of the Klondike Highway, this was the last section of a very long project. It was projected to end at Stewart Crossing, with construction crews working their way from Dawson and from Whitehorse to Stewart Crossing.
It just so happens - I guess I really cannot take credit for this, given the long term nature of this project and the fact that it is scheduled for pretty well the end of this coming year - I cannot take credit for the fact that it happens to be happening in Pelly Crossing. That is just how it was designed when the project was initiated in the early 1980s. As I said before, I think the Klondike Highway reconstruction was a fine project, a fine conception and fine in its delivery, and at least two governments can take credit for the considerable work that has been done on this project. I am happy to have been around in the Legislature to see the project finished.
Mr. Lang: Is it the intention to BST the road between Stewart Crossing and Mayo?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, that is the intention of the expenditure.
Mr. Lang: What is the policy in respect to the application of BST. Is there no longer a requirement for so many vehicles per day to be on the road to warrant that type of application? Is it done in that manner, or is it done arbitrarily, and political decisions are made - as opposed to being based on numbers and usage of a particular highway?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Certainly a political decision is made to determine what the appropriate priorities are, within certain limitations. There is a restriction that a certain number of vehicles per day will justify chipseal - and I believe it is 160. I know that Stewart Crossing in the Mayo section does qualify, and the Stewart Crossing, Mayo section will be chipsealed.
Mr. Lang: For the record here, then the Mayo-Stewart Crossing highway does qualify for the application of chipseal under the policy and stipulation that there be 160 or 180 vehicles on the average going across that road in a day.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This governments policy with respect to application of chipseal does allow for chipseal to be applied on the Mayo-Stewart Crossing section of the Silver Trail.
Mr. Brewster: This is just out of curiosity. The more I look at this map, the more I get lost. My colleague from Porter Creek mentioned that we do not have any colouring but when I look at it, just outside of Whitehorse we have some green that runs up by the Kusuwa Road No. 10 - what would that be?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Alaska Highway.
Mr. Brewster: I did not quite hear what the Minister said.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I said the old Alaska Highway.
Mr. Lang: What is the Minister going to do with the old Alaska Highway?
Chairman: Does everyone realize that we are on the line item, Klondike Highway, No. 2 and not the line item, Silver Trail and Alaska Highway?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No question is being begged here. We will get to it. If the Members want to jump ahead right now and deal with the Alaska Highway, that is fine with me.
Mr. Brewster: Where is the line item, Alaska Highway, on this budget? I cannot find it. The Chairman asked us not to talk about the matter because it would be dealt with when we talk about the Alaska Highway, and I do not see the line item, Alaska Highway anywhere.
Chairman: Order. We are now discussing Klondike Highway No. 2 in the amount of $5,939,000. Yesterday, during general debate of the Transportation Branch, the topic of the Alaska Highway did come up. I am not suggesting that the Member missed his chance, but if we could just stick to the line item, Klondike Highway No. 2, I would appreciate it.
Mr. Brewster: I have no problem with that. The Minister mentioned that this would come up under the line item, Alaska Highway. I would like to know what line item the Alaska Highway is. I am just asking when it will come up.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It comes up under Other Roads. It is not Alaska Highway, it is old Alaska Highway. It will come up under the Other Roads section. On page 12, right above Roads to Resources, there is a designation - Other. In that Other is the old Alaska Highway.
Chairman: Thank you for that clarification. We will now continue with the line Klondike Highway No. 2.
Mr. Brewster: If I had not asked that question I would not have known. I did not realize that the Alaska Highway got demoted to Other Roads.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not winning here. We are not dealing with the Alaska Highway. We are not downgrading any roads, nor are we designating any roads as being more or less important. We are simply trying to take the smaller expenditures and lump them together into the line item Other. The old Alaska Highway means a lot to this government. The Aishihik means a lot, it really does. We will put the Aishihik Road on the map next year. I guarantee it.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister very much but, frankly, he is not going to win this argument. I do not think that what they are doing makes sense. I asked a simple question because I see something on a map, and I ask which line item I can talk under, and nobody tells me it is under Alaska Highway. Then, I find out that is Other. That is all I asked: whether it is the old Alaska Highway, which is getting pretty well worn out from the year 1940. It is getting worn out. We know that, so it could be the whole highway.
Chairman: Dealing with Klondike Highway, No. 2, are there any further questions?
Mr. Lang: With respect to the work that is going to be done on the Klondike Highway, is it the intention of the government to tender out the work? Will the work worth $5,939,000 be done by the tendering procedure, or is it the intention to do a portion of it by project management? The Minister is shaking his head. It is a very good question because of some of the uncertainty felt in the contracting fraternity respecting whether the government will or will not tender out contracts.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: They were to be tendered.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister mentioned the road work being done between kilometre 510 and 538, from Eleven Percent Hill to Crooked Creek. Does the Minister have any more detail as to what is being done there?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The work on the Klondike Highway is meant to finish at Stewart Crossing. It will be built through private construction and tendered out, except for chipsealing. There is a major or minor road realignment that has to take place on Eleven Percent Hill - a winding hill with at least six or seven sharp turns on the road as you go down a very steep hill - to bring it to a certain kilometre per hour standard.
The base has to be compacted so the chipseal can be laid down properly. Further to that, work has to be done on the approaches to the Crooked Creek Bridge from both sides. Right now, the approach from either side is coming down a hill and making a sharp turn at the bottom in order to cross the bridge. In order to bring that up to at least an 80 kilometre per hour standard, that work has to realign the approach to the bridge. There is every intention to bring it to at least an 80 kilometre per hour standard, preferably a 90 kilometre per hour standard. That is what the Budget is for: major earth work on the section between the Ethel Lake campground turn off and the top of Eleven Percent Hill, where you hit chipseal once again .
Mr. Nordling: What I was most interested in was the Eleven Percent Hill. I wanted to know whether the department had decided to go back to the original alignment, which was better than the curves down the hill, or whether they were going to try and improve the curves. The problem with the old alignment was one steep section, and that is where the name Eleven Percent came from. I am wondering if the government had seen the light and was going back to the old alignment. A few years ago that road was still passable and there were those that drove the old alignment rather than twist down the hill on the alignment that is used now.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding is that the engineers are now trying to decide the best approach. They are considering one or more positions: following a new alignment, which may be the old one, or trying to smooth out the corners of the new-old alignment - the twisting road - to bring it up to a 90 kilometre an hour standard. Basically, what they have to do is test the ground conditions in the area to determine how easy it would be to extract material from the turns so they can straighten it out. If it requires more than minor earth work, like blasting, I am sure they are going to have to reconsider using the old-new alignment pattern and move back to a different alignment.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to know how it is being done. Were they given an amount of money to work with? Will that be the determining factor? Given their figures, they may fix up the existing road a little cheaper rather than going back to the old alignment, which may be better in the long run. I express that concern because having worked on the survey crews for the Highways Department - we used to sing a song and it was called, Revision, Revision, Revision, and then we were going to revise the revision, and revise the revised revision. It depended on the amount of money that was available that year. A lot of it was wasted not doing it right the first time. I would like some assurance with respect to Eleven Percent, which is a real problem area, that for the amount of money budgeted that it is going to be done right and we are not going to be back five years from now revising the revision.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is a subject actually very near to my heart because I do remember anticipating, with glee, the work that was to be done on the approach into Pelly Crossing and the work being done on the approach to Minto by the government. I am not certain that, with all due respect to everyone involved, that improvements are such great improvements, in terms of the realignment, and the speed that one must travel in order to go down those hills and make those turns. I have indicated to the department that whichever route they take, except for the approaches to Crooked Creek, that they follow a 90 kilometres per hour standard. It must permit safe driving at 90 kilometres per hour, and they have indicated that it would be far too expensive to try that at Crooked Creek and that they can, cost-effectively, put in an 80 kilometre standard at Crooked Creek. That is what they are going to be doing at the approaches to Crooked Creek, but on an eleven percent hill, they will have to design it to a 90 kilometre per hour standard. If they require more funds to do that in future years then they will let me know. They have got $2 million this year.
Klondike Highway No. 2 in the amount of $5,939,000 agreed to
On Campbell Highway No. 4
Mr. Lang: I would just like it if you would give a very brief description of how that money is going to be spent; it would very much appreciated by all Members of the House.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I assumed that everyone was here in Question Period when the issue was brought up. Basically, this is pre-engineering between Carmacks and Faro. What is going to be done is to evaluate the cost and benefits of the major reconstruction that is scheduled to take place. It is going to ultimately be a road that will be chipsealed between Carmacks and Ross River. It has been discussed with respect to the projected long term costs, at this stage, to be in the neighbourhood, over the long term, of approximately $20 million to upgrade the road between Carmacks and Ross River, and at least that amount between Ross River and Watson Lake, should that be incorporated as a priority of the government of the day in the future.
Mr. Lang: I just have an observation. I appreciate the way it is broken out, but I do not understand why we have a section for planning and engineering for $250,000 and then to specifically break out $102,000 by itself. The question I was left with was that planning and engineering was going to cost $250,000 as opposed to $360,000, but then all of a sudden we have a break out of $102,000 separate and apart. That just does not seem to make a lot of sense, unless the purpose is just to highlight it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It has always been done this way. There has always been a lump sum for planning and engineering of various projects well into the future, so projects could be on the shelf anticipating capital expenditures well into the future. It incorporates a whole series of small minor projects and, in this particular case because it is a major project, because we are starting a longterm project, it was decided to make a line item out of it and to proceed from there.
Mr. McLachlan: I will just be brief because I know basically where the Minister is going on this. The Minister has referred to BST between Carmacks and Ross River, and sometimes he has referred to BST between Carmacks and Faro. Am I correct in assuming that it is the eventual plan of the Department to have BST right through to Ross River, but the $102,000 we are speaking about in this budget is only for the engineering portion of the road between Carmacks and Faro? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct.
Mr. McLachlan: Is the engineering part of the study now completely finished for the Faro to Ross River portion of the road?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is between design and detail design at this stage. All pre-engineering has been undertaken between Faro and Ross River, at this stage.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister further advise that, given the presence of the new mine south of Ross River, given the presence of the new coal operation at Ross River, if the design of that road between Faro and Ross River calls for the same type of construction standards, that is, heavy transport trucks, as we would now have between Faro and Carmacks? Is it to be reconstructed to a heavy trucking standard between Faro and Ross River?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Basically, yes. Essentially what happens is that the government has a number of choices to make with respect to putting down a surface on the road. They can put down a surface for the purposes of dust control or they could put down a proper subgrade and put dust control BST on top of that. In the case of the Klondike Highway as reconstructed, in the case of the Campbell Highway as reconstructed, it will have a proper subgrade; it will not be simply minor realignments, surfacing and chipseal, it will be properly compacted to ensure that industrial traffic can travel on the road.
