Tuesday, December 12, 1989 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed with the Order Paper.
Introduction of Visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to welcome to the gallery today some interested visitors from the grade 11 Social Studies English class from F.H. Collins School, with their instructors Joyce Ward and Sue Langevin.
Speaker: Are there any Returns or Documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have for tabling a Legislative Return in response to questions raised by the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Mr. Nordling: I have for tabling a task force report entitled We Need Someone to Talk to - Yukoners Views on the High Rate of Suicide in the Territory".
Speaker: Reports of Committees.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES
Ms. Hayden: I have the honour to present an interim report from the Standing Committee of Public Accounts.
Mr. Brewster: I have a 20-page petition to save the gold panner on the licence plate.
Speaker: Introduction of Bills.
Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers.
Notices of Motion.
Statements by Ministers.
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
Paper Conservation and Reduction within Government
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I rise to inform the House of initiatives we are undertaking to reduce the use and the wastage of paper within the government - far be it for me to suggest that there is not any. As well, I would like to outline to Members the environmental conservation initiatives being undertaken to reduce the use and wastage of paper.
The conservation initiatives are underway to help demonstrate the economic feasibility of good environmental behaviour and management. These initiatives provide us, as a government, with an opportunity to reduce our consumption of paper and to illustrate the importance of the four Rs of conservation. These are: recycle, reduce, recover and re-use.
In the recycle category, we are: testing the use of recycled bond papers for use in government photocopiers, printing presses and laser printers. The results will help us identify which of the several different types of recycled papers are best suited for government-wide use. So far, it looks very promising. I hope we can convert fully to using recycled paper for photocopying and printing within the next few months.
Secondly, we have approached our envelope manufacturers about replacing our kraft envelope inventory with a Canadian-manufactured, recycled envelope paper. Again, we are looking at the costs and the availability of this new recycled envelope stock.
Thirdly, we have started to use recycled paper in our government books, brochures, posters and other commercially-produced, printed materials. The Queens Printer has identified a number of recycled paper types suited for use in publications that are being used for a number of government projects. As more types and styles of papers become available in the marketplace, we will increase the scope of this initiative.
In our program to encourage reduction of paper consumption, we have purchased a number of photocopiers that will provide departments the ability to copy on both sides of the paper. Although two-sided copying is not new, the technology has improved to the point where it is now practical for smaller volume machines to be used. As an added benefit, we are realizing reduction in waste or damaged paper and staff time in making photocopies. In addition, our Queens Printer in-house, quick-print operation automatically will print all material on both sides, unless the client department specifically indicates otherwise.
In the recovery area we are working with the Yukon Conservation Society to develop a program to collect waste paper to be remanufactured and recycled. To determine the viability of shipping waste paper out for recycling, we hope to start to collect paper from selected offices early in the new year for transporting south. If successful, we will expand this initiative to other offices.
And finally, we are taking steps to re-use paper. We have established a pilot project with the moving companies to test the feasibility of using shredded waste paper as packing material.
Two local retailers are interested in using our waste paper as a packing material. We will be supplying them with this material in the next few weeks.
We are investigating the feasibility of using waste paper as a heating fuel at Yukon College.
As you have heard from this brief outline, we are actively pursuing a wide range of initiatives to make better use of our paper resources. Yukon is one of the leading jurisdictions in the country in this area. I look forward to reporting back to the Legislature on the results of our tests and the start of our new initiatives in the future.
Speaker: This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions regarding the Watson Lake sawmill, in particular about the hastily-conceived sale of the mill by the Yukon Development Corporation to Yukon Pacific.
The Minister responsible keeps talking about Shieldings. He seems to want to distance himself and his government from TF Properties and its principal, Barry Ferguson. Will the Minister tell us who negotiated the sale agreement on behalf of the so-called Shieldings group? It is not true that Barry Ferguson was the spokesperson and the one who put the deal together on that side?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot state with certainty the names of the employees or agents of Shieldings throughout the transactions. I can tell the Member that, in the two meetings I had with principals of the company prior to the sale, I never met Mr. Ferguson. I dealt with Mr. Willis, his vice president Mr. Chatom, and one other gentleman whose name and rank in the hierarchy of that corporation I do not remember at this moment, but which I can report to the House later.
Mr. Phelps: Did the Minister realize, when the deal was concluded, that Shieldings group is different from the company, Shieldings, in that Shieldings group is a consortium made up of at least Shieldings itself and TF Properties?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am pretty sure we knew they were going to involve other people. The people with whom we were negotiating were the principals of the Shieldings group. As I have indicated to the Member opposite, we took all prudent steps to check out that company in terms of its financial viability, reputation and dealings and operations in other parts of this country.
Mr. Phelps: During the Ministers meetings with the Shieldings people, was he aware that a company known as TF Properties was going to be managing the mill and would be a shareholder, with Shieldings?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member may recall that, in the final stages of the negotiations, I was otherwise engaged. I believe the people to whom the Leader of the Official Opposition refers were very apparent in the closing stages of negotiations. I was not personally aware of any of the personalities being referred to by the Leader of the Official Opposition, and I had not personally met them.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: The Minister for the Yukon Development Corporation continues to say, in answer to questions in this House, that the governments concern is that the company, being Yukon Pacific, operates in a way that meets Shieldings obligations to the Yukon Development Corporation, including payment of the bills to Watson Lake creditors and bills of employees of Yukon Pacific.
I submit that Shieldings is not under any obligation to pay bills owed by Yukon Pacific to Watson Lake business people. Am I correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think even the phrasing of the question suggests a court room style, and the Member is asking me for a legal opinion. Let me give him a non-legal opinion as to the obligations of Shieldings and its agents. It is our understanding that Shieldings and its agents have those obligations, and it is our intention to see that those obligations to employees and creditors are met.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister table the agreement, or the portions or clauses of the agreement, that makes Shieldings Inc. responsible for the bills of Yukon Pacific Forest Products?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I will take notice of that question. I will table a statement of facts in response to the question put by the Member.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: I further submit that Shieldings is not under any obligation to pay bills owed by Yukon Pacific to employees in Watson Lake. Am I correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Normally, in a court of law, lawyers submit, but in the House, Mr. Speaker, Members normally ask questions of policy.
In terms of the arrangements that we have made with Shieldings, it is our understanding, and our very firm conviction, that they incurred certain obligations to their employees and creditors when they entered those arrangements with the Development Corporation. They stated at the time, and subsequently reiterated, that they share the objectives that have been stated here about the purposes of that operation. We have every intention of seeing those obligations met from our point of view. We will take whatever steps are necessary to do that.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister table any agreement, or clauses from an agreement, that imposes an obligation on Shieldings to pay bills owed by Yukon Pacific to employees in Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It seems to me that that is a variation of the earlier question put by the Member. Again, I will respond by saying that I will provide the House with the facts as we know them in terms of their obligations.
Mr. Phelps: I submit that Shieldings can walk away from the sawmill with no further obligation to Yukon Development Corporation or the business people in Watson Lake, or the employees in Watson Lake. Am I correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: It is not clear whether the Member is making a representation or not, but I do not think he is asking a question; he is again asking me for a statement of opinion, which I cannot give, especially if it is a legal opinion. Again, I can only reiterate that Shieldings has certain obligations to us, to the people of Watson Lake, to the employees of that mill and to the creditors. It is our intention to see those obligations met.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: The Minister responsible, and his government, have drawn a cloak of secrecy around the whole transaction. There are people in Watson Lake who are owed bills by Yukon Pacific. They extended credit because of statements made in Watson Lake by the government, and by the Minister responsible. I submit, and I ask the Minister: does he not have a responsibility to lay before the public the actual documents that led to the obligations he keeps talking about? Does he not have an obligation to do that?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think the Member is again reiterating an argument he made before, which he knows to be specious. As a lawyer, he knows that I cannot disclose, under any situation, private information about a third party without that persons consent. There are commercial confidences that must be respected.
Information on the arrangements between us and Shieldings has already been provided to the House and will be provided to the Public Accounts Committee according to an order of this House. The Member opposite knows that the Auditor General has been through every single document concerning these arrangements and there is no cloak of secrecy at all. There has been nothing but conventional arrangements in a commercial transaction.
Mr. Phelps: I have been asking for various documents both in the House and in writing for some time now. This will proceed to court.
I disagree with every statement the Government Leader makes. What he is doing is hiding a deal from the people of the Yukon. Innocent individuals got trapped into becoming creditors because of statements - puffery - made by the Minister responsible.
Will the Government Leader lay before us and the people of Watson Lake the agreements, or clauses in the agreements, that impose any obligations whatsoever on Shieldings to pay bills incurred by Yukon Pacific?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is the third time the question has been asked, and I said I will provide to the House the facts that I can.
Let me respond again to the preamble. In one breath the Leader of the Official Opposition said he is going to court and in the next breath he asks a question. There is a fundamental contradiction there because he knows if he had gone to court already we could not even be discussing this matter in Question Period. He then goes on to say I have a moral obligation to pay the bills of anybody who has any financial or commercial transactions with this government. There are hundreds of businesses in this territory that have arrangements, or have received assistance, or have entered into contracts with this government. Nowhere in any Legislature in the country would any serious person suggest that somehow, as a result ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member complete his answer.
Question re: Workers Compensation Board office building
Mr. Brewster: My question is to the Minister responsible for Workers Compensation.
In May 1988 it was revealed that the Workers Compensation Board was considering building an office building in Whitehorse to be built to meet a projected growth for approximately 20 years.
Can the Minister advise the House if this project has been approved and is going ahead?
Hon. Ms. Joe: It is my understanding that the Workers Compensation Board has proceeded with plans to go ahead with the building.
Mr. Brewster: Can the Minister advise the House if is still the intention of the Workers Compensation Board to rent extra office space to other government departments and agencies, as well as to the private sector?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The information he is seeking is not before me. I have spoken to them with regard to the building and understand there will be accommodation. I will have to bring that information back.
