Monday, April 18, 1988 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors?
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I have for tabling answers to some questions asked in the House.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I have two documents. One contains additional information about questions asked in the last two weeks on the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Secondly, I have a document, which is a list of all service, construction and consulting contracts in the fiscal year 1987-88.
Speaker: Are there any report of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Introduction of bills?
Are there any notices of motion for the production of papers?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by Ministers?
Yukon Freshwater Fishery: Study to Develop Strategy
Hon. Mr. Porter: For some time my government has sought a transfer of responsibility for the freshwater fishery to the Yukon. As a matter of policy we are prepared to accept such a transfer of responsibility if we are convinced that we will have the resources to permit the responsible management of the fishery.
Federal government agencies admit they do not adequately manage the freshwater fisheries in Yukon, and yet, although they are aware of the value of the freshwater fishery resource, will not commit significant personnel or fiscal resources to the effective conservation of the resource or to ensure the planned development of this sector.
Unfortunately, to date, the federal government has not indicated its willingness to provide sufficient resources with a transfer to let the Yukon get on with the job.
I would like to take this opportunity to advise the House of a number of initiatives that the Yukon Government is taking to ensure the conservation and development of an important resource.
I hope that these measures will encourage a transfer of management responsibilities for the fishery on terms that we can accept.
Firstly, in the absence of any federal leadership that would provide a long term strategy for the conservation of this resource and development of this important sector, we have undertaken a major new study to develop this particular strategy, which is funded by the Renewable Resources Sub-Agreement of the Canada Yukon Economic Development Agreement.
The study will in part examine the opportunities and constraints inherent in the Yukons freshwater fishery. Its findings will be used to plot the future direction for maintenance and, where appropriate, the enhancement of fishery stocks.
In addition to the requirements of the food fishery, the strategy will focus on the recreational and economic use of these resources to ensure that long term optimal benefits accrue to Yukoners.
Secondly, we are ready to make a Yukon commitment to funding. There is an identified shortfall between the federal position on funding and what we believe is necessary to do a responsible management job.
We believe that the Yukon fishing public is concerned about the state of the resource and is prepared to contribute to its better management.
Yukon fishing licence fees are currently the lowest in Canada and have not been adjusted for many years. Therefore, to facilitate a transfer of responsibility to the Yukon, we are prepared to seek a federal Order-in-Council to increase licence fees. We will ensure that those revenues that are payable to the Yukon Government are dedicated to the better management and enhancement of the Yukon freshwater fishery. Licence fee increases, if approved, would not take effect until the next fiscal year.
Finally, we have taken a very hard look at our proposed budget for managing the freshwater fishery. If licence fees are increased, we now believe that we could undertake an adequate management program with an annual base funding from the federal government of $235,000. This would require an additional federal commitment of $151,000 beyond their current offer of $84,000.
For this level of funding to be sufficient, we would also require a one-time transfer of $500,000 to enable us to undertake inventories as a basis for developing management plans. This base line information is absolutely essential if we are to have a sufficient understanding of the Yukons freshwater fish and habitat to manage the resources responsibly.
This position has been conveyed in writing to the hon. Tom Siddon, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
In conclusion, hopefully the announcement of our position today and the eventual negotiations of our bargaining position with the federal government will, in the near future, result in a transfer of responsibility to this government from the federal government.
Mr. Brewster: I am pleased to see we are getting back to negotiating again, and I am pleased the territorial government has seen fit to back down a little on their $1 million project. That is what negotiations are all about. I hope the federal government will also come up a little bit.
We have put a number of motions forward in the House, and there is no question the whole Legislature is in favour of this program. I think $500,000 for an initial study is quite reasonable.
I worry that the increase in the fishing licence fees not be 200 or 300 percent, and that it be within reason. As stated, that money will remain with the fisheries. The Yukon government states they will make a commitment to funding, but I do not see any figures.
Mr. McLachlan: As pleased as I am to see there may be a transfer of the fishery to the Yukon, a piece of information appears to be missing from the Ministers statement. If the federal government is forthcoming with the $151,000 and, if the licence fees are increased, how much, if any, will the fishery still be operating at a deficit, or does that break us even? Or will still be funding it out of territorial government coffers?
Hon. Mr. Porter: I am sure we will have ample opportunity to clarify the position in the debates of the estimates. The package we have delivered today is adequate and will be self-sustaining. For the most part, revenues that will come from licence fees will make up the difference that is needed, and the federal government would have to address the shortfall. That is something we do not have agreement on.
Speaker: This, then, brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: With respect to the issuance of the Teslin land selection maps, I am going to table a copy of the maps as they have been made public. This new selection deviates substantially from prior selections in the House. The land is selected on both sides of the Nisutlin River, from a point upstream of Sidney Creek down to, and including, the Nisutlin River delta. Why has this government deviated from the fundamental principle that there would not be strip selections on both sides of the navigable river?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: As I have indicated before, the negotiating position of this government would not be to have negotiations on both sides of the river. The process that we are now engaged in is one where bands are tabling maps in order to obtain interim protection of those lands to prevent further alienation of the lands that they are selecting. We have made a policy that the land selection will be open to the public before final ratification and before the final negotiations so that public reaction can me made prior to the final selections. That will be in accordance with the quantums arrived at in the agreement in principle.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to get that firmly on the record. Is the Government Leader saying that there will not be selections allowed on both sides of the Nisutlin River even though there has been an Order-in-Council freezing those lands?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The position of this government is still consistent with the approach of the previous government. There were a number of elements on both sides of rivers, on both sides of roads and land that conformed to the various contours in an area. Those principles still are at the heart of our negotiating position. There may be some cases in negotiations, and in the final agreement, where the objectives of the Yukon government are not met; however, we have not gotten to that point yet.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Government Leader saying that there will not be large selections on both sides of navigable rivers such as the Nisutlin River?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot say what will be negotiated as the final selections, but our negotiating position would be that we would prefer not to see them.
Question re: Land claims/Teslin land selection
Mr. Phelps: The fundamental principle has always been that there would not be strip selection. This map that depicts the present selection and the frozen land completely contravenes the rule about no strip selection in that there are long narrow strips on both sides of the Nisutlin River, a long narrow strip along the north side of the Wolf River and a very long narrow strip from the waters edge up to the 2,500 foot contour on the east side of Teslin Lake.
Is the Government Leader saying that this does not indicate deviation from the policy of no strip selection?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The principles that were embodied in the 1984 Aagreement in principle are still consistent with our approach in the negotiations. Because of problems, such as the one the Member knows about in Ross River - the rapid alienation of land potentially selected - the bands have been allowed to make interim selections and have interim protection of land over and above that which is provided for in the federal mandate in anticipation that, having made the selections public and hearing public reaction, the final selections can be refined according to the quantum agreed to in the agreement in principle. Issues of public concern, such as those dealt with by the Member opposite and others, can be dealt with at that stage.
Mr. Phelps: What I am hearing, in effect, is that this is an agreement in principle level of land selection. Are we being told that this is the initial selection that has been agreed to by all parties?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, this is a selection by the band, which is conceded by all parties, and is over and above the quantum that will be permitted in the final selection. It is to provide for interim protection by Order-in-Council, by the federal government, to prevent further alienation of that land by other interests, to allow for that interim protection to operate until such time as we negotiate a final agreement with that band.
Mr. Phelps: Is the position then that most of the land to be selected is going to come from within the frozen lands?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I would think the final selection would come from within the selected area that is given interim protection, unless there was some reason found at the negotiating table to radically change the selection proposed by the claimant band.
Question re: Young offenders facility
Mr. McLachlan: With respect to the new young offenders facility to be built this year, can the Minister of Health and Human Resources advise if this new facility is designed to be fire-roof?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Yes, it is.
Mr. McLachlan: If the facility is completely fireproof, will it be a policy of this government to lock up and keep locked up all those young offenders who are confined to that institution?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The information I have is that a part of the facility is fire-proof, and that that area is built that way for the securement of young offenders. They will be housed in certain areas of that building for sleeping, for instance. I cannot give him specific information on the whole facility right now.
Mr. McLachlan: I had hoped the Minister had seen the plans and could answer the questions. What I want to establish is that if it is fireproof then certain conditions prevail and if it is not fireproof other conditions are not. It appears to me that the philosophy of the government is conflicting in this respect. If part of it is not fireproof, it indicates unlocked doors and the possibility of young offenders being able to walk away. Is that the case? Can the Minister assure this Legislature that the entire facility is walk -way proof?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The facility is not walk-away proof.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre/inquiry
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Government Leader. He met last Friday with two guards and told them he would be looking into the evidence that they provided him. He also told the Yukon public that he is reviewing the situation with an open mind. Yet the Minister of Justice stated Friday as well, I am not motivated to advocate an inquiry. I would like to know who is really speaking for the government on this issue?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Normally, the Minister of Justice would, but when Members, including the Member opposite, started putting questions to me, I started answering them.
I am not sure whether the Member wanted me to respond to any of the questions in his preamble, but I did meet with three former corrections officers - not two - on Friday and did hear their statements, their concerns. They did today provide me with some documents that of course I have not yet had time to review. I told them that I would be making inquiries further to our conversation. I should let the Member know that I have heard from seven other employees of the institution over the last few days, all of whom have different versions of the same events and the same facts described by the three gentlemen I saw Friday.
Mr. Phillips: The Government Leader forgot to answer the question in his speech. The Government Leader gave an undertaking to the guards that he talked to that he had an open mind and was going to open a review. Since the Justice Minister said there was not going to be a review, I want to know from the Government Leader who is speaking for the government on this issue? Is it the Justice Minister or the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Obviously I speak for the government as a whole. In terms of the justice system and the corrections office, obviously the Minister of Justice speaks to the policies of that department. The Members have attempted to bring information to this House that puts into doubt the credibility and integrity of the operations of that institution. I have been asked to look into some of the questions that they raised independently of the Department of Justice. The answer to the question is that the Minister of Justice speaks for that department. If necessary, I will speak for the whole government.
Mr. Phillips: I wonder if the Government Leader could tell us when he would expect to make a decision on this matter.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The first thing I will do is an attempt, for myself, to be satisfied that I have an understanding of the relevant facts. Once I have some reasonable assurance that I understand the problem and the nature of the problems, then I will, in discussion with my colleagues, take what steps are necessary.
The Member should understand that there have been charges and assertions made in a whole wide range of areas, some involving a coroners inquest, about which I cannot respond, for reasons the Member will know...
I judge from the heckling opposite that the Members are not interested in answers, but only in their questions, so I will sit down.
Question re: Northwestel
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Government Leader with respect to Northwestel. I understand that the first round of bidding for the purchase of Northwestel began today, and I would like to know if this government has achieved its objective of a single northern consortium to bid?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Now that the bidding information is available, parties who are contemplating a bid have a month in which to make a decision about whether to enter a bid or not. The parties to the consortium are in discussions now and will be meeting shortly, and a decision about whether a bid will be entered by the consortium will be made very shortly, and a public statement will be made at that time.
Mr. Nordling: Who are the parties to the consortium?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Members very well know that the potential parties of the consortium, which I have described previously, are the group led by Mr. Hougen of, a private investors group, the Yukon Development Corporation, Inuvialuit Development Corporation, British Columbia Telephone, and there may be some other potential, smaller, partners.
Mr. Nordling: I would like to know when this meeting is going to take place. If we have 30 days, it is strange that the Government Leader would not know who they are negotiating with to prepare a bid.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The parties have been meeting continuously for the past few months and the final decision about whether to enter a bid had to await the publication of the information that has just come recently. They will be meeting with their agents and making their final decisions, and we will make a decision about whether to enter a bid very shortly. A bid will be entered within the time period presented in the offer, which just became public.
Question re: Land availability
Mr. Lang: An area of major concern, not only in this House but to the consumers of the territory - the prospective purchasers of land - is the question of the pricing of land. As the Minister of Community and Transportation Services informed this House, lots will be selling later on this year as high as $35,000 per lot. That is a major concern.
A year and a half ago, in October, 1986, a draft policy was prepared for the government regarding the pricing policy of land. Subsequently, there was a debate on April 6, 1987, regarding what the governments intention was on a pricing policy. Just to refresh the Ministers memory, he indicated that in June of last year he would have a policy in place.
Could the Minister table the pricing policy that he spoke of on October 6, 1987?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is a cute question. The Member knows there is no pricing policy in place. Last year, the Members asked for a copy of the consultant study, which was commissioned to review pricing options. A copy was delivered to the Opposition.
At this point, I am about to proceed to Cabinet with a pricing policy. When that policy is in place, I will be announcing it.
Mr. Lang: It has been a year and a half since the Minister informed this House that the latest that a pricing policy for land would be announced would be last June. When is a decision going to be made by the government, as far as determining the price of building lots in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: With respect to the Granger lots, I have already indicated what the price range would be, given what we anticipate the development costs to be. I also indicated when the lots would be up for sale.
With respect to the pricing policy, which has to take into consideration all classes of land everywhere in the territory, that policy should be through within a month.
Mr. Lang: Is the Minister informing this House that the policy he is taking to Cabinet will have no effect with respect to the price of building lots that will be sold later this year in the Granger Subdivision?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not going to be anticipating what the pricing policy will be until Cabinet comments on it. Under the current pricing policy, I have indicated full development costs will be charged back to the purchasers of the lands, minus certain identifiable shared costs with other development. I have indicated what the range of prices will be for this particular development.
Question re: Land availability
Mr. Lang: We are talking about a normal, residential building lot costing $35,000. The government indicated the question of pricing policy was under review and a decision was to have been made as late as early last summer. Why is it taking so long to make a determination on this critical issue, when the Minister has had this information internally for at least a year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can almost tell by the way the Member slants the questions by referring to the Granger lots as being $35,000 lots that the price range that I continually give the Member is ignored. The Member is interested in slanting the question in a particular way. I generally take that for granted.
There are a number of complicated implications to developing policy. That is one of the reasons why it has taken as long as it has. In the past, reviews of pricing policies have been attempted and have been abandoned because of those complex implications. We have worked our way through, and we have come to a conclusion that will be acceptable to the government and the public.
Mr. Lang: The Minister did not answer my question again. Why has it taken so long to get to this stage when he effectively had all the information a year ago? We all agree that it is of critical importance. Lots have been sold over the past months. Why has the government taken so long to determine this policy issue that the Minister spoke so eloquently of a year ago?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did give the Member an answer. I guess that he wanted another vehicle to make the same statement over again in case the media was not listening. There are a number of complicated policy issues to be addressed here on the policy development. The government has been working its way through the policy implications and have been discussing them with other departments. We have now come to some conclusions, and I will make the announcement shortly.
Mr. Lang: It is of importance. We are looking at $30,000 to $35,000 for a lot or $25,000 on the low end. I was informed on the weekend that $40,000 a lot may not be out of the question. That was by some people who I assume would know what the costs are.
In Question Period on Thursday, the Minister indicated that he had met with the City of Whitehorse and discussed the Granger lots and his desire to keep the price down. Could the Minister inform the House exactly what recommendations he put forward to the City of Whitehorse that would perhaps bring the cost of these lots down to an affordable level?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know who the Member was speaking to. I assume that if he was speaking to the Conservative party executives, then by next week they might be calling for $50,000 lots at Granger. There are $25,000 to $35,000 lots anticipated. The city has requested such things as pavement for the roads, curb gutters, power, sidewalks and even details such as asphalt thickness for the roads.
The city has requested these standards be met in order for them to take responsibility for the subdivision once it is turned over. A number of things have been cut from the plan in negotiations in order to bring the lots down to the price that I indicated will probably be the lot prices for this area.
