Tuesday, February 13, 1990 - 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.
Are there Returns or Documents for Tabling?
TABLING RETURNS OR DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have for tabling some responses to questions asked by the Member for Porter Creek East.
Speaker: Are there any Reports of Committees?
Introduction of Bills.
Are there any Notices of Motion for the Production of Papers?
Notices of Motion.
Are there any Statements by Ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: I am quite concerned with the continuing attempt to cover up information surrounding the Watson Lake sawmill. Recently we received returns filed in the House wherein the Minister said that he was not aware of management fees nor the fee structure between Yukon Pacific Forest Products and T.F. Properties. Now that Yukon Development Corporation has gone to court and had a receiver/manager appointed to run the sawmill, will the Minister cause an investigation to be made into the management fee structure that was in place when T.F. Properties was running the mill?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: An investigation in the tone of the Members questions implies an allegation of wrongdoing, which is is not something that we accept. I do not know on what grounds the Member is laying such an investigation on the question before the House.
Mr. Phelps: We have here the same Minister who is quite happy to have a lawsuit laid against the previous managers. Things got much worse under the management of T.F. Properties. I submit that it is in the interest of all Yukoners to know how much money was skimmed off by T.F. Properties and its principals for management fees and commissions for selling lumber.
I once again ask the Minister to check into the amounts in order to see if the commissions and fees paid, received or taken were fair, and were based on the management fee structure in place so that Yukoners can be reassured that everything is on the up and up.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Under the cover of his legislative immunity, the Member is now making a charge, I gather, in this House, that there was skimming or some ripoff going on by one private company of another company. For me to deal responsibly with the allegation made by the Leader of the Opposition, surely, rather than making an unfounded charge, he should be laying some information before the House. The questions I have answered already in some cases relate to matters between two private companies. He says there is a public interest in knowing that answer. I am curious as to whether he has directed his questions to the people who have the information, because it is not our business to disclose the private information of private companies. That is not what we are here to do.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister attempts to drag red herrings across the path of questions in this House. The fact is that the assets belong to the people of the Yukon; they were sold because of poor management - the debentures have been foreclosed and a receiver/manager put in place - and naturally it is only proper and common business practice to check out where the money went during the operation of the company to see whether or not all the money that was spent was spent properly and in accordance with contractual agreements.
Would the Minister not check out just how the company was being operated and where the money went?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Once again, the Member is making a charge, and he talks about red herrings. I do not know whether he is talking about a witch hunt now or a wild goose chase. He has made a further allegation now that the public was ripped off in some way by some third party. I do not know what his evidence is for that charge. If he is seriously suggesting to me that, when a Member stands in this House and makes an accusation against some private individual with no evidence, we should immediately begin an investigation on the basis of such a charge, surely, that would be the height of irresponsibility?
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Properties
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister contemplating a lawsuit against T.F. Properties for mismanagement?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The lawsuits initiated by the Yukon Development Corporation are a matter of public record. Whether or not any other actions are being contemplated would only be made public at the time they were pursued.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Yukon Development Corporation going to investigate in order to see whether or not any of the monies are recoverable that were lost during the operation of the sawmill under the management of T.F. Properties?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member asks if the corporation will be investigating according to certain circumstances. I do not doubt that the board of the corporation will be reviewing the circumstances of the recent events during the next few months. As the Member knows, a receiver/manager has now been appointed to take charge of the operation; that person is in command of the facility now. The Member also knows that we are proceeding legally against the former managers of the property. How the board will decide to deal further with the current situation, at this moment, is simply a matter for speculation.
Mr. Phelps: Now that the government has foreclosed against the assets of Yukon Pacific under the terms of debentures they used as security, can the Minister tell us precisely why it is his opinion that the Yukon public does not have a right to know how much was paid to the manager of that operation by way of management fees and commissions? Precisely why?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I suspect the Member is once again playing political games because I have answered that question several times before.
We are talking about a relationship between one private company and another private company. If the proposition of the Member opposite is that any information that comes into the possession of the government by virtue of some loan, grant or other contractual arrangement between this government and a private party, therefore, automatically becomes public business to be aired in this Legislature, I have a big problem with that. No investor is going to come to the territory if they think the fact they have received either a grant, contribution or contract from the Yukon government automatically renders their private business open to public scrutiny. Nobody is going to do business here, and nobody will want to do business here.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: We owned the assets of the sawmill. The government, in its wisdom, entered into a sale agreement that included the management agreement T.F. Properties was operating under, which included obligations to build a brand new sawmill to the tune of $5.5 million, which was not done. That sale has gone sour, and it is my respectful submission that the public of the Yukon, whose money it is, has a right to know what happened. That includes how much money was spent on management fees and how much was lost in other ways.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member is making representations, and I will take them very seriously. The facts during the period under consideration are as follows: we were a minority shareholder of 15 percent; one representative on the board was a resident of Watson Lake and not an employee or agent of this government but a member of the board of the Development Corporation; there was an operating company, a company we had a contractual relationship with, and that company, in turn, had a relationship with a third party. The exact nature and details of that relationship between the second party and third party are not something we routinely have access to, nor I submit, are they properly matters that we could, without the consent of those parties, air in this House.
Mr. Phelps: Why did the Yukon Development Corporation have a member on the board of directors of the company, Yukon Pacific, if it was not to be able to tell what was going on and happening at all times and, in particular, to know about such important issues as management fees and whether or not the company was being run properly?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The fact the Development Corporation had one member on the board - and a representative of the Development Corporation, a private citizen from Watson Lake - does not logically follow that we should be debating in this House all the business that went on in that boardroom.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister would surely also tell us he is not embarrassed by the revelations that might come forward with regard to the management fees and the money paid to the management company?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: Once again, in the best Joe McCarthy sense, the Member opposite is making charges but is not putting any substance forward. So far, they are all wind.
If he has a charge or complaint to make, because he has alleged wrongdoing on the part of certain parties, make his charge either in this House or outside of it, and let him stand and defend himself.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: The Yukon Development Corporation has launched a lawsuit against the previous manager. Is the Minister telling us the Yukon Development Corporation did not check into the activities of that manager, because it was a private contract and a private company, before entering into the lawsuit?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: The Member knows that question has already been asked, in various ways, before and answered in this House.
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister also taking the position that the Yukon Development Corporation need not investigate into the background of what transpired during the operation of Yukon Pacific in order to tell whether it may be appropriate to sue for mismanagement?
Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am not saying anything of the kind. The Member is now asking a question I respectfully submit is argumentative. The Development Corporation has made certain decisions in terms of legal proceedings, and those are public. Its review of the recent experience will be ongoing in the next few months. When the Member opposite - who is, as he has described himself, a senior lawyer - uses words like investigation and ripoffs and skimoffs, he must know he is creating the impression there is some wrongdoing going on, perhaps even something that is in violation of some law.
Mr. Phelps: Now the Minister has completely changed his tune. The Yukon Development Corporation is actually going to check out all these things I asked him to investigate: the fee structure, the quality of the management, and the amount of money that was paid to the managing company and its principals. Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I indicated no such thing. I did not say we were going to be contemplating an investigation, as contemplated by the Member, or some adversarial situation of trying to accept his assumption that there was some evil or wrongdoing going on. I am saying, in the normal course of the business of the board, quite properly they would want to review the experience of the last several months in the operation of this facility. In time, they will make their own conclusions. They will probably report to me, and they will take action according to their own conclusions.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Phelps: In doing that, they will be looking at the fee structure and the amounts paid to T.F. Properties by way of commission and/or management fees. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I expect they will be doing a complete review of the operations according to the information they have available to them.
Mr. Phelps: Once they have that information, is it the position of the Minister that the public is not entitled to know the facts surrounding the demise of the operation under the management of T.F. Properties?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure that the public will be apprised of whatever facts are within the possession of the YDC when it is proper for the corporation to make them public.
Mr. Phelps: We will be looking forward very much to the answers to the questions that were posed to the Minister and which he evaded in his legislative returns.
Question re: Yukon Pacific Forest Products
Mr. Devries: Yesterday an issue was brought up that I would like some clarification on. There are creditors in Watson Lake who are suffering severe hardships due to monies owed by Yukon Pacific Forest Products. These people will not come to the government for handouts. These are people who are the backbone of the Yukon economy. These people pay your wages, Mr. Speaker, and mine. They are builders, not takers. Will the government assure the creditors that they will be paid?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I appreciate the representation by the Member on behalf of his constituents. We proceeded to court in order to have a receiver/manager appointed to protect the position of the people of the Yukon and the creditors of that operation. The decision as to what accounts are paid, and when and how, is now within the power of the receiver/manager to determine according to the court order. I am confident that the receiver/manager will carry out the duties as the court expects him to.
Mr. Devries: The creditors I speak of are not Howe Street sharpies. They provided an honest service. They worked until they could not afford to work anymore. Can the Minister ensure this House that any funds generated or due to YDC will go to the creditors first?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I assure the Member that the receiver/manager appointed by the court will behave properly on all these questions.
Mr. Devries: In the words of one of my constituents, The government put us to bed with those S.O.B.s. Now they have to get us out of this mess. What is the government prepared to do for these people, specifically?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I do not know which S.O.B.s the Member thinks his constituents got into bed with. To reiterate what I said in this House before, the investors who were brought into the operation in Watson Lake were checked out very thoroughly.
The shareholdings of the Shieldings Inc. included a very substantial holding by the Bank of Nova Scotia. It is a very profitable and well-established company. When the bills were not being paid and we were concerned about these questions, we took the appropriate steps of going to court to get a receiver/manager.
Question re: Mammography unit
Mrs. Firth: This morning I heard a very personal and moving story on the radio. It was about one womans battle with cancer and how she felt we were unable to help her because we had no mammography unit here in the Yukon. We do not want this to happen with other Yukon women.