Mr. Brewster: Does the Minister believe it is fair for the Workers Compensation Board to rent out office space in competition with the private sector, using money collected from businesses in the form of contributions to the employers?
Hon. Ms. Joe: The Member is asking my opinion. I believe that the Workers Compensation Board has developed a plan whereby the office space they are planning will be built in a manner that is acceptable to all people involved.
Question re: Radar sites
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Government Leader on the proposed radar sites on Komakuk Beach and Stokes Point.
Almost one year ago, in January, 1989, the Government Leader, Mr. Penikett, said, the negative impacts of putting these stations at the former DEW Line sites ought to be minimal. That statement appears to most to be in support of these new radar sites.
On November 28 in Whitehorse, hearings were held by the Department of Defence to discuss the plans to build the two short-range radar stations. Did the Government of Yukon make its views known to the Department of National Defence at those meetings held in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: We all wonder at the Member opposites capacity to continue to try to misrepresent the positions of the government. The position of this government was that we were opposed to building a site on Herschel Island, the first territorial park. The position of this government was that we wanted to have hearings on the subject. The position of this government was that we wanted to see what the response was to those hearings before we assessed our final position on them and, when Cabinet has decided the question, the position of this government is that we will make our views known on this question to the federal government before it makes the final decision.
Mr. Phillips: Is the Government Leader telling us that the Government of Yukon has no position on radar sites in north Yukon and is going to wait until it hears from the various interest groups from all across northern Canada before it takes a position?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: No, I did not say anything like that at all. If the Member were listening, he would know that.
The Government of Yukon has substantial concerns about environmental impacts and impacts on wildlife habitat and populations. In the same remarks he was misquoting earlier, I believe those observations have been conveyed to the federal government. It is exactly around those issues that we will want to factor in the input from local citizens, along with the analysis of the Department of Renewable Resources, before we make our position to the federal government final.
Mr. Phillips: I should point out that I should not have to apologize for that misquote. The quote actually came from the Government Leader to one of the local media. It is a quote right from the Government Leader. He was the one who made that statement.
What kind of deadline are we looking at, as far as determining what the position of the Government of Yukon will be with those proposed sites? When is the Government of Canada planning to start construction on those sites, if they do get approval?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: My memory does not serve me correctly as to the absolute deadlines. I am sure the Member knows, since he is asking me to comment on quotes in the media, that that is totally out of order according to the rules of our Question Period.
Leaving that aside, let me say that we will be responding to this matter very soon. All citizens of this country may well wonder about the continuing usefulness of these sites, given that the end of the cold war seems to be almost upon us. Some of the meetings that are now proposed to take place in Ottawa early next year, between the NATO countries and the Warsaw Pact countries, may lead to a substantial demilitarization both in our Arctic and in the Soviet Arctic, and I am sure that is what all people of good will would want in this country.
Question re: Arts centre
Mr. Lang: With respect to the arts centre. As you well know, the arts centre was given a fair amount of scrutiny as far as the plans were concerned. It was then tendered out this past year and, subsequently, was not approved because the tenders came in too high, according to the government.
It has come to my attention that there was a meeting in the last couple of weeks between the government and the board, and there were recommendations from the government that some aspects of the complex be scaled down.
Can the Minister of Government Services confirm whether that is true or not?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will take the question, because the arts centre is my responsibility with respect to the design and the consultations with the Arts Canada North people, who are liaising with Department of Education and Government Services officials with respect to the design. The meeting did take place to review the design to determine whether or not there were any cost savings that could be managed before the project is retendered.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister confirm that such things as the orchestra pit, no seating in the balcony, and that a new roof is being designed for the complex in question?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: There were a number of items discussed, including some of those. No decision has been made, to my knowledge, on a final design that would incorporate all the features before it goes to tender. That decision will be made shortly so the final design can go to tender.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister report to this House whether or not Arts Canada North agrees with the proposed revisions that the Minister does not seem to know much about?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I do not think the Member knows much about the issue either. I certainly do know the meeting did take place and a number of proposals were put forward with respect to design modifications that could be made to ensure that the potential design is as low-cost as is reasonably possible.
The design will be discussed further with Arts Canada North. We have always cooperated in the past and sought their consent. We would like to see an arts centre built that meets their specifications, if we can. That is the objective. When we tender in the future I am hoping we will have their agreement.
Question re: Education act
Mr. Devries: I have a question for the Minister of Education.
I received the draft copy of the education act with great anticipation, although I have not had much time to study it in detail. I see several new major initiatives being taken by the department.
Other than the education hotline, what is the Ministers next move for public consultation now that the draft has been released to the public?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: As I indicated to the Education Council on Saturday, the government will not only ensure that every person who made a representation in the past will have a copy, but all Indian bands, councils, territorial agents, libraries and interested groups will receive a copy of the draft act. Following that, department officials will meet with every school committee, Indian band, major interest group in the territory and every group that expressed itself on the subject of the draft education act over the course of the next month. At that time the raised provisions will be discussed thoroughly.
Following that there will be a drafting committee struck to review any changes prior to Cabinet approval and prior to coming into the Legislature.
Mr. Devries: When does the Minister anticipate the final copy to be presented in the House? Can he assure us it will not be put off until fall?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: It is my intention that the act not be put off until the fall. When exactly it will be dealt with will be discussed with the Leader of the Official Opposition when we discuss the spring sitting. I am certain we do have the time to finalize consultations, do the necessary internal reviews, and then see the legislation in the spring sitting. That is the goal and I think it is an achievable one.
Mr. Devries: Does the Minister plan to tour the territory between sessions to conduct some consultation?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Yes. I have been doing a lot of personal travel within the territory over the last two or three years, and the last year in particular. Certainly I will take what time I can to continue consultations with many interest groups, school committees and Indian bands who expressed great interest in the final product.
Question re: Mental health
Mr. Nordling: I have a question to the Minister of Health and Human Resources with respect to mental health. On November 21, the Minister announced that his department is conducting a review of counselling and mental health needs in conjunction with the Department of Education and National Health and Welfare Canada. I would like to know what form the review is taking, and if there will be public consultation.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I believe the initiative that I announced on November 21 was among a number of initiatives that related to counselling services and the development of a long-range mental health strategy. I believe the review that we were doing was an internal review conducted by, and among, a number of governments and agents. We are not at this point contemplating a process designed to either duplicate the Suicide Task Force of the Members opposite or a full-scale review of services that would be something like the child care initiative, or the initiative taken on family violence by my colleague, the present Minister of Justice.
At this time, while we are talking about transferring services, it is very important for us to have a catalogue of the services that are now available and to talk about how we can work together in the interim to determine exactly what we have and what the gaps are. That is what our need is.
Mr. Nordling: I am not clear as to whether the Minister was saying that review has been completed or not. If it has not been completed at this time, when will it be completed?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not sure we have a hard deadline. I have not received a completed review yet, and I believe that it would take some time to complete. I would, however, be happy to take the question as notice and communicate either in this session or between sittings, as to the expected date of completion of that project.
Mr. Nordling: This question is on a related topic, although not exactly mental health counselling and review of needs. I would like to know when the mental health act will be tabled in the House.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The act is in draft now. At this point, we are in some final consultations with professionals involved in the field. My hope is that I would be able to table it and present it to the House very soon.
Question re: Emergency number 911
Mrs. Firth: My question is for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. It is with respect to the emergency 911 number. Almost two years ago a motion with respect to establishing a 911 number was brought forward by the Opposition to this Legislature. The Minister-of-the-day said in a ministerial statement that it was under active consideration and indicated a political willingness to proceed with the establishment of the 911 number. Now, this Minister, in response to a question I asked about the 911 number, sent me a letter citing several reasons why we cannot have a 911 number in the Yukon Territory. I would like to ask the Minister what has prompted the change in the willingness to proceed with this.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I thought that my extensive communication to the Member would have clarified that point. The work that was done by my department in investigating the application of the 911 number revealed a fairly costly exercise with a minimum of benefit to Yukon people. I think the letter outlined, in some detail, those financial and service reasons why I adopted the decision not to proceed any further.
The Member may recall that the motion called for the government to investigate the installation of the number, and that investigation was done.
Mrs. Firth: The government is either rejecting the idea because of where it came from, or it is not a priority of theirs to help people in trouble. I would submit to the Minister that this is not a minimum benefit to Yukoners. To understate this as minimum benefit to Yukoners is not correct.
In the Ministers letter, there is nothing about setting priorities. It was simply a letter indicating all the excuses why something could not happen. There was nothing there about why it could happen or any of the benefits.
Is it simply a matter of money? Is it the price tag on it that has made this government decide this is no longer a priority with them?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In addition to a rather lengthy letter, which I believe was several pages long, I provided the Member with a report of the work done by the department. The Member is acutely aware of the substantive reasons why I made the decision that the existing service is quite adequate, and I resent the suggestion by the Member that this government is not concerned about providing services to people.
We have emergency measures in all communities, and it has been proven, through that report, in addition to the cost factor, that the services currently provided in many of the communities far exceeds what would be provided by 911, because 911 is a centralized method of sending all trouble calls through and delays time for response. That is what the report showed, and that is what my letter explained to the Member. There was very substantive and calculated reasoning behind the decision.
Mrs. Firth: I would like a new question but, just for the Ministers information, I never received a copy of any report.
Question re: Emergency number 911
Mrs. Firth: I have been doing some checking, and I want to be quite reasonable about this. Right now, the number of emergency calls that are handled by all the emergency services in the Yukon are as follows: the firehall fields 380 to 390 calls a year here in Whitehorse and 94 in the communities; ambulance services fields 1,000 to 1,100 emergency calls in Whitehorse and 600 to 700 in the communities. The telephone operators at NorthwesTel field 2,400 emergency calls a year, and the RCMP field 13,000 emergency calls a year. That is over 1,000 calls a month.
Surely the Minister can see some need to ...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the question.