Question re: Land availability
Mr. Lang: Do I take it there are no other recommendations being put forward in conjunction with the City of Whitehorse to see how much further the prices can come down to be affordable? The prices will be $25,000 to $35,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There have been a fair amount of negotiations already with the city to bring lot prices down to this level. It is possible that the city could adopt a lesser standard, but I have been told it is highly unlikely that they would agree to such changes. We are now tendering for the subdivision and will know with some certainty what the lot prices will be once the tenders are in. A number of companies have taken out tender documents including out of territory companies, and we expect the bidding to be rather competitive.
Question re: Hyland Forest Products/licence tender
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Government Leader. I previously expressed the fear that, under this government, power is shifting from the Legislature to the unelected, unmerited appointees of the NDP. Then I hear John Walsh, an NDP appointee from the Manitoba government, not even a public servant, speaking on behalf of Hyland Forest Products and the Yukon Development Corporation. I would like to ask the Government Leader when his Principal Secretary became the spokesman for those two groups?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have heard some moronic questions in this House, but I think that would probably take the cake. My Principal Secretary would speak for me, as the Minister responsible, under circumstances where the Minister is not available. At the moment, among his other duties, the Principal Secretary happens to be filling in as communications adviser, so that would be normal in that capacity to give press information that they request, consistent with the requirements of parliamentary democracy. To state the obvious, Mr. Walsh has responsibilities in my office, but has no direct responsibilities for Hyland Forest Products or the Yukon Development Corporation.
Mr. Nordling: I conclude from that answer that the Principal Secretary has the keys to the government.
On January 7 of last year this side asked about the Watson Lake Forest Products timber leases in BC. In a legislative return, the Government Leader said that the usual practice was that the present licence holder would receive the renewal. Will Hyland Forest Products be receiving the renewal?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We do not know until a decision has been made. I can speak for the Yukon government, but I cannot speak for the BC government about which the Member is asking questions. I understand that the BC government is not at this point contemplating long-term renewals, because they want to complete inventories in that area, and they are entertaining short-term renewal of leases. I understand the decision will be made shortly since the current lease will expire on May 31.
Mr. Nordling: In the same Legislative Return, dated March 30, 1987, the Government Leader said, We bid $90,000 for a BC licence.
Is that what Hyland Forest Products is bidding for the public tender, which goes into effect after May, 1988?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Is the Member asking if the bid we will be entering this year is the same as the bid that was entered last time, or is he asking some other question?
Question re: Hyland Forest Products/licence tender
Mr. Nordling: The Government Leader is obviously not aware of the answers he has given in the past.
In the Legislative Return, dated March 30, 1987, it appears the Government Leader is referring to BC timber when he says, The value of standing timber that would be cut in the next two years is 43 million board feet. Once processed through the mill, this wood would produce over $10 million of finished product.
Is that referring to the six percent the principal secretary spoke of?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am being asked to compare a Legislative Return with a news comment that I did not hear, which is difficult to do. I cannot be asked here to comment on news reports. I am sure the Member knows that is completely out of order.
I will read the Hansard and try to make sense of the convoluted question put by the Member and provide as complete an answer to meet his needs as I can.
Mr. Nordling: I thought the Principal Secretary was speaking on behalf of the Government Leader.
On January 7, the Government Leader said he did not anticipate the Kaska Dena claim to have any impact on the timber leases in BC. Is that still the position of the Government Leader?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Clearly, my great anticipations have been proven inaccurate. I can speak about the past and the present, but I do not believe any minister of the Crown has been asked to accurately predict the future on such matters in another jurisdiction.
The discussions about a blockade in BC are properly a matter of concern. Potentially, the dispute is between the Kaska Dena and the BC Minister of Forests on procedures for allocation and utilization of the timber resources in that area. The potential for a blockade will not affect Hylands operations in the near term, but we are communicating with the British Columbia government to attempt to establish their response to the situation, and that will assist us in knowing how to proceed.
Mr. Nordling: Does the Government Leader have any information on what effect the recent fire at Hyland Forest Products will have on production?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I can only tell the Member that the fire, which occurred last night on the log bucking deck at 2 a.m., did cause some damage, which is being assessed by underwriters immediately. No harm was done to the power house, the kilns or the operation of the headrig and the planer, and these operations have already resumed.
Question re: Young offenders facility
Mr. McLachlan: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources again, on young offenders. When the government finally moves into the new facility, when it gets built, can the Minister advise if there will be any new programs designed for the people who will be resident in that new facility?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: There are programs that are being designed all the time for the people who work in the juvenile justice program and also for the inmates. Those kind of things are ongoing, as they have been during the past three years. New things appear every day. I am not sure whether or not he is asking for anything specific, but from past experiences in dealing with juvenile justice there are ongoing training things that are happening.
Mr. McLachlan: Can the Minister advise, from the mishmash of programs that are available for the young offenders, who makes the decision to implement new programs and to drop the old ones. Does the Minister have any input into that decision, or does she leave it with others in the department?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: The programs are put together by those individuals who work in the department, in cooperation with other members of the department. I am kept informed of the things that are happening, and I am not aware of any being dropped at this point in time; perhaps the Member is.
Mr. McLachlan: The information that I am receiving is that at some dead times, such as Friday and Saturday evenings, it is preferable to give the young offenders five bucks for a movie and let them go, than to have any programs designed for rehabilitation. I wonder if the information that the Minister is getting is that these people are being left, lost and adrift, without supervision, without programs that are designed to facilitate their rehabilitation, or are they just given movie money and left to go on their own?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: No, that is not so. There may be a time when a young offender in open custody has been able to establish himself as a person who may in the process of rehabilitation. One person is not just told that he can go to a show; they have to earn that privilege, and they do. They certainly do have all sorts of other kinds of training that is available to them - counselling sessions and things like that.
Question re: Medicare/extended residence in Whitehorse
Mr. Brewster: On December 10, 1986, this House passed the following motion, THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to give consideration to developing a facility which would provide low cost lodging for Yukoners, and in certain cases one member of the immediate family from outside of Whitehorse who must by reason of medical treatment not available in their area, reside in Whitehorse for extended periods of time.
Can the Minister advise the House if the study has been made?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I cannot answer that question right now, but I will get the information and bring it back to the Member.
Mr. Brewster: When a motion is passed in this House by the Legislature, is it the Ministers policy to have this followed up immediately?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: Some motions are made in the House that cannot be taken into consideration right away. There are some that can be dealt with right away, but some cannot. There has to be a time to do these things. If the one that the Member is referring to has not been done, there has to be a good reason for it.
Mr. Brewster: I presume that the answer was no. That motion was made on December 10, 1986, which is well over a year ago. When will this be done?
Hon. Mrs. Joe: I cannot give the Member an answer right now. The situation is one that a number of people are concerned about. It has been brought to the attention of the Legislature through a motion. It has been brought to the attention of the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women. It has been brought to the attention by other members of society. I cannot say today that it will be done by next December 25, because I would be giving him wrong information.
Question re: Human Rights Commission/costs
Mrs. Firth: In order to have a full accounting of the costs associated with the operating and maintenance of the Human Rights Commission, the Members of the Legislature as well as the members of the public are awaiting the tabling of the annual report of the Human Rights Commission. It is now almost three weeks since the end of the fiscal year. Will this annual report be tabled before the end of April?
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I am unable to give that specific commitment today. However, I am aware that the commission is working on the report, and it is in its final stages. The government has not received the report, and I am expecting that we will not until it is delivered to the Speaker and tabled in the House through the Speaker, as is contemplated by the Act.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Minister of Community and Transportation Services tell me if we will be receiving the annual report of the Yukon Lotteries Commission before the end of April?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I can make the report available if it is published.
Mrs. Firth: Could the Government Leader in his capacity of Minister of Economic Development tell me if the annual report for the Yukon Development Corporation, which we are anxiously awaiting, will be tabled before the end of April?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Certainly not. I recall the first annual report was tabled in the fall session of the Legislature. I do not know what work they are doing on preparing their annual report, but I will inquire.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will now proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Speaker: Government Bills?
Bill No. 66: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 66, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. McDonald.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Bill No. 66, entitled An Act to Amend the Municipal Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 66, entitled An Act to Amend the Municipal Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Municipal Act was enacted in 1980 to establish and authorize the activities of Yukon municipalities. The act subsequently underwent a major revision to its present form in 1983. As you may recall, five new municipalities were then incorporated in 1984 under the provisions of the revised legislation. These municipalities had previously been established as local improvement districts. The incorporation of the Town of Watson Lake, the Villages of Haines Junction, Mayo, Carmacks and Teslin, represented a major step in the devolution of authority for local government from local improvement districts with advisory authority only to locally elected municipal councils with statutory authority.
A great deal has since changed in the environment within which our municipalities must operate, and has now necessitated a further update of the Municipal Act. The Act to Amend the Municipal Act, therefore, introduces a number of amendments that are intended to enable municipalities to more effectively conduct their affairs.
Since 1984, all Yukon municipalities have developed significantly. Development has not only occurred in municipal infrastructure and services but, also, in the area of administrative capabilities and the governing skills of municipal councils. With this progress, some of the requirements of the Municipal Act have become less important or necessary for the provision of good local government.
For example, the act currently requires villages in Yukon to submit their provisional operational budgets to the Executive Council Member for approval. This was a carry-over of the transition from local improvement districts to municipalities. We now believe that elected village councils should be entirely responsible for their own provisional operational budgets.
The bill before you includes an amendment that will put villages on the same footing as other classes of municipalities in this regard.
Governing municipalities today is much more complex than in the past. Sophistication that is developing within our communities is increasing to meet new demands. In this respect, municipalities require more flexibility to respond to the ever-changing demands placed upon them. Several amendments have been included to assist municipalities to respond more effectively.
Currently, the act requires that municipalities pass specific individual bylaws to enter into leases. As you can well imagine, this requirement has created many administrative difficulties for municipalities, and placed pressures on the legislative agendas of our local councils. It is our intention to provide municipal councils with the authority to delegate to their administration the authority to enter into leases where they deem it appropriate.
The bill also introduces several amendments designed to bring the Municipal Act up to date with the significant changes that occurred with the passing of the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act. New block capital funding arrangements represent another major step in the devolution of authority to municipalities and necessitates changes to the Municipal Acts provision for financial statement, taxpayers assent in capital expenditure programs.
The Association of Yukon Communities has also requested several changes to the act on behalf of their members. Among these will be amendments to provide greater certainty with regard to municipal liability and the indemnification of municipal councilors. The AYC has also been seeking more flexibility within the act to delegate certain council authorities to their administrations for greater efficiencies.
The bill introduces several amendments which will achieve this desired objective. In addition, an amendment is being proposed which will enable the waiver of the requirement to obtain Executive Council Member approval for zoning bylaws when the municipality has, by bylaw, adopted an improved official community plan. As well, zoning bylaws must be in conformance with community plans. It is redundant to seek further approval in zoning bylaws once a community plan has been adopted.
Additionally, an amendment is being proposed to remove the provisions of the Municipal Act that impose special requirements for the Town of Faro. The vast change of the conditions within that community from the old Cyprus Anvil days to the Curragh Resources operations have negated the reasons for Faros special provisions. The residents of Faro now live in the same municipal reality as other municipal residents throughout the Yukon and pay municipal taxes like everyone else to support their local government. Faro is once again an active and vibrant community and is deserving of the same treatment in the act as other Yukon municipalities.
The government is also introducing several miscellaneous amendments of a minor nature. These amendments are required to correct typographical errors as well as to eliminate contradictions and unnecessary requirements in the act. The nature of all these amendments will be explored in greater detail during clause by clause debate.
The amendments contained within this bill represent another significant milestone in the growth and maturity of Yukon municipalities. We are once again taking the initiative to devolve authority to municipal councils where it can be effectively achieved. Many of the amendments within this bill would not be presented today if we did not have a high degree of confidence that Yukon municipalities are capable and ready for these changes.
In many respects the amendments are a testament to the responsible character of municipal government in the Yukon. It is fitting that this Assembly indicate their support for the efforts of the Association of Yukon Communities, municipal councils and their administrations by the passing of these amendments.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 95: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 95, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Kimmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move that Bill No. 95, entitled An Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 95, entitled An Act to Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: As I am sure all Members are aware, this bill is to accommodate the WHMIS. WHMIS meaning the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. In bringing this system into place Yukon joins the federal government, the government of all of the provinces and the Northwest Territories. This is a national system that is designed to provide workers and employers with information. The information is about the safe handling and the potential hazards of handling various materials commonly used in the workplace around the country.
This program is unique in Canada. It is probably the first Canadian experience of a very successful tripartite consultation on economic and social issues. The three parties are industry, labour and government at all levels. Those three parties have worked for just in excess of five years and have developed this system. There is a consensus among those three parties that this is an excellent program and will benefit all of the three parties. It is noteworthy that the program is national in scope and will be operational in the fall of this year, 1988.
At the present time, this system, WHMIS, has identified approximately 1,400 chemicals that are either suspected or clearly known to be hazardous. The key components of the system are, firstly that manufacturers and suppliers of these chemicals and materials apply special labels to the materials; secondly, that material safety data sheets are produced to supply details about the product itself and the safe handling of the products. Thirdly, there is a component that can be best be described as ongoing training and education for suppliers and primarily for workers who will be handling these products, which are potentially hazardous or are clearly hazardous if handled in an unsafe way.
This program will affect, concretely, at least one-quarter of Yukons workers. This government will provide training and the information sheets about these products.
The amendments to our Occupational Health and Safety Act are relatively minor, and they are worded in a way as to be consciously consistent with the wording of the legislation in the federal parliament, in the provinces and in the Northwest Territories.
The regulations have also been tabled. They are not in as simple language as is the general practice of this government. The reason for that is they are virtually identical to the regulations that are in force, or will be in force, in the provinces. The wording has been very slightly adapted to the Yukon situation, but the policy of the drafting has been to maintain a uniformity around the country. That can be plainly seen by comparing our act and regulations with the acts and regulations of other jurisdictions.
The end result is a win-win situation for everyone. There is a successful and joint effort of industry, labour and government. This amendment will bring into practical effect five years of very successful drafting and consulting work.
Mr. McLachlan: Since most of the work on this bill relates to the regulations that are tabled with it, we need some assurance from the Minister that he and/or his officials will be able to answer questions that pertain to the regulations when we begin discussing the bill.
I am concerned over one aspect of the regulations that relates to processes that are currently patent pending, for which information is not generally known. One submission in my riding, which is a supply process for the mine, is not available to the general public. How does it fit in with this bill and the regulations developed?
It is sometimes difficult to tell which Minister is responsible for the transportation of materials, since both Ministers and both bills often refer to the transportation of hazardous chemicals and regulations pertaining thereto. We would like some clarification on who is calling the shots on what.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: There are two questions raised, firstly about regulations and, secondly, about ministerial responsibility. The question of looking closely at the regulations is an interesting one. In the last session, I had tabled a motion that was never debated, which would allow the procedure of referring the regulations to the Statutory Instruments Committee. The discussion of that committee could answer the Members questions. As the Member is well aware, we will not be going through the regulations clause by clause in Committee of the Whole. I am willing to attempt to answer general questions about the regulations. I say publicly that I will ask the experts in this area to provide a briefing for the Member for Faro and any other interested Member on the development and specific meaning of the sections of the regulations. I will take it upon myself to make that available, and take the statements by the Member for Faro as a request for that kind of information.
I would reiterate that these regulations are standard or uniform law around the country. However, that does not preclude the question. If we do not like them, we obviously could adopt something different, even though the uniformity of the program around the country would suffer for that.