That is what has been done with the Tagish Road. It has about 100 vehicle per day standard, and chipseal has been laid on the Tagish Road but has been laid with compaction being done. I am not sure what gross vehicle weight would be permitted on that road, but compaction has taken place.
Campbell Highway No. 4 in the amount of $102,000 agreed to
On Tagish Mo. 8
Mr. Phelps: The breakdown that we have indicates that it is for reconstruction from Jakess corner to the bridge as well as for BST. The documents that were given to the contractors the other night do not mention BST. Is it the governments intention to include BST this year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No. It will not be included this year. When a road project is identified, it is over a long term. For example, the Campbell Highway will be designated in the future as reconstruction BST, but it probably will not be laid for at least a few years. However, when the project is complete, there will be chipseal between Jakes Corner and the bridge and on to the Klondike Highway.
Mr. Phelps: Last year there was a significant portion south of the bridge done and chipsealed in the same year, so there was a bit a mixed message here. Is $200,000 going to be enough to bring that portion up to the same standard as the road from Tagish Bridge to Carcross?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, it will not. The section between the bridge and the highway was considered to be the highest priority section. This will take place over two years. Some of the worst corners are being handled this year with this expenditure. Further surfacing, compaction and chipsealing will occur, hopefully, the next year or the year after that.
Tagish No. 8 in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Silver Trail
Mr. Lang: Does this complete the work?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This will provide chipseal between Stewart Crossing and Mayo and will be responsible for some work on the road between the bridge, the village chipseal and the airport.
Chairman: Anything further?
Mr. McLachlan: The map shows some work from Elsa to Keno. Is there anything more planned on the road section from Elsa to Keno as part of this $1,088,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, no Capital work will be done on this road, just standard maintenance.
Silver Trail in the amount of $1,088,000 agreed to
On Bridges - Numbered Highways
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The projects that are specifically planned at this stage are the redecking of the Takhini River Bridge and the paving of the north approach to the bridge. There will also be some purchase of Bailey Bridge sections that would be used for loan purposes for the Regional Roads to Resources Program. We are running out of the inventory of Bailey Bridge sections and would have to develop the inventory again so they can be used. Because of the increased road work recently, the inventory - which is basically a loan supply - is replenished through removal of bridges on roads for which there is no more projected use. Because of the increased activity around the territory, the bridges are in more use, and more bridges are required for loaning out to the various ore projects.
Mr. Lang: Has a study been done with respect to the present bridges in the territory? If you recall last session, we discussed that at one time it was being thought that the federal government should do a very close look at bridges, such as the one at Johnsons Crossing - I raised the question of Pelly Crossing and Faro - just to be sure that the bridges are in adequate shape and are structurally sound. Has there been a study done or is a study being done by the federal government or by this government?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We are studying all the bridges. We have studied the bridges on the road haul route. We do have a bridge engineer in our employ who is exclusively for bridges. There is at this point a plan to perform a regular review of bridges on an ongoing basis to ensure preventative maintenance. As I understand it, the Hoole River Bridge - if I am wrong I will check - was the last bridge that needed to be upgraded in the Yukon highways system to handle industrial traffic, and was upgraded in the last year or two. We are not contracting that project out, but we have a planned regular preventative maintenance schedule. This figure here for bridges would be a standard line item for future Capital Budgets I hope, because there has to be some attention paid exclusively to this important feature of the transportation system, and a preventative maintenance schedule established so decking can be redone, testing of the bridge members can be done annually, and we can be absolutely certain that all bridges in our possession are treated with care.
Bridges - Numbered Highways in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Other Roads
On Freegold Km 0 - 60
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Cassino Trail connects to the Freegold Road which connects with Carmacks. There is a desire to undertake culvert replacements and various general upgrading, not a full upgrading, of this road. It is a very low-volume standard. We want to bring it up to a better standard for the full length because of the increased activity that is expected to take place on the Cassino Trail.
Mr. Lang: I am very pleased to see this in the Budget. Is the intention to tender out the work that is required?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No plans have been finalized, but the plan at the present time is to try to make a training program out of this particular project. That can be done in a number of ways. It appears the preferred course is to tender out the project and incorporate a training component into the project.
That certainly would be my preference, but the detail of the project has not been finalized. Discussions are continuing between Education and Community and Transportation Services over what might be done on this particular road.
Mr. Lang: My understanding is that the heavy equipment course was canceled because there were so many equipment operators in the territory that it was not justified. And I do not understand how you could be tendering out a project with a training component when you have to go with the lowest tender.
First of all, is it not correct that the heavy equipment course has been canceled at Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, the heavy equipment course is not on in this particular year at the Yukon College. There have been expressions of interest from various people to upgrade the skills of people who would like to learn how to drive heavy equipment in a construction setting. They are different from the skills required to drive certain kinds of heavy equipment in a maintenance operation. What is being determined right now is what can be done in terms of a project that incorporates a training component that is real, that is supervisable, and for which the trainees will get some certifiable benefit from the program, and at the same time get the job done as per the plan. Those details have not been established at this point and, in the discussions that I have had with the department and in the discussions that I have had with the Contractors Association, at their regular monthly meeting, there are some ideas that could be pursued and which do incorporate training within a tendered project. I think that every attempt is going to be made to try to see in fact what can be done with this particular project. And this is the only one - given its pilot nature - that I would think would take place in the territory.
Mr. Lang: It does concern me a little bit, the fact of what the government is doing here because is it not true that the heavy equipment course was canceled because there were so many qualified equipment operators in the territory that the program could not be justified?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding is that there are a large number of heavy equipment operators but they are not to be found in all parts of the territory. It is an extremely expensive program to undertake. There is a full series of priorities within the Department that we would like to meet. It is a very high capital cost. In terms of the demand, there is a projection that, giving the cost to put the course on, it is not justifiable to put the course on. For that reason, we are not running the course. If there was an overwhelming demand it might make it more cost effective to put on the course.
Mr. Lang: He did not answer my question. Was the heavy equipment course not canceled because we had so many operators in the territory who could fill the jobs available, that it was seen by both the federal and territorial government that it was not realistic to put the course on because you would train people and they did not have a good chance of getting a job. Is that not correct? That was my understanding of why it was canceled.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My understanding is that that is not the reason it was canceled. Programs at the college are driven more by demand than by anything else. We do run carpentry courses now and there is a large number of carpenters in the territory. There is still a large number of people coming to the desk saying they want to learn more about carpentry, so those courses are being continued.
Mr. Lang: We are not talking on the same wavelength. I was referring to the spaces that the federal government pays for on the programs in the Yukon College. I am told, and am going on memory, that it was canceled because there were so many people who were qualified as operators that there were more operators than jobs out there and, therefore, you could not justify putting on a program that put people into the workforce where there really are not jobs to be had. Subsequently, priorities changed and maybe there was an expansion in the carpentry program, whatever the case may be. I do not want to belabour the point.
I have one further question. From what the Minister said here has the Contractors Association supported, in principle, the idea of having a training component in a job of this nature?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have not asked for their support in principle or otherwise, and they have not expressed any position one way or another. We are at the discussion stages on this matter. They have asked that the government not get too heavily into training programs that are associated with construction because they feel that the construction schedule might be jeopardized by the large number of trainees. There is no need expressed by the government to engage in massive training exercises.
There has been very limited attempt to provide training exercises in construction settings where real-life situations are faced by people in the training program. That is what is being attempted in the preliminary stages of the design of the program. It has not been determined whether or not this can be achieved. There is some suggestion that if a training program is tried, it might be best to try it on a major ongoing project, such as the Campbell Highway. Then we could incorporate one or two training positions over the long term.
It was felt by various people that it would not be appropriate, in a high traffic area, to attempt training - even though there is a desire to provide more on-the-job training, real-life experiences for people. We have agreed that it is not appropriate to try even a limited training exercise on a highly travelled road. Instead, to pick a road that is less travelled would be more appropriate. Even then, it cannot be determined now if a training program under these conditions could meet our objectives, which is to provide for certifiable results. Perhaps I should not use that term, but people are certified when it is completed - they walk away with certification of competence. We are attempting to see if the construction can take place in a real-life setting and whether or not people can be trained at the same time.
Mr. Brewster: I am going to make a suggestion on that, where the government could save a lot of money. They should take these individuals and turn them over to Lobe Construction. They have taught more people to drive heavy equipment than your school ever will. If you helped him a little bit and put these young boys on there, they would learn how to do the job properly and save the education system a lot of money, and they would be full-fledged to get out there and work.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is what we are attempting to do. We are not trying to run a course through the college where there is an artificial situation, where people are trying to learn skills in something less than a real-life situation. We would like to try to develop training in a real-life situation, like the Lobe situation, which is done completely without government involvement. We are trying to encourage it to happen on the projects - and this particular project - to see whether or not people can walk away with a certification that says that they are qualified to run heavy equipment.
Mr. Lang: I have had some experience in road building and spent a lot of hours at it. As far as the business community is concerned, and those people specifically in that business, if you go through their work crews, most of those people have been trained here locally by the contractors themselves without the government - Big Brother - coming in with some scheme that is raised in some bureaucrats office. They do it on an ongoing basis. Young people are brought in and trained and things move on. As people move out of the business, the young lads come in. It is becoming more and more evident to me that the government - Big Brother - is coming in and trying to tell people how to run their business. I think more and more people are getting fed up with it. I think the people of the Yukon can take care of themselves in many ways, especially in the area of heavy equipment.
There are a lot of young people trained on an ongoing basis. They start by greasing the machines, then move on to the packer, then the scrapers and the CATs. It is a steady progression. Once the government gets in, sure enough we are going to have someone in there who is saying you have to have so many hours here in order to be certified. It is going to turn into a paper war and the Minister will be here asking for three person years to follow these people around to make sure they put the hours in. And the story goes on.
I register my concern with respect to the direction the government is going. If the intention is to have a heavy equipment course, then go out and have one. But do not start telling the small businessman how to run his business, or make it a condition of getting the contract. That is called blackmail.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Members objections to the training program are duly noted. There is nothing more to say.
Mr. McLachlan: On the Freegold Road, I want to ask the Minister: does that road not split after a certain point, and one portion goes to the Freegold property and one portion to the Mount Nansen property? Why is all the money being spent on one side while they are mining in the Mount Nansen area?
Mr. Lang: If I can take the liberty of answering that, we spent $200,000 to $300,000 about two years ago on the Mount Nansen road. I am just helping the Minister on his answer.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will check the Capital Budget to get the exact figure on the Mount Nansen road.