Mrs. Firth: Yes, I will. ...some need to coordinate those efforts. Also, children understand and are familiar with the 911 number, and it saves lives.
Would the Minister reconsider his decision, and go back and see if they could implement it in a planned stage, where perhaps they could start with it in Whitehorse, as other cities in Canada have done, and look at proceeding to the communities once it has been established in Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I indicated to the Member in private correspondence, substantiated by considerable research into the subject, we already have the provision of those emergency services in our communities now. The Member cites a number of statistics relating to the number of trouble calls. At this point, I have no way of verifying the accuracy of those, so I will not comment on them.
As indicated in the report, the price tag of $750,000 per annum, in addition to the simple fact that we have those services already provided, did not justify the creation of this additional service, which, I repeat, in some instances has proven to take more time in response action.
Mrs. Firth: The price tag was $550,000. I will find that money for the Minister in his budget. A priority for us is not glossy new licence plates, not order-in-council appointments for committee people...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please get to the question.
Mrs. Firth: I will take a new question.
Question re: Emergency number 911
Mrs. Firth: It is not a priority for this side to have new licence plates; it is not a priority to have order in council appointments to look after boards and committees; it is not a priority of this side that the land claims negotiator has a paid holiday.
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the question.
Mrs. Firth: He is complaining that they are exercising fiscal restraint and he cannot find the money. I will find the money for him. I will find the whole half-a-million dollars, which was the price tag cited here. It is a priority on this side that people who are in trouble be helped.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member get to the question.
Mrs. Firth: Will the Minister reconsider this denial of a service to the public of Yukon, go back to his department and look at ways this emergency 911 number can be implemented in the Yukon, instead of looking at 15 excuses why it cannot?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I beg to differ with the Members allegation that the service is required. We are currently providing that service. Why would we want to put another $500,000 or $600,000 into a service? Through a detailed study that has been done and provided to the Member and substantiated by the reasoned arguments that I have given her why we did not proceed with this expenditure, I fail to see why the Member is even calling for this additional expenditure to be provided in excess of a service already provided.
Mrs. Firth: Surely the Minister is more reasonable and can understand the situation. He is supposed to be an intelligent man. We have new people who come to the Yukon and they have to learn three or four different numbers to call in an emergency situation. It has been proven all over the country ...
Speaker: Order please. Will the Member please get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: ... that children can save lives because they are familiar with the 911 number. Surely that is a service that Yukoners can benefit from.
Will the Minister please go back to his department in the interest of helping people in trouble in the Yukon and look at a phased approach to establishing the 911 emergency number?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Every community in the Yukon has a procedure for dealing with emergency response. People are familiar with those procedures. Creating a 911 number, when proven that it does not improve the service, would be ludicrous to implement at a price tag of $500,000 or $600,000.
The Member is not making a reasonable argument.
Mrs. Firth: This Minister has not proven that the 911 system would not save lives. He has not done that. The approach he is taking is absolutely irresponsible. I want him to prove to this House that having the 911 number here would not save someones life. It saves lives.
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member get to the supplementary question.
Mrs. Firth: I want a commitment from the Minister that he will re-examine the position this government has taken ...
Speaker: Order please. I have asked the Member to get to the question.
Mrs. Firth: I am asking it. With all due respect, I was in the middle of asking the question: will he go back and reconsider and report to the House?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is being melodramatic about a wastage of expenditure that I have already indicated through my correspondence and report to the Member is not warranted. I took that as an initiative of my own to provide because she expressed the interest. That study, and that argument, and that correspondence from extensive work done, indicates that the 911 number will not provide a measurably-improved service level to the Yukon.
Question re: Emergency number 911
Mrs. Firth: If I may? One more question. Will the Minister table the report in the House tomorrow?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will investigate it. I stand to be corrected, but I believe I provided it to the Member. I will undertake to table the report.
Question re: Hootalinqua North Plan
Mr. Phelps: I have questions with respect to the Hootalinqua North Plan and particularly about issues raised in a certain letter to the Minister from the Yukon Livestock and Agricultural Association. The livestock association points out that it is extremely unusual in a public consultative process to find the proposed plan has not been changed to reflect the wishes of the residents in the area. It also states that it perceives the government as being inflexible in its position and may be working from a hidden agenda.
Can the Minister tell me if the government is inflexible about the plan and is working from a hidden agenda?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have had an opportunity to review the letter from the president of the YLAA and have to express some surprise at the alarmist allegations in the letter. I have to tell the Member that the allegations are unfounded. As the Member is acutely aware from having attended a number of the public meetings earlier this summer in the Hootalinqua area, I expressed a sincere commitment to address the concerns of residents. I have been doing that.
The unfortunate aspect is that it has taken longer than I had anticipated. I originally planned to come forward by September with a response to the plan. I have now deferred that to the year-end because of the need for consultation to address those very concerns that have been repeatedly raised and do not meet with approval from area residents. At the same time, I should tell the Member that the consultation has required communications with the bands involved and with residents involved, and the president of the association attended a meeting on the subject as recently as two weeks ago.
Mr. Phelps: I understand it was that very meeting that prompted this letter because there were no changes to the draft after all this consultation. In this letter, the association supports a thorough district plan policy review and recommends that a working group be appointed to undertake a review and have the power to change the plan. Will the Minister be accepting these recommendations and establishing such a group?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The suggestion that government is either inflexible or has not responded to the plan is entirely premature, simply because I have now reviewed several versions of response, options and proposals to put forward. I am in the final stages of that determination as to what precise approach to take. The suggestion put forward by the association in the letter is not an unreasonable one. We have to address more detailed planning. Aspects of the report are clearly objectionable to some. The suggestion of the association to create something of an umbrella group, feeding into more detailed regional planning groups, makes good sense.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to turn this into a new question.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I will always remember this moment.
I move Mr. 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
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will have a brief recess.
Chair: I call the Committee to order.
We will continue with Central Services. Community and Transportation Services on page 21.
Bill No. 13 - Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90 - continued
On Central Services - continued
On Non-Recoverable Legal Survey - continued
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps Members will permit my deputy to join me on the floor again.
The amount under Central Services consists of several smaller items and one larger one. The large one is the cost related to the excavation and removal of the garbage dump at Granger: $168,000. That exercise was undertaken this past year and was not budgeted for.
Additional amounts relate to: engineering work on roads at Pelly Crossing; our portion of the waterfront commission, $16,000; our land information system overrun, $18,000; and several other smaller items made up the total of $170,000.
Mr. Brewster: You have $168,000 for removing garbage. I do not understand how that is a legal survey.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That was the garbage dump and the PCB removal from the two lots where it was identified as intense.
Mr. Brewster: It is under a funny heading: moving garbage and PCBs under legal survey.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises a valid point. My notes covering this section refer to it as non-recoverable central services, meaning an administrative component of anticipated jobs unpredictable in amount. I would hate to suggest that there is a mistake in the budget book, but the term more appropriately ought to be non-recoverable central services as opposed to legal survey.
Legal survey should relate to the next line item.
Mr. Brewster: I would suggest to the Minister that it makes it hard for people off the street when headings do not correspond with what the money is spent for. It makes it hard to figure out what is going on.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate that. I have to admit to the Member I did not notice that in my preparation. I hope we do not repeat the mistake.
Non-Recoverable Legal Survey in the amount of $270,000 agreed to
On Planning and Engineering
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That was work we undertook in Ross River this year that we did not anticipate at the time the budget was set. It is the Ross River community plan. It is a single item and it cost us $25,000 to complete a predevelopment analysis for the community for future development.
Mr. Lang: Where was the balance of the $250,000 spent?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $250,000 is made up of central services photography and mapping, which would be the mapping requirements for lands, in the amount of $100,000; cottage lot planning for $50,000; and $100,000 for planning various sites, which would relate back to the development projects we outlined earlier.
Mr. Lang: The Minister stated earlier that one of the principles under the development of lands was that we recovered the money for any venture that was undertaken by the department. A number of years ago, we allocated $75,000 - or it may have been more spread over two years - for surveying in the Elsa area. Did we recover those dollars? If the Minister cannot tell me today, I would like an accounting by the department of the money that was spent for the last four or five years there and whether or not we have recovered the money. If we have not, where has the money come to pay for it all?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In principle, land development costs are recoverable. When you are going in to plan a subdivision, your engineering costs for that subdivision are identified with the subdivision and recovered. You are often faced with incidental general planning relating to an unincorporated community that is not a recoverable item, so it will show up as a cost to us in a separate line item.
In the case of the previous line item, where we were asking for an additional $270,000, none of that was recoverable. I suspect that planning and engineering is also not recoverable, as it is identified as a line item. As I indicated, the additional amount required here was for community planning, not lot development. I will undertake to answer the second part of the Members question after researching it more fully. I do not know the answer now. We would have to go back into the records.
Mr. Lang: I appreciate the response that he did not know the answer. I would like that information when we go on to the main estimates. I would like to know where the dollars are coming from to pay for them if we have not recovered them. Are they being written off or paid out of general revenue, or are they strictly on the books as outstanding debts?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I understand that the Member is seeking a general statement of policy as to what the recoverable costs for land development are. He cited the Elsa area as a specific area. The Member indicates he would like that clarified. I would appreciate knowing just exactly what I am looking for.
Mr. Lang: I want to know what the normal policy is. Money was voted by this House for certain things to be done in and around the community of Elsa, and Keno City I believe. I recall a figure of $70,000 or $75,000 voted. I wondered at that time whether or not we were going to recover those dollars. It is one thing to spend it and another to get your money back.
Did we receive those monies back under the policy on lands whereby we recover the costs?