Secondly, the Member for Faro asked about ministerial responsibility. I should be fairly brief on that subject. These amendments and the regulations are sponsored around the country by Ministers responsible for occupational health and safety. They are most frequently in the provinces associated with the ministries of labour. The ministry of justice here includes labour, which includes occupational health and safety in this jurisdiction; hence my involvement. The situation is that there is an overlap in jurisdictions about the transport of hazardous goods and the handling of hazardous goods from an occupational health and safety point of view. There are clearly overlaps, however, this is the primary responsibility of occupational health and safety.
Motion agreed to
Bill No. 55: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 55, standing in the name of Mr. Kimmerly.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: I move THAT Bill No. 55, which is entitled An Act to Amend the Legal Services Society Act be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice THAT Bill No. 55, entitled An Act to Amend the Legal Services Society Act be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Kimmerly: This is a very short, simple amendment. It had been suggested that it could be in a miscellaneous statute law amendment. However, it is clearly a change in the policy, albeit minor. That change in policy is this: It is clearly stated in the act that if members of this board - called the Legal Services Society Board, an independent board, that administers the Legal Aid Program - are civil servants they will not get paid for their attendance at those meetings. However, other people who are not civil servants are paid, and the payment is $100 a meeting. The makeup of the board is that the Law Society nominates some individuals and the government nominates some others.
Practically speaking, the government has put on the board, by Order-in-Council, two individuals who are civil servants, but whose function as civil servants is totally unrelated to their function on the board. One of these individuals is a federal civil servant; one is a territorial civil servant. The policy that I believe was intended by the original act is that civil servants who are on the board, or who may attend meetings in the course of their employment, should not be paid extra for attending the meetings. That policy continues to be the policy of the government.
It is also our policy that, for independent boards, it is to be avoided to appoint people who are also employed by the government. In this present case, there is an interesting anomaly, because the lawyers on the board - who are not appointed by the government, and who are affected in their employment - are being paid. The civil servants, who are there because they are good people and are not affected in their employment - and the employment is completely unrelated to their appointment - are not getting paid. It is our position they should be. To put it in a more broad policy way, the fact that a person is employed by the government should not preclude their appointments on these boards, or their payment, unless their appointments are a function of their job, which is the case with many civil servants. The two particular individuals are worthy individuals, and it is seen appropriate that they be paid, like the lawyers.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move 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 recess for 15 minutes, before returning to Bill No. 50, Department of Community and Transportation Services, general debate continued.
Bill No. 50 - Second Appropriation Act 1988-89
Chairman: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order. Bill No. 50, Department of Community and Transportation Services, general debate continued.
Mr. Lang: I would like to jog the Ministers memory a little. I know that he has had a tough weekend. We were nearing the end of discussing the value of land and why building lots were as high as they are. Contrary to comments by some of the people in the front bench, at times there are some very good debates in this House where ideas are debated to see if there is any merit in looking into certain things.
I asked the Minister a question on the business incentive policy. I informed the Minister that it did not apply to lots that are being developed by contract and are being sold to the public. Could he verify that now? He was supposed to check into that.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is quite right. The business inventive policy does not apply to land development contracts.
Mr. Lang: Therefore, fortunately for me at least, I am not forced to address the Minister of Government Services. The Minister of Community and Transportation Services and myself can carry on with this debate.
Could the Minister inform me what the estimated cost is going to be for the development of the first 116 lots in the Granger Subdivision?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The total cost, estimated at this point, for stage one and stage two is $7.7 million. Of that portion, it breaks down that a potion of the planning, legal survey, clearing of roads that was undertaken in 1980 will have to be charged according to policy charges against this development. That was $248,000. That is 3.2 percent of the total project.
The dump site cleanup was projected at approximately $100,000. The roads, which were of subgrade construction and paving, are estimated at approximately $2.4 million or 32 percent of the total. The storm sewers, water and sewer lines were projected at $3.3 million. That is 43.6 percent of the total. Engineering design and services are approximately $500,000 or 6.5 percent of the total. Hydro, telephone and cable television is projected at just over $1 million for 13.5 percent of the total.
Four multi-family sites and one commercial site are scheduled to be sold by public tender, and those will be deducted from the total project cost prior to determining the development cost per lot. The estimated cost of paving the remainder of Hamilton Boulevard at just over $600,000 will not be charged against the lots. That is the projected cost total for stage one and stage two.
The Member made mention of the standards for Granger Subdivision. Some of the issues discussed in negotiations to date have been road grades, where the city asked that we did not exceed seven percent. We have maintained it at seven to nine percent because construction costs would have been much higher than what we had so far.
There was a discussion about the use of concrete piping for the sewer pipes. We recommended that polyethylene sewer pipe be used which was projected as a $250,000 saving for stage one.
There was a lot of negotiation around the placement of sidewalks, and sidewalks on three cul-de-sacs have been removed.
There was also a request by the city to levy a special $1,000 per lot fee to recover costs for recreational facilities and park improvements, which we agreed not to do that in this area.
I have asked Lands Branch to provide some ideas as to how the cost could be reduced irrespective of whether the city is in agreement. They have indicated to me that the three inch thickness for asphalt is something that could be reduced to two inches, which is common in the city as well, that would reduce paving costs by 20 to 30 percent. If there was the elimination of paving, we could reduce the lot costs by $7,000 to $8,000 per lot. There is always the alternative of eliminating more sidewalks, and that is certainly a possibility.
There could be some storm sewers eliminated. The city requested extensive use of storm sewers and requested we not use natural drainage.
A further $250,000 could be saved if we were to use polyethylene piping for the water lines as well as the sewer in stage one and two. There has also been a request that lighted walkways into the greenbelt areas be provided and those add to the cost. That is not considered, in some respects, to be an absolutely essential element, but one the city has nevertheless requested.
The use of overhead power would cost approximately $1,500 per lot, as opposed to $4,000 per lot for underground power. Those are all areas where reductions could be made, if the city were to agree.
The Member also mentioned the issue of water and sewer lines, and wanted to have some indication as to the reasons for the expense in the installation of water and sewer. The cost of putting in the water and sewer lines here are higher than they would be in other areas, apart from Yellowknife. Blasting could take place in Yellowknife, and might be necessary in order to install the water and sewer. They indicated that $33,000 to $37,000 per lot was only in those cases where no blasting was required; they indicated a $56,000 per lot price would be the order of the day if blasting was required.
Because of the ground conditions in this particular area, we are going to be installing water and sewer lines that can be up to 15 feet deep, which is very deep, given that five or six feet is normally permissible in warmer climates, in order to avoid the seasonal frost, which affects the ground conditions in that area up to 15 feet deep. That was one reason why the water and sewer line installation was as expensive as it is projected to be.
The city has expressed the view that, in order for them to take responsibility for this subdivision, they wish these standards to be met. If they were not met, and the standards could not be reduced by negotiation, there is the danger the subdivision could not be turned over to the city and the Yukon government would be responsible for maintaining it. That is something that is worth avoiding, at all costs.
There has been some concerns expressed to me that the city does not wish to repeat the situation where, in Porter Creek for example, they are expected to pave streets that were gravel at a substantial extra cost to the city. From the citys perspective, the attractions of having the development take place this way is that the costs borne by the development of the subdivision are borne up front by the purchasers of the lots, and the likelihood of further requests being made, which could eat into capital block funding, are less likely to take place in the future.
If the subdivision does not have everything, it is likely that a request will be made by the residents to upgrade the infrastructure. When the city provides pavement to a subdivision, for instance in Porter Creek, the major portion of those costs comes out of their block funding, and only a small percentage of the cost is charged back to the property owners in the area. The difference, from the citys perspective, between a development like this and meeting responsibilities in Porter Creek are substantially different.
In the case of the Granger Subdivision, there would be no cost to the city. In the case of a subdivision where all of the development had not taken place, there could be substantial costs to the city in future years depending upon the wishes of the residents. That is one of the reasons why the city is looking for these standards for this subdivision.
Mr. Lang: I understand the citys point of view. On the other hand community block funding is designed to upgrade these areas that, at one time, did not have these standards. To some degree, there is an inequity. The purchaser of a new lot with all the amenities is paying 100 percent under the current policy. Yet, the individual who has lived there without the amenities pays only a portion of the up-front cost.
The other argument concerns people who have lived there for 20 years and have contributed to the general revenues of the city. Subsequently, there is a responsibility of the municipal government to pay that portion. We can go back and forth to each argument.
I am not arguing the principle that the subdivision should be up to a certain standard. It has to be, and I do not have a problem with that. The Minister gave us a list of specifications. Phase one of the project involves 116 lots. Could the Minister tell us how many lots projected for phase two will be made available?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The total for phase one and phase two is 250 lots. The Member keeps referring to 116 lots, and I keep referring to 113. We are talking about the same group of lots. We are just talking about different numbers.
Mr. Lang: The Minister went to great pains the other day and talked about what a terrible problem we had because of a surplus of lots. He also suggested that it was an onerous task for him to take care of them. He will find that, as time goes on, he will wish he still had a surplus and had to manage the problems that accompany it.
Does the Minister feel that 260 lots will be an adequate number to meet the demand in Whitehorse in the next three years? There will be 116 lots available at the end of this year so that it meets the building season of next year in 1989. In 1989, there will be another 140 lots made available for 1990 because we are always a year behind. Is the Minister comfortable that that number will provide us with a surplus?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I realize these words can always come back to haunt you, and that is presumably why the Member is asking the question.
At this stage, we feel the 250 lots over the next two years will meet the demands in Whitehorse. The Yukon Economic Council projected a need for 125 building starts per year in Whitehorse. I am not sure how they came up with those precise figures; they are at least on the record in recommending that number.
We have a record of land sales and some expressions of interest over the counter. What we do not have is a sense of how much of the land sales in the late fall were land purchases by speculators. We do have 105 vacant lots that have not been sold by YTG in the City of Whitehorse currently. If you wanted to add to that the obvious infilling that is possible throughout the city by those people who own pieces of land that could be developed, you would have a fairly substantial number right now.
Lands Branch projects that not all the 113 lots will be sold when they come on the market, but there is no way of knowing that with any certainty until you do it. The Member referred to my comments with respect to the problems of having a lot surplus. I can assure the Member that, when the fact of the lot surplus was brought to my attention, and people were ridiculing this government for having that size of surplus, there was pressure to do something about it. A lot of people were talking about bringing down the lot price in order to sell them. A lot of people were concerned that would drive down the value of land they owned privately, and there was a significant controversy at the time with respect to the excess of over 400 lots that were in the Whitehorse inventory.
I did not expect much help from anyone in the Opposition to deal with the controversy. I received a lot of notices through the Question Period, but it was one I was aware of, and I was pleased to take action to drive down the surplus.
If the Member wants my honest opinion about whether or not I would like some of those lots back for sale, I would probably say yes. The controversy of the day before is not forgotten, and it was worse than the controversy of today. I would love to have 150 or 200 lots to sell to anyone who comes to get them over the counter.
All of that experience is compressed into a two or three year time frame. It seems ludicrous to have gone through both scenarios in such a short time. We feel that the 113 lots will not be taken up for almost a full year, but will ultimately be taken up by September of 1989.
Mr. Lang: The controversy about having too many lots must have taken place in a very small room with not too many people. It had not come to the attention of those in the press box or this side of the House that the Minister had been under such pressure with regard to the surplus that had been made available to him. I am concerned with the planning of the 113 lots - or 116; I will go with the Ministers figures. I was going by the Speech from the Throne, but as the session goes on, things are obviously different from what was said there. If things continue to go the way they are and we see more small mines opening, there will be added pressure with respect to land and development.
The inference that is being put here is that the land being purchased is for speculative purposes. I know there were some lots purchased for that purpose, but you will find that the lions share were bought by individuals for the purpose of building their own home. The purchasing of these lots was a case of supply and demand.
Now that the Minister has clearly defined in policy what he feels will meet the demand for the public for land development over the next couple of years, I would like to move on to actual development in the Granger Subdivision. I recognize that it gets tedious talking about polyethylene versus concrete pipe, but it can mean the saving of $300 to $500 per lot. That is what I was referring to in specifications of what was required in the subdivision. What could be downgraded from the best that money can buy and yet do the job. Is the polyethylene pipe for sewer and water going to be installed included in the price of between $30,000 and $35,000 a lot?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is agreement that polyethylene pipe will probably be used for the sewer system. With respect to the water system, the city is adamant that what is referred to as ductile iron pipe should be used. We are not prepared to compromise on that. This is all contained in the present price.
The citys primary concern is not a concern that is very self serving in some respects. I understand the concern. It is important to keep the lot prices down, but, long after this issue is over and this Legislature has moved on to other things, the city is going to be expected to do all repairs and maintenance for the area. So, they are looking at the materials that are, from their perspective, adequate to meet that long-term need.
With respect to this development and the other options I went through for reducing development costs, there is the possibility of reducing the up-front cost but, from the citys perspective, they see that cost as being dropped back onto their shoulders in short order, as soon as the Legislature turns its attention to other things. From the territorial governments perspective, it may be desirable to reduce the lot price by $7,000 or $8,000, which is the cost of providing the road surfacing, but the city would see that as being a drain on their block funding.
The Member for Porter Creek East and I understand the citys perspective and the territorial governments objectives. If the city was prepared to take a subdivision with standards that are not as high, if they were still reasonable, the Government of Yukon would develop the lots. However, the city has indicated where their interests lie and what the saw-off is for them, in terms of resolving the short-term problem of up-front costs for the lot sales, along with the long-term problem of servicing and upgrading a subdivision at city expense. They have sawn it off already, and I am told they have gone as far as they are prepared to go on this. I was told by the Lands Branch that we have gone as far as we can go.
There is the danger that the city will not want to assume the subdivision, as per the land development policy, in which case the negotiations between the city and the Yukon government could become quite unpleasant and of a long term nature, and I would like to avoid that.
The Member mentioned that I was perhaps putting too much emphasis on lots that have been purchased for speculation. I do not want to leave the Member with the impression that it is my view that all lots purchased in the past year were for speculation. There is not necessarily anything wrong with speculation if it leads to a house being built and sold at a reasonable price. However, speculation for the purpose of taking advantage of the market with no intention of building, but simply to flip the land, is not the kind of thing that we like to promote.
The government and I have no way of knowing what was purchased for speculation and what was not. The amount of actual construction will tell us, to a certain extent, who is a serious home builder and who is not. We project that there will be a pretty progressive home construction entity this summer in Whitehorse.
Mr. Lang: This debate really is not necessary because decisions have been made on the Granger Subdivision. I got the impression last week that there was still some time to discuss what was required in the subdivision and what the costs would be to the person buying the lots. Now the Minister says that the City of Whitehorse and the government have the bottom line and that is it. Am I wrong? Could the Minister tell me, based on what is now known and with the services that will be provided, if is it now an established fact that these lots are being tendered this way?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The tender notice is in the paper. When the questioning initially started, there was the assumption that the Government of Yukon had done nothing and cared little about the end lot price and was simply taking on a development for the City of Whitehorse and was going to do whatever was requested, no negotiations being undertaken. I claimed last week that negotiations had been undertaken, and I had some detail of the results of the discussions already. We considered the end lot price to be an important factor.
We have removed a few things from the development to reduce the lot cost. I mentioned road grades, the sewer piping, the sidewalks and the special levy for recreation facilities. The city has reached the bottom line on what it wants for this development. We have finished the negotiations. We have the tender documents prepared, and they have been in the newspapers for a while.