This debate has been going on for two years. Promises are a year old now, and there is no money for the unit in the 1990-91 budget. I would like to give the Minister responsible for health the opportunity to make a commitment to Yukon women here and now in the Legislature that they will have a diagnostic mammography unit in 1990.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot add to the answer to the question I gave yesterday, which is that we are doing a final appraisal of defining the options and the costs of such a proposal. It is our intention to proceed with a mammography service in the Yukon. The moment I am in a position to make that kind of an announcement, I will.
Mrs. Firth: Why can the Minister not stand up here today and say to the women of the Yukon: number one, we will find the money; number two, we will have the unit; and, number three, we will have it in 1990. Why can he not just give that reassurance to the women of the Yukon here today?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: If ministerial office were that simple, I am sure she would still be over here and we would still be over there. There are real problems always associated with any proposal when we are dealing with technology: we have to deal with staff, we have to deal with costs, and those are real problems. We intend to see that service provided and we are going to. When we are in a position to make an announcement, I will do so.
Mrs. Firth: It has been going on for two years. All the cost analyses have been done. I know that, from the department. Surely the Minister must be getting calls about this. He has an opportunity today to quiet the issue. He can stand up and he can say, We will have the unit; we will find the money for it. We will have it and we will have it in 1990. I just ask him to say that to Yukon women. He can do that. He is the Minister.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I cannot add to my previous answer on the question.
Question re: Chronic disease and disability program
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Human Resources. On February 1, 1987, a chronic disease and disability program came into effect. It was to add $120,000 a year to the cost of health services. Now, three years later, the additional cost is approximately $1 million. On December 5, the Minister could not tell us what research was done into the potential costs of the program but he did say he was looking at dealing with the rising costs without doing damage to the purpose of the program.
I would like to ask the Minister what he is going to do to deal with the rising costs of the program?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: By my count, this is the eighth time I have been asked that question and I will answer it the same way. Between now and this spring, the remainder of this fiscal year, we are completing a review of those programs in the health services branch that have had quickly-rising cost increases, and we will be looking for amendments or changes in those programs to deal with the problem of rising costs without compromising the purpose for which they were originally designed. I have indicated that before. When those reviews are complete and when the changes are ready to be announced, I will be announcing them in the House.
Mr. Nordling: I am sorry if I seem persistent to the Minister but our experience with him is that most of his answers are tired old rhetoric and personal attacks and no commitments. I would like to know what specific steps have been taken since December 4 and 5, when the Minister told us that he was, taking this very seriously and investigating it at the present time?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: For the ninth time, I have already told the Member what the steps I am taking are and at the conclusion of that review and that analysis, the changes I am going to be proposing will be announced in this place or, if the House is not sitting, publicly.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister is going to have to say no to someone on the chronic diseases list or bite the bullet and pay for it. I would like to know when, specifically, a decision will be made. I am sure the Member can give us a date.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I have given a date several times before, and I have reiterated a date just a few minutes ago, if the Member were listening. I said in this fiscal year - that is before April 1. We will be completing the review of this program and I will be recommending changes to my colleagues and I hope in this first quarter I will be announcing the changes I propose.
Question re: Yukon College, administrative funding
Mr. Lang: We have been very concerned about the financing of the government and the long term-effect it will have on the taxpayers of the Yukon. One area that was brought under some scrutiny in January was the question of the conversion of Yukon College as a separate identity from the Government of the Yukon Territory. The Minister announced funding of $1 million to effect that particular conversion.
Can the Minister confirm to the House today that Yukon College has requested an additional $1.5 million over and above the $1 million allocated in January to complete the transfer?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No, I cannot. I have not heard of the $1.5 million request.
Mr. Lang: Can the Minister assure this House that the Yukon College is not requesting further dollars for operational purposes in 1990-91 over and above the budget before us?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I cannot answer what Yukon College might request at any time. We have budgeted funds for the college and have advanced $1 million for the final quarter. There have been discussions about a potential increase in administrative costs that we are discussing at the present time. No decision has been made, but it certainly is nowhere near the figure cited by the Member.
Mr. Lang: Perhaps we could get some definitive figures on the floor of the House. Can the Minister tell us exactly how much money Yukon College is requesting over and above the $1 million that has already been allocated in order to effect the transfer?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The services the Yukon College is requesting beyond what is otherwise a normal quarterly payment are under discussion now. Consequently, it would be inappropriate to announce what the position of Yukon College is. We have indicated we are keeping costs to a minimum. If there is a need for a supplementary we will inform the House after the government has agreed to present it to the Legislature. If they do, it will be presented to the House and it will be debated then.
Question re: Yukon College, administrative funding
Mr. Lang: It is true that Yukon College is asking for more money?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I did say that. I did say that on a couple of occasions. I indicated quite clearly that the fantasy figure of $1.5 million is not known to me. Certainly it would not be considered realistic at this time in any case. To my knowledge, that figure, or anything even close, has never been presented to the Government of Yukon or the Department of Education, in particular.
Mr. Lang: When is the government going to be making a decision on this request for additional dollars for Yukon College?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The government will make a decision prior to the end of the fiscal year, and it will certainly be presented to the Legislature prior to the end of the fiscal year, if it is required.
Question re: Expo slide presentation
Mr. Phillips: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism. The Government of Yukon was given many compliments for its very credible exhibit at the 1986 World Exhibition in Vancouver. Part of that exhibition was the excellent slide show that all visitors to that pavilion had the pleasure of viewing. I understand that the Government of the Yukon retained the slide show and has it in storage today. Tonight, there is a public information meeting of the Yukon Transportation Society where they will unveil their plans for a new museum and display.
I would like to ask the Minister if he would consider donating that excellent presentation to the Yukon Transportation Museum so that tourists and Yukoners will be able to view it this summer when the museum opens?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I want to thank the Member for his suggestion, and I will consider it.
Mr. Phillips: At noon hour today, I attended a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce about attractions in Whitehorse. One of the biggest complaints was there were very few attractions in Whitehorse.
A great deal of credit has to go to the Yukon Transportation Society, who are putting together this museum. We have this excellent display that has been in storage for the past four years.
Today, I am asking for the government to donate that display to the Yukon Transportation Museum so it could be on display this summer. It is an excellent display. It will cause people to stop and spend time in the Yukon. I am asking for a simple yes.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have already indicated to the Member I will consider that suggestion. It is interesting it has not come forward from any members of the Yukon Transportation Museum society, with which I have been in contact on a regular basis in the last little while. I would also like to point out this government is very supportive of the Yukon Transportation Museum. We provided funding last year for the hiring of their project manager/fundraiser, and will continue to do so next year.
Mr. Phillips: I am sure if the Minister made the offer to the Transportation Society of the slide show, they would grab it in a second. Will the Minister today draft a letter offering the slide show to the Yukon Transportation Society, so they can show it this summer?
Hon. Mr. Webster: For the third time, I thank the Member for his suggestion and his perseverance in the matter, and I will consider it. I am not going to immediately draft a letter today.
Question re: Haines Road closure
Mr. Brewster: Yesterday, I asked the Minister of Community and Transportation Services a question regarding the Haines Road, which was recently closed for six to eight hours to allow the Haines, Alaska skidoo race. The Minister appeared to be unaware of this situation. Can the Minister advise the House who has the authority to close the road for an event such as this?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would expect that any closure of the road would be under the authority of the Highways Act, and enacted by officials of my department.
Mr. Brewster: Can the Minister advise the House if he was aware that this was going on?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Absolutely no.
Mr. Brewster: Can the Minister advise the House what public notice is given in an instance such as this, so the travelling public is aware of the closure and can plan accordingly?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take the question as notice. I can provide more detail in budget debate this afternoon or, more properly, in a return I will table.
Question re: Hamlet status for rural areas
Mr. Phelps: I also have some questions for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services about local government for rural areas. I know I could ask this question on budget debate, on the street, at coffee time or wherever, but I will ask it here, if it is okay with the Minister.
The residents in the area along the Carcross Road, from Kookatsoon to Bear Creek and along the Annie Lake Road, have indicated their support for the formation of a hamlet over the area. I understand a petition was sent to the Minister on December 3.
Given the vast majority of the residents in that area support the concept, does the Minister also support the establishment of a hamlet for the area?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am aware of the petition that was presented to me. I have done a preliminary response to that petition. As a matter of position and policy, this government and I support the efforts of residents to take charge of their affairs. In other words, hamlet status for the residents of that particular area, as described by the residents, is being encouraged.
Mr. Phelps: How long will the process of establishing hamlet status for the area take?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is impossible to determine precisely the length of time it would take to formalize such a structure. As the Member is aware, there are a number of hurdles to overcome. I can tell the Member, however, that I have met with representatives of the area, I believe as recently as last week, and we set into motion a planning exercise which would see representatives from the area set up in a working group with representatives of my department to establish the initial stages of that hamlet status. The working group is expected to address quite a broad number of issues relating to the development of a charter of responsibilities, what devolutions of authority may eventually take place, and some time lines. That is currently happening.
Mr. Phelps: Will the Minister support a hamlet status for other rural areas if the majority of residents command it?
Mr. Byblow: The short answer to that is yes. The Member, I believe, is alluding to indications from the Hootalinqua area where residents have indicated some interest in developing satellite structures of local government. I have yet to receive any formal representation from them but I do understand discussions are happening in those communities, and I have had it flagged verbally by some of the residents. Should the desire for hamlet status evolve further, it is one I would address similarly to the one that has surfaced on the Carcross Road. I would just flag for the Member that it is a little more complex in the Hootalinqua North area given that we are attempting to conclude a planning exercise in that area as well, and it may be necessary to combine the two efforts.
Question re: Tax assessment of government buildings
Mr. Devries: I also have a question for the Minister of Community and Transportation Services. In the recent budget speech, the Minister of Finance emphasized that there would not be any tax increase; yet we all know about the motor vehicle fee hikes. I would like to ask the Minister a question regarding the change in method of assessing YTG government buildings in Dawson, Haines Junction and Watson Lake. Does the Minister realize that this change will lower the revenue for the Town of Watson Lake payable by YTG by $24,800?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not aware of the precise figures, but I recognize and know the impact that licence fees will have on municipalities as well as government in general.