Planning and Engineering in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
Lands in the amount of an under expenditure of $270,000 agreed to
On Community Services
On Public Health & Safety
On Water Supply, Treatment and Storage
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, the $118,000 is made up of several items. A couple of them are revotes of job completions from the previous year. There was $15,000 to complete a three-bay garage in Old Crow. There was a revote of $110,000 for water and sewer improvements in Old Crow. In Carcross there was a revote of $16,000 for the water supply pumphouse, the water redesign in that community. There was a reduction of $60,000 for the well development in Upper Liard, and a reduction of a pumphouse project in Old Crow for $50,000. There are a number of revotes offset by reductions in cost.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister give us a list of what was actually done out of the $1,888,000? We find different projects have and have not been done. We are dealing with supplementaries and I would like to know what we have done with the $1.88 million.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have no problem with providing the information, but I believe it was provided in the spring in the original budgeted amount of $1,700,000. All the projects would have been listed. I have just described how $118,000 is being sought. It is being provided by some money that is being injected through a revote, which was not known at the time of budget preparation, and some money is being reduced, either by the cancellation or the reduction in scope of the project. That is what I have just described here relating to the $118,000. It is a revote of money to finish the Old Crow garage job; it is money related to water and sewer improvements; it is money related to revotes in Carcross for the pumphouse and sewer predesign work, and a reduction in a couple of other projects, namely Liard and Old Crow pumphouses. I do not object to relisting the projects entirely. Does the Member still wish it?
Mr. Lang: Just as long as we have assurances from the side opposite that the balance of the money was spent where it was supposed to be spent according to what we were told last spring. If you are moving other money around and balancing off other projects, I would like to know that. If so, I would like to know why.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can assure the Member that the balance of projects for the vote remains constant. They were either on budget, or not appreciably different from the numbers stated. What I have just described for the $118,000 is some reallocations respecting what amounts to four, five or six projects here. I can repeat the projects overall.
Water Supply, Treatment and Storage in the amount of $118,000 agreed to
On Water and Sewer Mains
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Similar to the previous line item, the projects remain the same as listed in the spring. The $241,000 that we are seeking approval for is made up in this fashion: $65,000 was revoted from the year previous, and it is revoted because at the time of budget preparation you do not know if the job is going to be complete. If you do not quite complete the job, you do not want to abandon the funds, you move them forward into the next year and complete the job. The $65,000 was revoted to complete the pipe, water and sewer project at Haines Junction. There was an additional revote of $46,000 for completion of design work to the water and sewer project at Mayo. At the same time that that $46,000 was revoted, we brought $200,000 forward from the next year, which, in our subsequent budget debate, will repeat itself because it will show where the $200,000 was drawn from in next years budget.
An additional $40,000 was required in Mayo to complete work that was partially offset by a reduction of scope of the sewer job in Teslin in the amount of $110,000. Combining those series of numbers, there is a result of $241,000 being required.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister tell us what we had budgeted the $200,000 that he spoke of for and not done?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $200,000 I indicated was being brought forward was a second phase of the Mayo water and sewer project.
Mr. Lang: In the next breath, there was $40,000 allocated to complete work in Mayo. What was that work?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $40,000 was for fire-flow improvement, which would be increased water-pumping capacity. The Mayo water and sewer project was the project undertaken with the band, for a total cost of $546,000.
Mr. Lang: Are those contracts for that project he speaks of publicly tendered?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: No.
Mr. Lang: Could the Minister do some quick calculations for me? I do not think he will be able to provide it to me today, but could he please provide it to me in the main estimates? How many jobs were done over the course of this past year that were not publicly tendered, either with organizations or bands? I would like the amount of money and the jobs that were done.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am already providing that to the Member. He was asking for service contracts we had entered into, and I have initiated that. In the effort being exerted, that would be quite easy to produce by the time of the mains.
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of $241,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That $15,000 is essentially the net result of two items. A sewage pit design and construction at Ross River came in $35,000 under budget. However, $48,000 was expended to support a wetlands feasibility study for Teslin, with the net result of a $15,000 expenditure.
Mr. Lang: You mentioned Ross River. What was done there?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The original budget for the sewer pit design and construction at Ross River was budgeted at $50,000. It cost us $15,000, so it came in well under.
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of $15,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This amount is made up of revotes entirely. Again I remind Members that this was the status as of the end of July. It could very well change again before year-end given the nature of these particular projects. The Tagish dump is a revote of $54,000. The Carcross dump/sewage pit is a revote of $74,000. The Golden Horn dump revote is $77,000. All three of those are revotes and, to this point in time - albeit the budget having been drawn in July and it now being December - are not done. The short answer is that they are not done because of an inability to reach agreement with residents on a site.
Solid Waste in the amount of $146,000 agreed to
On Mosquito Control
Mosquito Control in the amount of an under expenditure of $10,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Emergency Measures in the amount of an underexpenditure of $26,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Most of that $208,000 is revoted from the year previous for completing jobs, one of which is the critics favourite project: the Destruction Bay firehall revote of $99,000. There is the Haines Junction fire alarm revote for $24,000, Beaver Creek/Carmacks fire alarm system revote of $25,000, Teslin fire alarm system emergency repair for $40,000, and several other smaller amounts. The Member will probably ask me if all of these jobs are done as of this instant. I will have to seek advice.
Mr. Brewster: I am not going to ask him that at all. I would suggest that I think the Minister realizes, as I do, that there was a little hanky-panky in his department. It started out with an ambulance bay, then we got into a training room, then we went back to an ambulance bay and a few other things. Nobody could adjust to this and, all of a sudden, we did not have any money to put in doors. We were going to make mickey-mouse doors. Then we find out that the contract for the ambulance bay was issued long before the training room contract.
Although the Minister will not agree with me here, I think there was a bit of hanky-panky going on in the bureaucratic system.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am pleased to accept the compliments for a job well done from the Member.
Fire Protection in the amount of $208,000 agreed to
On Ambulance Service
Ambulance Service in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Hazardous Waste
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I so anticipated this item that I placed my notes where I would not forget them. As Members know, $100,000 was originally budgeted in this item. There has been $78,000 added to the program. Of that, $25,000 is a revote from what was in the previous years budget, and $53,000 has been reallocated from other projects. In that respect, it is not new money for the government.
The $178,000 is for the various program components that I had announced some time ago, the program that calls for the public participation process through the special waste advisory committee that has been put in place. I could undertake to provide Members with the anticipated break-out for the expenditure of the $178,000, now that that is the new portion of the budget.
There is $41,000 cost anticipated to develop the management regime for the program, as well as policy development. That is for consultant fees, the wages for the hazardous waste coordinator that has been identified, and for the cost of the steering committee.
Program development and coordination is expected to cost us $55,000 for the duration of the fiscal year.
We expect to spend $52,000 in site selection and $30,000 in completing the inventory of special wastes throughout the Yukon. That accounts for the $78,000 total.
Mr. Lang: Could I have a further breakdown of the $41,000? He said consultant fees, hazardous waste position and the committee. Could I have a breakdown on those three components?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have those detailed numbers handy at this time. I certainly can undertake to provide that detail in the mains. The project will be resurfacing next year. I will undertake to provide this years numbers then.
Mr. Lang: We are going into December and the committee was created in November. I believe they have met once. Now I see you are indicating it was twice. I do not understand why we would have an inflated budget like this when year-end is not far away. Where are we with the special waste inventory?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The inventory work should be completed for internal review and the review of the committee by December 20.
Mr. Lang: Do all Members get a copy of the results of the report?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will have to take notice on that question. I say that only because the nature of the inventory being conducted is fairly thorough and detailed. It may not be in the public interest to release aspects of it. I am talking about where we go into private businesses and tally special wastes that may be in storage or contained. I have to take some advice on whether this ought to be released publicly. I will take notice on that and get back to the Member.
Mr. Lang: I would like to pursue that since this is the publics business. I would submit to the Minister that if there is difficulty, the owners of such waste, in that particular case, do not necessarily have to be identified.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Members suggestion is not unreasonable. It may be conceivable that we can release totals but not identify all locations, or identify those locations that are not infringing on a private interest. I certainly need to take a little more advice on that aspect of it but, on the face of the issue, I have no problem with releasing that kind of information publicly.
Mr. Lang: The Minister outlined $55,000 for program development. Could he tell us what that means?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the general sense, that could well involve the anticipated fees for some consulting work. As we develop our hazardous waste program, in terms of how to address waste management in the Yukon, we will no doubt be looking at other jurisdictions; we will be looking at some draft policy work. There would be some public education costs related to the dissemination of information. Essentially, it is anticipated costs related to work that will bring policy forward and will require a substantial amount of research and technical expertise.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister mentioned something about some site selection work having been done. Could he tell us if there are proposed sites that have been chosen and what the options are?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $52,000 identified as a portion of the $178,000 is for site selection. No sites have been selected. It is a job that is going to be done under the direction of the branch, the coordinator and the committee. I have directed that I want some options to choose from by next summer, so clearly they are going to have to bring in some expertise that is going to be able to address what possible sites there may be around the territory. It may not be one specific site; it may be several. The direction that I have given is that it must be outside of communities and outside of municipalities. The Members familiarity with the whole issue of hazardous waste will tell them that a number of factors have to be considered. You have to look at potential environmental impact; you have to look at transportation access; you have to look at the security of such a site. It is going to take some expert assessment to come forward with sites that may be used for more permanent facilities than the numerous interim and temporary ones we have now.
Mrs. Firth: Does the Minister mean the summer of 1990 or the summer of 1991?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will not quibble with the Member. I will clarify what I meant. I meant the summer of 1990. If that means this summer to the Member then so be it. This summer to me means the summer of 1989.
Mrs. Firth: Where is the Minister planning to store hazardous wastes that he is examining and researching? Is he planning to store them in the industrial area, or are the businesses going to keep them until the summer of 1990, or does he have something else planned? What does the Minister have planned?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is a very reasonable question. It is part of what the committee has been struck to do: provide advice on what ought to be done with those special wastes that exist in storage or are in active use. We are not prepared to take the responsibility until we have a facility for the collection and storage of special wastes. That is going to hinge on existing legislation and direction of EPS as to whether any of those special wastes have to be moved between now and the time when we have a facility in place.