Interest has been expressed by a number of contractors. There was even a pre-tender meeting in early March to discuss the project with some contractors. There were a number of outside contractors here who took advantage of the situation to pick up the tender documents.
As a result of the activity we expect fairly extensive bidding from Yukon and outside companies.
Mr. Lang: When the City of Whitehorse tendered its paving contracts they sent somebody outside to contact the major companies involved in that business to explain that these tenders were available: here were the rules, the plans and maybe you would be interested in bidding. Not that they were giving preference, but to ensure they had competitive bids. For the record, I would reiterate the tenders came in very favourably from the point of view of the city and the YTG, in some cases, because of the bidding process and they way it was set up to ensure they had competition. I am not saying that nobody in the Yukon can do the job, but this water and sewer business is difficult. A number of fatalities have occurred in this business. In some cases, it was not of an individuals making, it is just the nature of the business. It is not nice to watch people who have gone into this business and gone broke. There is a fair amount of technical expertise required to be able to accomplish the tasks that have to be done within the dollars that one has tendered.
Has the Minister directed his department to contact the major companies in lower BC and the Edmonton-Calgary area to generate some interest through the method that was used so successfully by the city to ensure that we do get those competitive bids and perhaps that will keep the price down to an acceptable level?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member is quite right, the city did sent the City Manager and another person to BC to encourage companies to bid on northern projects. It was feared by the city that southern contractors were not bidding on northern projects because of the northern incentives programs that have been in effect for both the NWT and Yukon for some time.
Upon checking with the department, it has been made clear to me that the reason the government has not used northern preference for infrastructure improvements of this sort is because this is done on a cost recovery basis to individuals who purchase the lots. Yukoners would be expected to purchase the lots, and it would be in everyones best interests to have the bidding as competitive as possible.
The government did advertise in southern newspapers this year. That was the reason why a number of outside contractors came in to attend the pre-tender meeting and also to pick up tender documents.
Mr. Lang: The Minister has not answered my question. I brought forward a legitimate idea that we should be sending some individual from the department down to the Vancouver-Coquitlam and Edmonton-Calgary areas, which have a lot of water and sewer contractors, to see whether or not we can get further people bidding. Because you have two or three people walk in to get the blueprints and express an interest does not necessarily mean you are going to get a bid or tender from them. They may well find another job down south and figure there is no point in coming up here.
Out of 20 companies you may approach, you may only get five or six that are actually really serious about it, because the other companies have other commitments. I do not think we should be resting on our laurels because two or three people came to a pre-award meeting just by coincidence, because they happened to be in looking at another job, which I gather was the paving.
Is the Minister going to take the initiative to send someone from the department to spend two or three days outside to see if we can generate further interest? I think it would be to everyones advantage.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I appreciate the Members offer of assistance. I will take the suggestion under advisement. The reason the advertising did take place in southern papers was to encourage southern contractors to come to the pre-tender meeting. There was a desire to cash in on what was obviously a very competitive environment amongst paving contractors. It is in everyones best interests that we do.
With respect to sending a delegation to drum up more interest in northern construction projects, and given that we do know there will probably be some in the future, I will take the suggestion as notice and look into it.
Mr. Lang: I see this as a major area of priority. I do not know what the tender call deadline is. I am sure time is running by, as far as when these tenders are to be opened. With that being the case, I would like to let the Minister know I will be pursuing this with a great deal of diligence tomorrow. I expect his officials can see what can be done to help this situation. I think there are ways of cutting these costs down. I find $35,000 or even $30,000 an unacceptable price, especially when we do not attach any value to the land.
If the government was making money out of it, as far as the value of the land was concerned, I would accept that as a reasonable cost but. In view of the fact the policy is only to recover the costs of development, I find it hard to understand, even though we are developing these lots in the Yukon.
With respect to this so-called northern climate, I believe Whitehorse has four or five more frost-free days than Fort St. John, so I do not buy this. I would assume the 15 feet the Minister is referring to has to do with the grade, as opposed to saying it is a requirement to have a water and sewer pipe down that low. That is an area of technical information that the Minister may want to follow up on. I find that hard to believe, as I know that eight or nine feet is normal.
Is the Granger Subdivision dump site clearing that required the $100,000 being charged against the price of the lots?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. It is considered a portion of the development costs, and any decision to remove that from the total cost would have to be made by Cabinet - in setting the lot prices - and that decision has not been made. That decision is not normally made until all the construction costs are in and the lots are ready to go for sale.
I do enjoy the helpful suggestions that the Member for Porter Creek East does put forward in Question Period on a regular basis. I will be looking forward to more of those helpful suggestions in the air of nonpartisan cooperation that the Member routinely displays in Question Period. I enjoy it, regularly.
I think that it is important to note here - to draw the proper sorts of comparisons - that should Crestview and Porter Creek C have been developed, using the Granger standards, then I think that we would be looking at lot prices in the same neighbourhood as we are projecting for Granger. Crestview, for example, was developed in 1979, and the average price in those days was $8,000 to $10,000 per lot. The development standards consisted of sewer and water, gravel roads, and overhead power. Here, we are talking about paved roads and underground power access. If the development costs of 1979 were carried forward today, they would show in 1988 dollars as approximately $19,000 per lot. The estimated cost of paving Granger, as I indicated already, is $7,000 to $8,000 per lot, and the cost of providing underground power is at $4,000 per lot, and to refresh the Members memories I indicated that using overhead power would be approximately $1,500 per lot. So, if Granger were to be developed to the same standard as Crestview, which was gravel roads and overhead power, we could project about a $10,500 per lot saving for Granger - the same standards as Crestview.
For Porter Creek C, developed in 1980-81, the average development cost per lot was $14,000, and, at that time the development standards consisted of paved streets, curbed gutter, and underground power. If we were to project those costs to 1988 dollars, they would be $24,000 to $25,000 per lot.
The standards, as I indicated before to the Member for Porter Creek East, for Porter Creek C were less than they are for Granger Subdivision, and that includes the thickness of the asphalt, the amount of storm sewers, and the number of sidewalks. For Crestview and for Porter Creek C we are looking at costs that are very much in line with the costs that we have experienced in the past, taking into account the changes in standards and inflation.
We are not looking at something that is way out of the ball park from what we have experienced in the past. This ought to be kept in mind.
On the suggestion from the Member for Porter Creek East, I cannot guarantee that we will make a decision to send somebody down south by tomorrow to report back by Question Period, but I will look into a southern tour to drum up interest in future construction projects, and see if there would be any appreciable difference in lot prices. If there are appreciable differences, certainly we will look at undertaking a tour of that sort.
Mr. Lang: We have an identified problem here. The projected costs for land development is going to cost $30,000 for the sake of this discussion. I say that is too high, and I think there are ways we can pare those costs down if the government takes some action. I find it difficult to believe that to develop a lot in Crestview today would cost between $20,000 and $22,000. That is roughly $10,000 less than Granger. If that is the case, we have a real problem. If you tell me those lots are worth that much money, then the Minister is giving those lands that much more value.
I see the Minister grimacing; maybe I misunderstood. Is he trying to tell me that if he built that subdivision in Crestview today those lots would be in the area of $20,000 to $22,000 per lot?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I want Members to know that whatever I am saying is not meant to drive lot prices up in Crestview or anywhere else. If we were to develop in Crestview today we could project the development costs to be $19,000 per lot. If we were to develop Crestview to the same extent that we are Granger, I am saying you could add $10,000 a lot. Crestview was developed with gravel roads and overhead power. If you developed Crestview under Granger standards, we would be looking at $29,000 a lot.
Mr. Lang: Those Crestview lots were developed sometime in 1979. Are you telling me that construction costs have doubled? Are we using an inflation factor to come up with this price or actual awarded contracts to calculate the cost of per foot development in a very basic subdivision?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We are taking both of those factors into consideration. Over 10 years, the costs would go from $8.8 thousand to $10 thousand per lot, which is what they were being sold for in 1979. The development costs will increase by $19 thousand per lot.
Mr. Lang: Was the interest on the lots that were being sold in Crestview last year taken into account in the price of the lots that were being sold?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In 1986, the accumulated interest on lot prices was removed. Interest on lots that were held in the inventory had to be removed in order to get them back to a reasonable price range.
In 1979, the government developed and sold lots for between $8,800 and $10,000 a lot. If the Yukon government, under exactly the same circumstances, was to go back to the same terrain and develop lots with the same standards, they would come out at $19,000 a lot. That is a projection. If we were to add the increase in standards on to that, for example, three inches of asphalt and underground power, we could add $10,000 per lot. We would then be looking at $29,000 per lot price for Crestview.
I understand what the Member is saying. The $30,000 is a high price to pay. I am trying to put this thing into perspective as to what development costs are today. The Member is saying that, ideally to bring prices down, the best thing to do is encourage more competition. I am 100 percent with that Member in making that suggestion. If the Member is suggesting that the standards are too high and that we should bring them down, some efforts to do that, through negotiations, have been taken. It is a partnership, however, and it is in the Government of Yukons best interest to have the City of Whitehorse take control of this subdivision including its maintenance. Arbitrarily bringing the percentage down even further without the citys concurrence would not be in the Government of Yukons best interest.
Mr. Lang: Is the government prepared to consider writing off the $100,000 for dump site cleaning and not charging it against the cost of the lots?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am sure that case may well be put before Cabinet. I will have to look at in some detail, because I do not know whether or not it is legitimate. I cannot speak for Cabinet because it has not been to Cabinet. Once the case gets to Cabinet, I will be able to say exactly whether or not government is prepared to do that.
Mr. Lang: There were some major revisions done to the Granger Subdivision plan with respect to road access and other things. What cost did that put on the subdivision, if any? Are those going to be written off rather than into the cost of the purchase of the lots?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: A major change made was to remove a road that swung low beneath the subdivision and close to the existing Hillcrest site. There was concern expressed by Hillcrest residents that this road ate too far into their greenbelt and made the case, which was adopted by the city and government, that to remove this road would not change traffic patterns substantially. That was basically the change. We removed the feeder road onto Hamilton Boulevard.
Mr. Lang: The cost of the $248,000 for road slashing has been reduced by the removal of that road and reflects a lower cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: That is correct.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister tell us when the tenders open for that particular job? Is he going to delay the opening so more interest can be generated?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The closest I can come to a projected close date is the end of April. I can get the precise date for the Member. It should be in the notice in the paper anyway.
I will talk to the department with respect to how many packages went out, but my information is that the proposal itself, the tender call, was well known to southern construction companies. All of those that had interest in what the city was doing in paving and road construction would know what we were doing. It would be reasonably true to suggest that the notoriety of the Yukon government projects is, in part, as a result of the work the city had done a couple of years ago to make contractors aware of the work available in Yukon. Some of that notoriety is due to the fact that Lands Branch had tendered the notice in southern papers and had advertised a pre-tender notice in those southern newspapers in order to attract the kind of interest we think would be desirable in order to get truly competitive bidding.
A fair amount had been done by them, as well. I am not too keen on delaying the bid opening, because I am very keen on getting the project underway. I will talk to Lands Branch - today, if I have time - and ask them what the response has been from some of the contractors, to see whether or not we feel we have a lot of interest shown by them.
Mr. Lang: I am sure you will get a break, because we will have a coffee break and you can phone them.
My concern is with respect to the notoriety the Minister referred to. He forgot to mention that the BC Contractors Association indicated that, because of the royal screw-up that has taken place with the business improvement program, a lot of their contractors and membership are not going to look at the Yukon for the purpose of bidding. I am sure that, if the Minister did not know that the business improvement program did not apply to contracts of this kind, why would you expect a contractor from Coquitlam, Vancouver, Edmonton or other points south to think otherwise? It is a legitimate concern that has been raised. I am sure the Minister would not stand up in this House and refute my statement, but he knows the contractors throughout the territory are not the happiest people in the world today, with respect to the fact the Minister of Government Services has done such a good job on their behalf.
That is a major concern to the general public.
I have some other issues I would like to raise after the break. As far as the Granger Subdivision is concerned, with respect to the two inches of asphalt versus the three inches of asphalt: which was used to complete the 20 additional lots in Riverdale? As far as cost is concerned, it does make a difference. In the past, have we been laying two or three inches of asphalt in these subdivisions?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, I do not want to get into a debate right now on value added and the benefits of value added on the territorial economy. It is true, and I admit it, with respect to my knowledge on the application of the Business Incentive Program or northern preference on land contracts. I did not know that was the case. I am sure the Member for Porter Creek East is going to be reminding me of that fact from now on, and forever.
The point of the matter is that the Lands Branch did know that that was the case, and took it into account in terms of making the southern contractors aware of the fact that these projects are going forward. One way or another, the government did the right thing and did not need the Minister to tell them what to do.
I did indicate that the general standard in the past - I do not know the specifics of the Block 275 project in Riverdale - have been at the two inch level. I do not know what has been a three inch and what has been a two inch, but my information is that they have been building the two inch. I can get more information if the Member has any specific questions.
Mr. Lang: I would like a little bit more information. I would like to know whether, in the Granger Subdivision, we are going with two inch or three inch, with the prices he has quoted. I agree that there has to be a standard. I do not have a problem with that, but if Porter Creek C, for example, has gone ahead with two inches of asphalt, I would not see what we would not go ahead with the same in the Granger Subdivision, unless there is some reason otherwise.
I am going to leave the Granger Subdivision and talk instead about land availability in general. The Minister was to table a document with us regarding land availability. Has he forgotten? Perhaps if we did take a break for coffee, he could phone up his people regarding the other questions that I have asked, and table that document, then we could carry on with the question of land availability for a few minutes after, which I am sure the Minister will enjoy.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am looking forward to it, of course, as usual. I have the document here. I also have a list of lands transferred since May of 1985, too, that I indicated that I would be tabling. I have also got - I realize this is a capital program, but Members did ask about the Regional Resource Roads Program, and I do have a list of projects approved under that, as well.
Chairman: We will now recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue general debate.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I was asked to come back with information, and I am prepared to offer it. The water and sewer contract for the Granger project closes April 21, and the road construction closes April 28. There were approximately 50 tender packages picked up for the water and sewer project and approximately 35 picked up for the road construction project.
In terms of our experience with putting asphalt down in Riverdale, Porter Creek C and Granger - of course, Crestview has no asphalt; we put down two inches in Porter Creek C and three inches in Block 275 in Riverdale, and now, of course, it is three inches for Granger. What I asked Land Branch for, and I will get an answer back shortly, is: what is expected to take place in Porter Creek paving? That is basically the follow-up that I have right now.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the effort the Minister went to in order to get the information. It does seem that a number of tenders have been taken out. I still think that there should be further effort to see whether other companies outside are interested in tendering, over and above the 50 - just because you have 50 documents taken out, it does not mean that you will get 50 bids, and I think that the Minister is aware of that. I still think that he should follow up on that idea and see if other companies from outside can be contacted.
I want to express a concern here about land availability throughout the territory. We had, at least in part, that debate during the Capital Estimates, and it is a question of lots available in the communities and what is being done to get them underway. We noticed that in the current land inventory we have: Haines Junction, 20; Mayo, one; Ross River, three; Watson Lake, eight. Watson Lake is, of course, an area of major concern with respect to land development. There was quite a furor over the fact that the government had gone ahead and bought up all available land; subsequently, one could not get a lot.