Chairman: While we are waiting, is it the wish of the Committee Members to take a brief recess?
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with the Freegold Road.
Mr. Lang: I just want to complete this by saying we see the reasoning for the upgrading of the particular road in question. We are really looking forward to some favourable development decisions being made by the mining community in that particular area, but I do have some reservations, as expressed to the Minister, on his airy-fairy ideas of how a guy should run a construction crew.
Freegold Km 0 - 60 in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
On Crow Mountain
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is an expenditure for a road that was to have taken place this year. Because of the work that had to be done in the community in preparation for the airport work and sewage lagoon, it could not be done. So, next year.
Mr. Phillips: Was there any work done at all on that road this year? Any planning this past year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The road alignment was considered. Basically, nothing physical was done at all.
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister explain why last year the vote line was $250,000, and this year it is $200,000? Were they out that much in their estimate last year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It has more to do with what we think we can get done with the equipment that is available in the community. There is a fairly large expenditure that we project will be undertaken with the airport work. We feel that all the work that has to be done is to be done by people in the community and the highway crews, as per the normal course of events there. In the past, we have had people working around the clock every day of the construction season and, this year, we simply could not do the road.
We feel the road can be done to this level of expenditure and the other planned work as well. We are now confident this work can be done.
Mr. Phillips: Is that $200,000 the total cost of the road to completion?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, I do not believe so. I believe this is for the first
Mr. Phillips: Is that 6.5 kilometres? Is there any plan for the road to go any further than that in the future?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is the wrong side of the river to get to Eagle Plains Lodge over the bridge. There might be some disagreement among community members if we were to proceed with a road to the Dempster Highway. We are looking at a total of about 12 to 15 kilometres.
Mr. Phillips: Could the Minister tell us where the road is intended to end? What is the purpose of the road?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not familiar with the place names in the area. I will provide Members with the information on projected line items. Old Crow is sandwiched between the airport and the river. There is very little land for development in the whole area. There is some desire to develop land. Like the Whitehorse area, there are country residential lots of land where people can spread out a little and live on a year-round basis. There is also a desire to have closer access to the jumping off point for the route to Crow Flats. Land development is one feature.
Another major feature is that there is rip rap of considerable size on sites in the direction where the road is to go. The river gravels do not seem to be even a semi-permanent solution to river bank erosion control. There is every desire to get close to decent rip rap for that purpose. Right now riverbank erosion control is a very expensive venture in Old Crow, and it is almost an ongoing Operation and Maintenance expenditure, which has been ongoing for some time. We are talking about fairly large sums of money. The last time we voted this amount there was approximately $50,000 to $100,000 for riverbank erosion. The materials that they use are river gravels, and they are scooped out by river ices fairly easily. There is considered to be a limited supply of river gravels in the immediate vicinity of Old Crow, and some thought has to be given in the future to finding a decent rip rap. That is the other major reason for the road.
Mr. Lang: He has not given us the projected total cost of this 13.5 kilometres. He has given us $200,000 as the cost to vote, but I would like to know what figures the department can provide for the projected costs of building the whole road to completion.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Right now, the plan is for approximately 15 kilometres and the cost of the first 6.5 is $200,000. I am not sure exactly what the balance is. I can look in the plan and get the information directly.
Crow Mountain Road in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Annie Lake Road
Mr. Phelps: On the Annie Lake Road surfacing, my first question is that there seems to be some difference between figures in the various documents. We received a long list of the distribution by community. We have Annie Lake Road intensive for $20,000; we also have surfacing the Annie Lake Road kilometre zero to eight, $384,000. I am wondering what the Annie Lake Road intensive means; is that part of the road?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have that particular document with me but I believe it would refer to land development.
Mr. Phelps: Looking at the documents released to contractors the other night, under Annie Lake Road, on page five, item 21, it talks about surfacing Annie Lake Road, kilometre zero to 25; Klondike Highway to first Wheaton River bridge; it also talks, in item 22, of crushing stockpile, kilometre 22; and talks in terms of total budget being $384,000 including crushing, minor earth works, placing crushed gravel and engineering. My first question is why the discrepancy in kilometres? If it is going to the bridge, it would be 25 kilometres, not eight.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My information is that it is kilometre zero to 18. I will check on that detail for the Member. I believe the bridge is at kilometre 18, if I am not mistaken, but I will check on that detail.
The project basically involves the crushing of material to a better standard. Right now, of course, there is pit-run gravels on the road, and that is not appropriate for a heavy traffic road such as this, which is expected to be about 70 vehicles per day.
Mr. Phelps: I am strongly in favour of upgrading the surface on the road. I wrote the Minister about that very issue last summer. I contacted the Ministers office and mentioned that I was going to ask some questions earlier on this Session about the Annie Lake Road, and the questions that I was thinking about at that time, or I gave notice about at that time, had to do with how much had been spent this late fall. I know the crew was in there doing some resurfacing with crush, with the tail end of the budget monies that they had, I guess. I think that they were there in September or October.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thank the Member for considerable notice on this. The work done this past fall, in terms of applying the gravel for the road, was approximately $51,000.
Mr. Phelps: So we can take it that this money is in addition to - it is intended to spend the full $384,000. There is no problem because some work was done this fall.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, we project that we will be spending the full amount, $384,000.
Mr. Phelps: As the Minister, I am sure is well aware, the prognosis is rather good for mineral development in the area around Skukum, and Omni Resources is working all winter and has got the reserves up in excess of 600,000 tons of .39 gold equivalent - so that it is anticipated by everyone that there will be a mine there; it is just a matter of how big.
Right now, as I understand it, the road is in pretty dismal shape between the first river bridge and Mount Skukum. My first question is: I understand Mount Skukum has been maintaining the road from the first Wheaton bridge to the mine - is that right?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct. They did apply under the RRRP to upgrade the road. I do not recall the exact figure of the approved amount. They did apply for upgrading work, as did Omni for the stretch between Skukum and the Omni Resources property. I know that was approved, as well, to address the problem of the standard of the road.
Mr. Phelps: Is the government considering taking on the maintenance of the road up to the second Wheaton River crossing, or up to the junction where the Omni road goes off, or to the Skukum Mine itself?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At this point, we have not had discussions with Skukum or Omni with respect to the ongoing maintenance of those roads. It has not been requested, nor have we offered to maintain the road beyond the current limits.
The surfacing will be between 0 and kilometre 25.
Mr. Phelps: I thank the Minister for that clarification. In driving over that road, a lot of the people who work at Skukum commute daily back and forth between Mount Skukum and Whitehorse. The road has been in terrible shape. One of the reasons, of course, is the surface, and that has been looked after up to the bridge by this Budget.
I view that road as one of the more important roads, looking into the future. Would the government consider looking at the possibility of supplying some crush to the road beyond the first bridge this year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I could find out what has been done with respect to the Regional Roads to Resources Program, and what kind of improvement has been made there. I will check on that particular detail.
The discussion about further gravel is something we could take under consideration. I do not know what the cost might be. I do not know what the result of decisions regarding that would be, but I will look at it with the department to see what the situation is and whether or not that would be advisable.
Mr. Phelps: I am sure the Minister is cognizant of the fact that when you have no decent surface on the road, the grader goes over it and it wears away right away. It is almost useless. Either the government or the company, as the case may be, tends to wear out a lot of machinery in trying to grade where they are bumping into huge embedded rocks and so on. I would be very pleased if the Minister would discuss the matter with Mt. Skukum or the powers that be with Omni and see whether or not there is a relatively cheap method of getting more crush on the road beyond the first bridge.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will.
Annie Lake Surfacing Km 0 - 8
Mr. Brewster: Is this where we can talk about the old Alaska Highway? I hope he sees that little green spot that runs out with the number ten on it. I got really excited because that is the only coloured spot we have in the whole Kluane area. I knew Kluane was not very popular, but I did not know we were that bad. I would like to know where this old piece of Alaska Highway is going. If the Minister is having trouble, it is just east of the Kusawa Road.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am very well aware of the road we are talking about. The reason why the government is not upgrading the highway system in the riding of Kluane is not because the government does not care about Kluane or the highway system in Kluane. Those roads are owned by the federal government, and the capital upgrading of the road is their responsibility. We have done everything we can to encourage them to do just that.
Basically what we are proposing for the first ten kilometres of the old Alaska Highway is to upgrade the road to a 60 kilometre an hour standard. There is an average summer daily traffic volume of 200 vehicles a day. Because this road is fairly well used, and there is more residential use of this road, it merits some upgrading. The work that is to be done next year is basically the beginning of a project, the pre-engineering associated with that project, for the first 10.3 kilometres.
Mr. Brewster: I understand what he is talking about now, but that should be an awful lot closer to Whitehorse than the Kusawa Road, and we will not argue about that.
While we are on this, I would like to ask about another piece of the old Alaska Highway just west of Kusawa. I notice it is being cleared of snow by Highways, I would presume although I am not sure of that. This goes into the homestead site in the Mendenhall area. Are they going to keep that road and maintain it all year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At this point, no decision has been made to maintain the road at the Mendenhall site. When the homesteader policy went through and when lots were on the market, these were considered to be lots where no expectation of service ought to be expected. Things do change, and as people move in there will be a call for road maintenance. I am hoping that the Minister of the day will be sensitive to requests that are made. At this stage, there are only a few applicants for the site. We will have to determine the use of the road in the Mendenhall homesteader area.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister. That is what I understood the policy was about. There are three people who are building in there now. I saw that someone had graded that road out, and I suspect that it was the Highways Branch. I do not know of anyone else who would have graders in that area. I wondered if the government had already caved into three people by grading the roads for them.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not think so. The homesteader policy was quite clear. Whoever may be in the Ministers chair will be in a position to tell 20 people who have signed a petition that the people have signed away any rights to service by government. That will mean nothing to the people who have signed the petition. Right now, no deal has been made to maintain any roads at all in either of the homesteader areas that we have.
Mr. Brewster: I agree with the Minister and with the policy. However, someone is definitely clearing the roads there. It irks me when roads are cleared for three or four families, yet for the rest of us who live along the road they put wind rows in and absolutely refuse to clear them, and pretty soon one is climbing straight up to get onto the Highway. The policy is here, and the Minister confirmed this a year ago that the Highways Branch is supposed to clean the driveways after they have plugged them. They do not do it.