I certainly have no intention of assuming responsibility for relocating private interests special wastes. We will have to take it on a case-by-case basis until we have a facility, in a similar manner we had to take for the ballast removal.
On my last count, there are eight or nine interim storage facilities in Whitehorse, and several in the rural areas. I expect that some of these facilities could take some additional waste if the need and urgency arises. Certainly, it is not my intention to take charge of special waste from the public or from the private sector and try to store them. If we are faced with an emergency we will have to deal with it with what we have.
Mrs. Firth: Has the Minister directed his department to communicate with the provinces that are presently using the services of the portable waste disposal units that are moving across the country? Has there been any communication? What is the plan for the long term?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is the mandate of the committee, not just to address the storage capability of Yukon to handle its current quantity of special waste, but also to address the destruction of those wastes.
As the Member can appreciate, the exercise is a very broad, complex and potentially very expensive one. I understand some preliminary discussions have taken place between the department and the permanent facility in Alberta in the original stages of this program development and committee work. They indicate they are quite prepared to take special wastes and, particularly, PCBs, for destruction at this time. That is going to be explored, but it does require some time and effort, and that is what the committee is directed to do. It will be done through the efforts of the expertise that is being made available to it and the coordinator, who is directing matters. The coordinator is just in the recruitment stage right now and is expected to be hired within a month, or perhaps even weeks. That person will assume coordinating control on behalf of the department in conjunction with the committee and, ultimately, provide the advice that this government needs to address this fairly substantial issue.
Hazardous Waste in the amount of $78,000 agreed to
On Roads and Streets
On Road Upgrade
Mr. Brewster: I presume these roads and streets are also in the municipalities. Does this government pay for these? I looked in the recoveries and there are no recoveries from these roads. Does that mean that is a grant given to the municipalities? I thought the government put the paving on the streets and then recovered from the municipalities, but I do not see any recoveries here.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member is referring to the BST crew that goes around to the communities, that is all recoverable funding. It is a direct charge to municipalities where it is done, but it is not a recovery in an unorganized community. If we did BST in Ross River, it is not recoverable; it is a cost item. In Watson Lake, it would be a recoverable, because we are doing it on behalf of the municipality. Is that the Members question?.
Mr. Brewster: I am presuming that means the Japanese pavement also, and the road upgrading. If you have done any municipalities, there is no sign that you have received any money back under your recoveries section. I understood the municipalities had to pay it back to you. Why is it not in the recoveries section?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This portion of the budget deals with the BST that is being done. That is not recoverable. It is the work that is done in unorganized communities. It would not show up as a recoverable.
Where the money shows up as a recoverable for work done for municipalities that pay us for doing the job is on the transportation side, so rather than record it under community services, which deals with unorganized communities - non-recoverable - the Member would find recoverable money on the transportation side for the recovery from Watson Lake for the work done there, for example.
Road Upgrade in the amount of an under expenditure of $286,000 agreed to
On Recreation and Community Facilities and Services
On Recreation Facilities
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can provide detail of the $650,000 for Members. The Burwash Community Centre had a revote of $130,000 to complete the centre. There was an additional $23,000 cost overrun on the job for a total of $153,000. The Carcross Recreation Centre required an additional $50,000 to complete work that was begun in 1988-89, so it is additional work, not an overrun.
I am sorry; I correct myself. The $50,000 to the Carcross Recreation Centre was to complete work, and it was a revote.
Additionally, the Old Crow skating rink required $37,000, which was also a revote from the year previous. There was a revote on the Ross River Community Centre for $134,000 and an additional cost totalling $385,000, so the difference between $134,000 and $385,000 would be $251,000, which would be additional money. There are several smaller amounts for a final total of $658,000.
Several of the smaller projects are: Beaver Creek recreation plan, which cost an additional $10,000; Burwash community plan cost $8,000; Tagish community hall improvements cost $27,000. Those are the smaller ones.
Mr. Devries: Is that the total amount?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The numbers provided ought to have been very close to $658,000.
Mr. Devries: They did a lot of work on the Watson Lake Arena this summer. Has the government contibuted anything toward the repair, toward putting the cables in that are holding it together underneath the cement? They spent $150,000 or $200,000 on that this summer. My understanding was that the town approached Community and Transportation Services to fund a portion of that as that was part of the original agreement when the arena was built. There was a structural flaw in it and they suggested something at the time and that was done and it did not work.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I recall the case the Member cites, and I dealt with it in Watson Lake and subsequently by correspendence with the mayor and council. The short answer to the Members question is no, we did not provide any additional funding. The justification for that was essentially that the municipality had the capability, through block funds, to meet that cost requirement. Additionally, at the time of block funding implementation, extraordinary funds were provided to all municipalities to provide for projects that were considered to have been in transition. That is, the Yukon government may have assumed a certain level of responsibility in the original construction, often on a 90/10 cost-sharing basis, and to provide for any costs associated with those previous projects, all municipalities received extraordinary funding over and above the capital block formula funding. All of that was explained to the mayor and council and it was left at that.
Mr. Lang: I think there is a misconception here. The extraordinary funding was not meant to offset the costs that were incurred for the skating rink in Watson Lake. The extra financial agreement that was struck with Watson Lake when it became incorporated was primarily because of the expansion. They were taking on added expenses as a municipality. There were also dollars allocated to help them, over a period of time, to replenish their fleet of vehicles. It was not intended, nor was it ever intended, to offset costs such as those incurred for the arena.
I know what happened with the arena, as I was sitting over on the other side. It was a cost-shared project between the Government of Yukon and the municipality of Watson Lake.
The Watson Lake LID had not been incorporated. The point with the municipality was that there was a flaw with the building. We knew it was there, but thought it could be arrested with some work done at that time. There was an understanding that we would be prepared to sit down and discuss some extraordinary financial arrangement for the facility because there was onus on YTG because of the way the project was financed and delivered.
That message was conveyed to the Minister. I want to verify in this House that that was the arrangement at that time. I do not know what correspondence is on file, but there was an understanding reached with the community of Watson Lake, and there is an obligation on behalf of the government, I believe, to work out an arrangement on the financial situation. It was not considered as a package for the purpose of incorporation nor the transfer of block funding.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate the Member sharing some detail on the project because it was dealt with at some length by me, the department and the Watson Lake council. I believe the Member is somewhat confusing block funding with incorporation status as a municipality. At the time of incorporation there was to my recollection a number of financial adjustments and commitments generated by the Member, when he was Minister, and those commitments have been honoured. One of those commitments was payment for a new fire truck, although there was some dispute over the level of funding for that truck.
With respect to the skating rink, again it is my recollection that there were financial commitments made, and met by, this government toward the required testing for instability of those particular pillars. Also, there was a financial commitment through block funding to provide the municipality the opportunity to pay for any additional costs related to the facility.
In the case of the Watson Lake pool and skating rink, having reviewed the record and financial commitments made and met, I took the position that this government did not have any financial obligation on either of those projects. The government has fully met its obligations and will continue to meet its obligation through block funding to provide the community ample opportunity to make decisions on its own about how to spend their money.
Mr. Lang: I would like to follow this through a little further. If the Minister checks the record, he will find that, as far as the arena was concerned, we, the Government of the Yukon Territory, cost-shared the actual engineering report on the facility and what could be done at that time on a 50/50 - if not higher - ratio in recognition of the YTGs responsibility. At that time, there was a commitment made by the government-of-the-day that if there were further troubles they would sit down and be prepared to negotiate a financial arrangement to ensure that that structure would meet engineering requirements. When the report was made out, we took the first recommendation and tried it because it was the cheapest of the recommendations. There was an understanding, though, that if that did not work out we would take further steps in conjunction with them to rectify the situation.
I want to submit to the Minister that if you are going against that and relying on the principle of block funding, it is contrary to the obligations that were incurred at that time by the government, and you are not honouring the obligations of the then government and the then council. If I recall correctly, I believe the present mayor was on council at that time. There are still a number of those Members around from when those discussions were taking place. It is not a question of people making this up as they go; it is a question of some of the actors still being involved in the play and giving their version of the events as they unfolded. That is what did take place from my recollection and actions, as far as being responsible at that time for that facility.
About the swimming pool, I cannot comment one way or the other. I do know there are obligations with respect to the arena, and the Minister should be prepared to sit down and discuss it with them.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, I appreciate the Member sharing his knowledge of historical detail of the projects there. I know that, over the course of the summer and fall, I spent some considerable time reviewing the documents provided, in some case by the municipality, in part by the department. I recall spending a lengthy time meeting with the Watson Lake council and a full consultation with my department. I did not treat the issue of government commitments lightly.
Following the thorough review of documentation and listening to Watson Lake council presentations, my conclusion was that we had met our obligations. At the time commitments were generated, the existing legislative authority and financial commitments were honoured. I maintain that the Member cannot dismiss block funding as not relevant to the matter. Watson Lake gets $1 million through its block funding per year, and those funds are able to be used by the municipalities as they choose. Those expenditures can be incurred on a number of infrastructure projects.
The legislative base for financial authority and commitment changed in 1986 and 1987, and provided a stronger commitment to communities for financing various projects.
I repeat that at the time block funding was instituted, a discretionary fund was provided to municipalities so they would not be faced with any burden that may arise from previous infrastructure developments.
I communicated that position to the municipal council and have not heard anything back so I assume that the matter is dealt with fairly and closed.
Mr. Devries: I will check my correspondence and perhaps will raise it again when we go through the mains.
Mr. Lang: I would like a good cost reporting on Madison Square Gardens in Ross River. My reliable sources tell me we may be applying for an NHL franchise up there. How much money have we spent in total on the arena and the community centre?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps I could quite legitimately suggest that we break for a few minutes and I will provide a copy of costs related to the Ross River arena to date. That will provide focus for a healthy discussion. I am sure the Member, in his interest to promote the facility as a hockey franchise, and in his Re/Max capacity will be more than delighted to discuss these numbers. I only have one copy.