Mr. Devries: This change means that, for every home owner in Watson Lake, there could be a $3 to $100 municipal tax increase. Does the Minister not consider that this tax increase indirectly is a tax levy on the people of the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before I can provide any definitive answer to the Members questions, I would want to have the numbers he has just cited verified. Clearly, to me, off the top of my head, the numbers he is citing are rather extreme for the impact suggested.
Mr. Devries: My understanding is that it would mean a one-half mill rate increase in Watson Lake and, on a $100,000 assessment, that would be $80.74; so the average house would be anywhere from $30 to $100. Does the Minister not think this is a tax increase?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is a broad leap of logic to make the association of licence fee increases to a tax mill rate increase on assessment. Perhaps the Member can more clearly state what the impact is?
Mr. Devries: I am no longer talking about licence plates; I am talking about the tax increase for the homes of residents in Watson Lake. The lowering of the assessment means that they have to raise the taxes that I pay on my house and the neighbour has to pay on his - and this is a tax increase.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am beginning to realize that the Member is no longer talking about licence plate fee increases. The Member is talking about a change in assessment and the Member ought to realize that in taxation, where assessment is used as the base, you can have varying assessments, and you adjust your mill rate accordingly. It does not mean that taxes automatically increase if the assessment increases. That is not necessarily a direct relationship. If an assessment changes, municipalities and government authorities adjust the mill rate accordingly.
Speaker: Time for Question Period has now lapsed.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. 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: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will take a break.
Chair: I will now call the Committee of the Whole to order. We will continue with Bill No. 19.
Bill No. 19 - First Appropriation Act 1990-91 - continued
Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before we continue, I would like to take the opportunity to put on record a response to several questions that were raised yesterday that I did not have answers for.
One question related to equipment storage in the Old Crow maintenance garage. At any one point in time, it is expected that the new maintenance facility will be required to contain two dump trucks, a grader, a loader and the foremans pickup truck. That still allows some free space for ongoing maintenance and repair within the structure. There are five other major pieces of equipment on strength at Old Crow as well as a lot of miscellaneous smaller equipment.
There was another question relating to rural-residential and country-residential lots in 1989. It was asked what kinds of titles were issued on those types of property in 1989. There were 12 titles issued for rural-residential land. They consisted of eight properties in Golden Horn, three properties at Pilot Mountain and one at Robinson.
There were eight properties titled under country residential in 1989. They were all at Mary Lake.
An additional question was asked relating to emergency airstrips, in particular one at White River. We do not have an emergency strip recognized there. Apparently, a strip was built by private interests some time ago. We do not provide any maintenance on that. There is an airport at Beaver Creek, and there is an emergency strip at Burwash, as well as the airport at Haines Junction.
We clearly have not done any test work in the form of drilling at the airstrip, but in our contact this morning with Public Works Canada, it was indicated that they may have done some drilling in that area for construction purposes to expose suitable material. I am not sure if the budget book indicates it, but we currently have 22 emergency airstrips that we maintain in the territory. The one at White River is not one of them.
Mr. Brewster: I am rather surprised that Burwash has no emergency airstrip with a $135,000 contract to maintain it. It is the only one up there with an radio operator who can contact any airplane flying over. In Beaver Creek, the radio comes in only when it is signalled; that rather surprises me.
Although the government states that it has nothing at Burwash, I have a file that states that they surveyed it and that negotiations had occurred with the people in that area. It is written on Yukon government stationery.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I would invite the Member to forward that correspondence to me. My information is that we do not maintain the one at White River. We should not have had anything to do with it, and should anything have happened relating to test work for materials, Public Works is checking. They have done some test work in that area, and it may have been on the location of the airstrip.
Mr. Brewster: The fact you would admit there is an airstrip there means somebody built it. It sure was not the three or four lodges there. I would suspect my correspondence will probably prove I am right.
That is another problem we move into when the federal government goes ahead and the territorial government does what they want to do and pretty soon people do not know what is going on anywhere.
Mr. Lang: I want to go back to the issue we were discussing in Committee last evening on the recreational lots and the ability to expand.
At the outset, the Minister said one of the reasons he could not look at expansion for recreational lots was that not necessarily everybody in the area would have the ability to expand. I agree with that observation. If there is an area where there is room for expansion and the land adjacent is not needed by anybody, I do not understand why we cannot have a policy that permits the government to expand in those cases. Adjoining owners, maybe 10 or so on either side, would have to be polled for objections. If there are objections, they would have to be dealt with. I do not understand why we should close the door on expansion. If the land is there and is of no value to anyone and somebody wants to develop it, why not? I do not buy the argument that because they are recreational lots we cannot do that, but we can do it for country residential. That does not make sense. The reality is that there is no such thing as a recreational lot anymore; it is a cottage lot. People are going to determine themselves whether or not they will live there 12 months of the year. More and more people are living in these lots on a year-round basis.
That argument no longer flies. Would the Minister consider revising the policy of the government, on a case-by-case basis where appropriate so that if one applies for an expansion onto land that is deemed to be of no value to anybody else, and the neighbours agree, that the individual will be allowed to purchase the land.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I accept the comments of the Member. To put it bluntly, the issue of titled recreational lot expansions has not been one I have treated with priority to this point. The struggles I face have been addressing the whole question of land availability and the complexities of the planning process involved.
The issue of adequate sewage disposal space for septic fields did arise, and we did move very quickly to put an interim policy in place allowing lot expansion by lease on Crown land to meet that need.
What the Member is talking about is something more permanent where it should go to title.
I accept the Members suggestions. I would want to seek some advice on the issue. I would want to know how urgent the matter is. Clearly, I have no evidence that it is a matter of urgency. There would be considerable work involved to investigate the development of a policy to ensure the fairness in, where possible, land being made available to people who are sitting adjacent to available land.
The Member knows that in the recreation property subdivisions, the territorial lands that have been transferred with the subdivision are usually co-terminus with the boundaries of existing lots; so, we are talking about further land transfers, which, certainly under the current land availability policy for immediate needs, is not going to be recognized as a priority item either by the feds or other interests. We also have, as the Member recognizes, the issue of fairness: how do you address the issue of allowing lot expansions to some properties and not others? I think the Member spoke to that by suggesting that only where you have unsuitable land for anything else would you allow that to be used for expansion.
I suppose there is merit in investigating a policy for cottage lot expansion. What I can undertake to commit myself to do is to seek some advice to see whether there is a reasonable purpose and urgency to it. As the Member recognizes, our lands people are currently flat out on a number of projects and obligations throughout the territory, overlapping with land claims and meeting community land needs. If I seek some advice on this, I will keep the Member informed.
Mr. Lang: I am pleased to hear that the Minister is prepared to look at it. I recognize the demands on the lands branch, and that is why I am making some recommendations here on the floor of the House, trying to make it very simple and it would be a case-by-case situation. I do not think you have that many people in that position but there are some and, although it may not appear to be overall urgent to the pressing needs of government, I think we have to pay attention to those individuals themselves as opposed to just groups that come to the government for their particular concerns. So, I will be in touch with the Minister on this on an ongoing basis and I would like to see something come about before spring or during spring so that people can make their plans accordingly.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Just before we conclude the issue, I would be curious about the Members thoughts about lot expansion by lease versus title. Does the Member hold any strong point on that score? I think he recognizes that short term leases - five, 10, 15 years - are much easier to enact than full title.
Mr. Lang: I disagree with that. First of all, the land has to be surveyed to start with. I do not agree with the principle of leases. I will be very frank about that. I believe in private ownership. I believe in the individuals right to own land. If the individual is asking for another 50 by 100 expansion, say another 5,000 square feet, for a garden or greenhouse or whatever, I do not understand why it cannot be part of the titled property. I personally think the lease is another way for government to try to indirectly control people, keep the reins on them, and I do not think it is necessarily right. Our country we call Canada was not developed on leases; it was developed, in part, on the right for people to own land and to develop that land within the common laws that applied to everyone, and I think that same principle applies today.
So, I would say to the Minister: no, I do not agree with the lease approach. If he brought that forward, I think those few people who find themselves in that situation would lose interest. I cannot see how you can expect them to make substantive investments on their property while knowing that, in five or 10 years down the road, the new deputy minister who has just flown in from Saskatchewan is going to decide their fate. I do not think that is what an individual wants.
I would like to move on to one other topic while we are on lands, and that is the question of infill.
I notice there is $20,000 allocated for the Porter Creek area for various lots. There was money allocated last year, as well. What exactly is taking place? Have we found further lots in the area? If so, I would like a rundown of where they are and when they are going to come on the market.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have that information at my fingertips, but I will undertake to provide detailed response to the question. I take it the Member is interested in what infill may have taken place in the past year and what is planned for next year in Porter Creek. I will provide that separately in writing later in the estimates.
Mr. Devries: I believe the Minister is aware I wrote several letters regarding property at Stewart Lake. My understanding is they have reached some agreement where the gentleman has accepted a 30-year lease on this property. It is my understanding that it is a 30-year, non-transferable lease. In 30 years, that is the end of his property. It could be under federal lands, I am not sure, but sooner or later, the government is going to be taking over these leases. The gentleman signed this lease with the understanding that, sometime within the next 30 years, the conditions could change.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not going to be able to provide much information to the Member. I believe he is talking about a federal lease, because I am not familiar with it. In general terms, we are preparing for the transfer of lands from the federal government in relation to land claims. We have started preparing for that exercise at the table. In that preparation, we are doing the inventory and the preparation of anticipated policies for those land transfers somewhere down the road. That is going to happen in relation to land claims. I expect the leases that are currently federal will revert to the territory. It is premature for me to suggest what we are going to do with them at that time.
Our development of policy is in process, and I expect some of them will have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. I cannot offer the Member much on that score. It is currently a federal lease, and we have no authority over it.