On Roads to Resources
Mr. McLachlan: I am wondering if the Minister could inform us whether the indications are that the program is going to be fully subscribed for the 1987-88 year or is it in fact oversubscribed? It is a substantial amount of money. Can the Minister provide us with a list - I realise he cannot do that today - of those people who have applied for and have successfully received funding under this program?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, I can. For the first year of the program, I believe it was just over $1 million subscribed. As I believe I mentioned to the Member for Porter Creek East, at this stage of the year we are at $1.6 million and there is some suggestion we would make it to the $2.5 million. We still feel that, in order to breed confidence in the program, in order to encourage people to use it, we should maintain the level of $2.5 million that we promised some time ago, and we will endeavour to keep the funding level at $2.5 million for the duration of this program. The thing to remember is that certain sectors have not been as quick - certainly, the resource sectors - to make applications for this program as we had hoped, largely because they were not used to building roads: the fishing industry, forestry, tourism, agriculture - they were not used to building roads at all or sponsoring the construction of a road. So the take-up has been fairly slow from those sectors. The mining sector, however, has had great practice at building roads; they oftentimes have a good administrative unit that can churn out an application for the Regional Resource Roads Program in a matter of half an hour and it is nothing for them to make application to this program, so it has been heavily utilised by the mining interests. We would still like to encourage a full cross sectoral interest in the program, and it is starting to come now. Roads for access to wood lots are starting to be built and I have every hope the program will be successful in the coming year. I think that, given the pattern of finishers so far, it ought to be fully utilised in the coming year.
Mr. McLachlan: In relation to this program and in relation to the questions asked by the Leader of the Official Opposition, does the government maintain the road at Ross River into the Canamax mine off the main highway? If so, how far in?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: They maintain all the road that was constructed by them and, also, with the assistance of the Regional Roads to Resources Program, by themselves.
Mr. McLachlan: To the best of the Ministers recollection, when Canamax applied under this program for doing the road into Ross River, was that a two stage program? Is that road now fully built to the development stage the mine requests, or is there an ongoing application to come in the 1988-89 year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to check on that. I know it was initially a two stage project, and I believe it was funded under the first and second year of the program. I am not sure if they have other plans in mind, or whether they have approached the selection committee or not. I can check on that, too.
Mr. Lang: I think this is a very good program. I think it was long overdue in coming, and I think it is going to bear many good results in the years to come, as far as the incentive for the mining community to develop in the territory.
Roads to Resources in the amount of $2.5 million agreed to
On Facilities and Equipment
On Planning and Engineering
Mr. Lang: There is a $240,000 decrease in this area. Is it for the same reason that they have so many things on the shelf that they fire the engineers and not have to do any more study?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As Members will note,in 1985 there was a concerted effort to upgrade the facilities around the territory. Much of the major upgrading has been done. There are still some projects to undertake, such as the Klondike camp for the expansion of the shop facilities. For the projects in the future, much of the planning has been done. We feel that the expenditure here can meet the needs in terms of designs for future facilities. In terms of upgrading our highways infrastructure, the work remaining can be handled with this expenditure.
Mr. Lang: I am wondering if you can provide a list - not necessarily right now but a little later on, maybe this evening - with respect to the proposed plans that are going to be developed on the various projects. In other words, outline the projects that they are looking at developing plans for.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know if I can do that. I will certainly give it a good shot. In terms of the Capital Plan for the upgrading of facilities, it will include a lot of things. If I can give the Member some indication of what projects are priority projects and possibly identify the projects that are worth looking at - even though there is no funding commitment whatsoever. If it is understood that we will never be held accountable, that there be no consideration that this is a big Capital Plan that we have in place, or that we have already decided, I can provide the list of the projects that we have identified as projects that we are pursuing.
Roads to Resources in the amount of $2,500,000 agreed to
On Sundry Equipment
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is for the entire territorial highway system. This is the purchase of sundry equipment of various kinds. It is a traditional expenditure that the government provides for survey instruments, portable scales, water pumps, chain saws - a whole variety of things for the whole system.
Mr. Lang: I just thought it might be desks for the front bench, but I guess they would be under Government Services, so we can go through that at that time.
Sundry equipment in the amount of $325,000 agreed to
On maintenance camp facilities, Whitehorse warehouse
Mr. Lang: Am I correct that this is strictly to build some doors and to do some re-insulation in that particular building?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is a desire to isolate the welding area, which is the cause of much concern with respect to the fumes in the workshop itself. The workshop members are familiar with it. It has one motor vehicle section, one heavy equipment section, there is a welding taking place in, I believe, the heavy equipment section, fumes are bad, the union has complained; the government agrees that the working conditions are lousy, and there is an attempt to try to improve the situation. So there will be replacement of doors, fans, and closing of the welding area. The closing of the welding area will entail a slight extension onto the end of the heavy equipment workshop and the welding area will be enclosed and made central to the whole operation. That, basically, is the character of the project.
Mr. Lang: It sounds to me like it is going to be a fairly significant extension. My information is that it is going to be 100 by 80 feet. That is a big building. I want to know if the Minister can verify that. If that is the case, we are building a very major structure, which that is a little bit more than hanging a few doors.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I realize that although the Capital Projects Plan for 1988 shows extension of a heavy equipment shop, 100 X 80 feet approximately, and installation of overhead doors in the existing shop, I will check on the exact details. If the Member wants to see the plans, I can get the plan.
Mr. Lang: I am concerned. We are talking $600,000 here, and there seems to be a number of different messages coming from the government. I would appreciate it if the Minister, tonight, could give us a little more definite idea of what is taking place because this is a significant amount of money.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will do what I can with respect to the timeframe. I am not sure I can do it tonight. In terms of the plans the government has to improve the central workshop, it is as I have explained it, an expansion of the heavy equipment area and installation of doors, fans and enclosure of the welding area, central to the full workshop.
Mr. Lang: I want it clear that he will be coming back with more information. Maybe not this evening, but tomorrow.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will see what I can do.
Whitehorse Warehouse in the amount of $600,000 agreed to
On Drury Creek Staff Quarters
Mr. McLachlan: How many units are we getting for $800,000? Is it just four? Are they $200,000 apiece?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is not just the housing in Drury Creek. It is also for the expansion of the garage at Drury Creek.
Mr. McLachlan: How many units are we dealing with?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Four.
Mr. McLachlan: One of the complaints that the people have is that one camp is regarded as single quarters only. They will complain to the Human Rights Commission that the government is labelling the staff quarters as single only because the facilities are only there for single people, other than the foreman. Is it the intention of the government to build new staff quarters so that all four units will be family accommodation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Department of Highways provides accommodation in semi-isolated camps, and the Yukon Housing Corporation will provide it in the rural communities as it is necessary. There is full room and board situations in the isolated camps: Eagle Plains, Ogilvie, Blanchard and Tuchitua. The other camps are semi-isolated. They are not close to any schools or facilities of any sort. These are camps where primarily single people go, but the lifestyle is more homey than it is in an isolated camp. They often bring spouses to those places, so there is every effort made to try to accommodate these people in that environment.
If people want to bring in families, they will have to understand that they will be required to have their children in school, but that there will be no school within commuting distance. I do not know how that would be handled. We will provide accommodation that is suitable for the location of the camp.
Chairman: The time now being 5:30 p.m., we will recess until 7:30 p.m.
Deputy Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. Department of Community and Transportation Services, Maintenance Camp Facilities, discussion continued.
Mr. Lang: With respect to the semi-isolated versus isolated communities as far as these staff quarters are concerned, I take it Drury Creek is referred to as isolated, for the purposes of single type employees versus family?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It would be considered a semi-isolated camp. The isolated camps would have room and board, which means cooking facilities where a contract would be let for the provision of food for the people who are at the camp. In semi-isolated camps, people would be responsible for cooking their own food and taking care of themselves.
Mr. Lang: Maybe I misunderstood the remarks of the Minister. These are going to be four separate units, as opposed to a complex where it is all interconnected?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There will be four distinct units.
Mr. Lang: In talking about staff quarters, is the Stewart Crossing complex not all interconnected?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is interconnected. It is like row houses, as with Drury Creek.
Mr. Lang: Last Capital Budget, we had a fair amount of discussion with respect to accommodation and how the various methods could be taken to employ a reasonable, practical and acceptable type of accommodation for the work force. I do not think there is any disagreement about the fact that we have to have decent accommodation but, for example, in Stewart Crossing, why did we not go with separate distinct units, such as log cabins? It would have been using Yukon supplies, it would have kept down costs, it would have allowed for the couple with one or two small children to have a life of their own, as opposed to going into a situation like Stewart Crossing. I do not understand why we would have a town house or condominium type of construction when people are working so closely together, almost seven days a week and, then, having to live in such close quarters together. Recognizing that we are all humans and that, sometimes, you do have minor disagreements, it is sometimes better to be off by yourself.
Why was the decision made to go ahead with that type of unit when you had a small organization down in Watson Lake, for example, that provides log housing and would have done it at a reasonable cost? Was that idea explored? If so, why was the decision made not to go with it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The decision was to go ahead with the kind of row housing that was shown in Drury Creek to demonstrate what they were going ahead with in Swift River and Stewart Crossing, and ultimately in Beaver Creek. Because they have a common heating plant for all the units in the complex, and it was felt that it would be more cost effective, in the short and long run, to tie in the heating systems to the one serviceable easily accessed heating centre. That is the reason why we went ahead with the kind of concept we did.
In Swift River we gave consideration to log construction and tendered on the basis of log construction. We also tendered Stewart Crossing on the basis of log construction, but given the bids we received it was determined it was more cost effective to go with stick built.
Mr. Lang: I think there is a flaw in the reasoning presented by the Minister. Using your reasoning we should all live downtown at the Sheffield and be on central heating. There are a couple of points here. First of all, I do not think it would be out of order to have people in Stewart Crossing, or in Drury Creek, or in Swift River, having separate log houses. Not a log complex, I can understand where a log complex would be costly, but separate log houses with wood heat and an oil backup. Maybe they could even pay for the operation and maintenance themselves. That is my observation.
I gather what we are doing now with the decision taken in Stewart Crossing that the taxpayer is directly picking up the operation and maintenance of the facility for heat and light.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In these camps, the rent has always been subsidized. I am not sure exactly what they pay, but it is about $200 a month, I believe for their accommodation. I do not think there is any question that it is subsidized; that is the way it has been historically and that is the way it is intended to be, at least for the near future. It was certainly the governments intention to improve the quality of accommodation - moving people out of trailers and making old trailers into decent, more permanent accommodation. That was the reasoning for the move that we made. It does not prevent people from building their own housing, if they feel they have formed an attachment to these semi-isolated communities. In terms of the housing that the Department of Highways provides, we felt this was cost effective, attractive, better, more permanent, and easier to maintain housing for the three semi-isolated camps that we currently have.