Mr. Phelps: Can we finish off the capital expenditures and then come back to this issue before we break?
Chair: There are about three lines.
Recreational Facilities stood over
On Rural Electrification
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The amount is substantial. It is largely due to the simple fact that the program has received tremendous response. We front-end finance the installation of electrification and recover the cost of that through a tax-rate charge, so it is entirely recoverable; $203,000 of that $769,000 consists of a revote from a project begun in the previous year. It is more like $566,000 in terms of new money. The revote is $203,000.
I believe it is the Marsh Lake telephone installation. That is my best information.
Mr. Lang: Does this also include Hendersons Corner?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member wishes, I can provide a list of all the projects that are being provided. It is not too difficult to provide. I am told that a portion of Hendersons Corner is included in the actual distribution.
Mr. Lang: I would like to get into an area of policy in respect to a line going into the subdivision from the highway. Who paid for that, and from where were those monies recovered? I assume that is a general policy of YTG. If that is not built into the cost recovery, then other areas could apply and be serviced with their electrical needs. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not entirely familiar with the details surrounding Hendersons Corner. The brief advice I have is that part of the program identified in this vote paid for the distribution within the subdivision, and that the main line extension was not. That was the responsibility of the electrical company and, in this case, it would have been Yukon Electrical vis-a-vis the Yukon Development Corporation.
Mr. Phelps: I take it this policy will be applied to other similar situations, such as Deep Creek and Lake Laberge, whether or not it is an election year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have to advise the Member I am not totally familiar with the details surrounding the question. Developers are responsible for bringing power to the subdivisions they develop, whether that is the Yukon government or a private developer or anyone, for that matter. The development costs would include the cost of power to the development. In this particular instance, the development was in place. As we do in Granger, the entire cost of bringing power to that subdivision, including the main line and distribution, is part of a charge assigned to development costs and is recoverable by land sales. I do not know if that answers the Members question.
Mr. Phelps: We have quite a number of areas in the Yukon that are similar in each and every respect to Hendersons Corner, all of which want electrification. One that jumps to mind is Deep Creek on the Mayo Road.
That line goes out to Mile 10 with seven miles between where it ends and the subdivision at Deep Creek. If Hendersons Corner could get the benefit of the main line being paid for to the subdivision then surely Deep Creek is similar and ought to receive equal treatment under a government program. That is my point. Residents there are quite prepared to pay the distribution costs once the line is as far as Deep Creek.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member raises fairly legitimate questions. I would like to take notice and provide something in writing or separately to the Member. I am not entirely familiar with the policy as it applies to Yukon Electrical and the program. I have indicated my understanding of the application of electricity to subdivisions, and I would like to further research the issue he raises. Perhaps I can take this opportunity to circulate the information on the community centre that I had promised earlier.
Mr. Phelps: I will look forward with great interest to the written response. It is important to note that the Northern Canada Power Commission used to supply Dawson with power. So it would be Yukon Energy who paid for it, which is part of Yukon Development Corporation, if anybody paid for it. It would be either that or the government. The residents only paid the distribution costs once the main line got to Hendersons Corner.
Mr. Lang: Could we have a total breakdown of dollars spent on Hendersons Corner, and if some is not being recovered, who is paying for it? How is it broken out?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Certainly. I would be pleased to provide the costs associated to this program. They are part of this line item.
Rural Electrification in the amount of $769,000 agreed to
Mr. Lang: Is it true that there was an attempt to get a well dug for the centre? It went approximately 400 feet and was a dry well? If that is so, how much was spent in the effort to try to find water?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The total cost related to the well drilling this past summer is $40,000. The Member is quite correct on that score. I am not sure if he asked a further question.
Mr. Lang: Is this the total amount that is going to be spent here: the $248,900 plus the $31,700?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, that is the intended final expenditure for the facility.
Mr. Lang: Does that include any other expenditures in any other departments, vis-a-vis the library and all these other things, or is that over and above the costs of books, chairs, furniture, and all those kinds of things?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: This is the capital cost of the facility. It does not include any program-related costs for the various facilities that are included in it. As Members are aware, there is a community association office, which would be furnished and further serviced by the local community. There are two circuit court offices in the facility, for which I am sure some desks and chairs would be provided by Justice. There is a community library. There would be the transfer of existing library facilities to it, with perhaps some more additions. I cannot speak to that.
There are two classrooms and an office for a community learning centre in the facility. Of course, besides that there is the entire arena facility. It is a fairly multi-community complex. These are the capital costs to bring that facility onstream, ready for full use occupancy, as intended. There are no further anticipated costs.
With respect to the water service for the facility, in light of the dry well, we have installed a holding tank, which is detailed in the figures. There may be some future water-drilling costs. That is something I am leaving until I have an opportunity to review the needs for the community, particularly education. There has been some discussion that a well located farther away from the arena would have a much better chance to hit water at a reasonable level and could service the school and the community centre. That is a decision I have not addressed and will probably investigate over the next year or two.
The facility is now complete, ready for use and occupancy, and there should not be any further expense.
Mr. Lang: I may stand to be corrected, but I always thought when we tendered out for the purpose of a school, we included in the tender and the overall project cost the cost of desks and all the various other things that are needed to make the facility usable. I did not realize that we would be going into other departments and hiding money by charging the desks here, and charging the books here; there is no real cost accounting for the whole building.
For the purpose of the main estimates, could the Minister provide the total cost of the finishing-off items, i.e. of the circuit court rooms, and finishing costs that are being attributed to some other part of this budget or the new budget coming up; secondly, the costs of the desks and various other things that are required for the community learning centre; any other aspect of the building; and if there are capital costs incurred by other departments. I would like all those accounted for.
Further, I would ask that there be a total cost accounting of what the projected ongoing operation and maintenance costs are going to be to the Government of the Yukon Territory for this facility. I want that for all departments that are involved, as opposed to having it broken down, so we can see what this total facility is going to cost the territorial taxpayers.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is asking for a little much, to put it bluntly. I am not going to do it. The Member is asking for the detail of chairs that Justice is going to provide, the classroom space that is going to be facilitated from existing facilities in the community. He is asking me what the community association itself is going to do for putting seats up to change skates. Come on. The Member is asking for far in excess of what is reasonably expected. The facility is complete; it is ready to move into, and I do not ask for any client to provide me with what they are going to spend to make a place habitable. I am sorry. The Member is asking for a bit much that he is not going to get from me.
As I said, the facility includes a community hall with kitchen facilities. Does he want me to tell him how much the coffee pot cost that the community association bought to put in the room? The Member is being ridiculous. His questions are bordering on the lunatic, and I am not going to be providing it.
Mr. Lang: Who the hell is bordering on the lunacy? We are dealing with an item here that is now costing $2.5 million, and it is still not finished. We started out with a facility that was going to cost $500,000. The Minister has the audacity to stand up in this House and say he is going to deny the public the right to know what the total cost of this facility is going to be. He has a responsibility. If the money is hidden in Justice, if the money is hidden in some other department, he has the responsibility, since he is the Minister of Government Services, to get those dollars together so that we know what it cost.
Chair: Order please.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member wants those figures, he can go and ask the Minister of Justice for them. I am not going to be providing them. The Member for Re/Max, who thinks he knows everything about building and construction in this territory, has something to learn, that you do not necessarily have to provide client contents to a facility when you provide a facility. The building is finished. It cost the amounts cited on the sheets I have just provided. It is ready to move into. The Ross River community is going to be moving into it.
Chair: Order please. We will take a break.
Chair: I call the Committe to order.
We will continue the debate - constructive debate - on Recreation and Community Facilities and Services: Recreation Facilities, $658,000.
On Recreation Facilities
Mr. Lang: I just want to follow this up a little bit further. Could the Minister make this undertaking that he will give us a full costing of projected O&M costs for a 12-month period on what it cost for this building, between rental costs and whatever costs we incur as far as YTG is concerned?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My memory may be clouded by earlier debate but it seems to me that I provided that to Members both in the spring and recently by letter. I can provide the most up-to-date O&M figures in relation to the operating budget that has been proposed for the facility. They do reflect that the facility will generate a net revenue in operations.
Mr. Lang: Will those figures include the rental fees from the various departments?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The figures are quite comprehensive in terms of detailing rental revenue from participating branches of government and other users. In fact, if the page would undertake to make copies, I could circulate them immediately.
Mr. Lang: I want to assure the Minister that I am not looking for costs of a coffee pot or anything like that. I am asking for overall significant costs of such things that have to be provided in order to open the building, as the Minister indicated, that were not provided in this list, which they normally are. For example, if we decide we are going to go ahead with the school, the cost of equipment is a cost of the project. That is what I was looking for in this particular area. If the government has made the decision to split the requirement for this equipment among other departments, could the Minister then identify which departments they are, then we could ask the specific Minister who could be forewarned that we would require those particular items identified for us when they get to their budgets.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is acutely aware that I provided him with a detailed breakdown of the capital cost of the facility, which makes it complete, finished and ready for use. The various branches of government that will be using it and the community interests that will be using it are going to do so with a facility that is ready for occupancy. In the case of, for example, the community learning centre, I am sure they will be transferring their existing equipment and supplies to the new facility. They may well not even have any additional costs.
The same may well be true for the library as well. I am certainly not in a position to provide operational costs on top of these capital costs that have been my obligation. If the Member is giving notice to any other Minister for any additional costs they may incur, coffee pots included, then so be it. I have provided to the Member substantial detail relating to the cost of the facility and I resent his attempt to generate additional costs by suggesting that program costs be added to the capital costs for this facility.
I have already indicated to the Member that the facility is a completed arena with floors, lighting, plexi-glass spectator protection, two change rooms, a lobby area, washrooms, and a heated viewing area. There is a 4,000 sq. ft. community hall with kitchen facilities. There is a community association office, two circuit court offices, a community library, two classrooms and an office for a community learning centre. A number of those areas will be looked after by the community association.