Mr. Phillips: Are there any further developments on the waterfront development? I guess the Department of Community and Transportation Services is involved in that. The deputy minister is the Yukon representative on that three-member panel. What is that status of that today?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not sure if the Member is talking about the proposed commission or about the development.
Mr. Phillips: I am talking about lands that are owned by the Government of Yukon. The Deputy Minister of Community and Transportation Services is the YTG representative on the board for waterfront development. What is the status of the waterfront development? We were told about a proposed plan last year through an announcement of the committee.
There was a great deal of excitement generated by that committee about the plan. At another meeting, people had an opportunity to make presentations and submissions to the board about suggestions to the original plan.
There was going to be a fall meeting, but it did not take place. They announced that a meeting would take place some time early in the new year. It is now mid-February. No other plan has been tabled so that the public can see it. No public meetings have been announced, and we are losing another year in the development of the waterfront. Other tourism projects and 1992 will be upon us, and we seem to be fiddling.
Proposal to call witness
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will propose that my deputy, Mr. Graham, be very quickly called as a witness, and he can answer the questions directly about the governments direct involvement in the waterfront. He can update the entire House much better than I can from a second-hand position. If Members have no objection to that, I will file the motion to do that immediately.
Chair: Is the Committee agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Mr. Phillips: I do not have any problem with that.
Proposal to call witness agreed to
Mrs. Firth: As long as we do not set a major precedent doing this, I have no objection. We would like to have some confidence that the Ministers are fairly well informed about the departments and the appropriations that they have responsibility for. I just wanted to raise that as a concern, and we will watch it as it progresses.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I want to assure Members that I am quite familiar with the waterfront development since its initial stages prior to my assuming office. I have kept fairly close to those developments. The Member can understand that specific details of the plans and the course of events that have taken place can be explained much better by the representative on that body. That representative can explain why there were changes in plans of public presentations and so on. The Member can be comforted that I am quite familiar with what is happening.
Chair: I would like to remind the House that the Committee has set a precedent in the past by calling witnesses to the Committee. This procedure has been done before. The Committee has the right not to vote on it or to vote for it.
Mrs. Firth: I recognize that the Committee has had witnesses before; however, that had been prearranged. This is the first time that we have had such a spontaneous motion presented that has been dealt with immediately on the floor of Committee.
I am not raising it in a confrontational way. The Minister says that I am. I am not doing that. I am simply saying that I would like to express my opinion as a Member of this House. I am entitled to do that. I have a concern that this does not become habit forming.
I am not in any way challenging the Ministers knowledge about this issue. I do not want this to become habit. We would like to have some confidence, as would the public, in the Ministers and their ability to represent the appropriations that they have brought into this House and are asking us to approve. In all fairness, I can make that representation. I have made it, and we are prepared to hear what the witness has to say.
Request to withdraw previous proposal
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If Members have no problem I will withdraw the motion and will take all questions.
Chair: Is it the wish of the Committee to have the witness or not have the witness?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: With respect, if the Minister has withdrawn the motion the issue is not before the House.
Mrs. Firth: We have not received any written motion and we are prepared to deal with the written motion of the Minister when he presents it.
Mr. Phillips: I think this is an important enough matter that we do have the representative of the government committee called to the House as a witness. Although it may be a precedent to do it immediately, rather than notice being given to the House, in no way would it be considered something we would be doing all the time. The waterfront development is very significant and has to happen very quickly. I think it would be an opportune time to question the Yukon member of that board.
Chair: As far as the Chair is concerned there has already been a motion put forth on the floor that was agreed to. The agreement was that we have a witness. That is what we are going to do.
If the Minister wants to withdraw then it will take unanimous consent.
Is there unanimous consent to withdraw?
Some Members: Agreed.
Chair: There is unanimous consent. There will be no witness.
Request to withdraw previous proposal agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To continue with the response to the question, the waterfront development has been an exercise of some considerable number of changes since it began last winter and spring. The waterfront development was a jointly-funded exercise among the White Pass Corporation, the Yukon Government and the City of Whitehorse. A tripartite group proceeded with development plans for the waterfront area. There was a specific designation of waterfront lands identified for development that extended from just this side of Main Street all the way to what is known as the 20/20 lands at the end of First Avenue.
Through last summer and fall there was a public presentation with some objections respecting proposals put forward. The group went back to the drawing board. That exercise has been going on over the past several months with submissions and representations being made to the committee, as they were able to review them. I am advised that the consultant being retained by the development group is to be coming forward within the next month with a final set of drawings that will be publicly presented. We will see the next view of a proposed waterfront development at that time.
Mr. Phillips: To get the timing right, we then will probably not see anything until March with respect to the new proposal coming forward from the committee.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes. It would be fair to say that we should see the next proposal by mid-March and it should be presented publicly shortly thereafter.
Mr. Phillips: Can the Minister tell us if the new proposal, the direction they gave to the consultant, contains a stronger element of historical value for the waterfront and that they are going to incorporate some of the historical ideas that people gave them at that meeting?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, I believe the Member is quite correct. It would be even more correct that there has been a fairly changed venue since the last public presentation. I believe the group was somewhat overwhelmed by the public response to the first proposal put forward. So, yes indeed, the new direction for the development group has been to incorporate some of the ideas that have been put forward publicly and privately, by submission and through the media.
To answer the Members question specifically, yes, the next set of plans will reflect more of the historical aspect of the waterfront.
Mr. Phillips: I hope the Government of the Yukon took a position that it will be more than just a token change, that it will be a significant change. I think anyone who attended the first meeting and saw the initial proposal would have to agree that it was, I would say, an insult to the people of Whitehorse. That first proposal was so far off base that I think it was almost unanimous: every single presenter who stood up and made a proposal made statements that it was unacceptable. The only thing I found commonality in, in that whole proposal, was the promenade that went along the waterfront. Other than that, there was a great deal of displeasure with many aspects of it. I wonder if the Minister could tell us about one of the major areas: the White Pass depot. Is it the position of the Government of Yukon that the depot will remain where it is and will not be removed from that area?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is fair to say that the first set of plans were not greeted with much public enthusiasm and I think that would be a mild way of putting it. The Member is correct in his assessment that the committee had to review quite a bit of public response and change the concepts that were being presented. With respect to the depot itself, I am not prepared to advise at this time precisely what the plans will show in a months time. I think we have to leave that to the committee for its presentation. I should also mention that while the first plan did not necessarily capture a public vote of confidence, it certainly precipitated the kind of debate that I believe will now generate, or help generate, a much better overall plan. It certainly provided a useful exercise in a public debate about what people in Whitehorse want to see on their waterfront. The committee is sensitive to that debate and I am sure we will see reflected in the final design those major issues that were of concern in the first presentation.
Mr. Phillips: I was not asking the Minister what the new plan will precisely say about the location of the White Pass depot. With all the comments that were made by individuals who spoke against the plan, or made recommendations for changes in the plan, I think you will find they ran absolutely 100 percent for retaining the depot where it is.
Did the government go back to the group? What position did it take when it went back to the group? Did it go back to the group saying the depot should stay where it is? That is what the Yukon public wants.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I should clarify for the Member that the government has not dealt directly with the group. As the Member is aware, it was a tripartite group established to jointly come up with a functional waterfront plan. What I and the government have done is deal with our representative on the development committee. With respect to our representative, we had a number of discussions about the context of the submissions that were made, the statements that were being presented, but no specific direction was given other than a reflection of the depots preferred retention. That is the best answer I can give the Member. I left it to the committee to come up with the proposal we are going to see in about a months time.
Mr. Phillips: It is an interesting way to go to the group meetings, just sitting down with the representative who represents your views, discuss the whole thing and just let the representative go to the meeting with no real direction.
I would have thought the Government of the Yukon would have clearly said to its representative at the meetings they held that they would like to take the governments position there, and the government position was that, number one, there be more historical value incorporated into the design of the waterfront and, number two, that the depot would not move. Perhaps it should go even further and say neither should the railroad tracks move, and that could also be part of the concept. You would give some strong recommendations, and it would be a strong position taken by the Government of the Yukon. I know there has to be some flexibility, but I do not think there was any flexibility in any of the submissions about where the depot should be when this is all over with. Everyone said the depot should not move.
Did the Minister direct his official to go back to the meeting with the feeling and sentiment that the depot should not move?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To answer the Member quite bluntly, the answer is: no, I did not direct our representative to ensure the depot remained where it is. The Member has to recognize the nature of the group that was set up. It is a tripartite group that was asked to review waterfront planned proposals and to come up with options. It had to consult with the public. We kept in close communication with the public sentiment. It is fair to say that Mr. Graham and I spent considerable amounts of time reviewing public sentiment, options and the best proposals for the space on the waterfront.
It was clear that the public sentiment was to retain the depot where it is. To specifically say that I provided any direction about the retention of it, I have to tell the Member no. That is left for the committee. Mr. Graham is quite aware of what the public sentiment is, and Mr. Graham is aware of the government goals respecting the waterfront development and the influence we have over the bit of land we do have influence over. The decision is going to be a public one. I am fairly comfortable that it is going to accurately reflect that public sentiment, endorsed by the government and accepted by the public.
Mr. Phillips: I will not belabour this much longer. The Government of Yukon has some responsibility to represent the people at those meetings. The overwhelming sentiment was that the depot stay where it is. I know White Pass has considered moving the depot. I know it is a position they have looked at, but you would have thought that the government would at least have the fortitude to say that its position would be that the depot does not move. The feeling out there is that the people do not want to see the depot moved anywhere. If anything is to be done to the depot at all, the only suggestion I have heard is that the roof should be restored to its original style of the early 1900s. I would have thought the government would have taken a stronger stand than just arriving at the table with a totally open attitude. It could have at least been a little stronger in that area.