Mr. Lang: I know we cannot go back to Stewart Crossing and burn it down, but I did say that I felt there was some fairly constructive debate in this House on how we perhaps could accommodate the work force in these camps. I think both sides of the House agree that we should have reasonable and decent accommodation. What I do not understand is why we do not provide separate, distinct homes for married couples. Why do we not use, for example, the company down in Watson Lake that is in the business of providing log homes - at what I understand is a fairly reasonable cost? Then you say to the employee that, as part of working out there, is that they have the house and they take care of it, and give them the terms and conditions of the accommodation. If we continue to go the other way, I think we will reap the rewards where we have a work force totally dependent on the government in every element of their livelihood. I think the reason we used Stewart Crossing as an example in the last debate was because the Minister, and I give him full marks, has always been a proponent - standing up in this House when he was on this side, and I am sure in private on that side as well - in talking about Stewart Crossing as a community. The community gets recreation grants, it is designated, it is seen with its own radio and its own television; every time the Minister gets the opportunity he stands up and tells us how this is a growing community. But I do not understand how you intend to keep it growing with some identity if the government goes in and just builds a complex.
I can understand that reasoning for the purpose of the Dempster Highway or, for that matter, Blanchard. I understand. It is isolated, it is that much removed, but if you are in a situation where you have got a lodge and all the various other makings where if perhaps something happens, that maybe even the government may not make it happen. Maybe there is a logging venture nearby or something that causes some economic activity, which means more people. Then you have got a basis to start and maybe you find, down the road, that you only need three houses, as opposed to four. Because it is not beyond comprehension, in this day of technology, that you may need fewer in the workforce, because you can do more miles in a day or because your equipment is that much more upgraded and can do that much more with one operator, instead of two. And those are all things that, in ten years, could conceivably change.
So I just want to ask the Minister if he would consider the representation that is being made and maybe in the Drury Creek situation, and try it. Go out for tenders for log cabins - nice log cabins - and see how it comes in, as opposed to just going on the way we are. Maybe we can come out with something different and unique. I have no doubt that a lot of the people working in that type of a community would mind staying in their own private home, a nice log accommodation that can be very pleasing, very warm, and take the responsibility for providing the wood and the things that go along with your own private accommodation.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not object at all to much of what the Member has said. With respect to staff housing, there is, of course, a program within the ambit of Yukon Housing Corporation that provides staff housing to communities and single houses and there is a going rate, of course. They could easily consider log construction; I think they ought to consider log construction if it is cost effective. If the employees are prepared to consider working in those communities and taking on more responsibilities, then I think that should be given more responsibility and more financial responsibility, as well, for the units, I think that that should be seriously considered. A difficulty that we have had up until now is, basically, finding people who are prepared to come and stay and commit themselves to a particular camp. Otherwise it is a very transient situation and, for that reason, I presume, over the course of the last many, many, many years, that is why accommodation has been provided the way it has, in a subsidized form, to staff in those semi-isolated posts: Drury Creek, Swift River, and Stewart. Clearly, in order to keep people in the very, very isolated camps, it has proven to be necessary, over the course of many years, from the experience that we have had over many years, to provide more services, including full camp accommodation and subsidized room and board.
It has been more of an expense for the government to keep people at the camps. It was realized many, many years ago that there are three kinds of camps. There is the isolated camp where full services are needed. There is the semi-isolated camps where semi-services are needed, and there is the rural camp - for example, the Mayo camp or the Dawson camp - where government employees are treated as other government employees are treated. Yukon Housing is available for staff. It is used as an encouragement; it is not supposed to be subsidized at all.
When the Yukon Housing Corporation gets involved, it is not supposed to be a subsidized situation. In the semi-isolated camps, it is considered to be a subsidized situation. Therefore, the government has always considered the cost effectiveness of putting in decent accommodation, and that has been a factor in this particular case. It is worth approaching employees to see if they would be prepared to take on more responsibility for their housing. As a matter of general principle with log housing, I would be very much in support of encouraging log construction in all units that the government has a hand in producing.
Mr. Lang: I hope that this conversation goes a little further than it did last time. I am not asking questions just to waste peoples time. This sounds like a repeat - deja vu - of the conversation that took place here about a year ago about Stewart Crossing. I feel very strongly about the social side of this, more so than the economic side. If we are looking at getting couples with small children out to these camps, they should definitely have their own separate units and be able to have some privacy away from the other workers, who they see seven days a week.
Do I take it - I do not want to belabor this, but we are talking about $800,000 here - that the Minister is prepared to instruct his department to look into the cost for log house construction for four units, to see what the prices will be compared to the other method that has been employed at Steward Crossing. Do we have a commitment for the Minister to do that?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is important for Members to be careful about encouraging families to move to semi-isolated camps. When we encourage families, we had better start thinking about the other services that families require, primarily school and busing services and a full range of services. In Stewart Crossing, it is more of a community, the bus service there is marginal. Depending on the numbers of people who will use it, it can be shut down. The other communities are not within commuting distance, and it is impossible to provide bus service unless it is shuttle helicopter service.
I will undertake to determine what the cost of four log cabins would be and see if it would be cost effective. It must be cost effective on the Operation and Maintenance side.I will also undertake to determine what the opinions of the employees are. They ought to have some input into this equation.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the commitment the Minister is making. I want to get on the record the realities. In Swift River, or Drury Creek, or Stewart Crossing you sometimes have married couples with one or two small children. The point is that if anybody is living and working there, and if they intend to raise their family there, they will have to provide correspondence. It is not up to the Minister of Education, in my judgment, to start building a school unless the community gets large enough to warrant it. I appreciate the statement made by the Minister and caution him with respect to providing other services. What the government is prepared to supply in these semi-isolated camps has to be clearly understood. I look forward to this in the spring budget, I am not going to let it drop. Hopefully, we will have some options that perhaps can be debated during the Main Estimates.
Mr. McLachlan: Before the break the Minister told me that $800,000 was the sum of the residences and some work to the garage. Does he have a breakdown of the two costs? I am asking because we debated at this time last year a unit cost of about $180,000 a piece for five units in Stewart Crossing, and I was wondering if we were in that $180,000 range again for Drury Creek.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The cost of the Stewart Crossing camp was approximately $520,000 in total. The cost for Drury Creek will be somewhat less because we project there will be fewer units constructed. The expansion of the garage is basically the balance of the funds that are available. I do not have cost per square foot for the garage expansion but I could provide that for the Member. Basically, there is not enough room now to keep the grader in the garage to keep it warm for ready use and do some repair work at the same time. There is a desire to expand the garage and add another bay.
Mr. Nordling: I would like the Minister to explain a little further. To me, the instructions are to build housing units and with any monies left over use it on the garage. Is that the way the budgeting is done?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, it is not. A per unit cost projected for four units at Drury Creek, plus the projected expansion for the garage, added together come to $800,000.
Mr. Nordling: Can the Minister tell us what the projected cost for the four units is, and how much the projected cost for the garage is? We know the total is $800,000.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will bring the information with respect to the square footage costs back.
Mr. Lang: While we are talking about camps, Swift River has been a bit of a problem I gather. Would the Minister be prepared to consider that, in view of the fact that maybe something like a log home could replace what would be a complex, as an option for Swift River. Since we have imperial and feet going together now as far as the foundation is concerned, this may be an appropriate time to look at that. We have some breathing space in January.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The problem here lies, basically, with someone misreading the specifications on the construction site. The specifications are clear and consistent. The responsibility for following through with the project lies with the contractor or the bonding agent, and perhaps the Minister of Government Services would have some comment on this. Basically, the commitment has been made, the work has been initiated in log construction, and every attempt will be made to finish and complete the project as per the original plan.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister talked about $520,000 for Stewart Crossing. At one point, this time last year, the estimates were quite a bit higher. Did we build four or five or six or three units at Stewart Crossing for $520,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Five units.
Mr. McLachlan: Was the type of construction at Stewart Crossing changed to bring the overall per unit cost down?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is no doubt whatsoever that row housing is cheaper on a per unit basis than single dwellings. There is no question about that.
Mr. Lang: Just an observation - perhaps, when the Minister is looking at further options, I think he should ask his Department to look at the specifications being asked for too. Some of these costs that the government is facing in some of these projects can be largely attributed, or at least in part attributed, to the very high specifications in some of the contracts that are being called. What comes to mind as an example is one particular project that has been brought to my attention, where there is going to be propane heating. To hold the propane tank, they are asking for ten yards of concrete. These are things that contractors are telling me. If you are going to have to put up ten yards of concrete, you are going to be charged for it and it costs you big dollars in communities, especially outside Whitehorse, because you do not have a batch plant or all the other sundry things that go along with it. So, I am asking that the Minister pay some care and attention to what is being said here and have a review of the specifications and maybe talk to the contractors to see if we are asking for too much. For us just to accept the fact that it is going to be $110,000 or $140,000 a unit - is there a method of getting it down and getting a good, reasonable accommodation unit built for a lesser cost? You might, incidentally, get a better accommodation. I put that to the Minister for his discussions with the Department and perhaps with Government Services.
Mr. McLachlan: We are still not clear on the type of construction and the type of design going in to Drury Creek. This time last year, we talked about $180,000 a unit for Stewart Crossing for the five units that were built, making a total of $900,000. Since then, the Minister has said that the costs are coming in at $520,000, lowering it by some $380,000 to $104,000 a unit. That is good but, when I asked the question about the type of housing at Drury Creek, the Minister originally said it was individual units. If it is not individual units but is a fourplex, how much per unit is the fourplex? Is it still planned as high as $180,000, which was the approximate cost of the original construction to be built this year at Stewart Crossing?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No. The original projections for the cost of construction at Stewart Crossing were out of line. That is obvious. The real cost was $520,000, and that is obvious. The projection for a fourplex is roughly the same prorated amount as that which was projected for Stewart Crossing. I have undertaken to have a look at the Member for Porter Creek Easts suggestion, which is single unit log construction. I do not know what that cost is, and we have undertaken to have a look at that and, also, to consult with employees and see whether or not that kind of approach is cost effective, either on the Capital or Operation and Maintenance side, and see whether or not that is a more reasonable alternative than a fourplex. That is what I have indicated I will do.
Drury Creek Staff Quarters in the amount of $800,000 agreed to
On Ross River Garage
Mr. Lang: That seems like a lot of money. Was there any consideration given to doing some work on the present garage to get it up to standards if they have problems with it, as opposed to going in and building a brand new garage? If so, what would be the cost to upgrade it to an acceptable standard?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There has been some thought given to the existing garage. I do not know if the Members have seen the garage, but it is in the worst shape of any garage in the territory. It was not considered cost effective to try to renovate the existing garage. This would be the cost of a new garage for that community, which is a fairly basic facility.
Mr. Lang: Did we not do a bunch of work in the past four or five years on that particular facility where insulation was upgraded and some painting and various other things?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: My information is that if we have done any work on the garage, it would be light O&M work. It may have been painting. I believe that a few years ago a door was damaged at the Ross River garage but there was no major upgrading, to my knowledge. I will check to make sure, but I do not recall any such thing.