My question to the Minister is: is it not true that the lots that he is referring to in Watson Lake are lots that were developed quite a number of years ago, and that there is presently a decision being made whether or not the eight will be sold as is, as large lots, or they will be surveyed and sold in parcels - in other words, there would be 16 lots as opposed to eight. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I asked Lands Branch to do a site analysis. The eight lots that are currently for sale across the counter are serviced lots that are suitable for construction. The lots that we are talking about were developed primarily, years ago, to handle pipeline construction, which did not take place. That was the reason for the development at McIntyre, and for the consideration for development of Granger, as well. As I mentioned last year, in terms of the work that had been done, and the money that was in the budget to reactivate the system last year, the Town of Watson Lake indicated to us that they did not feel that there would be much take-up last year, and we allowed the reactivation money to elapse. However, the Yukon government will be reactivating more lots this summer jointly with the town, and that is why one sees, in the new land inventory for sale in 1988-89, a further 23 mobile residential lots coming on stream to meet defined need there. That is basically what is going on there.
I indicated that I would provide information with respect to the paving that is to go on in Porter Creek and Hillcrest this summer, and that is all scheduled to have three inches of pavement.
Mr. Phelps: I am looking at the new land inventory for sale in 1988-89. Residential Carcross - six lots. Can the Minister tell us where those are?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: They are lots that are behind the school. I saw a map that did show the possibility for six lots on the side of the school opposite the highway.
Mr. Phelps: Rural residential Carcross - 20. Where are they?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: We had done a report in January, and I had indicated we would be doing a study of the Carcross area to identify potential sites of an infill nature we could undertake. The report indicates that a number of areas could be developed and made available possibly this summer. One significant constraint throughout the area is sewage treatment. It would likely have to be done with pump-out tanks depending on the lot size and the soil in the lot. This is a result of an infilling exercise to determine whether or not there was potential for further land development.
Mr. Phelps: Rural residential. Would it be safe to assume those would be larger lots like the ones at Robinson? These would be large lots with possibly not the same sewage difficulty? If the Minister does, not know he can say so.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Certainly the smaller the lot, the more difficult it is to settle wastes. A lot depends on soils. Even on a large lot, there can be trouble settling wastes through traditional septic systems. Often there is a federal health requirement for pump-out tanks on the larger lots if you cannot find good ground conditions. We did try to take, as priority areas, areas where the ground conditions were suitable for on-site sewage disposal. Where we have been able to find those areas have been included in here.
Mr. Lang: There is a lack of mobile home residential areas in Whitehorse. All the mobile home lots have been sold in Crestview and are full. In the other section of Porter Creek, in Beech/Maple Street area, all the lots are sold and also have homes on them. We have no future subdivision that will accommodate this type of a lifestyle that is affordable to people. I believe that the Minister did discuss this situation with the City of Whitehorse the last time we sat to see what could be done to accommodate these people. Can the Minister report his findings to the House?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did indicate to the department that this was an area that we ought to be moving on. They have been discussing the matter with the city. The city is going through their own land planning exercises to determine where to put the next development for mobile homes.
At this stage, there is some thought to putting more mobile homes adjacent to the existing mobile home parks in Takhini. We have not come to any conclusions with the city on preferred locations, but we indicated that it would be desirable to develop more land for mobile lots in Whitehorse to meet an obvious need. When we come to some conclusions with the city on the best place, we will develop that land.
Mr. Lang: The unfortunate aspect of this is that the government takes the heat for the fact that nothing is done. The city has the responsibility for zoning along with other responsibilities, and I do not argue that point. I would like there to be more of an impetus from this side to get the city to make a decision so that we can go ahead with the development. Could the Minister give us a timetable for making a definite decision on the development of mobile home lots? Otherwise everyone will move into social housing, and no one will be able afford to pay for it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member for Porter Creek knows how to incite debate without even trying. I will rule out my response to the issue of mobile home lots. I will ask the Lands Branch when we can expect the decision date for the potential site for mobile home lots being made.
I have brought up the issue of land development and the need for mobile home lots with the City of Whitehorse on occasion. It is the lowest service cost lot that could be developed and are the most practical alternative, especially for families buying their first home.
The need for mobile home lots in Whitehorse is obvious. We are going to be encouraging the city to identify sites.
One thing to remember here that is often forgotten is that the Yukon government does not have to develop all the land. The land can be developed by any number of parties. There is an expectation that the Yukon government should develop land, because they are, historically, the parties who have been the keenest on getting the job done. There is an expectation that the Yukon government will do the lions share of the land development work, but that does not have to be the case. Municipalities can do it on the same basis as the Yukon government does. Private contractors can do land development, as well.
We do encourage municipalities and others to develop land. If they were to do it, that would be a welcome development. In any case, with respect to mobile residential land, we are moving and would encourage the planning to not take any longer than it has to.
Mr. Lang: I see it of the utmost importance that the City of Whitehorse be pressed for a decision and not sit back and wait for a land use planning process to evolve over the next couple of years before making a decision. I would sooner go ahead with the decision and have to live with my mistakes, rather than make no decision. Right now, we have a situation where people cannot get into accommodation they can afford. It is not fair to them, and I agree with the Minister that the Government of Yukon has taken the lead role, and will continue to take the lead role, and that is why I raise it here. You are also going to have to wrestle with the fact that you do not have a surplus of lots anymore.
It is essential for the Minister to undertake in the next month to try and get the city to make a decision. We could then proceed with the planning, with the idea of letting a contract out late in the summer for that addition. In the area you are speaking of, it is strictly an addition to the Takhini Subdivision, which would also accommodate both those mobile home parks, as far as the water and sewer is concerned. It would serve a number of purposes.
As far as lots are concerned, I have no further questions at the present time. I would like to move onto another issue the Member for Faro has raised a number of times. I have heard of it via rumour but, today, it was fact. I had a constituent of mine come over and take me to his vehicle and point out exactly what his vehicle looked like after one of the Yukon Alaska trucks passed by him. Not only was the windshield shattered, but the headlamp on one side was completely out and half the grill was shattered, as well.
I have no reason to believe this guy was fabricating a story. He was very intense in his concerns with respect to not only his own vehicle, but recognizing what could be happening down the road, as far as other people are concerned. Where are we with respect to the various experiments that have been undertaken in the past four or five months to see what can be done to keep the rocks away from the traveling public and their vehicles?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Just before I answer that question I have some follow up information with respect to questions that were asked on Thursday. I will run through it briefly.
We have identified the problem with respect to rock throwing. We sent materials to Transport Canadas transportation development centre for testing. We did conduct visual surveillance of the units travelling on the highway. We conducted aerial video filming of the mud flap and decking alternatives in controlled road tests to try to determine whether we could see from the air the worst spraying and how it took place. At the same time, we were discussing the configuration of the units with Yukon Alaska Transport to determine whether or not there was anything that could be done, even of a remedial nature, such as rising or lowering mud flaps, which would reduce the rock spraying.
The response from Transport Canada was that we mount high speed video cameras on the trailers. We costed that proposal at $300,000 and decided not to do it. They did recommend that we encourage Yukon Alaska Transport to use round edge tires, which are not the sort of tires you can pull off the shelf. The cost of providing these tires was considered to be prohibitive as well.
Yukon Alaska Transport did investigate different types and lengths of mud flaps, the design of fenders and the decking on the trailers. To date it appears that the mud flap adjustments have had the most effect on reducing the problem. The numbers of complaints have reduced dramatically since the shortening of the mud flaps was undertaken.
For our part, resurfacing of the ore haul route to provide for a smaller size crush on the road, and the application of calcium chloride was also undertaken in order to keep the road surface firm. We did that late in the year and budgeted, as Members will note, for a full season. The commitment we have made to the Capital Program, which will lead ultimately to a surfaced road in five years, will end the problem altogether.
Yukon Alaska Transport has been investigating different truck trailer configurations. I am sure Members have seen different configurations on the highway with three square containers on the truck. At this stage we have not had any conclusive results as to whether that is a cost effective configuration or whether it is effective in reducing the rock spray.
These are the things we have done over the course of the last year to try to reduce the spraying of rocks.
On Thursday, the Member for Porter Creek East asked about a letter that was sent to him on July 21 regarding an application for agricultural land in the Dawson area. The letter referred to 18 applications pending. The information I have provided to the House showed there were fewer applications pending, and an explanation of the difference was requested.
The difference between the 13 active applications and the total of 19 - one further application came in after I sent the letter - is that two applications were canceled by the applicants; three applications were canceled by the government, because the applicants disappeared; and one was approved prior to the planning study being initiated. That is the explanation for the Member.
There was a request for information with respect to the membership of the Land Application Review Committee. The membership is comprised of four Yukon government representatives - Community and Transportation Services, Renewable Resources, Economic Development and the Land Claims Secretariat - and two federal - one from Indian Affairs and Northern Development and one from Health and Welfare, Environmental Health. For those applications within the City of Whitehorse, a city representative sits in on the committee.
We will be asking Indian band councils if they would wish to have a representative participate in LARC meetings. The extent to which they do will depend on how they respond to our overtures.
A question was asked with respect to the replacement of the VHF system. The answer is that Northwestel has calculated that the revenues generated from their contribution of $7.5 million will support the infrastructure expansion facilitated by the system. It will not cause a general increase in rates for basic telephone service, in their view.
There was a question with respect to the charge-backs to users. All costs associated with this project have used, as base-line data, the existing user fee per mobile radio unit. That has not changed, and we do not expect it to change. It is $50 per unit.
I made a mistake with respect to one item. I indicated that I expected the Hootalinqua North process to end at the end of the month. That is when it was originally anticipated it would end. Given some requests by some elements in Hootalinqua North to have a further analysis of components of this plan, we project the report will come to us by the end of May, not the end of April.
Mr. Lang: The Minister should be really proud of these land applications. If we wait long enough, they will all disappear.
I am not quite sure of what the Minister is telling me about the trucks and the flying rocks. Is he saying that it will have to stay the way it is now and that nothing more can be done to alleviate this situation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is fair to say that the government inherited a large number of agricultural land applications. The number was in the hundreds. In the time that it has taken to review the applications, some of the applicants have dropped out. That is true for all classes of land in the land application process for all communities. A person could conceivably make an application this month for an agricultural plot and decide to do other things six months later. It is not the policy of the government to deal with agricultural land applications by waiting so long that they are reviewed after the applicants are either deceased or cease to live in the Yukon.
A great deal of work has been done on the review of rock spraying of Yukon Alaska Transport trucks. We have tried to determine, through many joint meetings with Yukon transportation officials and Yukon Alaska Transport, the cause of the rock spraying. We have also undertaken surveillance to the extent that we feel it is cost warranted. We have also tried to ameliorate the situation through road maintenance practices at considerable expense.
The increase this year is approximately $280,000 to the maintenance of the Campbell Highway between Faro and Carmacks. That is not an insignificant commitment to the maintenance of that road at all. The maintenance procedures that I mentioned are ones that especially designed to reduce rock spraying. The government has not been sitting on its hands, and it is very concerned about the rock spraying problem, especially given that most of the complaints are directed at the Yukon government for some reason and not at Yukon Alaska Transport.
We have indicated what we are prepared to do in the long term with the Robert Campbell Highway. We are going to be doing something that is very significant in terms of the upgrading of the highway over the long term. When the road is surfaced, there will be nothing but dust sprayed if and when the trucks are still travelling on the road.
Mr. Lang: A constituent of mine has paid a couple of hundred dollars or more to clean up the front of his truck. I might be a little low on that cost estimate. What do I say to this individual? Do I just say, Tough break. Should that be my response, or is there anything further that the Minister will do to try and keep the rock spraying down? I know he has done some work, and I have no problem accepting that. Do we have to wait for five years for the upgrading of the highway to be completed, and, in the meantime, Travelers beware. Is that the message? Has all experimentation stopped that could help alleviate part of the problem?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The Member can tell his constituent that the Yukon government has done a great deal not only to review the causes of the rock-throwing problems, but has taken measures to provide for a different standard of maintenance to reduce rock throwing on a year round basis. Even the materials that have been put down on the road were carefully measured to ensure they were not whipped up by the trucks resulting in damage to cars.
Clearly we are not going to be able to guarantee that windshields will not break. Long before the Yukon Alaska Trucks were around, I went through one windshield a year. I do not expect that to change dramatically for vehicles that travel gravel roads, whether it be the Robert Campbell Highway or the roads in my riding.
The government has taken steps to ensure that the surface is more compact through the application of calcium chloride and that will reduce the amount of material blown up by the trucks. Yukon Alaska Transport has not been sitting on its hands either and have been experimenting with different types of truck tires, different types of mud flaps and the height of mud flaps to try to reduce the rock spraying. It is my experience that the numbers of complaints have dropped fairly dramatically since they did a number of things which included raising the mud flaps. That, combined with the work we did last year, has reduced the number of complaints from people who were concerned about the flying rocks.
It is not the final answer, and it will not prevent a rock being thrown from one of those trucks. It will reduce the numbers of rocks, but it will not stop them altogether. There will be windshields broken out there until the road is surfaced.
Mr. Lang: For the record I want to correct the Minister. The situation happened by Lake Laberge in an area where the asphalt had broken up. I get the message from the Minister that there is no more experimentation taking place, and he is satisfied with what has been done and not much more can be expected by the travelling public. I think that is the message we got today.
I got another complaint over the weekend that had to do with the standard of the road between Bearfeed Creek and Faro. I would like to know if we are putting additional forces in there to attempt to meet the situation, recognizing that it is spring break-up, but apparently it is really bad. I had a long-time trucker call me who does not complain for the sake of complaining. I assume it is a very legitimate complaint, and I would like to hear what the Minister has to say about it.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I realize that the Member wants to slowly leak the details to the debate, so that he can manage it better, but it would have helped if the information such as the truck travelling on the road at Lake LeBerge threw up a rock which hit the vehicle - this is going to be the case in the future. No matter what pavement we have, there will be areas where potholes do occur, and the road does break up, and rocks will be thrown at that stage, and a windshield will be broken.
I am not sure how much can we can do to draw general conclusions - with respect to Yukon Alaska Transport trucks or anybody elses trucks, for that matter - from an incident like that. Certainly the government is prepared to continue working with Yukon Alaska Transport to try to determine what could be done to reduce the amount of rock spray. As I said, that figures strongly in practically every joint meeting that we have, which are regular. The latest development is discussed thoroughly with transportation officials and the company, and that will continue to take place.
The activity that we have undertaken so far, in terms of testing and road improvements - irrespective of the capital program - I think have been significant, and have been undertaken at considerable expense to the taxpayer; but nevertheless it is justified.
With respect to road conditions right now, this is a particularly sensitive time for me to be going through my estimates in the House, because this is spring break-up time, and at spring break-up roads break up, sometimes. We put weight restrictions on roads and 100 percent legal axle loading is right now in effect. This time, every year, the truckers complain that they have not had enough notice, or that it is not justified, or something or other. Quite often the government has to respond to that by talking about the testing that goes on, in terms of providing the necessary technical data that justifies the imposition of weight restrictions.
On the Robert Campbell highway, I do not have any details of the matter the Member mentions. I presume he is talking about a section of gravel road close to Faro on the Campbell Highway. I will undertake to ask the transportation officials to provide me with a briefing as to the state of road conditions there, and will ask what remedial action they are taking. They generally try to respond very quickly to road break-up, and have a very good record in that regard.
Mr. McLachlan: The Minister tabled a document in the Legislature that gave the total costs of all the highway camps in the territory. May we have the cost out of the Carmacks camp for the section of the road they do, between Carmacks and Bearfeed Creek? Is it possible to break out their charges for that 44 mile section of road?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know, but I presume it is, given they keep records of how many times the grader passes and the work they do on a particular stretch of road. I will check if they can break it out for the distance the Member mentions.
Mr. McLachlan: That is without the Frenchman Lake Road, which is also in the same direction. I am just interested in the truck haul road.