Under the first plan, the government also wanted to see the area from the corner of the government building almost to the White Pass depot remain a park area. Under the new proposal, is the government prepared to look at other uses of that area so we might be able to incorporate some of the ideas of White Pass and the city so there is a little more flexibility in the area around the depot?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Again, the whole issue of the plan is currently in its final stage. I am not prepared to pre-empt what the plan may contain by suggesting what we would like to see. Our representative, Mr. Graham, is fully aware of what the governments preferred options are. We have to recognize that the lands are also owned by White Pass and the city. There has to be enough flexibility in the planning process to ensure a workable and functional plan. If Members are prepared to be patient for a month, we will see the results of that effort.
Mr. Phillips: What are the plans after the public meeting? Will there be an opportunity for more public input to the proposed plan, or is this the plan that the committee feels is the final plan and once it is presented they will get started right away? How much opportunity will the general public have for input into this new proposal?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As with any planning process, nothing is etched in stone. When the next product surfaces publicly, the committee will receive public response; it will take those into account in any final revisions. This exercise is a planning exercise. We anticipate that the planning effort of this tripartite development group will be turned over to the commission that, it is hoped, will be established in this next year. We have identified some funds, and there have been discussions with the city to establish a capital city planning commission. That commission will probably take over the responsibility of finalization of the waterfront plan, and the development of any other capital city works.
To answer the question briefly, yes, there will be opportunity for input. That input will be considered in any final revisions to the plan that is to be presented in approximately a month.
Mr. Phillips: Is there a deadline that the committee is looking at for either handing it over to the Capital City Commission, or actually starting construction? Is there an actual forecasted beginning of the construction date and completion date as yet, or are we still so early in the planning process that we may not get this thing built in the 1900s?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We are still in a planning process. We have to finish the plan, which will take the presentation of the group through another round of public input. The commission is at the stage where the city and the government are reviewing proposed legislation for it - the terms and reference for creating that commission. That could take another couple of months to conclude.
We would have to pass legislation in this House, I anticipate, in the fall, to establish that commission. That, somewhere at that time, is where I anticipate the turnover will take place from this planning group over to the commission. The commission then will assume the responsibility for any development - well, prior to development, any necessary zoning, proposals and eventual development that will take place on it.
I should point out for the Member that certainly a good portion of the lands we are talking about are White Pass lands and, as such, a clear responsibility for development will rest with White Pass. To put it quite bluntly, we are not prepared to commit public funds on White Pass lands without some special arrangement that would be incorporated for the waterfront. I expect the commission to do that job on the development side and the zoning side, whether there is any call for proposals for development, or whatever may happen. That will be the task of the commission and I expect that task will begin some time this fall. So between now and this fall, the waterfront planning group will completely conclude its efforts so that it can be turned over.
Mr. Phillips: So that I get this clear timing-wise: we are looking at the existing group, the waterfront group, putting together the proposal as much as it can, then passing the proposal to this new commission, which will not be established until the fall sitting, which more than likely will be November to December - because that is when we have been sitting; history will show that that is when we have come back to the House. What we are really looking at is no actual development taking place on the waterfront until at least this time next year. I know that White Pass is a private developer and it owns some of the land but I am sure that it would be a little nervous about developing its segment without the proper changes in zoning and such, to allow for the rest of it to tie it. We are probably looking at no waterfront construction development beginning until at least the spring or summer of 1991. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What the Member has described is a possible scenario but I should point out that that is not the only scenario. If the proposal for the waterfront plan that comes forward in a months time is publicly accepted and agreed to in general terms, then there is nothing stopping any development from taking place. What would have to happen is that any development that would take place would have to conform to the plan and would have to conform to zoning. The city would have to provide whatever approvals are necessary for that to happen.
Perhaps they could begin development on the lands immediately after public acceptance of the proposal. It does not necessarily have to wait for the commission, although that is preferable.
After public acceptance of the plan for the waterfront, there may well be a desire for the city and the Yukon government to jointly undertake some aspects of development of that plan, whether it be walkways or a promenade or anything that is on public lands, meets the plan requirements and is approved in budgets, respectively, of the city or the government. While the Member has described a scenario or an option in terms of timing that would not see development until next spring, there is nothing to prevent that kind of development from occurring as early as this summer, pending final public acceptance of that plan and incorporation into the city planning cycle.
Mr. Phillips: I am pleased to hear that something could take place, even if a capital city commission is not established, and that the three parties could sit down and agree to zoning changes and an agreement so that they could proceed. I would like to say, though, that we are late out of the starting blocks with this and it is getting later all the time. As we seem to be with our visitors reception centre and many other things that are supposed to be built for the 1990s, I just hope that, in the early 1990s when all the tourists are arriving in the territory, we are not in the construction phase of absolutely everything and nothing is really ready, and by the time we get it ready the bulk of the tourists have gone home. I would have hoped that some of these attractions would be in place so that these people could go back to the areas they come from and tell others about the great waterfront development we have or the great visitors reception centre or the other attractions we had down at the waterfront.
I am afraid that will not happen now, and I wish the government all the luck in the world to get it moving - and the City of Whitehorse and White Pass. I think the intentions are good to get it started, but let us get off our backsides here and get this thing rolling. We are told time and time again - and at the Chamber of Commerce meeting I was at today, we were told again - that we are losing tourists every year because we do not have attractions to keep them here. We do not have events or things that they can come and see and do, but other areas are fast developing these types of attraction. It is a really competitive business and if we do not get off the mark we are going to find ourselves too far behind to catch up. That is all I am suggesting. We should get moving on this one as quickly as possible.
Lands in the amount of $1,068,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The industrial land development cited in here is a substantial increase, as Members will note. In the information I circulated yesterday, which pulled all the projects together, it listed all the industrial developments in all the communities where it is planned to be taking place. I deliberately did that to reduce the number of questions and recitals into the record of where it is happening, so I am sure Members do not have questions.
Mr. Brewster: I would like the assurance that every bit is in there now. I have gone through this, and there is nothing left that will sneak up later on that will get me in trouble.
Could the Minister confirm that verbally instead of shaking his head?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can assure the Member that, on the list that I provided yesterday, nothing has been left out of what is planned to be done. The Member has to recognize that some projects sometimes do fall away and do not get done for various reasons.
Sometimes the public consultation does not conclude. Sometimes testing problems result. Sometimes there is a change of view by the community that had earlier sought a certain development and no longer wants it. There might be disagreement about where it should be located. While nothing has been missed in the list of planned projects that I provided yesterday, there may be some projects that do not get delivered. I have learned that that happens.
Mr. Brewster: The Minister is a politician; he is not saying yes or no. I am not too concerned about the ones that do not get done. I am concerned about the ones that seem to sneak in that we did not see in the budget but that come along in the supplement.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member should recognize that seldom, if ever, is anything sneaked in. Everything is usually planned because budgets are struck on the basis of a plan. Sometimes we do have to have flexibility in an emergency situation, and the Member recognizes that. The industrial, the residential, the rural residential, the country residential, the commercial, the recreational and the agricultural developments that are intended have all been listed on the sheets that I circulated yesterday. They are all planned.
Mr. Brewster: I take the Ministers word for that. If all the other Ministers do the same thing, we will not have a lot of supplements to go through that sneaked up on us that were never planned.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member has to recognize that supplements do not mean that there are new projects. Often there are cost overruns relating to projects that were not anticipated. They make supplements come forward. It is not just that new projects come along for which supplements are sought. They are often for additional costs for existing ones that could not be met.
Mr. Brewster: That is quite correct. That is one of the problems with government. It can turn around and pass something. The public knows that there is a 50 percent increase on it because someone did poor planning. I have never been able to figure it out. If private business did that, the people planning would be down the road so fast that their heads would swim.
Yet, we continually allow this to happen. We continually allow supplements because someone has not planned properly. I personally would like to see fewer supplements and the plans being right on just like any private business.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have an esteemed and reverent respect for the Members point of view. He has articulated a view of this government that planning must happen for projects. That could be in land planning or in construction planning. We have taken a major initiative to ensure that adequate planning takes place.
Planning has proven time and time again to save costs in the long run. It is far easier to plan a project accurately and well knowing precisely what costs we are getting into than it is to poorly plan and then get saddled with unanticipated costs that show up because there was no adequate planning.
The Member has an example in his own riding. Willow Acres was not planned. We spent a lot of money to bring it back to a usable development. We have other subdivisions that show excellent planning, and there were no high costs.
In terms of land development, planning costs money, and that money has to be collected or recovered in the sale of that land.
In conclusion, I support the Member wholeheartedly when he calls for planning. That is something we are priorizing in projects; not just in land projects, but in capital projects throughout the government. Historically, and from other precedents in other jurisdictions, planning saves money. The Member is right.
Mr. Brewster: I was not going to go any further on this but, if they keep wanting to bring up Willow Acres, I will have to come back in.
Number one, let us get something very clear. I have had to do this every year in the House. That started out as country residential where the people were to put their own roads and everything in. I know that, because I happen to be the person who instigated this, because those people wanted to live like I was living.
After two meetings between the bureaucrats and the people who do not even live there any more, it was apparent that we were going to have a monstrosity inside the town, which could not be country residential. The next thing we know, we have a road better than the Alaska Highway, and it runs straight up in there. Then, we got lights. We came into all these new things where your septic tanks will not work. They priced them right out of sight where, right now, you are paying $28,000 to $30,000 a lot, plus probably $15,000 to put in a field and a septic tank. Of course, they flopped.
You have these same people who are now trying to buy cottage lots. My esteemed Member from Porter Creek has indicated they will be living on them permanently, whether you like it or not, once they get those lots.
The Minister threw that one at me, so I might throw Mendenhall at him just to get back at him. There was sure as hell some poor planning on that one.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Like the hon. Member has coloured the real story surrounding Willow Acres, he is also implying Mendenhall has some colouring to it.
Mendenhall was planned to a standard that does not agree with what the Member has indicated. I do not think I am going to pursue the debate. We have had Willow Acres debates here in the past. We all know precisely what took place in Willow Acres. We know what took place in Mendenhall. Depending on who is describing the facts determines where blame may be laid, or costs may be accrued.
The Member is probably correct. Willow Acres may have begun as a cheap development; so did Mendenhall. You get what you pay for.