Mr. McLachlan: I am wondering if the same problem exists in the Ross River garage as the Minister mentioned existing at Drury Creek, that there simply is not enough inside warm storage for the equipment to be in there in the winter. If that should be the case, has this $435,000 been designed for a facility that is larger and much bigger than the size of the present garage?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Could you repeat that question, please?
Mr. McLachlan: Is the $435,000 planned under this budget item for a garage facility that is larger than the size of the present garage facility at Ross River?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I believe so, but I will check. There is a design for garage facilities that Member will see around the territory. Pretty well all the garage facilities that were built some time ago are exactly the same; they are identical garages. The problem with these garages is that, given the maintenance equipment involved, and given the need that work has to be done inside the garage itself, they cannot use the garage for warming up vehicles and for repairing vehicles without heaving vehicles into the yard. They cannot warm vehicles or repair vehicles at the same time and so there was a desire, over the long haul, to ensure that, for operational efficiency, that the garages are made larger. And that is the plan for all future garages, that they be larger so that they can perform the dual function that the highways operations would like to have them do.
Mr. Lang: I am going to pursue this a little further. The Minister said that it was not cost effective to fix up the present garage. What figures were presented to him for fixing it up, as opposed to building a brand new one?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have these figures. I do not want to provide information that is not accurate to my satisfaction so, with respect to the design of the garage, and the costs of upgrading, I can bring back to the Members on a cost per square foot basis.
Mr. Lang: I just want to get this clear. In the decision that was made to proceed with that new garage costing over $400,000, the Minister at the same time had the department prepare figures to give him an idea of what it would cost to renovate, so you had a comparison so that a decision could be made? Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am certain that cost comparisons were made, and I will bring the information to the Members.
Mr. Nordling: I would just like to register my concern about the lack of preparedness of this Minister. It is hardly acceptable - in fact, it is not acceptable - to this side for the Minister to come in with a line item called Drury Creek Staff Quarters, $800,000, and then for him to tell us that as much as half of that might be for renovations to the garage, that it is not staff quarters, implying that it is approximately $104,000 a unit for four units, just just over $400,000, and not having the detail of what the money is being spent on, and asking us to approve it.
Then we get to the next line - Ross River Garage in the amount of $435,000 - and the Minister does not know how the figure was arrived at or what could be done with the old garage. I do not know what material the Minister has with him, but he should have a lot more than he has now, or there is no point in us being here. The Minister should deem the budget to have been read and pass it, and we can all go home.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is absolute nonsense. Never before in this House - never - have questions of such incredible detail that Members request been put at budget time. If Members wish to ask questions about any kind of detail, I will bring that detail to this Legislature. Let me remind them that there is a great deal of detail involved in these budgets, and as policy makers, we are responsible for policy. I will get any detail that the Members want.
If we wanted to provide all the detail that could possible be asked, I can have all of these seats behind me full, with banks of employees, with all kinds of information and engineering texts to talk about the road alignment at Eleven Percent Hill or the compaction rate for the Ross River fire hall. We can have all that information, but we still might now have enough. If the Members want certain kinds of information, I will bend over backwards to make sure that they receive the information they want. How can I possibly be expected to provide such detail the Members ask for - there is simply no precedent for it - and to anticipate what information the Members want? It is impossible.
Mr. Lang: I do not think that what we are asking for is that detailed. We asked for a breakdown of $800,000 to give us an idea of how much the four units will cost in comparison to the improvements to the garage. That is not asking too much of the Minister. It is beyond me that the Minister would not have that information. I do not want to know where it is going to be built. I do not want to know the details of the construction. I just want to know, on behalf of the people the Minister and I serve, if we are spending the money in a wise and judicious manner. We have established that there needs to be a garage in Ross River? That is the only question.
Maybe we are scrutinizing the budget, but that is what we are here for. It comes as a surprise to the Minister that we ask about log homes as an alternative to row housing or a complex. We asked that question last year. Perhaps we have a difference of opinion, but we can set it aside and come back to it when the information gets here.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We definitely have a difference of opinion here. There could be all kinds of legitimate questions about the location of a particular garage - whether a garage faces a particular direction for operational efficiency - and maybe Members have personal knowledge of any particular project. Maybe there are Members who have a particular knowledge of Eleven Percent Hill; maybe they have even been responsible for surveying that particular hill and show an interest in this Legislature. That is perfectly legitimate. But in terms of expecting the Minister to provide - it is lucky I did have some personal knowledge of Eleven Percent Hill - particular knowledge right off the bat with respect to all these questions - the information is impossible.
Maybe the Member for Porter Creek East does not think the exact location of the garage in Ross River is not important, but there may be a Member who does. There may be a concern about how far this garage is from the fire hall. There may be all kinds of information associated with any particular expenditure. Unless the budgetary procedure has changed dramatically so we can have a bank of officials to provide the answers to these detailed questions, I cannot possibly anticipate the kinds of things that all the Members are going to ask. It is impossible to do that. Impossible.
I am not saying, and never have I said, that questions that are asked may not be legitimate. They should be answered as quickly as possible, and I have never said anything but that. If we were to stand over every question, this Budget would not be passed until next summer if we are going at the rate we are going. It could not be done; because, there would be questions and we would stand them over until I could pull the information from the Department, and there would be another question - this could last forever. Unless this Legislature wants to change or in some way amend the way budgets are passed, or provide some notice about some questions, we will be here a long time.
Mr. Lang: I am not going to belabour this. I think the questions asked this evening have been neither mind boggling, difficult, nor out of order. I agree with the Minister. If a person has some personal knowledge of a situation and can bring it to this House we will be much better off. Whether it be Eleven Percent Hill or otherwise.
All I am asking is that they set this aside. Surely they must have a breakdown they can get from the department to give us an idea of what we are talking about. The Minister knows full well, if he comes back to this House with the information, it will go through expeditiously. To sit here and infer we are holding up the business of the House - I agree with the Minister as he said earlier that a lot of the questions are legitimate, and they are legitimate.
Mrs. Firth: As a member of the Public Accounts Committee I would like to remind the Minister that the questions that we do ask are really in the best interests of the government and in the best interests of the taxpayers of the Yukon. I want to go back to some recommendations made from an Auditor Generals Report on an other matter. These recommendations were made quite sometime ago and were recommendations specific to the Capital Estimates.
There were five points, some of which have been fulfilled and some of which we do not feel have been fulfilled. The five points dealt with an introductory statement of government long term Capital spending strategy and basis of funding; a statement of procedures for management and control of Capital projects; financial summaries in the same format as for the current Main Estimates; an identification of new and continuing programs, including current and future year cost estimates and expected completion dates; and a narrative commentary in support of new projects and provision of explanation for any major changes in scope or cost of projects included in prior years Estimates.
I think the questions that have been put this evening are all relevant to those recommendations that were made. I was listening to the questions, and they were not unlike a lot of the questions that were presented last year, discussing the Stewart Crossing staff quarters that were going to be built. At that time, we had answers from the Minister of Government Services talking about the square footage; it was going to be $155 per square foot. It took us several days to get that information out of him. It appears that we are going to have to go through the same thing with the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. He was not prepared to answer the questions, as the Minister of Government Services was not prepared last year in the Capital debate.
It is relevant that we may ask if those costs per square foot have gone up this year. That is the direction the line of questioning has taken this evening. For the Minister to stand up tonight and say they raised the fact of what the costs were last year, although I believe the Member for Faro raised the question of cost. The Minister tells us tonight that they were obviously way out. He cannot have it both ways. He has to be prepared to come in here and justify what information he took to his Cabinet colleagues to get the project approved. We all know how the approval process works. You go in, you have your homework done, you justify the project, and you have some data to substantiate that.
The questions the Member for Porter Creek East asked with respect to the present garage facility and a comparison of renovating that as opposed to building a new one are relative and valid questions. I can appreciate the Ministers frustration. He cannot anticipate all our questions but, surely, he had to go into his Cabinet colleagues and give some justification for these projects to be built and to give some responsible and accurate financial accounting of why they should be proceeding in one direction as opposed to another. That is what we are asking him to come in here and give us today.
These analyses have either been done or not. Perhaps the government just decided they were going to build these things and commit that money and that was all there was to it. If that is the case, they can stand up and tell us that, too. We are just asking for some logical and reasonable answers from the government as to how they determine their budgets. I do not think that is at all unreasonable.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The questions that the Members are asking will be answered. I will stand this clause, and if they have any more questions about any other details with respect to the Ross River garage I would appreciate hearing them now. I will bring the information back. All these projects have, in my opinion, been well thought through. There is information to be had on all these projects, in the full budget, and I will make every attempt to bring the information to the Members attention as soon as possible. If the Members would like to stand over any clause, we will stand the clause over and take as long as it takes - I do not care how long - to get this budget through the House.
Chairman: It is agreed that we stand over the clause on the Ross River garage?
Ross River Garage stood over
Mr. Lang: On the line item Other, it does beg a question. We had $4,718,000 and now we are down to $70,000. Was there a construction project under this particular line item last year of which I am not aware? Or has money been moved to another section? What is the $70,000 for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Other last year refers to all the projects we did last year that are not going ahead this year. With respect to the $70,000 for this year, I do not have the detail but I will stand this clause too if more request it. We will be upgrading existing weigh stations. There will be some work done primarily on the Haines Junction approaches to the weigh station. Basically, it is for weigh scales generally. There has been an attempt in the last couple of years in terms of developing and improving infrastructure to improve the four weigh stations we have. There has been some consideration to providing a weigh station in north Yukon. That decision has not been made yet but it is being considered. That would be a major capital item. This is merely to upgrade the weigh stations we have - the concrete approachways - improving the facilities generally.
Mr. Lang: In talking about weigh scales, what kind of success are we having with the weigh scales that were just completed on the Cassiar/Alaska Highway intersection? Can the Minister report to the House? Are we actually stopping a fair bit of traffic that would be coming in illegally if it was not there? Are they finding it successful and are we raising some revenues out of it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The primary reason for the weigh scales is to ensure that the rules of the road on weight, height and length requirements are adhered to. I do not have any information on the weigh scales recovery. That is shown in the Operation and Maintenance budget as a separate recovery. The only trouble with the scales that we have is the approach to the Watson Lake weigh scale that had to be redone at one point. That was well over a year and one half ago. It does not seem that our weigh scales are as accurate as they should be. The latest technology is proving to be more accurate for estimating loads. Because trucks are trying to operate as efficiently as they can, they are trying to meet the limits dead on. Sometime the weigh scales are out, and a dispute is involved.