In response to what the Member for Porter Creek East has brought up, I have serious concerns as to whether that highway camp at Drury Creek has the manpower, the money and the equipment to handle the workload. I know of no other camp in the territory that has a section of graveled road as long as that one, that has the volume of traffic that that one does and that has the weight load distribution that one does, with all due respect to Fraser, which is one that has special considerations for snow. They could not get their work finished in 1987, which was the first full year of the Yukon Alaska truck haul.
I think it needs more staffing there. I am fully behind those people, given the extra amount of work they must now do with the compactors and the placement of specialized graded gravel to handle that rock. The complaint the Member has brought out here is only one of many we hear. The problem is particularly severe right now in break-up. It is at the point where you are just about not able to touch it with the grader. It is still frozen and one is unable to use water, because it freezes at night on that section of the road. Part of the problem is the inability of that camp to be able to complete all the work they need, from their section at Bearfeed Creek through to the Mitchell Road turnoff into Faro. Unless that area is addressed by the highway maintenance people, I see that problem continuing until the Minister has pavement down.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: When we get into the estimates, I will indicate specifically what expenditures we are proposing for the truck haul route, and what we are anticipating would be the necessary increased expenditure for the route between Carmacks and Ross River due to the truck haul and increased traffic from Canamax. That should demonstrate the governments commitment to higher expenditures on this road.
It may transpire that more work from the Carmacks camp will be done on the Campbell Highway. It may transpire they have to relocate an extra grader operator to Drury Creek. It may mean that more calcium is going to be placed on the road. It may mean that Ross River puts more effort into this particular section of road. It could be all those things, but the $280,000 speaks for itself.
The things we have been doing to reduce the rock flying are reducing it. It is because of the increased traffic on the road that this special effort is being made. We started increasing measures to improve maintenance on the road last year. This year, we had the experience from last year, and we also were able to budget more this year in order to make sure the job was done on time and competently.
Mr. McLachlan: I hope so, but I still maintain that they do not have the manpower to do it. That problem should be addressed by the Minister.
I want to pursue the truck configuration on the new experimental model. I can tell Members that meeting and passing that new design truck is quite a different experience over the other 39 that travel on the road that do not have that profile. Can the Minister expand on where we go from here? Are there any moves afoot to equip the other trucks with a different profile and eliminate some of the ones with the specialized pots? What are Yukon Alaska and Curraghs feelings on changing more trucks to that new design, if at all?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: They have been looking at the new design for some weeks now. To my knowledge, they have not made a business decision as to whether or not they are going to go with the new design. I understand the prototype cost $100,000, so whatever decision they are going to make, they will make carefully. They have a number of things to take into consideration in the prototype design besides rock spray, and those will all figure into the decision they will ultimately have to make. At this time, we have no indication one way or another whether they are even leaning towards replacing the full fleet or replacing the fleet on a gradual basis.
Mr. Phelps: I want to ask some questions about the north Hootalinqua plan that the Minister alluded to when he spoke about extending the time frame so it would not end until May. I wrote a letter on March 21 to the Minister with regard to a meeting on the Alaska Highway North. The residents there were unanimous that they wanted full public meetings with a full steering committee in attendance before the plan is finalized. They were concerned because they were told the consultants were out of money and that there would not be any more meetings. Can the Minister tell us what the plans are with regard to holding full meetings with the public in Hootalinqua North?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will take the opportunity between now and this evening, if members of the Lands Branch are still in the office, to check into the specifics that the Member has asked about. I do not want to make any mistakes as to what meetings are scheduled. The plan is not going to stop because there is not enough money. We did anticipate, in the Capital Budget, that the plan would have to be extended into the new year. It is because of some of the problems that the Member mentioned that we have extended the time frame so that a thorough public review can be undertaken. I will ask for more details to bring back tonight. Given that it time for the natural break, I now suggest that we recess until 7:30 p.m.
Chairman: We will now recess until 7:30 p.m..
Chairman: The House will now come to order.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: At the moment before the break for dinner, the Member for Hootalinqua asked some questions about the public consultation process for the North Hootalinqua District plan. I agreed that I would be coming back after the dinner break with some information with respect to the public consultation process. It was agreed that, after the Whitehorse West meeting that was held with a representative from the steering committee of the district plan in attendance that there would be, instead of a final general public meeting, there would be three regional meetings or area meetings, at which time the draft plan would be made public and consultation of a public sort would commence with respect to the draft. The consultants would then modify, depending upon the consultations of the draft, by mid-May, and table with the government the draft plan, or the plan itself, at the end of May, through the steering committee. The short answer is that there will be three area meetings, one for the Takhini Hot Springs road area, one for the Mayo Road area, one for the Whitehorse West area. Those meetings will count as the final public consultative stage.
Mr. Lang: I wanted to move onto another area that is in relation to north Hootalinqua, and it relates throughout the territory. A year ago, the Minister indicated he was going to have a look at the possibility of subregional governments throughout the territory, primarily for areas that did not have a centre, but had a situation where people were living in the rural lifestyle, yet there was no one they could really turn to with respect to the decision-making process, except their MLA. Could the Minister update the House as to where that is at?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In recognition of the fact there are areas in the territory that are not designated communities, but are rural districts, this past year some thought has gone into the development of alternative structures that might be put in place to provide people with some representation of a formal nature and, perhaps, even provide for them a governmental structure that could assume certain responsibilities.
In terms of ascertaining what some of the potential and what some alternatives are, a fair amount of has done. However, as yet no consultative process has been undertaken to review what would be desirable in some of the regions of the territory.
It is fairly obvious that some regions of the territory are not keen at all on assuming any kind of governmental structure or a representative body, as they perceive that as being unfriendly to their interests - a layer of government or bureaucracy they would otherwise choose not to have. There are some areas where some development of this sort should take place in some respects, but each area is going to have to undergo its own individual process to determine what it feels is appropriate.
I would hope to be able to finalize some potential structures that will, in all likelihood, require legislative change to develop models of local government structures over the course of this year, as indicated in the Throne Speech, and start to undertake a public consultative process. I realize the effects land claims will have on such structures and, given the tripartite consultative process that went into developing the Municipal Act, I would think that no less would be expected in developing other governmental structures. That would be our plan of action.
Is the Minister telling us that nothing has been done?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, I am not saying that. I indicated exactly what we have done up to this point, and what has yet to be done. A great deal of review has been undertaken over the course of the last year to ascertain the possible structures that can be put in place, depending on the idiosyncrasies of various areas. It has not been a big public splash.
Mr. Lang: Has that review been done within the Department or by a consultant?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It was done within the Department.
Mr. Lang: Does the Minister have a paper that has options or anything to give us an idea what he is thinking about?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will check to see what might be tabled. I know of no formal report.
Mr. Lang: I have a question on the Motor Transport Act and the highways legislation. Has all of that been prepared by consultants?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think it would be unfair to characterize it as entirely prepared by consultants, but Barry Bergh Consulting has been given the major portion of the work in terms of the development of everything from the major research to the drafting instructions for the Motor Transport Act.
Mr. Lang: I do not understand about going outside the department. We are dealing with someone who does not live here. As a taxpayer, I have problems with paying someone to learn where Whitehorse is and trying to figure out what the Yukon is all about. I understand we have paid him $100,000 to do the Highways Act and we do not even have the act tabled in the House. Who makes the decision to contract out to these individuals?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The decisions are ultimately made by the Assistant Deputy Minister and the Deputy Minister for Community and Transportation Services. I presume this person was chosen to do much of our work in the drafting of transportation legislation because of the persons expertise in dealing with legislation of this sort, given the persons background. There is a good deal more to developing the acts than simply the drafting instructions. The Department has been fairly thorough in its public consultative processes in the development of all three acts. The Motor Transport Act is a case in point. This act is not only an extremely well written piece of legislation, but is also thoroughly well known to the transportation industry and meets the uniformed law requirements of the country.
I think it is a well-drafted piece of legislation, but in terms of the that act and the Highways Act and the Motor Vehicles Act, they all require a fair degree of expertise in drafting legislation of this sort - expertise that was not considered to be present in the Department of Community and Transportation Services.
Mr. Lang: I would go so far as to say, in my judgment, that that is almost a vote of non-confidence in the top civil service. I know how legislation is prepared. I know what work goes into it, and the Minister is making it sound like you have to be a magician from Mars, or come from Vancouver or Edmonton in order to write the laws for the Yukon territory, so we, as a bunch of mouthpieces can pass them. I just want to say that I resent very much spending all this money on somebody a) who most of us will never meet, and b) who will never come back to the territory unless he has got a real, good, healthy consultants fee, yet we are going to have to live with the results of the work that this particular individual has done.
I had some interesting information just given to me regarding the work being done. Services for Highways Act, $15,400; for the new Motor Vehicles Act, $22,000 - and the list goes on. I think that in some cases we are being taken to the cleaners. It must be a great place to come up to when someone has an open cheque book, prepared to just sign a cheque and say, You must be an expert, so you must know everything. It amazes me. We had a Transport Act for years, and I do not how we survived, I really do not. We had a Highways Act that was in good part written internally. Now, all of sudden, we are looking at laws that are trying to save us from ourselves being presented by people from outside the territory. I think it is getting right out of hand and I will have more to say about it as the days and the weeks go on here. I just hope the Government Leader is listening. I think that it is totally irresponsible. I think that somebody had better get a handle on these dollars going to these so-called consultants and so-called experts. From my perspective, the amount of money that we are talking - when I look, for example, at the Motor Vehicles Act costing $73,200 - now, maybe the other side does not think that is a lot of money but it is a hell of a lot of money to the people in Porter Creek East who are paying $1,400 to $1,800 for taxes on a house out there and getting very little, if any, relief or acknowledgment from the side opposite due to not being disadvantaged or poor. I think that it is about time that we give our heads a shake and take a look at the realities of what really needs to be done instead of being bamboozled, or even offering, this kind of money to people from outside.
I am going to move on to another area here but I want to alert the Minister that I intend to pursue this in supplementaries, and I hope we have some answers then. I hope the Motor Vehicles Act is not the example of $100,000 well spent.
I want to ask a question about the location of the Dawson City airport. Has the location been identified and withdrawn by Order-in-Council formally yet?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I look forward to the debate on the Motor Transport Act. The Dawson airport site has been chosen. The site has been protected from staking, and there was some press recently that announced that the site has been made public. There were two items of concern that have been expressed by the local air industry with respect to the particular site. One was weather conditions and the other one was the length of the runway: there was some concern about the landing of 737s at the site. We have asked Transport Canada to review both those concerns and, hopefully, allay the fears of the industry.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister update us with respect to the infamous Ross River arena - the future Piers McDonald memorial? Could he inform the Members with respect to whether or not we have it all closed in on four sides for $1.5 million, and what are the future plans?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did not bring my Capital Budget, but I have my Operation and Maintenance Budget. This is sort of a no-rules estimates, I guess.
To my knowledge, the Ross River arena is closed in on four sides and, in fact, enjoyed some ice this year. The installation of the wall between the community hall section and the arena is complete, I believe. I will have to check that information. The last time I did check on it, a contractor was about to go back in and, as per the contract, put up the wall that separates the community hall section from the arena section.
Mr. McLachlan: With respect to the section on highway maintenance, by actual count since last August, I recorded seven fatal accidents between Faro and Whitehorse, all of which were on the ore transport run. One of those was between Faro and the mine site, so that leaves six on the publicly maintained road. Is it still a policy of the department to do an analysis of the highway conditions at the time, and at the location, when there is a fatal motor vehicle accident?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I trust that the Member is not going to blame the accidents on the highway maintenance. As a matter of course, it has always been normal that a record of road conditions, climate, et cetera have been counted and, at any given time over the course of a number of years, you can pick out the numbers of accidents on certain sections of road in order to ascertain whether or not there may be reason to believe the road should be upgraded even further than was originally planned in the capital plan. That is an ongoing analysis that is done by the government and the RCMP. We do collect statistics on all roads in the territory.
Mr. McLachlan: That was a little bit of an unfair swipe by the Minister. I was not intimating they were due to the road maintenance. I simply wanted to make certain that policy was still being followed and that maybe, when the recommendations were done, there could be something seen in there that would lead the highway department doing the study to come to some reasonable conclusion that a curve may be ill designed, etc. After all, there is $20,000 budgeted in the capital for redoing the study of the Campbell Highway between Carmacks and Faro for possible construction starting next year. That is the whole reason for asking the question. I just wanted to establish those investigations were still being done.
Mr. Lang: In the information we have thus far, I noticed the community of Destruction Bay has been struck off the list. The Minister was given fair warning about the question that would be raised. Could he explain what is, I hope, an oversight?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is an oversight. The figures for Destruction Bay were rolled into Burwash Landing. That was something the Department of Finance did when collecting estimates, but Destruction Bay is going to be there, and we are going to continue to fund the camp. Nothing has changed in terms of real action, irrespective of whether or not Finance decides to roll it into the figure for Burwash Landing.
Chairman: Is there any further general debate?
On Management, Policy, and Planning and Administration
Chairman: We will go on at page 47.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Throughout the budget, there are general increases due to increased costs for personnel through the YGEU increase, merit increase, et cetera. In global terms, the increase here of $81,000 is due to an increase in personnel costs of $146,000, with some offsets in the non-personnel costs, including a decrease in contract services and communications of $51,000 and $50,000, respectively.
If Members have some general questions about it, I could go through the figures more specifically in a moment. If there are general questions on this area, perhaps I could answer those first.
Mr. Lang: What is the department proposing to study this coming year? I will refresh his memory. We had the role of airports to support economic growth, a jurisdictional clarification paper and a Lands Branch analysis. All of these things were to be done last year. Has the Lands Branch analysis paper been done, and if so, could it be tabled?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not have the stuff from last year. I have next years Operation and Maintenance Estimates for the department in front of me.
Maybe the Member could identify what he is referring to more specifically. The Lands Branch review; I am not sure how to respond to that. Perhaps he could clarify what he is asking for.
Mr. Lang: In reference to a debate that took place on April 6, 1987 at page 85, there were quite a list of things that were going to be done over the course of this past year. One of them was a Lands Branch analysis. There was also to be an assessment of present regulations and policies on agricultural land disposition. There was the infamous lot pricing policy that has not gone anywhere yet. There was a heritage resource impact assessment at Pelly Crossing. I would really like to have a look at the highway maintenance camp study. There was also the Elsa recreation facilities assessment and the Old Crow transportation study, which has been tabled. It goes on about the Motor Vehicles Act and how we are going to go down to Los Angeles and get someone to do it for us.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: So much of the Members preamble and the references that he draws are so much out of this world that I do not where it touches earth. I will try to put this into context. On the pricing policy that the Member referred to, I believed that I tabled the copy of that study.
Mr. Lang: I can leave it with the Minister for the purposes of the supplementaries; I do not have a problem there. He can get his staff to look on page 85, April 6, 1987. I hope they have read that since we sat a year ago because there was a list provided to the House. I went through them and enumerated them for the record and I would like to know where they are. I would like to know, in this budget, on the O&M side, exactly what plans the Minister has for the forthcoming year regarding these feasibility studies and policy studies and various other things that the Minister had undertaken over the course of a year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will take the question as notice with respect to supplementaries where, I believe, it is natural to consider that report of last years activities.
With respect to the total amount this year, for the department-wide, there are projected to be five total projects. One is a lands management legislation review and land legislation development, for a total of $50,000. There will be two evaluations done, one in the protective services section of the community services department, for $20,000, and a case study review of a major capital construction project - we have chosen the Ross River arena project. Also, there will be a national transportation policy analysis undertaken, now that all ministers of transportation have agreed that we should develop guidelines for a national transportation policy for the country. The total is $100,000.