Mr. Brewster: I will let him have the last word on that.
Industrial in the amount of $1,070,000 agreed to
Mr. Brewster: Why is there a terrific decrease of 43 percent on this? Does that mean you have a lot of residential lots onstream?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes. The Member is correct. The reduction would reflect some of the need already out there. Granger is a large part of it. You have quite a number of lots put onstream the previous year, so you would have to do less this year.
Looking through the list of available lots in the communities, residential lots are fairly abundant around the territory. We have quite an inventory now, and there is no need to push it.
Residential in the amount of $2,540,000 agreed to
On Rural Residential
Rural Residential in the amount of $1,165,000 agreed to
On Country Residential
Mr. Brewster: Why the large increase of 365 percent?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The increase is simply the result of an intention to do much more in that area this year. The Leader of the Official Opposition and I talked briefly yesterday about the Chooutla stage 2 subdivision, which is after the 31-lot area.
Watson Lake has a stage 3 proposed development in Bellview.
There will be a stage 1 development in Dome in Dawson.
There will be development in Wolf Creek and McPherson of country residential lots. That is within the City of Whitehorse.
Chooutla is planning money. Bellview is planning money. Dome is engineering, testing and planning money. McPherson and Wolf Creek is some road work and actual development work. That is where the majority of the money will be spent.
Country Residential in the amount of $330,000 agreed to
Commercial in the amount of $1,470,000 agreed to
Recreational in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
Mr. Brewster: I am very pleased to see an increase of 91 percent. Just what is this going to be used for?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Leader of the Official Opposition should listen to this. A fair amount of this money is identified for the Hootalinqua North area where we would begin some development work should the Hootalinqua plan be adopted and approved. The Member will recognize this budget was put together some six or eight months ago at a time when we were just holding public meetings. This would not proceed, of course, until we have some approval on the plan and some consensus from the community in the Hootalinqua area.
The Flat Creek area in Hootalinqua has identified monies. Flat creek is a rural agricultural development across the river from Drurys, I believe.
There is a Mayo intensive agricultural subdivision proposed, an extensive agricultural development in Watson Lake, and Hootalinqua north has additional money. It is identified in the listings on the sheets I circulated yesterday.
Mr. Phelps: I always listen very attentively when the Minister speaks. I have been extra attentive just now.
I am to take it then that none of these developments, including Flat Creek intensive agricultural subdivision, will go ahead until the Hootalinqua Plan is approved?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, that is essentially the position I took with the residents at the public meetings last summer and in subsequent meetings since then. Essentially, I have taken that position with the Leader of the Opposition in private meetings as well.
What we have in the Hootalinqua North planning area is a situation now where I am going to be proposing a structure of planning groups to review the recommendations of the Hootalinqua North Plan, to develop some direction for any infill or proposed developments to take place in the areas, agricultural or otherwise. It will be dependent upon consensus achieved from the residents. It will be dependent upon assurance that there is no interference in the land claims process. This will be taking place during the better part of the coming year, I expect, so it is unlikely that we will do any actual development. Should there be any, it would clearly require some measure of approval from at least the residents of the immediate area.
Mr. Phelps: So when the telephone starts ringing with an urgent tone to it, I can pick up the receiver and reassure myself that it is not the people from Hootalinqua North concerned because Flat Creek is being developed or the Scout Lake Road subdivision is going in, or whatever. Is that what he is saying?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Members telephone is ringing for that reason, there will be many more telephones ringing. The short answer is yes.
Mr. Devries: Could the Minister be a little more specific about what is happening in Watson Lake as far as agriculture is concerned?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I do on rare occasions, I made a mistake. If the Member checks the other sheets that I provided, Watson Lake is not identified for an agricultural development this coming fiscal year. A development is, however, planned in the year following that. I read from a wrong column. What the Member has on the sheets is accurate.
Mr. Devries: Thank you. Watson Lake is great potato country and as the road gets worse between here and Whitehorse, we have to become more self-sufficient.
Mr. Brewster: As the Minister said, he made a mistake. As I gather it, there are now three projects there and there is really only one of them, in Mayo, that may go ahead. Where do you get four?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There are three in Hootalinqua; one is Flat Creek. In Hootalinqua there are extensive development monies and intensive development monies - meaning one would deal with land of larger acreages and another would deal with land with potentially very small acreage.
Mr. Brewster: As I understand it now, there are four, but there is only one that can go ahead -Mayo. The others are being held up and nothing will be done on them before a number of their problems is solved. Is this correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, that is correct. I cannot predict the consensus that I will be getting on concluding the planning exercise in Hootalinqua. I do not see much hope for any development taking place until the following year. We budgeted for it to happen this year and there is a remote chance that some small intensive agricultural development somewhere north of the Mayo Road will go ahead. I do not know; it is too early to say.
There is a possibility I suppose that some of this could be spent in the Hootalinqua area but it would depend on some measure of consensus from the residents.
Mr. Brewster: As I understand it now, even the Mayo one may not go ahead. Is this correct? You have not finalized it with the people? You mentioned the north Mayo highway.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As far as I know at this time, Mayo has gone through the necessary consultation process, and the development is clear and ready to go, but I do not have all the details at my fingertips.
To clarify, there is general consensus from the community for the agricultural development. They are in the final stages of site selection, so there is still some minor consultative work to be done with the community, but the general approval is there and it should go.
Mr. Lang: I want to raise a concern - it is a caution more than anything else, to the government, and it is in regard to the overall policy of developing agricultural areas by the government. To this point, it is my understanding that the government has more or less left it up to the individuals to identify the areas in which they are interested; then there is a preliminary application made, then some checks to see whether or not the soils will meet the criteria. If everything goes well, then the individual goes through the process, applies for the lands and eventually he or she is given title. I think it has worked fairly well.
I just want to express the concern about going in and actually developing agricultural subdivisions. I do that because of my observation of what took place in Alaska. I had the opportunity to see what happened in Delta, where the government went in and developed through surveying roads and various other things, and of course the costs associated with it became very, very onerous to the taxpayer. The observations made then are probably just as valid today. We have to be very careful in that we are spending taxpayers dollars directly in these kinds of developments, whether or not we are going to get them back out and secondly whether or not we are putting people in the right places. Governments idea of doing things and an individuals may be two different things. Quite frankly, in many cases, I have a lot more overall faith in the individual who is investing their time, effort, blood, sweat and equity plus money than I have in government planners who decide that a certain area is an ideal place for an agricultural subdivision. It may well not fit in with quite a number of the people who would like to get into that type of venture.
I caution the government on getting into these types of things: proceed very carefully and very cautiously. To date, other than the fact that land has not been forthcoming, I think the policy has worked. The only criticism, I think, could be that there have been slowups in identifying the land and actually going through the process, because of other issues and conflicts involved in the granting of land. Maybe the Minister has some comments on that, but I am a little concerned about spending $100,000 here and $50,000 here and whatever, and whether or not we are going to recover it. Secondly, I would like to know if this is going to be part of his overall new policy, this idea of subdivision?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not going to go into any great extent in response to the Members comments. I respect what he has to say and can assure him that part of that discussion has taken place over the last couple of years in developing the new agricultural policy.
The Members comments do have validity in terms of the public response that I have heard in the past while about the problems and proposals for future agricultural development. The Member is not totally correct to suggest that planned agricultural developments do not work. Planned agricultural developments do work as do site-specific types of selections.
One of the problems that occurs when random selection is made is just that: there is random selection that often creates complications in the future growth and development of areas. Quite often, agriculture people only require small quantities of land, and a larger portion of suitable agricultural land lends itself to small parcels. There is a measure of planning that can go into that. In cases like this, it is desirable, suitable and fine.
The Member is correct that in some cases, for certain purposes, a larger acreage may be desirable, if that is the preference of the proponent and if that is what is available for land. Both measures work. The whole approach to it has been discussed. I am sure that we will be debating the topic at some length shortly.
The Member for Porter Creek East raised a question earlier about the infill in Porter Creek. I have the information relevant to the $20,000 that was spent in the current budget. In 1989-90, four lots on Oak and Aspen were released for sale. Before these lots were sold, the city did install water and sewer services and put in storm sewers. At this time, there are no other lots in Porter Creek specifically identified for infill.
The $20,000 identified in the budget is to examine some potential lots near existing services and near existing developments. None are specifically identified, but we will be working with the city to determine which, if any, of these general areas will lend themselves to further infill lots. Four came onstream last year. We are not sure which ones may come on next year.
Mr. Lang: I was going to make some calls to the department about when the lots would be released. I would like to commend the department for the work that it did. I do have one other observation, though. It has to do with the process and the bureaucracy. They were put out to tender for purchase very late. They became available to the public in September or early October, and most of the work had been done on those lots last spring.
If there are lots available again, either in Porter Creek or Riverdale, we should be making more of an effort to get them out to tender earlier so that people can build earlier. In one case, people were just getting their footings in prior to the frost coming. They were very fortunate to get to that stage before the weather closed in.
The department should look at this to see what it can do to expedite new lots through the system a little faster. The purchasers may be able to save a little money.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Members point is well taken. I understand those lots were released as soon as they could be, in terms of preparing the lots with the required storm sewers, servicing and getting the pricing done on them. The Member is correct, it would be preferable to have them on sale earlier in the year. It is our intention to do so.
In relation to those particular lots, it is just the way it worked out in getting them ready for sale. The point is well taken.
Agricultural in the amount of $305,000 agreed to
On Recoverable Administration
Recoverable Administration in the amount of $85,000 agreed to
On Central Services:
Quarries in the amount of $53,000 agreed to
On Non-Recoverable Central Services
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The $170,000 would consist of things like surveys we have to do that are unrecoverable. It would cover some remedial road work to developments that are being released for sale. There are situations where we have to carry out some road repairs to subdivisions that came onstream two and three years ago, but where there is damage that has taken place. We have to allow for some upgrading when lots go on sale, because people expect them with serviced roads. That is the kind of expenditure assigned in that item.