In one case, the weigh scales put in by Curragh Resources was supposed to have been the state of the art, and they showed different results even after inspection by our weigh scale operators. They showed different results than our weigh scales, so there was a concern that our weigh scales were not as accurate as they could be. We have undertaken to upgrade our weigh scales so that we do have equipment that is the best in the business.
Other in the amount of $70,000 agreed to
On VHF Systems
Mr. Lang: This really does deserve a little attention. We are not talking about a $130,000 program. We are talking about $7.5 million according to the multi-year projection. The system has been under review for quite a number of years, but this is related to the telecommunications policy of the government. Perhaps the Minister could let us know how he sees the projected $7.5 million system in the forthcoming year? What will be happening with this system?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The $130,000 is an expenditure that is common to maintain the system on the Capital side. The system for next year will keep the status quo. There will have to be maintenance and capital upgrading to keep things running smoothly.
In the last four or five years, there has been a request for a more reliable service, one that is capable of handling more kinds of data transmission. The service now has met its capacity for the number of units that can be hooked into the system. The federal government, in particular the Department of Northern Affairs and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, have indicated their willingness to set up their own systems if our system is not going to be improved.
And that obviously caused us some concern, given that the system, as it stands now, is a money maker. It is a profit making venture and has been since 1972. The Yukon Territorial Communications Program was completed in 1976, and ever since, given the users on the system, it has been a profit making venture, and the loss of significant users of the system would fast put it in the red column. We would certainly be losing money in a hurry. The other problem of course, too, is that the manufacturer who developed the system in the first place went out of business, so in the last few years there have been some pretty magnificent efforts by people to put in hybrid systems and make do with the parts that we have. They have been trying to blend new parts with old parts in complicated ways, which has proven somewhat successful in some respects, but in terms of the technical ability, for the short term, it has also proven to be very costly.
There is definitely a feeling that the parts that we are using up now simply will not be able to be replaced in any sort of a way in the future. So, basically, there was a desire, given the interests of the users, and given the state of the system, that consideration be given to revamping the system. Calls were put out in late 1985 for early 1986 for proposals. The two frontrunners at that time were a NorthwesTel consortium and a Total North consortium who both bid on the services. One of the things that the government did insist upon was that any service in the future that the government undertook to sponsor also benefit the private sector, or the general public, as much as possible.
We would like to move away from a stand-alone system simply for government departments. We would like the general public to make use of it as well, so that was a consideration to be made. Right now, the bids are basically being evaluated. No award has been given on any system. I would have to wait to detail the successful bidders bid to the House to demonstrate how much we felt we could get in terms of the objectives we have in mind.
There are a number of things that we would like to promote: one is the increased use of data transmission for the purposes of decentralization of the government. One issue that has come up in the past is that the department of telephone and data transmission has not been very sophisticated, which has limited, to a certain extent, the degree of decentralization that the government can undertake.
Another concern that has been expressed is by the private sector, particularly by isolated mining companies, who feel that the communications network is as important, in many respects, as part of the infrastructure, as the roads and hydropower. They have to be able to communicate. Tourism businesses have indicated that they would like to have the ability to communicate with the outside through a private channel service with more privacy involved. So those were both significant features in our project to upgrade the VHF system.
For the federal government in the early 1970s, that was a major feature of their program as well. At that time they insisted NorthwesTel be used largely because they had access to switching services to normal the telephone system. In our evaluation of bids, those things will have to be taken into account when we make the final decision with respect to the successful bidder. What would be done would be to try to move one highway at a time in terms of providing a service, depending on the kind of service. If it was a ground base service, there would probably be 50 repeater sites to consider, but it depends on whether or not there is an amalgam of ground sites and the use of satellites, and whether or not that is a viable option. Those are the general things being considered. This $130,000 is simply to maintain the existing system as it stands.
Mr. Lang: When does the government expect to make a decision with respect to the new system he is referring to?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I thought it would be this month, but we are running too close to Christmas, so I would project the beginning of January.
Mr. McLachlan: Considering the progress being made in the use of cellular telephones to service a number of the areas lying outside of the urban area of Whitehorse, has the Department of Community and Transportation Services considered the use of that system over the total replacement of the VHF? I cannot help but think that $7.5 million would buy a lot of cellular telephones. We could almost afford to put one in every road grader at that kind of cost.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is more than the cost of units in trucks to consider. You have to get the signal to the trucks and that is the cost we are really referring to here. Whether it is through satellites or ground repeaters or the microwave system, there still has to be the transmission of the signal. We are trying to develop a system that does not require massive changes in terms of revamping the radios. The radios themselves run in the neighbourhood of $2,000 to $3,000. We would like to try to find a system that would require only the modification of existing radios, so we do not have to bear the cost of buying brand new. We have about 600 units in the system at $2,000 to $3,000 apiece, and that is a cost we would like to avoid. With respect to the Aurora System of cellular telephones that was considered at one point to be a viable alternative. It had all the features and could be used by the public or government. It hooks easily into the telephone system. Consideration was being given, but it proved not to be cost effective. The company was going to provide the service to other jurisdictions outside of the country.
There were two countries, which I cannot recall, which they were going to provide this service to, and they were going to hook the Yukon into the package. Unfortunately, the contract with the other countries fell through, and they could no longer provide the Aurora system to the Yukon in a way that would be affordable to the government. We were talking about a multi, multi, multi-million dollar project. So, we could not take advantage of that technology, and it is unfortunate.
VHF Systems in the amount of $130,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Branch Facilities
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is for the upgrading of facilities that we have - windows are broken, doors are dented. We spend approximately this amount on an annual basis.
Miscellaneous Branch Facilities in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
Chairman: Before we get to Highway Construction, do the Members wish to take a short break?
We will now recess for 10 minutes.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. Continue Highway Construction ESA.
On Highway Construction ESA
On Klondike No. 2
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There was a question asked about the heavy equipment operators course at Yukon College. The course was offered for approximately nine years and then was canceled. It was canceled for the following reasons: there was a down turn in the economy that resulted in little road construction, and a subsequent drop in demand for heavy equipment operators. The course was extremely expensive to operate in those days. In 1982-83, it was approximately $500,000 per year to operate. The demand at the present time by the business community and the public for this course is not large enough to warrant a full blown operating course.
Mr. Lang: I have no further questions. We have debated this to a fair extent in general debate - unless the Minister has anything further to add?
On Dempster No. 5
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This relates to work between Cache Creek to an area near the Ogilvie airstrip and is primarily rip rap to protect against roadbank erosion - it is for a total of $2,640,000. Engineering supervision and contingency make up the difference, and the work is cost recoverable in total, plus six percent.
Dempster No. 5 in the amount of $2,893,000 agreed to
On Top of the World No. 9
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This relates to approximately five kilometres worth of earth work between kilometres 81 and 86, with some surfacing, some gravel crushing for future work, and standard construction supervision, for a total of $1,211,000.
Top of the World No. 9 in the amount of $1,211,000 agreed to
On Emergency Airstrips
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The $150,000 of this is exclusively for work on the Eagle Plains Tuttle airstrip. The airstrip is still projected to be cost-shared between the operator of the Eagle Plains Lodge and the federal government. We project our share to be around $150,000. The decision has finally been made that the best site is the Tuttle strip. There is the upgrading of approximately seven kilometres of a road to the site which probably will be the most expensive proposition - probably more expensive than the upgrading of the strip. The Tuttle strip itself is considered to be the safest from the Ministry of Transports perspective. Any final agreement on the upgrading of the strip has not been signed yet; the principles were agreed to by negotiators some time ago, but no agreement has been finally struck. It is projected that the work will hopefully will be done and we estimate our share to be $150,000.
Mr. Lang: That begs a first question: how much is this airstrip going to cost? When it is completed, what will the cost of the whole project be, both the road and the strip?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The airstrip itself, in terms of the upgrading, would cost between $400,000 and $500,000. Preliminary estimates suggest that the cost of the road could be in the neighbourhood of that much again - for probably a total of almost $1,000,000 for the strip and the road. We project that DIAND would cover off a major portion. The owner of the lodge has indicated an interest in covering a portion and we have suggested all along that our share be $150,000. We would be responsible, of course, for maintenance of the strip.
Mr. Lang: I do not have any choice but to pursue this further. How much has the operator agreed to put into this project?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The operator has agreed to put in an amount equivalent to the Government of the Yukon. I believe that is $150,000, but I will have to check it. There is the expectation that DIAND will put in the balance.
Mr. Lang: This comes as a surprise to us. I assumed that the amount would be $150,000 or so, at most. Even that seems like a lot of money for an emergency airstrip. A million dollars is a lot of money. Could the Minister give us some indication of how much this present strip is used? It is ten miles from the lodge.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The present strip is considered to be extremely dangerous. The Minister of Renewable Resources has some white knuckle experience using the current strip. There is a need for people to be watching at strategic locations for highway traffic when planes are expected to land.
The Old Crow Transportation Study suggests that in the long term - and even the medium term - the most cost effective way of moving freight between points outside of Old Crow and Old Crow is through Eagle Plains. Every effort has been made to encourage the use of this site as being the closest highway site to Old Crow. The Transportation Study refers to the cost associated with the transfer of goods between this site and Old Crow. Therefore, this site makes the best sense.
It is for that reason the Government of the Yukon thought of getting itself involved in the first place, given that initially it was the owners of Eagle Plains Lodge who expressed an interest in upgrading this strip.
The Government of Yukon had no interest initially in upgrading the strip because it was used by a private operator. Because of the potential use for service to Old Crow, we got involved. That is the reason why we have shown an expenditure proposal here. The best and safest strip in the area, after a joint analysis by MOT and our Airports Branch, was determined to be the Tuttle Strip, which is seven kilometres from the highway. The major portion of the project is more road construction than it is runway upgrading. I do not know if the specific costs or pre-engineering has been done on the road, but we would not do any work on the road unless we had some agreement on the cost sharing between McNiven, the federal government and the territorial government.
Mr. Lang: A million dollars for an airstrip in Eagle Plains could hardly be called an emergency strip. If the federal government decides not to go ahead with their $700,000, is the YTG going to go ahead with the remaining $700,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We have not made any such commitment. At a minimum, I would have to go back to my Cabinet colleagues to make a case on the basis of a cost sharing arrangement. That is what we are pursuing. I would certainly not like to give any assurance that the Government of the Yukon will simply proceed with the project. We feel that there is an interest from both parties for this project. It is more than an emergency airstrip; it has logistical purposes for the transfer of goods between the outside and Old Crow, which we think is worth pursuing. At this time, I would give no such commitment that YTG would go ahead with the full cost.