Mr. Lang: I think that we have a major C.D. Howe here - what is $100,000, eh, what is $1,000,000. I have a question for the Minister respecting the study of the Ross River arena. What is it expected to cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: $25,000.
Mr. Lang: Who is going to do it?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know. This is contract work. It will be done by an independent consultant, not by the people in the department. This is not the wages of the department, this is contract work, which I think the Member was asking for.
Mr. Lang: Hopefully, the case study review is going to come out with what not to do, if they are studying the Ross River arena. I hope that is in the terms of reference. I hope this is not going to be because the government is proud of what they have done.
The other point, well made by the MLA for Faro, is that Government Services should be paying the bill.
What is the $20,000 for an evaluation in Protective Services?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: One thing we have been criticized for in the past is not doing certain evaluations that are suggested of us by not only Public Accounts, but also the Internal Audit. Of all the sections of the department, we feel this is a worthy candidate for the evaluation to determine the effectiveness of how it is meeting its objectives. So, this is the first of the ones we can, perhaps, do every year to determine how well the branch or section or department meets its objectives, as stated in the estimates. It also evaluates the managerial efficiency of the section and the paper process, in terms of making it more efficient and less bureaucratic.
Mr. Lang: Is this going to be done outside the House by contract, as well?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: All these items are professional contract services. This is not the wages for the Policy, Planning Section of the department. These are the contract services for this branch.
Mr. Lang: With respect to lands management and the Lands Act, what is wrong with the present Lands Act?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Let me count the ways. There is a whole lot that is problematic with the Lands Act. Firstly, we are talking about not only the Lands Act but, also the Area Development Act. The limitations that have been expressed to me with respect to the act have been made clear over the course of the last couple of years, since I first came to office. We said we were not going to do a land review until we had gone some distance in clearing out the backlogs of land applications and organizing the lands department better.
So I do not take up a lot of time here, I could get the department to put together a list of many of the areas that are problematic with respect to the current Lands Act and the Area Development Act, and provide that to the Member.
Mr. Lang: I recognize there are some technical and administrative problems with the act that must be changed. It concerns me when we are going to spend $50,000. What does the Minister see wrong with the act? I do not need the administrations concerns. I can get that on any act. What are the major political concerns with the present land act? I think it is a fair question to ask what the problem is, as you are asking us to vote $50,000.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot give as thorough an answer as I would like. I choose to provide the House with a thorough list of the items. Many of the things that we have wanted to do in the past, such as providing a license of occupation, we have been unable to do under the basic policy. Areas such as zoning and area development are problematic and must be done by a thoroughly cumbersome method. Those are only couple of areas. Rather than bounce this off the top of my head, I will provide the members with a list of the areas that are in fact problematic.
Mr. Lang: We seem to have so much money. The $50,000 would permit an increase in the Homeowners Grant by about $20.00 per home throughout the Territory. It may not seem to be politically advantageous, but some of this money could be spend elsewhere. This $50,000 study will probably cost $100,000 when it is finished. What have we got? If the department has identified the problems, then surely it must have options developed to solve the problems legislatively. We have a legislative draftsman on staff for changing legislation. I do not understand why we pay someone elses mortgage outside of the Yukon. It seems to me that we should be able to do a lot of this in house. I will be the first to say that we have some top civil servants in the management of government. There are capabilities there. I think we are giving them a vote of nonconfidence. They are here experiencing the problems, working with the problems and having to meet the public every day. I think the Minister should see if he can do it internally.
I will be looking forward to the list of problems. I trust it will be tabled in the next day or two, because it should be available at the Ministers fingertips in order for him to spend that much money.
There is a difference of four person years in this years budget from last years in the management policy area of the government. What is the reason for this difference?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Firstly, two of the person years are cases where the terms had expired. The lands policy analyst who was here last year has been transferred to the Lands Branch, and the major projects coordinator has been transferred to Community Services, so the branch has not lost the person years; they have simply transferred to other sections.
Mr. Lang: For 20 person years, $1.6 million is being asked for. We had 24 person years last year for $1.5 million. We are talking about four person years. You could probably estimate $40,000 a year, which is going to come to $160,000. It would seem to me that the budget should have gone down accordingly. Here we have an increase of $130,000, and we have lost four people to the other parts of the branch. The other two positions have expired, or maybe they have disappeared. We are down to 332 as opposed to the 334 of the previous year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Maybe it would help if I gave the Members some information with respect to the detail so that they will know what happened with the budget, and they will not be making wild, speculative comments about what has been going on.
I will divide the branch into three sections: management/administration, policy planning and communications. The management/administration section is $1,117,000, and the increase is exclusively due to the increase in personnel costs, which are the result of the collective agreement and the management category increment, as well as an anticipated zero vacancy rate this coming year. We anticipate that there will be no vacancies.
In policy planning, it has gone for $281,000 to $288,000. That is an increase of $9,000 non-personnel costs over the forecast. There is a decrease in personnel costs due to the transfer of the lands policy analyst position, which was vacant for a significant period in 1987/88. That position shows up in Lands Branch as land availability band consultation position.
There is the funding of educational leave here, as well, for the policy analyst, which should be approximately $20,000 for a nine-month period, and the staffing of an auxiliary support position of $28,000. There was a decrease due to the transfer of a lands policy analyst position, which was offset by the staffing of the auxiliary support position at $28,000 and the education leave. It is a net decrease of only $2,000. The increase in contract services of $9,000, minus the decrease in personnel of $2,000, shows an increased total for Policy and Planning of $7,000.
In Communications, which is the third component, there is projected to be a decrease of $47,000 due to a decrease in the contract services for this year because the communications policy is now finished. That adds up to $1,664,000, which is a change of $1,583,000.
Mr. Lang: How much did we spend last in year in contract services? You say we had a decrease of $47,000 compared to last year, but compared to what?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In terms of professional service contracts - the contracts that the Member was referring to recently - in this branch we spent of a total of $110,000 in 1987-88. There was a King Point port impact study, highways devolution research, a monitoring system for the RRRP program, the legal review of the implications of White Pass rail abandonment, a Skagway port study, a property tax regime, and the land aspects of the Highways Act review, which totalled $110,000.
Mr. Lang: Where did you find the money for the Motor Vehicles Act and the Motor Transport Act? What does that come under?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It comes under transportation.
Mr. McLachlan: What is the figure for communications in this budget? The Minister gave us the decrease but he did not give us the figure for communications.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: $259,000.
Mr. McLachlan: Is the $259,000 for the 1988-89 communications part of the three-part segment that the Minister outlined, or is that the cost for the past year? Which is he referring to when he says $159,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The 1988-89 Estimates, the forecast figure for 1987-88 was $306,000.
Mr. Lang: This is the amount we spent last year. What are we going to spend in this coming year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Last year, we had a total forecast of $1,583,000 in this section. That breaks down as follows: last year management and administration, $996,000; policy planning, $281,000; communications, $306,000. That adds up to $1,583,000.
This year we are spending $1,664,000, which breaks out as: $1,117,000, management and administration; $288,000, policy planning; $259,000 in communications.
Mr. Lang: What is the definition of communications?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: This is not the euphemism for telephones. This is the Communications Branch. This is for the director of communications; there is a researcher in communications, and they have been developing the communications policy. Up to now, they have been doing such things as preparing the submissions for the Northwestel rate hearings, the CRTC hearings, doing all public consultative processes around the communications policy, and delivering the communications policy to Cabinet. Now that it is approved, it will be announced shortly.
Mr. McLachlan: I understand that part of it, but the Minister said it would be approximately $47,000 less, and those figures check out. If the major work on the communications policy has been completed, what now will they be doing that is major in the department for this year that will require about $250,000?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is a communications policy coming forward, which will announce what our role will be in the field of telecommunications and broadcasting. It will refer to the role we wish to play in federal/provincial relations with respect to the regulatory role the governments play. There will be the role we play with respect to community TV and radio placement in communities.
I am a little hesitant to go into great detail because when the policy comes forward I would like to say exactly what role we are going to play. As soon as it does, I will.
There is $119,000 for salaries and wages; that is for the director and the communications analyst. There is employee travel in the Yukon of $2,600; there is employee travel outside the Yukon of $16,800. There is contract services, a major portion of which is the television and radio maintenance contract for our community TV radio systems. There is also $12,000 for the power for those TV and radio stations.
There is work to remove the translator sites. We are cleaning up the existing translator sites that are being moved to communities, as I have already mentioned in the House. There is our participation in Television Northern Canada. There is a review of the emergency use of VHF coverage, and a few minor things as well. That is what the Communications Branch is mandated to do. As I indicated before to the Member for Hootalinqua, I will probably be making an announcement with respect to the Communications Branch and the communications policy within a couple of weeks.
Mr. Lang: How much is the contract on the TV maintenance? Is that cost projected to decrease compared to last year?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I think it is projected to go down. I am not sure exactly how much it is. It is $38,475. I am not sure how much it is supposed to go down. I would have to get last years figure in order to make a comparison.
Mr. Lang: What is the policy regarding our participation in northern television?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Late last year, the Government of the Northwest Territories and some native organizations, during the CBC-CRTC hearings, indicated that the service to the north was inadequate and did not do what northern governments felt it should be mandated to do. Concern was expressed that local production capability in the north, including the production capability of native organizations, was not being utilized as fully as it ought to be by CBC, because the CBC Northern Service had only a certain number of hours for the broadcast of independent productions.
In that exercise, the Government of the Northwest Territories issued an invitation to the Government of Yukon, in concert with the native organizations, the broadcasting societies - of which there are a number in the NWT, and CHON-FM and Nedaa in Yukon - to sit down and discuss a proposal for a northern television broadcast network.
The Government of Yukon agreed to participate in feeling out what the role of Television Northern Canada might be to determine whether or not we were prepared to participate. We indicated we had some interest in ensuring that more broadcast of Yukon occurrences took place, whether it be CBC Northern Service or another network, and indicated what use - in the terms of the number of hours - an independent, or separate, broadcasting corporation or society would have.
We had to establish what uses would be made in the Yukon of this northern network, and we had to establish what the expected costs would be associated with the network, and what might be borne by the Yukon government, or by Yukon native broadcasting organizations, or by private use of the network through private commercial productions. Through that exercise, we also had to indicate what amount of time might be used by Yukon and what the expectations might be on the federal government to support the native organizations to provide the kind of programming that would justify space on satellite and, ultimately, the broadcast facilities on the ground in the respective areas, Iqaluit being one region, Yellowknife and Whitehorse being the other two.
At this stage, the discussions have been fairly general in nature. There has been no funding commitment from Flora MacDonald, with respect to support either for the capital costs or for the ongoing operation costs, or support for the independent producers who would produce the programs for the system. If ever there was a project that was not yet clearly defined, this certainly ranks up there at the top of the list.
Nevertheless, it is a major priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories. They have indicated a very strong interest for a pan-northern consortium to put forward the proposal. We have made no commitments. We have only gathered data within the Yukon and tried to establish what the realistic participation rate would be, given the kind of use we might make of a northern television service.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister provide us with the areas where he feels we can make use of such a service?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There are a number of areas, primarily the rebroadcasts of tourism films. In the short term, that is about the only major use that we could make of it, as a government. There is the possibility for Northern Native Broadcasting to make greater use of the system than they have used CBC North. There is also a potential that we have, in a preliminary way, pursued with BC, in terms of reproducing Knowledge Network programming on the channel itself, so that we can take advantage of BC educational programming. We have also talked to TV Ontario about perhaps making use of some of their materials, for a nominal fee, so that we can undertake distance education programming over the system. One use of it is to promote distance education. I thought that it was a fairly attractive component of this proposal.
At the same time, I must caution Members that there are still costs associated. Irrespective of whether or not you purchase the programming for a nominal fee, or pay nothing for it at all, there is still a cost of renting satellites, and it is in the neighbourhood, as I understand it, of about $1 million a year. I do not think that there are any proposals yet where we would use this on a 24-hour basis, in any case. There will still be a significant cost to the operations of the system. We would have to determine whether or not the federal government was prepared to pick up that cost, because, certainly right now, we have identified no funding for a Yukon government share of renting satellite time. I think that that is a very expensive proposition.
Chairman: We will now recess for 15 minutes.
Chairman: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. Any further general debate?
General in the amount of $1,664,000 agreed to
Management, Policy, and Planning and Administration in the amount of $1,664,000 agreed to
Mr. Lang: Maybe we could hear from the Minister, unless you want me to discuss it and explain it to the House. It would perhaps be more appropriate if the Minister did.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am aware that the Member for Porter Creek East would love to speculate about all that is happening here. Before we get carried away, let me just give the information the department has given me.
Besides maintaining roads and plowing Arctic B and C airstrips, there are a number of things the department is planning to do as part of its work plan over the next year. The first one is to provide some background support to the land claims negotiations and provide advice regarding transportation corridors and the impacts on transportation access through settlement lands, or as a result of land selections.
There is also the issue with respect to the Port of Skagway development; there is the implementation of a transportation capital planning process, which includes local consultation. There will be the implementation of the National Safety Code. Hopefully, airports will be devolved in the coming year. I have indicated there will be an air transportation policy developed. It is almost complete and should be ready by July.
There will be a number of projects in the transportation engineering section.
They include the bridge assessment and upgrading program, which I know is of interest to the member of Porter Creek East. The transportation branch is a section where there will be some relocation of personnel. There will be mechanic positions sent to Dawson City and Watson Lake and a relocation of a superintendent position to Faro. As members can see from page 49, there was a six percent increase over the 1987-88 forecast for a total of $32,008,000. The major increase has been personnel costs with the impact of the collective agreement and the management category increments. That shows itself throughout the branch. If we were to go through the independent line items, I could provide a breakdown of each one. This would give a better indication of where we are going in branch administration, highway maintenance, airports and transport services.
Mr. Lang: I had the opportunity of hearing clips of the speech by the Government Leader who went on a great lengths to tell a partisan audience that the conservatives were going to privatize the highways department. I do not know where the Government Leader got that information. I want to clarify that it is not the policy of this side of the house, as far as highways maintenance is concerned. I think it is important for that to be on the record. The highways maintenance portion of this department does a good job. Obviously, at times you have problems, as evident by questions from the MLA for Faro and me, with respect to certain sections of the road at certain times of the year. Overall, they do a good job. It puts us in a position to make our standards higher than other parts of the country.
The Minister talked about local consultation on local transportation. Could I have that clarified. He ran across it quickly.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: In my opening remarks I mentioned the transportation capital planning process. I mentioned that there would be increased emphasis on local and public consultation to make it more streamlined and effective. The purpose of this process is to develop a transportation plan and a review process that is streamlined. We determined, primarily from the Casino Trail project, how cumbersome the process can be when you do not have the procedures down pat.
Clearly, whether it is the establishment of a new road or the upgrading of an old road, it is expected that a certain process is followed. You not only want to determine that a new road conforms to the long term plan that you set for the territory but also that the economic implications are clear and determined upon an objective basis. The review process has to be clear to everybody concerned as to exactly what is necessary for review and what is not. The respective roles and responsibilities of individuals have to be clear so that there is not duplication. The role of public consultation has to be clear so that you not only draw in effective community groups, but you make people aware of exactly what role consultation will play, and how much effect it will have on the government planning process. That is what the transportation capital planning process is all about.
I admit that things have been slower than we would have liked and not as smooth as we would have liked, with respect to some of the major projects that we have undertaken - the Casino Trail, for example. The government would like to ensure that the process for determining future roads is smoother.