I heard on the radio today about the official opening of the arena. There seems to be considerable pleasure at the facility that is provided to the community.
I see the O&M figures for the facility are in circulation. I look forward to further questions.
Mr. Lang: I want to follow up a little further on this. I am not asking about various equipment that will be transferred from within the community. Are there any further capital costs to be incurred to put the programs in place? Will there have to be cabinets and things to add to the library that are over and above this budget? That is all I am getting down to. If those types of costs are being incurred by the department I think we have a right to know. Perhaps the Minister could clarify for me if these things are being done by the other departments. Are further capital works having to be done by other departments to get those rooms to a standard they need to use them? If so, is it being identified in their budget?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To maintain the discussion constructively, I can tell the Member I have not undertaken to determine what costs any department may incur in moving its quarters to the facility. What Members have before them now are costs related to rental for their usage. As I indicated, a good portion of the facility is the responsibility of the community association. The facility is now completed. It is ready for occupancy, and I have not undertaken, nor do I feel the responsibility to undertake, the leasehold improvements or costs associated with the facility now completed for the community.
Mr. Lang: This leaves us to ask the other Ministers. I hope the Ministers of Justice and Education are listening. If they could provide us with any capital costs that have to be incurred for the purpose of moving into the building, I would appreciate it.
Along with that, I notice in the operating budget that we have a proposed operating budget of $38,931 and expenditures of $36,460. Are we financing, over and above this, the cost of running the arena, vis-a-vis the cost of wages for an individual to take care of the arena through some other program, or is this all inclusive of the cost of running the facility, including the arena?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The figures provided on the two sheets to the Members detail the cost of operating the facility, as the physical structure goes, and include the revenues generated from the use of that facility. The actual management of the facility is the obligation of the community association, which is in charge of this. This is their budget for running the facility.
I might point out that we would provide to the community the same opportunity provided to all communities toward management of the facility, and that is provision of our recreation directors grant to the amount of $12,000. That one program can be tapped into for the management of the facility and sports, arts and recreation programming for the community. I believe the program is such that we provide up to 50 percent, or a maximum of $12,000. I am sorry, it is 60 percent, or $12,000.
Mr. Lang: Am I led to believe that has been applied for? If you take a look under expenditures, there is very little money being identified in the $36,000 for the purpose of wages for the facility. You have janitorial, some contract work for operation and maintenance, and water delivery.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I indicated, the figures provided are the budget for operating the facility. It is correct that managing the facility would require a person. It is correct that we would provide up to $12,000 for such a person and, yes, it is correct that the community association has applied for that funding.
Mr. Lang: I take it that with what we have been provided here, over and above the obligations of YTG, we would be providing in the neighbourhood of an additional $12,000. It seems to me that this particular budget is not the total cost of running the facility. It will not run by itself. Somebody has to be there.
Are we to conclude that with the revenues that YTG is providing, except for $2,000, which brings it down to $36,931, an additional $12,000 would be added on through another YTG program? So we are up to about $48,000 or $49,000 for ongoing O&M costs provided by YTG in one way or another.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is not totally accurate. To this point, the community has not had a recreation director. They have applied for funding for one and that is now being dealt with. I should point out for the Member that he cannot arbitrarily assign $12,000 that we may give for the position of the director to the cost associated with the arena, because any management of the arena that would fall under the responsibility of this director would only be a small portion of the entire job. The responsibility of the director is the entire field of sports, arts and recreation for the community. His responsibility toward any management associated with this arena is yet to be determined. There would be the portion of time spent to oversee what is happening with the arena. The community association has undertaken the responsibility for the management of it, and they may well provide a part-time arena position through their own funding. Only a part of the director position would be applied to the arena. That is currently in a discussion stage in program development in the sense that the community recreation director is being defined and program development is taking place.
The $12,000 that we provide under our directors grant cannot be correctly applied to the management of the arena.
Mr. Lang: My information is that there is already somebody hired for taking care of the facility. It could be through the community club. What is our total commitment through various programs? Are we providing funds to the community club to help offset the costs of the individual who has been hired? The Minister referred to a part-time position through the community club. Are those dollars available through YTG?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To the best of my knowledge, the entire costs of operating the facility are laid out on these two sheets.
These are costs that are assigned for running a facility, and the contribution that we would be giving toward the facility. Additional monies that are provided are for the recreation director, of which a portion probably will be management of the arena. For the majority, it will be management of programs in and for the community. Additional monies that are provided to the community are the same kind of monies that are available to any community. They can apply for community development funding, but that may not be related to the arena at all. They can seek additional funding through various sources, but there are not further funds that are being directed to the arena, to my knowledge. These are the true operation and maintenance costs and revenue.
Mr. Lang: There is a correction to the record here, so that we get it clear as far as what this is projecting. The point I am making is that there are other monies through other government programs that are being utilized for the purpose of offsetting costs for the running of the arena. The Minister has already indicated there is one program that is over and above it and not seen in this particular expenditure side of the budget, and that is the recreation director program. Also, there are dollars being provided through other vehicles for the purpose of going into the community club. That is the point I am making. This is not a true and concise picture of what the actual facility is costing, unless you take it all together and say we have prorated everybodys time, and this is the actual expenditure in a 12-month period.
Perhaps down the road, in a six-month period, the Minister can provide us with those figures and have a better handle on it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not know how much more light I can shed on the matter. The costs provided here are a true reflection of the actual operating costs of the facility as we can best determine. The revenue shown here is the best guesstimate we can provide for what money will be generated by use of the facility. Of the additional $12,000 I mentioned, we have already clarified that only a portion of it would go toward the management of the arena. That would be program money. That is not the facilitys cost. I have shown facility costs here.
For example, on one of the pages I provided to the Member, near the bottom of the revenue side of the budget, 30 percent of the Community Recreation Assistance Grant is shown, which is being provided to the revenue side of operating the facility. The community is eligible to get the balance of that for programming. They could well do some of that programming in the community centre, because that is a very logical place for some of the activities to take place. In that respect, there is programming money the community has access to, and they may use the facility for the development and implementation of that program.
As for any additional costs related to the operation of the facility, these are the best determinations of those costs. These are the sources of revenue for the operation of the facility, recognizing the community association does have access to program money in a couple of separate instances. I have cited one, which is the director grant, and I have just pointed out the Community Recreation Assistance Grant for programming. On that budget, there is a $2,400 surplus. They can turn around and use that in some fashion in the arena. That is at their discretion.
They are the managers and will make the decisions.
Mr. Lang: Do we have five- or 10-year leases per square foot on the rentals?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The agreements are in the final stages of being signed; they are five-year agreements.
Mr. Brewster: I received a letter on November 22, 1989, asking for various capital costs in arenas. The Ross River Arena came out at $2,520,000. Yet the information given today is that the arena finally cost $2,489,000. The revenue, according to the letter, was $43,166 and this paper says it is $38,931. The expenditures were $41,960 and you say the expenditures were $36,460 with a profit of $2,471. In my letter they made a profit of $1,106. Can somebody explain to me why there is a discrepancy?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure why there is a variance. I would have to conclude that the figures I tabled today are more up-to-date than the ones provided at that time. There is only between two and three thousand dollars difference. He raises a valid point, and I will double-check why those figures are slightly different. They do consist of the same listing of things and have obviously been more refined for tabling today.
I should point out that he is correct about the cost of the community centre being $2,489,000, but if he looks on the first long page I have provided, there is the additional $31,000 itemization relating to over-budget items including the water holding tank.
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $658,000 agreed to
Mr. Brewster: Just before we clear the total, I would like to see if the Minister would like to correct the statement that he made on December 11. Mr. Byblow said, If the Member recalls, one portion of one of the roads was a roadway constructed to a former CN repeater site so there was a fairly substantial trail in there to begin with.
The CN tower is still there. It is one-half mile from Kusawa. Where Mendenhall turns off is at least eight miles from there. I am wondering if the Minister was even in to Mendenhall.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I stand corrected on where the trail leads to. It may have been a military installation from some time past. I assumed at the time, and was told by a resident, I believe, that it led to a NorthwesTel tower.
Mr. Brewster: He is still missing my point. That tower is still in effect. I do not care about that. If you go up that road, you are nowhere near the Mendenhall subdivision.
It is at least eight miles down the highway toward Haines Junction. That is not the road to the Mendenhall subdivision. That goes up the mountain to the microwave, which is still in effect. The road is kept open every year so they can get there.
Was the Minister there when he said he was there?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Member is suggesting I was not at Mendenhall, he is totally erroneous. I have been at Mendenhall a couple of times. While I drove through the subdivision, I saw that one of the roads had been installed previously for an earlier purpose. I was led to believe it was to a microwave installation. I did not travel to the end of it, so I cannot substantiate where it led to. I stand to be corrected in terms of where the road led to, but I was in Mendenhall and I travelled on one of the roads, which was a previously-installed road. That was my only point. If I have erred in the detail of description about the purpose or original source of that road, I apologize to the Member.
Mr. Brewster: Number one, you do use three-quarters of a mile of the old Alaska Highway. They would have made a big circle there when they improved the highway. That is the only piece of the road where there is a ditch. If you went up the microwave one, it would be ditched all the way, because that is kept up and looked after by NorthwesTel. The only ditching on the road into the Mendenhall area is the three-quarters of a mile that you are on the old Alaska Highway.
Closing it off, I would like to hand these pictures over to the Minister to look at them. Sometime, in the near future, he can tell me if he thinks that is a minimum standard road, and I would like the pictures back in two or three weeks.
Mr. Devries: If I may, could we go back to recreational facilities. I have those letters from the town of Watson Lake now, so we can get that completed.
Chair: Is there unanimous consent?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: The Member may proceed.
On Recreation Facilities - reopened
Mr. Devries: I would like to read the last paragraph that Mr. Lang wrote in this letter.