Mr. Lang: Can we have a commitment from the Minister that he will not be proceeding unless he does get the cost sharing commitments from the operator and the Government of Canada?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not in a position to make that commitment either. The governments intentions are to run with a cost sharing agreement with the federal government and McNevin. They have indicated that they are going to make the commitment to this project. We are operating on the basis of that commitment now. I am asking for an expenditure approval on the basis their previously stated commitments. We have communicated to the projected partners no willingness whatsoever to veer from this cost sharing arrangement. We believe that the project should be cost shared, and we believe that the cost sharing arrangement should show that DIAND pick up the major portion of the costs. Those are the assumptions upon which we have been operating. If new arrangements are made, and they are found to be in Yukons best interests, and found to be legitimate for Yukon, and require extra funding, I would obviously have to come back to the Legislature and defend that proposal.
Mr. Lang: When do you expect a decision to be made on this?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I wanted a decision to be made approximately a year and a half ago. We were pursuing this a year and a half ago. Things look good, and we expect the parties to come into line. A number of things have happened in the interim. For DIAND to participate there had to be a full analysis of the site. That analysis has been done. There are questions about whether or not DIAND has money in one budget or another, and we have been waiting on some word on that.
All I can legitimately say is that over the course of this year we are going to be pursuing the upgrading of the Tuttle site, and we are going to be pursuing it on a cost share basis. We are going to try to get the best deal we can within the expenditure plans. If conditions or environments change and that necessitates a different decision, any changing of YTG expenditures will have to be approved by the House before those changes are made.
Mr. Brewster: Once more I am completely lost in the budget. Was there any money appropriated for the White River emergency airstrip?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are two survey and design projects that are projected to go ahead next year as a part of the balance of the $200,000, one at Pine Lake and one at Mill Creek.
Mr. Brewster: Am I to take it that there will be nothing done on the emergency airstrip at White River?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct.
Mr. Brewster: We certainly got all our facts straight, anyway. Every year three or four planes emergency crash land there because they cannot get through because of the fog over the White River. It is a know fact, it has been there for years. The four lodges in the area have pleaded that they are sick and tired of airplanes coming down in the ditches and coming down by the road and on the road because they cannot land. This is an emergency strip. We are not asking for a million dollars, we really would just like a little gravel strip so that these airplanes can get down.
I think that the Minister for Porter Creek East, when he was a minister, went up to Beaver Creek one time and was going to fly back, and I think we ended up in Tok and a few other places before we could get in with a large airplane, because we could not get though that fog, which is continual and which the lodgers have continually argued about and now once again we find that Kluane has gone down the drain on the whole thing. And I might point out, before I am through, that this is the main airstrip out of Alaska, the main flight route to go to Haines, to Fairbanks, or to come in to Whitehorse. That is the main strip and that is where they have all the problems, right there on the White River, and we cannot get anything at all.
Mr. Lang: Can I make this representation? If the million dollar deal does not come together, could serious consideration be given to redirect some of these dollars to fix up the airstrip that the Member for Kluane has expressed major concerns about?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will give the matter some consideration. I make no commitments, but I will certainly undertake to consider it.
Mr. Lang: I will put the Minister on notice because it will be brought up when we discuss the O&M Mains this coming spring.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have absolutely no problem discussing it at any time.
Emergency Airstrips in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On MOT Airstrips
Mr. McLachlan: Faro gets a fairly substantial chunk of this: $210,000. It was my understanding that all the money for the Faro MOT was going into a snow blower that could be placed in Faro instead of bringing the one on a regular basis from Ross River, however, in the introductory remarks the Minister made in the opening speech, he referred to some MOT improvements at the Faro airstrip. Is the $210,000 only for the blower, or is there other work planned on that strip this year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is $30,000 for the stockpiling of gravel, to be placed at the site, and there is design for a storage garage for the equipment for the airport.
Mr. Lang: It is my understanding that the snow blower is in Ross River, so why would we be building a garage at the airport in Faro if the blower spends most of its time in Ross River?
Mr. McLachlan: Am I correct in assuming that Faro is slated to get its own snow blower, thus leaving the other one in Ross River exclusively to do that strip?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is correct.
Mr. Lang: We had some discussion on the Dawson City airport. Does the Minister see any actual construction starting in this forthcoming year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I mentioned in general debate, it is entirely dependent on federal funding on whether or not work will begin on the airport. Now that the site is chosen, even in the best of all possible worlds, there would have to be engineering and design work undertaken. So, any of the ground work would not be realistic. In any case, it depends on the federal financing. My understanding is that right now the various sources are being tapped for the funding for the project. I cannot report on the success or lack of it in that effort. There is no way of knowing right now whether or not the funding will come forward.
Mr. Lang: Is there $588,000 out of this particular line item being spent on the Old Crow strip
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes, there is. It includes earth work for $320,000; gravel surfacing; lighting; and the standard construction supervision for a total of $588,000.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister just go a little further on the lighting. I recall a line item here a couple of years ago where all lights were put in. What would we be putting more lights in for?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will have to check on that. I do not recall lighting being put in there at all. I can check on any lighting improvements that may have been made.
Mr. Lang: This is a question of the various airstrips throughout the territory. What earth work is required on the strip in question? My understanding is that major upgrading took place maybe three years ago, where a significant amount of money was spent on that particular strip. Are bigger airplanes coming in, or what is the reason?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would hesitate to say that the airstrip itself is being lengthened or widened. I think that would cause considerable controversy. The airstrip is going to be leveled, and a surface will be laid on top of it.
Mr. Brewster: I am beginning to wonder where the Chairman of the Select Committee took me. He told me I was in Old Crow and there were lights all over the airport. I am beginning to think he took me someplace else. Do you mean to say there are no lights at that airport?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is the upgrading of the system at the airport. We could stand this item too if the Members want some details about the lighting. This is MOTs capital plan, which we are doing on their behalf. I would be happy to try and seek the detail the Member has requested with respect to this specific lighting, and all projections with respect to how the lighting is to be placed, and bring this information back.
Mr. Lang: There is another valid point here, from this side. We have one other airstrip in the territory, which we said earlier is a cause of concern to the Member from the area - in this particular case the MLA for Kluane - and that is the question of an airstrip that has no lights and we are suffering the consequences there too. It is a question of priorities when you say: here is an airstrip with lights, we have one with no lights - do we upgrade the one with lights if it is necessary or do we adjust and put some lights at the one airstrip to try to get further traffic and safety and all the other factors that are involved? I think we should stand this aside and find out just exactly what is being done. I agree with the Minister.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: For the absolute umpteenth time, the government has made commitments to the Haines Junction airport. The work has to be engineered before it is done. It is a fact of life - accept it or not. I do not care what the Member for Kluane has to say about it. The work has to be engineered. The government has made significant representation to MOT to upgrade the airport. We have finally got it into the budget. The work is going to be undertaken and it is going to be undertaken as quickly as we possibly can on behalf of MOT, which makes these decisions - not us. We have already indicated that this is a high priority. In the community of Old Crow, this is their only access to the outside world. They have no other, so it is a significant benefit to that community that the airport be upgraded. In my opinion, that is a higher priority.
Mr. Brewster: Woopity-doo, we are sure going now, are we not? Let me tell the Minister something: number one, there are lights at Old Crow. Number two, I think you had better be prepared, Mr. Chairman, to have the Minister retract the statement that four years ago a survey and everything was done, including for a building and that this has been bid on and the surveys were all done but there was not money. There was a big fight as to which site the building should go on in Haines Junction.
Do not tell me that they have to be surveyed again. I am not arguing that Old Crow should not have anything. I am a little sick of always playing us against the other side when they want something like this.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not through either. There is no attempt by this government to play communities against each other. There was a suggestion that maybe work should not be done at Old Crow, that it should be done in Haines Junction. Every effort was made to get Haines Junction onto the capital list. The expenditures in Haines Junction are in the neighbourhood of $2 million. It is twice what is annually allocated on an annual basis by this government for all Arctic B&C airports, territory-wide. We nevertheless said that Haines Junction was a priority for us and that we would like to get it into the budget. They finally said yes. The government did it. The government convinced them to put it into the budget.
Old Crow is a community that requires the service of an airport. It needs a decent airport, and it has for some time. I will bring back all of the technical information to back it up, and I will speak at some length about what is projected to happen in Old Crow. Old Crow has been waiting on the list for a very long time to have its airstrip reserviced and leveled, and it is about time MOT did something about it. I do not have any problems with that priority. It is in this budget now.
The government has moved on the Haines Junction airport and has insisted that the commitment be placed in the budget and that the preliminary work be done. I am not familiar with whatever surveying was done four years ago, but there has to be a preliminary engineering design for the full thing. I have been told by the experts involved that they require some time to do the full design on the $2 million airstrip. I have no reason to distrust them or to believe that they are lying to me. The government has encouraged MOT to go ahead, and we are going ahead in Haines Junction. We are also going ahead in Old Crow.
Mr. Brewster: Maybe the bureaucrats want to do another survey. The other one is four years old, so it is out of date. Maybe the earthquake moved the airport around or maybe the building will be placed somewhere else. It is hard to say. I asked the Minister if the airport in Old Crow has lights? I do not think the Minister even knows.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The lighting system in Old Crow is part of this project that is going to be upgraded. The details on why certain lights are being put in or upgraded for that airport will be in this House, and we will have a good dissertation about the two airports. If that what the Members want, that is what I want. We will expound on it in length.
Mr. Brewster: I would also like the Minister to bring back the information on why the White River emergency airstrip did not go ahead when it has one of the heaviest traffic flows in the Yukon.
Chairman: Is it generally agreed that we will stand over this item.
MOT Airstrips stood over
On Lands Branch
Chairman: Any general debate?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Rather than get into the Department of Lands, if Members have any questions about soil conditions on a particular plot of land, please let me know.
Mr. Lang: Point of order. That was totally uncalled for. Just because we have asked some questions of the Minister, he stands there and thinks he is above it. We asked why there was a lighting program for Old Crow; he should know why. I do not think it is a difficult question. You make it sound as if we...
Chairman: That is not a point of order.
Mr. Lang: I do not think the sarcasm is warranted.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: You have already ruled that is not a point of order, and I agree entirely. It is another typical rude interruption in this Legislature by the Member for Porter Creek East.
Given that tempers are clearly flaring and nothing productive is going to happen for the balance of this evening, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 5.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May I have a report from the Chairman of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 5, First Appropriation Act, 1988-89 and directs me to report progress on the same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members:Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 9:27 p.m.
The following Documents were tabled on December 16, 1987:
Letter dated October 20, 1987, from Phelps to Hnatyshyn requesting withdrawal of changes to Bill C-72, Official Languages Act re official bilingualism in Yukon (Phelps)