Mr. Devries: Would one of those be the Upper Liard Road to the Botti subdivision?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, the Member is correct. He has to understand that the work done on that road was done in this budget year. The line item we are dealing with is for next year. He is correct in this being the line item where the kind of work done on Botti would have been done.
Non-Recoverable Central Services in the amount of $170,000 agreed to
On Community Planning
Community Planning in the amount of $143,000 agreed to
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $7,831,000 agreed to
On Allotments and Person Year Establishment
Allotments and Person Year Establishment agreed to
Lands in the amount of $8,899,000 agreed to
Chair: The Committee will take a brief recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee to order.
On Community Services
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Community Services portion of the budget is, for the most part, a lot of grants that include the block funding monies, the administration of all the various services provided to organized and unorganized communities, the capital monies relating to sewer and water services provided to communities, as well as the various fire protection services.
The $13 million is largely split between the staff costs of maintaining the department and the various grants that are listed on page 91. They comprise about half of the $13 million. When we get into the capital, I can comment on some of the specific projects of each line item.
Mr. Brewster: We can go to line-by-line unless somebody else wants to continue general debate.
On Operation and Maintenance
On Branch Administration
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The total of the line items is split among the staff costs of the department, office requirements and the grants. Just over $6.5 million of that figure is grants as listed. The other is staff costs. We could break that out under administration, protective services and emergency measures if you want, but it is what it is. Grants are on one side and the rest is staff costs.
Mr. Brewster: I do not have any problem there. I hope the Minister did not think that with that little statement I would just clear all the line-by-line items. We will do them one at a time.
Branch Administration in the amount of $7,141,000 agreed to
On Protective Services
Protective Services in the amount of $2,180,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Emergency Measures in the amount of $84,000 agreed to
On Sport, Arts and Recreation
Sport, Arts and Recreation in the amount of $1,714,000 agreed to
Mr. Devries: Maybe we can clarify the misunderstanding we had during Question Period. I was talking about the grant-in-lieu that YTG pays to the Town of Watson Lake. My understanding is that there is a change being made in the method the government uses to calculate the assessment on its own buildings. This is creating a situation where Watson Lake has a reduction of approximately $25,000 in revenue that it will collect from YTG through the grant-in-lieu of taxes. Because of this reduction of $25,000, the council is anticipating a rate increase of one-half mill. Can the Minister possibly elaborate on that a little?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is quite correct. I was totally confused in Question Period today. I thought the Member was talking about licence plate fee increases and somewhere he brought in the issue of assessments. I thought I was responding legitimately to licence fee questions, and the Member said that he was talking about assessment and taxation and the impact on Watson Lake.
I have tried to understand, since Question Period, what the Member was talking about. I will try to give him an explanation of what amounts to a fairly technical matter. In previous assessments for buildings, the Yukon was using a set of criteria to determine that assessment. The criteria included a Yukon building component. I am not sure of the official terminology.
That component amounted to an additional 25 percent of construction cost being factored into the assessment. That was because it was a cost associated to the Yukon. It more accurately, in the assessors view, reflected a better assessment of the building. That 25 percent is what became the issue, that special factoring in of a Yukon enhancement to the assessment.
The federal government refused to accept that factor. That has been part of the battle that the municipalities have had with the federal government in collecting their grants in lieu. The federal government, historically, has been two or three years behind in paying its grants in lieu to municipalities around the territory. That was due, in part, to the fact that our assessment on the buildings has this one component factored in. The federal government was not accepting that.
There is now a new manual for assessment. It has taken out that 25 percent Yukon charge. That has reflected in a changed assessment of buildings. That in no way ought to reflect the taxation that municipalities would collect from residents. Essentially, in establishing budgets, assessments are determined, costs are determined, and a mill rate is established to meet those costs.
The fact that the assessment goes up or down can be reflected by the adjustment on the mill rate, which is a percentage of the assessment. It is entirely incorrect to suggest that a changed assessment causes increased taxation. That does not happen if the mill rate is adjusted accordingly.
I was on a municipal council in Faro a number of years ago, and this issue came up. One year it rose dramatically because considerable construction occurred in the community. A new assessment was done by the assessment branch in the community. Our assessment went up dramatically. If we had applied the mill rate of the previous year against that assessment, we would have had a dramatic increase in our taxation. We could have collected that and said it was because the assessment went up.
Instead, the mill rate should be adjusted to reflect what is needed on the budget side, not keep it the same if the assessment goes up. I do not know if I made myself clear, but that is the explanation I can give to the Member based on the issue he raised in Question Period today.
Mr. Phelps: The real issue is whether the government grant-in-lieu has changed because of the change in the way it assesses its property, while nothing else has changed in that community. If the government changes the amount of money it gives, that causes the city to readjust its mill rate, the same as a change in the overall assessment for the city. It will cause a change. If the government suddenly changes its assessment, and the other buildings in the town are not changed by the same factor, that means that that the mill rate has to be adjusted because of the one change, and that is the governments change. Then, the tax burden is passed from the government to all those buildings where the assessment has not changed, and that is the issue.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Leader of the Opposition is correct in noting that an anomaly is created because of the changed assessment on a portion of the buildings in a municipality versus all the buildings changing. That is something we have little control over in terms of assessment. Assessment is a standard procedure followed by assessors, which uses a series of factors to determine the value of a structure. What had been occurring is that there was a special levy on government buildings in communities applied in the early 1980s, rightly or wrongly. It was approximately the early 1980s when this special charge was assigned, and it was not accepted by the feds, and it is not accepted in the current manual and, yes, it has affected the assessments of government buildings. The municipalities may present their case at an appeal of that assessment. I expect Watson Lake and other concerned communities will do that. Watson Lake has made a case, as I recall; Dawson City and Faro have accepted theirs. I do not know what the Members opposite think I ought to do about it, but there was an inappropriate factor built into the assessment of government buildings in the past that is not a standard, accepted assessment practice. It is restored to a form of consistent assessment now and it has created an anomaly; it is a problem. I do not have a solution other than to invite and encourage an appeal and a further discussion of the issue.
Mr. Lang: The municipality in question, Watson Lake, has planned their budget with the thought and the understanding, up until this change came about, that they were going to get an additional $25,000 if they kept their percentage levy the same as they had previously. There was an indication that they were going to change that.
In the O&M budget put together in August of last year, period 5, was the extra $25,000 identified for the grant-in-lieu of taxes to be transferred to Watson Lake?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: My understanding of the budget and assessment process is that Watson Lake was fully aware of what assessments were to be, through the tax rolls. They knew that by the time of their provisional budget. They ought to have known what their assessments were and what their grants-in-lieu would have been by December, and the provisional budget time. The Member should not be saying they established a budget without this knowledge.
Mr. Lang: I am not referring to the municipalities. I am asking the Yukon government and you, as the Minister. When you put this budget together in August of this past year, was there $25,000 identified that would have been going to Watson Lake if you had not changed the method of assessment?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not entirely certain. Because we did the assessment calculations in September, I am not sure if the calculations of the budget book reflect the changed grants-in-lieu or not.
Mr. Lang: You definitely have an outline in the budget of what grants in lieu you are going to be giving out. I would ask the Minister to check and tell us whether the $25,000 is or is not identified.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe that is what I am undertaking to do. The Member knows the budgeting process. In approximately August, when the calculations are being made, it appears that that is approximately the same time that the revised assessments were being done. We are not certain, so we want to check.
Mr. Lang: I think we should just stand this aside. There is an ability to make remedies to the community of Watson Lake. If the Government of the Yukon Territory is planning that X dollars transferred to the community of Watson Lake in its budget, and Watson Lake is expecting, then all of a sudden the assessment rate is changed to the point where there are significant financial implications to communities, then there has to be some room where there can be some sort of adjustment for at least a period of a year until they can work it out.
Otherwise, the community of Watson Lake is going to be looking at an increase of taxation on the people and property in the area. If that is the case, why does the YTG not have the jam to levy the tax? It is the government that created the problem in the first place.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Having been in this business before, the Member knows the grants-in-lieu that are budgeted around August of a previous year are only estimates for calculation purposes. In August of a particular year, no government knows precisely what the mill rate or assessment is going to be in the community to which it is going to be granting the grants-in-lieu. It is an estimate of what an expected grant is going to be.
The Member suggests we are splitting hairs. It is an estimate of what you would be planning to pay to that community. Its mill rate could go up and their tax rate could be high, and our grant in lieu could be low, based on the previous years estimate. There is a fair amount of calculation that goes into it that may change.
I repeat, the assessment rolls go out in early December, which is required by statute. The provisional budget is struck early in the new year. The provisional budget that any community strikes is struck with the full knowledge of the assessments of buildings in that community, including government buildings. That information was known.
They have the opportunity to repeal it, and we can address it in a serious-minded appeal process. If Watson Lake or any community feels aggrieved about the extraction of this Yukon construction component in the assessment, it can present its case. I am prepared to participate in that process, but it is not going to be coming to me.
Mr. Devries: The point I was trying to make earlier is that I am quite aware there are three YTG buildings in Watson Lake on which the method of assessing taxes is being changed. It means that Watson Lake is getting roughly $25,000 less in revenue from grants-in-lieu and that means to me - as is the increase in licence plate fees - that is a tax increase. When the Minister of Finance made the budget speech he said there was no tax increase. It is because of things the Yukon government is doing that the government will take another $40 or $50 out of my wallet, and it is not fat by any means.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is entirely incorrect to suggest that a licence plate fee increase is a tax increase. It simply is not. It is a fee for service and we have gone through the debate reflecting the reasons for the fee increase. I have already pointed out that an increase has not taken place since 1981. The fee increase we introduced is less than the fee increase at that time.
For the Member to suggest a tax increase somehow inherent in the fee increase for licence plate administration indicates he is entirely confused over what constitutes taxes and what constitutes fee increases. The suggestion that the change in the assessment process for government buildings also reflects a tax increase is entirely inaccurate and wrong as well.