The Member for Porter Creek East asks what is wrong with it. The mining industry initially requested 133 kilometres of road past the Freegold Road into a mining district west of Carmacks, and a very extensive planning process was initially undertaken. Since then we have been troubleshooting with the Carmacks village council and the Indian bands in both Pelly Crossing and Carmacks, and mediating between the interests of those groups and the mining industry, at the same time. It has not been what I would call a smooth process. It has been a process that has been plagued, even though the construction is on schedule, by controversy, and I would like to streamline this and make people aware - internally, in the government - what their roles are. Also, I would like to reassure the public of what role community groups, et cetera, and various significant interests such as the Chamber of Mines will have in the development structure in the territory. There are already requests for new roads into new districts being proposed by the Chamber of Mines, and I think that the capital planning process that we have undertaken so far can be improved, and that is what I like to see this branch do.
Mr. Lang: Who is going to do this study?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The branch is going to be doing the study. Depending on the project and depending on the regular workloads, some work is done by the branch and some is undertaken by consultants. Sometimes, consultants have a special expertise, such as in the development of new legislation. That is the reason why there is a break-out between the work the departments do and the work consultants do. We try to determine whose responsibility is what, but it is no reflection on the very good people in Transportation or anybody else in the Department of Community and Transportation Services, with respect to the decision to contract out a particular project.
In any case, the department is going to have to scrutinize the work of the consultant, and I trust its judgment.
The Member began his introductory remarks by saying the Department of Highway Maintenances Transportation section is, on the whole, very good. In this respect, it is one of the few instances where we do agree whole heartedly. I realize problems do arise from time to time, and they will be brought up in the House by Members with respect to roads failing, weather conditions being what they are. That is no reflection on the general competence and good management of the Department of Highway Maintenance.
Mr. Lang: As we are in the area of transportation, how much did it cost for this genius we hired from outside to write this bill that is 15 pages long for the Motor Transport Act?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will ask the department to pull all those figures together. In my view, the bill is a well put together, simple, easy to understand bill. It accomplishes the objectives that were clearly laid out by the government, in its review of the bill, to bring it into conformity with the deregulation exercise in the country and, also, to make considerable improvements in the application of the bill, in terms of making it easier to operate, easier to understand, easier to administer, less regulation, and I think it is a good bill. The regulations pursuant to the bill are good regulations.
They have not been approved by Cabinet yet but, nevertheless, it is a good package. I would not judge acts necessarily by the number of pages that are contained in them, or whether or not they are so complex we might not be able to understand them. Perhaps the connection the Member is making is: the more the complexity, the more the cost. It is a bill that is easy to understand, and it covers the bases we wanted it to cover. The research has been done.
Mr. Lang: It is nice to see something being done internally within the government by the people who are actually working with the subject matter, as opposed to hiring an expert. I just went through this Motor Transport Act, and perhaps there is something in the act I should be seeing but do not. I do not think we have invented anything spectacular in Bill No. 37, unless the Minister is so new to the job he thinks seven pages of the 15 dedicated to how to set up the board is a major accomplishment. It was in the old act.
I find it a little hard to believe. I am glad to see there is some work being done inside the department.
With respect to bridge assessment, I asked that question of the bridges in the last two years, and what standards they were at. I was assured by the Minister that they had been looked at and there was no problem, as far as our bridges were concerned. Why is he doing an assessment if he had assurances from his people when they came to this House? I can go through Hansard and show him where he stood up in this forum and told us everything was fine.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Everything is fine. Curragh has indicated that they would like to see more work done to assess whether or not even heavier loads could be permitted on the bridges than currently are allowed. We have indicated that the roads themselves can handle heavier weights, especially in the winter time; we feel that the bridges cannot. They have indicated that they would like to do a review of the bridges, at their expense, on the haul route. We have indicated that that is fine with us. We will review their work, but clearly, in any transportation regime, the weak links tend to be the bridges. Even much heavier loads could be permitted on the normal highway system in the dead of winter with very little effect, but the bridges have difficulty under the strain of very cold weather. We feel that because we have one of the best load limits on the bridges from the truckers point of view, it ought to be the responsibility of Curragh to review the bridges; we will help them, and we will certainly assess their work to determine whether or not we trust it enough to adopt it. That is something that Curragh would like to do. We will wait and see until the bridge verdicts are in.
Mr. Lang: What has Curragh Resources applied to the government for? How many more tonnes do they want to carry?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I am not sure. I will have to check with Transportation administration on that detail. They have basically complained from day one that our enforcement of the load limits is very restrictive, and they would like to see leeway given to the trucks so that they do not waste time when they are just a little bit over weight. We have set an arbitrary limit. I have indicated, no matter what the arbitrary limit, I am sure there would be somebody who wanted some leeway to edge it beyond the arbitrary limit.
Their comeback is to talk to us about whether or not the bridges can stand more weight, because that is always a concern that I have expressed with respect to permitting heavier weights, especially in the winter time.
They said they would like to do a review of the bridges, and we said that they could do it, but we obviously reserve the right to not only review their work, but ultimately determine whether or not we are prepared to adopt it and accept it. They say that the cost benefit of them doing the review is such that it is a decent risk for them to take, because even a few more pounds on each truck adds up to a significant amount of money from their perspective. That is the long and the short of it. I can get the information with respect to exactly how much they have requested as a weight increase. They have probably requested different figures at different times, but if there is something like that, I will bring it to the Members attention.
Mr. Lang: Who is paying for this assessment of the bridges, and how much will it cost?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is primarily going to be undertaken by Curragh. I think that the Yukon government will probably provide some funding, but I will check those details and bring back the information.
Mr. McLachlan: Is the Minister aware if this same request has gone to the State of Alaska for the Captain Moore Bridge, which has finished being overhauled with an extra layer of pavement and made bigger so that they can carry four pots instead of two?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Quite obviously, the fact that there is a bridge in Alaska has not escaped Yukon Alaska Transports attention. They realize that the one bridge that they cannot account for is the one weak link, and they have to check all bridges in the system, including the ones in Alaska. We are obviously concerned only with those in the Yukon, and Alaska is going to have to make its own decisions with respect to weight restrictions there.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister bring us up to date with respect to our costs as far as maintenance is concerned on the Alaska portion of the Klondike Highway? Are there any areas in dispute? Is so, what are they?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: On the maintenance side, to my knowledge, there is no area of dispute. On the capital side - I hesitate to say because we are getting into more capital discussion here - Alaska would like us to pay a portion of the initial capital costs of laying an extra layer of asphalt on the American side. I have indicated from the beginning that that is not a starter from our perspective, and we have simply said, No.
The system is moving along fairly well, with respect to the relationship between the maintenance crews on the American and the Canadian side. Both sides have been upgrading their knowledge of avalanche control, and maintenance of the road in mountain pass winter conditions. Their knowledge is increasing all the time; safety is, of course, our first concern. The crews on both sides of the border are, I am told, working very well, and upgrading their knowledge of maintenance of the roads. The Commissioner of Transportation in Alaska has expressed no concern about this maintenance. Our issues have moved to other areas. Issues between Alaska and Yukon have moved to other venues.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister update us regarding the amount of dollars that we spent on maintenance on that portion of the highway on the Yukon side? I recognize that last year was an abnormal year as far as snow was concerned. How far off are our projected budgets for last year and how does it relate to this one?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I have the break-out by highway and by camp. I do not think I will be able to break it out in terms of the road between Carcross and the border in the 50 percent portion. I can have that information for tomorrow. I do have the break-out by camp. Fraser Camp is expected to run $1,640,000 this year. The Carcross Camp, which is responsible for a small portion of the South Klondike Highway, is expected to run at $1,427,000 this year. I do not have break-outs on just the road itself south of Carcross, but I can ask for those figures.
Mr. Lang: I wanted to know if there had been a significant increase in that maintenance cost over last year, as far as your projected operation and maintenance costs are concerned. Could the Minister just give us a general idea? I do not need it right to the dollar. I wanted to know how our costs relate on this budget, as opposed to the year previous.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There is an increase of $330,000 over the 1987-88 budget for surface repairs and BST repairs at Fraser, Carcross and Carmacks due to the ore haul. There is an increase of $270,000 over the 1987-88 budget for sanding and snow removal on the entire Klondike Highway. There are two sand trucks at Carcross.
There is an increase of $70,000 over 1987-88 for camp operations and grounds and maintenance at the Fraser Camp. Is the Member interested in the Carcross south section, or the full ore haul between Faro and the Canada/US border?
Mr. Lang: Yes, if the Minister could give us a break-down of it. I am curious how our projections for last year are fitting into our projections for this year. Last year was what is classed as a normal winter, and I would like a break-down between Skagway and Whitehorse, primarily. Whitehorse to Faro has been fairly consistent, as far as wet conditions and projected costs are concerned.
We heard a great deal of fanfare, and it is kind of funny. On one hand, we hear the running down the federal government and, on the other hand, we want more money from them. I specifically talk about the Alaska Highway.
My understanding is that we had voted $10.6 million the past financial year for the purpose of maintenance of the Alaska Highway, to the point, at least in the supplementaries, that we had $600,000 lapse. How much had the department presented last August for the maintenance requirements for this financial year for the running of the Alaska Highway under the present agreement in place?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The figures for the Alaska Highway/Haines Road are shown on page 56. These figures are not firm until Treasury Board says they are firm. This estimate is from last fall and shows what we thought we could achieve through the Alaska Highway maintenance agreement. These figures are probably $70,000 too optimistic. The total of $7,974,000 for the Alaska Highway and $1,538,000 for the Haines Road is a projection -minus $70,000 - of what we think realistically we can get from Department of Public Works for the maintenance of these roads.
Mr. Lang: I believe the final figure for maintenance of the Alaska Highway was $10,000,000 for last year.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is in that neighbourhood. You have to add these two figures to the administration fee and that is what we recover.
Mr. Lang: The Minister told the House that we do not have enough money to maintain the Alaska Highway to the standard that we would like. How much did the Department of Highways put into the Government of Canada for the purposes of maintaining the highway to the standard that would allow chipsealing and the various things that we have become accustomed to.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not know exactly what the Member is referring to. Is the Member saying that the Department of Highways puts in a request for $12,000,000 or $13,000,000 and we just sit and wait and plan our maintenance program based on what we think we need, or is the Member prepared to recognize, through discussions and negotiations, that the Department of Highways plans their maintenance schedule on the basis of those realistic figures and then gets it firmed down by Treasury Board, when a figure is finally determined. The latter scenario is what actually happens.
Mr. Lang: For the purpose of the Alaska Highway maintenance, our figures show that there was $10.4 million voted, and there was a lapse of $628,000. I assume that was to December of last year. It would seem to me that the Department of Highways would prepare a budget that would adequately meet the requirements for the maintenance of the highway. We are planning on $10 million, but how much money does the department need in order to maintain it to the standard that we have? Surely we must have those figures.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Of course we have those figures. Firstly, there is a maintenance system that can be fitted into any particular highway to determine exactly what the costs of maintenance are going to be, depending upon traffic flows and the standard of highway, et cetera. All of those figures can be easily regurgitated. I have been dealing with the reality of the situation for the past little while, with respect to the real dollars that we can realistically expect from the Department of Public Works. Those are the dollars that are affecting the budget. I would not bring something forward that I did not think was in the ball park of the realm of possibility. That is what we have been pursuing here. Certainly, Highways and Maintenance knows exactly what it would take to maintain the road to the standard that we maintain the Klondike Highway to, or any other of our major highway systems. If the Member wants a precise figure, I can have it tomorrow, in terms of what is necessary to maintain the road. Clearly, we have been facing the situation where declining capital and declining O&M have resulted in declining maintenance on the road - not only on the routine maintenance but also on the cyclical maintenance, the maintenance such as surfacing the roads, which causes even further deterioration of the roads and has caused us to have a look at the existing BST sections, which are suffering from undue wear and tear. This has caused Highway and Maintenance to look at the safety factor and to determine seriously whether or not, in order to maintain the roads to a safe level, they should be returning the roads to gravel. Yes, those are all things that have been considered. It is very easy to determine exactly what is desirable. That is not what we based this budget on; we based this budget on what was attainable, not what was desirable. What was attainable, minus what we think might be $70,000, is what we show on page 56 of the Estimate book.
Mr. Lang: We have heard the Minister stand up in a number of public forums - not only this one - and describe to the general public how we are not getting enough money from the Government of Canada to maintain the highways. I am taking that as the gospel from the Minister, assuming that to be a truth. My question here is, I think, a very simple question: what do we need? You have budgeted $7.9 million. Do we need $8.9 million to adequately keep the road maintenance up to the standard to which we have become acustomed to - or is it $9.9 million? I find it ludicrous that you have to go back to your department to find out. I am not asking you to give me a list of how many times a grader is going to go across the highway. Surely, you as the politician, as the guy who is supposed to be in charge, should know how much, in a ball park figure, that you need to maintain that particular highway. I do not understand how you can stand up in this public forum and run down the Government of Canada and not know how much money you need. It just does not add up to me. I would like to hear what the figure is. How much money are we short?
I know it is late, and the Minister has apologized to us earlier, but I do not understand how he can stand up and criticize somebody and not give the facts off the top of his head.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I realize the Member is probably feeling bruised at not being able to stick up for the federal government, when the federal government is so clearly in the wrong.
As I have indicated in this Legislature many times, the purchasing power under the old agreement has declined 38 percent. It was considered to be an appropriate level of funding back in 1982-83, before the cuts started to occur. That is the reality. So, you take the existing budget and add 38 percent to get back to the old purchasing power. You will figure out exactly what it ought to cost to maintain the highway to a decent standard.
The Member for Porter Creek East suggests that it is poppycock. That is not poppycock at all. There has been a real decrease in the purchasing power from levels that were maintainable under the same systems and criteria as we used for all the roads in the territory. That was an acceptable standard then; it is an acceptable standard now.
The real purchasing power has decreased by 38 percent. That has to tell the Members what the decline has been and what it takes to restore it to levels that are supportable and sustainable. The Member stands up and says that, because there is not a hard figure in this budget book, which is supposed to deal with reality and what we can really get, somehow all the information he has received in the past is suspect. That truly is poppycock. I do not know what the Members motives are in terms of trying to protect the Department of Public Works in this instance. I realize it is bruising; I realize it is embarrassing for the Conservative party, but it is nevertheless a reality that this territory has had to face over the course of the last few years.
What we are dealing with in this budget book is what we have, and we are going to make the best of it and try to maintain the road to a safe standard, irrespective of the budget cuts. This is what we expect we can get; this is what we will use. If we get more to restore the funding levels to a standard that is more appropriate to the rest of the highway system, then we will maintain it to the standards that all Yukoners expect.
Having said that, I move you report progress on Bill No. 50.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Porter: I move the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have the report from the Chairman of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Webster: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 50, Second Appropriation Act, 1988-89, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chairman of 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 9:29 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled April 18, 1988:
Information regarding the Community Institutional Services Project (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 204
Additional information regarding the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (Kimmerly)
Oral, Hansard, April 4-13, 1988
The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 18, 1988:
Government Contracts, 1987-88 fiscal year, by number (Kimmerly)
The following Documents were filed April 18, 1988:
Yukon Land Claims: Map of 1988 Teslin Land Selection (Phelps)
Current Land Inventory for Sale (March 11, 1987) (McDonald)
Lands Transferred from Federal Government Since May, 1985 (McDonald)
New Land Inventory for Sale in 1988-89 (McDonald)
Regional Resource Road program: 1987-88 Funding Assistance (McDonald)