With this in mind, upon reviewing your letter and the circumstances surrounding the arena and remedial project, I am prepared to maintain this governments commitment to fully fund the tying of the arena footings together, if and when it should be found necessary to do so.
He goes on,
In return, however, the town of Watson Lake would assume the full cost of putting that pad between the community centre and the arena.
Originally, this project was budgeted at $90,000. I believe when the town undertook the project this year, it was somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200,000. The Minister, in his response of October 13, 1989, goes on to talk about the capital block funding. In the last paragraph, he seems to indicate that the repairs resulted from a desire of the town to eliminate a maintenance problem. Yet, in the Reid Carruthers assessment, they indicated that, in the present state, the building is governed by foundations that have insufficient capacity to resist the lateral forces produced by a lot of snow.
I still do not understand why the government does not feel committed to pay at least the $90,000 that was promised by my colleague.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My letter is self explanatory. In the discussions I have had with the municipal council I made it quite clear about block funding. The commitment that was made by the government to assist the community in providing adequate funding to repair the facility as necessary has been met. The simple fact that the municipality of Watson Lake gets $1 million through block funding for their discretionary use is fulfillment of the commitment.
I do not have my files handy, but I am quite comfortable that this government has honoured its commitment. Watson Lake has not faced any onerous burden in its obligation to repair the facility, and my letter says so.
Mr. Lang: Since I was involved at that time, I want to begin in historical terms so the Minister understands what happened. This correspondence has refreshed my memory. When I was the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, Watson Lake had to be one of the best communities to deal with because they were more than prepared to shoulder their responsibilities and exercise their authorities very judiciously. They were very easy to deal with. I am sure the Minister finds that today. They believe in going about their business, doing it properly, and going to the senior government for help, but overall they make their own decisions.
There are a couple of things in here that I think the Minister has to take into account. In the initial conversations, the Minister indicated that if there was a commitment made by the previous government he was very concerned that it be honoured.
That is one principle. It was very clear that we had made a commitment as a government, because of the circumstances surrounding the construction of that building, that we would assume the responsibility for the cost of tying in the various pillars if it was required.
What took place was that there was an alternative provided. In the letter that the Minister has on file it is clear that it cost something like $43,000, as opposed to $90,000. The community of Watson Lake could have grabbed the $90,000 at that time, but instead said that the less costly route was a more practical approach. All it wanted was a caveat that if it did not work then YTG would sit down and cost share the costs. As it turns out, they made a mistake. They should have grabbed the $90,000. Being responsible, they decided that they would try this approach first to try to save taxpayer money.
That was obviously the principle behind it. There was an extraordinary obligation on behalf of the government that no matter what financing was available, this was a project over and above any block funding and that we would assume certain responsibilities over any other normal capital project because of the circumstances.
I would expect the Minister to honour commitments made by the previous Minister. I would honour commitments made by the now Minister if the reverse were to occur. I am saying there was a clear commitment made. I thought it was just made verbally and was quite surprised to read the correspondence and see how clear it actually was. It could not have been more clearly stated. It states, With this in mind, upon reviewing your letter and the circumstances surrounding the arenas remedial work project, I am prepared to maintain this governments commitment to fully fund the tying of the arena footings together if and when it should be found necessary to do so.
That is a very clear commitment on behalf of government. In view of this information, I would ask the Minister to reconsider his letter of October 13 and be prepared to sit down with the committee in Watson Lake to see if he can renegotiate some extraordinary cost sharing with respect to this particular facility.
The Minister raised the question of the swimming pool and I have no comment on that. I know nothing about it. I do know there was a commitment made about this and would tell the Minister, with respect to the principle that commitments were made by the then government that they should be honoured. There is an obligation to sit down with the community of Watson Lake to see what can be worked out.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before I respond to the Member regarding Watson Lake, the pictures that the Member for Kluane provided me on Mendenhall roads are vivid pictures of a very severe condition of a road. It is my understanding that this is precisely what $21,000 was spent repairing this summer. Technically these pictures are not valid as the current condition.
The Member can correct me if I am wrong.
With respect to the issue at Watson Lake, I do not disagree for an instant that a commitment was made to assist the community of Watson Lake in the repairs associated with the arena. I have reviewed the correspondence that was signed by the Minister of the day. I have reviewed the additional documentation surrounding the project.
What the Member has to recognize is that a commitment was made under the existing financial authority and legislation of the time. The Minister-of-the-day was perfectly within his authority to say that if the facility required further repair, because we cost-shared the original development, we feel an obligation to participate in that additional repair. Everything is perfectly in order for the time it was made.
I recognize that commitment, and I do not treat lightly that this government would shirk a responsibility or a commitment. I made it clear to the municipality that, through the block funding process, that commitment was honoured. In the first instance, when block funding was introduced, discretionary funding in the amount of $1.8 million was provided to communities for projects that had any carry-over responsibility. I do not specifically recall what Watson Lake got, but it would have been a healthy portion of that.
Through block funds, we gave the opportunity to municipalities to have discretionary funds available to them to provide for infrastructure development as they chose, whether it was new facilities, restoration of old facilities, or for 10 percent of that fund to use for operational requirements.
The commitment made to Watson Lake to assist with the repair of the skating rink was, thereby, honoured, that Watson Lake got approximately $1 million in its first year, and a similar amount in subsequent years. This was discretionary funding, not earmarked for anything. At their discretion, they could use it as they chose. Because we operated under a new circumstance of financial authority, which was different from the operating authority of the time when the previous Minister made the commitment, we could not operate under identically similar rules. The changed rules provided for the original commitment to be met in the funds that were provided.
I suspect the Member and I will disagree over whether the commitment is truly honoured. I believe it was, by the provision of discretionary funding at the time of implementation of block funding and by the block funding itself. It gave Watson Lake both the ability to pay for the repair of the facility, at no onerous difficulty to the municipality. They are in a fairly health financial position, much healthier than in the time of the Minister because of block funding.
With respect to the Member, I have carried on his commitment to ensure Watson Lake was financially able to meet the obligation of the repair for that facility.
Mr. Lang: The Minister is missing some of the points. The discretionary amount of money provided to Watson Lake was in the neighbourhood of $189,000. That money was earmarked for other known facility upgrading that had to be done. At that time, they were under the impression that the two concepts had been accepted. First of all, they thought the arena had been fixed, and second, if it had not been fixed, they thought there was a commitment by the previous government that there would be some financing made available to rectify it. I do not think the letter sent by the government could have been clearer, unless it was written in blood. In this letter we said we would pay for whatever it would cost because of the engineering errors that were made.
I recognize the block funding and the changing times. I am not asking the Minister to pay the whole thing, but I think there should be some recognition that it is an extraordinary situation where a past commitment had been made. There should be some sort of cost-sharing arrangement worked out with the community of Watson Lake to meet the obligation, given the letter sent on March 18, 1985.
For the Minister to say he met it with discretionary funding, I would say we have not. They were not aware this was a problem. Further to that, if it was a problem, they had a commitment from the government of the day that saw it as an extraordinary financial commitment. The Minister has to agree that that letter could not be more clear.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I accept the representations of the Member. I repeat that I have dealt with this at some length. I took some time to explain the rationale behind the decision I took.
I will have to tell the Member something similar to what I told him in the debates surrounding the Whitehorse sewage lagoon. Not only do I feel that the commitment was met by the provision of extraordinary funding of nearly $200,000, I believe the cost associated to this project was about $110,000. The municipality was provided with funds that could be used for that or any other project, and in that sense we met the obligation. In addition, there were vast sums provided through block funding that gave Watson Lake the ability to meet the costs associated with the repair of the facility.
In short, the commitment was met by the provision of the funding arrangement put in place by the previous Minister and there remains no outstanding obligation to Watson Lake - as in the case of the Whitehorse sewage lagoon, I do not have the authority to do that now.
I do not have the legislative authority to provide additional infrastructure funding to the municipality. I am governed by the guidelines set out under the Municipal and Community Infrastructure Grants Act, the legislation to which we made an amendment just recently.
I have explained that to Watson Lake. I believe they have accepted that in principle, unless the Member for Watson Lake is going to tell me something to the contrary. I find no need to enter into a special extraordinary financing arrangement relating to the arena because Watson Lake has been given the money to do it, and the commitment has been met far in excess of funds that were previously provided. We have made a healthy financial position for communities through block funding. If anything, I am getting from AYC that we are providing too much infrastructure money, that the time is coming when we ought to be reassessing that amount and allowing more for program costs.
It is the reality of the situation. On average and on balance, the municipalities feel quite comfortable with the amounts of infrastructure money being granted. Applying that to the skating rink situation in Watson Lake, Watson Lake does have the funds. They are in a healthy financial position that has been provided by this government. The commitment has been met.
Mr. Devries: As the Member is well aware, Watson Lake is becoming quite experienced at trying to collect money they feel is due them. I will bring this back to the town council on Tuesday night. A possible compromise would be if the Minister would forget about the 1981 firetruck, which I believe he is trying to pick up and we would like to keep. We will just let it sit at that for now.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Obviously, the Member has been talking to his mayor. Yes, I am fully aware of the firetruck situation, and I am shortly prepared to make a decision on the matter. He can pass that on to the mayor. He may have a Christmas present.
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $658,000 agreed to
Recreation and Community Facilities and Services in the amount of $1,919,000 agreed to
On Prior Year Adjustment
Prior Year Adjustment in the amount of $176,000 agreed to
Capital expenses for Community and Transportation Services in the amount of $2,135,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that you report progress on Bill No. 13.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 13, Second Appropriation Act, 1989-90, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the 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 5:25 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled December 12, 1989:
We need someone to talk to - Yukoners Views on the High Rate of Suicide in the Territory, Task Force Report prepared by the Official Opposition. (Nordling)
Interim Report on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, December, 1989 (Hayden)
The following Legislative Return was tabled December 12, 1989:
Hazardous Waste Disposal (Byblow)