The municipality has the option of picking up the difference in anticipated revenue through its own reserves. It has the option to appeal. It is certainly not the imposition of a tax increase by this government. What has taken place is a more consistent and accurate assessment process than was being employed by the previous administration. We are cleaning this mess up. That is what has to happen to do that.
Mr. Phelps: With respect to the increase in licence plate fee tax increase, which the Minister says is not a tax at all, but a fee for service, what is the service?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: During previous debates I indicated a response or gave the Member an answer to that very question. The cost to administer the motor vehicles branch is in the magnitude of $500,000. That cost has gone up since 1981 by some 40 percent. The Member is aware that the services that are provided to maintain safe and operating highways is a service. I could spend the next half an hour listing other various transport services that highways provides, that our motor vehicles branch provides, and perhaps I might even elaborate and talk about all the services the government provides. I think we have one-half of an hour left in the day, and if the Member really wants to know, I am prepared to talk for that length of time - if the Member is really serious about the question.
However, I think what Members are really interested in is talking about the assessments. If Members have further questions on that I would be pleased to entertain them.
While I am on my feet, and to try to restore debate where it seems to be most productive, I would like to respond to a question raised by the Member for Kluane in Question Period today and yesterday respecting the Haines Road shutdown.
The Haines Road was shut down yesterday for approximately two hours due to a whiteout condition. Two weeks ago, the Haines Road was shut down due to a skidoo race. That is what the Member was raising with me. I told the Member that I was not aware of the shutdown or the skidoo race. I should have been, but I was not. I did not read the papers, and I did not listen to the radio.
Apparently, this race has been run for the past six years, and the highway, in each case, has been closed for the race. This is done in conjunction with the departments of both jurisdictions, Alaska and the Yukon.
It is a joint effort to shut the road down for that race each year. Two weeks ago, it was closed down from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. It was announced well in advance in newspapers and on the radio. I am sure that the Member thanks me for that information.
Mr. Brewster: That is cheating to say that I cannot debate it because we are in the middle of assessments when he brings it up. I would prefer that we debate it because there are some serious consequences over what happened.
Mr. Phelps: I was very enlightened to suddenly become aware that the government collects money from licence fees and uses that to run the motor vehicle branch of the government. Does the government maintain a separate bank account? Does the government have a profit each year, or does it just break even on running the entire motor vehicles branch from the revenue derived from the licence fees?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The branch does not keep a separate account. The Member knows that. The revenue from licence plate fees goes into general revenue. It goes into general operations. The funds raised through licence fees do not come close to the cost of operating the extent of services that are provided.
In most jurisdictions across the country, licence plates and permits relating to highway travel and various fees applied for the transport of goods accrue approximately 30 percent of the jurisdictions highway costs. That could be for motor vehicles or for highway maintenance.
All jurisdictions average approximately a revenue collection of 30 percent of the costs that they have to maintain their highway network and administrative support. In the Yukon, we collect approximately five percent. We are substantially under other jurisdictions in terms of what we collect as revenue compared to the costs of that service.
I apologize to the Member for Kluane who feels handicapped in debating the issue of the Haines Road. I will speak to him privately after the debate if it is inappropriate here. It was not intentional to muzzle the Member. I would feel comfortable in addressing the issue if others accept that.
Mr. Phelps: This is a real learning experience for us on this side. Do the taxes that are collected by government and the transfer payments from the federal government go into general revenue, too?
Mr. Penikett: We are getting into financial matters on which I am not prepared to provide detail at this time. If the Member wants me to take notice, I will. If the Member wants to raise them in the next debate in Finance, when we get out of this one, we could all benefit from the shared wisdom of our Minister of Finance who could provide much better detail than I could.
Mr. Phelps: I will not ask whether or not the taxes and transfer payments are fees for services, too.
Assessments in the amount of $451,000 agreed to
Mr. Brewster: I am prepared to clear it, but I notice in the statistics on page 91, which comes under the O&M, it says there was a grant of $14,420 to Elsa; what is the situation there now, with everybody leaving? Are we maintaining all those buildings?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In response to the Members question on Elsa, that is an identified amount that would have gone had the Elsa hamlet council been functioning. That is the grant that would have been provided - similar, I guess, to a grant that would be provided for the creation of any hamlet status around Whitehorse. The hamlet council disbanded, and we are not maintaining any costs at this time in the community relating to hamlet facilities, so that will not be a grant in this budget year.
Taxation in the amount of $1,437,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the total amount of $13,007,000 agreed to
On Public Health and Safety:
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Mr. Phelps: I have some questions regarding a couple of constituency concerns. The first has to do with the location and proposal for a sewage lagoon at Carcross. I am wondering whether or not, under this item, it can be said that land has been identified and appropriated or earmarked for the sewage lagoon, the location of which is a critical problem with regard to whether or not an appropriate system can be installed at Carcross, which of course is an issue that impacts on all the lakes and ultimately the water supply down here at Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is my understanding that a final site selection has not been agreed upon. We have had ongoing discussions and consultations with the community, including the band. We have a couple of sites, I believe, that were selected; we have one in particular that looked quite suitable. That one is being questioned by the band at this time and we are on hold with it. Some continuing discussions are required.
Mr. Phelps: I took part in the public meetings held with regard to locating a site. It seems that site is the only suitable one; there was a complete lack of potential sites, given the mountains in the vicinity between the town itself and the Watson River subdivision. I hope that we will keep pushing to try to get that resolved; it is for the benefit of everybody in Carcross.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate that representation. It is helpful to know that is a site we should be pursuing. Given some further assessment work and discussion with the community, there might be an acceptance for that site, and we can proceed with the necessary development. I understand that has both a solid disposal site and a lagoon site adjacent to each other.
We will be continuing to conclude a decision on that so we can proceed with what appears to be a necessary service improvement to the community.
Mr. Devries: Also on the sewage, I understand there is a little bit of concern about some of the seepage along the airport road at Watson Lake from the homes along there. Some of the sewers are starting to seep to the surface there. Studies have taken place. Is there any update on what is happening? Would that come under the community of Watson Lake?
Chair: Order please. We have to straighten this out. We started off with line item Planning and Pre-Engineering. We debated that, and Mr. Devries has gone all the way down to Water and Sewer Mains. Hansard is probably thinking we are in general debate. We will go into general debate right now just for this.
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of $220,000 agreed to
On Water Supply, Treatment and Storage
Mr. Phelps: I have a question on that, and it goes back to the Tagish community well. We have had some correspondence on this issue. It was supposed to be done last year. It has been delayed. Do we have a revote? Is that well for water supply to the community of Tagish going to be installed this coming year?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It is the intention to proceed with that project once we conclude the assessment work that is being done and a site selection is made. The Member and I have communicated on it. We may not agree upon the urgency of it or the need for the consultation and assessment work, but it is our intention to revote the money forward so the well can be put in place this summer.
Mr. Phelps: The preferred site, among the residents I have talked to in the area, would be where the fire shed is, near the north end of the Taku subdivision and the road into California Beach.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Accepted. We appreciate that.
Water Supply, Treatment and Storage in the amount of $1,611,000 agreed to
On Water and Sewer Mains
Mr. Brewster: Why is there an 81 percent decrease? Does that mean we pretty well have everyone supplied with water and sewer?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That is quite a substantial decrease, but not because we have every community adequately serviced. What took place this past year was something quite unusual, but not unheard of, in terms of moving money around. The project going on in Mayo, a major sewer and water project, was a phased project and at a point late this summer it became apparent to us that if we combined one of the later phases with the work currently going on we would achieve some substantial cost savings, simply because the lines being put in could be hooked up while exposed. In other words, as you are putting lines down and connected service lines now instead of later, you would not have to dig up again in subsequent years. We moved a substantial amount of money from the budget we are reviewing into this current fiscal year to do that job at the same time. That, in part, explains what appears to be a reduction. It is simply the phasing of the project to do a less expensive job. It reflected in what looks like a major reduction. That is not quite the case.
Mr. Brewster: As I understand it, that would have appeared in one of the supplements in which we voted to move money back, yet we have used it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It was in the last supplementary. I cannot remember if I spoke to it, but I would have referred to the money being brought from the next years budget. I will have to check Hansard, but I vaguely recall discussing this - not in the detail I just described, but referring to it.
Mr. Brewster: That is the one the Minister slipped by us because I do not recall debating that.
Mrs. Firth: Did we spend the whole $680,000 on that sewer project in Mayo?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: It should show up on the sheets I circulated yesterday. The $680,000 in this years budget under Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the next line item concludes that project.
Mrs. Firth: So the total sewage treatment facility I see in the multi-year projects is estimated to cost $1,576,000. In the information the Minister gave out to the contractors during the briefing session held in the government foyer, under capital projects, municipal and community affairs, they talked about the first year of a two-year project to construct the facility, design, and water licensing work currently underway. That was for $680,000. Is the Minister saying that that amount of money is what is going to be spent, including the additional costs, or is it going to be in excess of the $680,000 and closer to $1,576,000?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will try and clarify what the Member is talking about. The $1.6 million is the total project cost related to the water system installation. It ties into a fire-flow system. It is a pressure system. The $1.6 would include the money that I just described to the Member for Kluane that we would have pulled forward from the budget that we are reviewing into the current fiscal year.
The $680,000 that we have identified this year is part 1 of a two-year program for sewage disposal. It is a second project. That will explain the reference to the contractors in year 1 of a two-year project.
Mrs. Firth: The Minister has now mentioned a couple of different projects that will all tie into this. This capital project is a sewage treatment facility. That is the first of a two-year project to construct the facility. The design and water licensing work is currently under way.
In the multi-year costs, there are fire-flow improvements for $2.178 million. Is that the system the Minister is talking about tying into this? That is a separate one for $2.178 million. Then there is another sewage treatment one for $1.576 million. The piped water and sewer to the Mayo Indian village is $960,000. Are those all separate projects? Is this the first one to be started?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is correct about them being separate projects. I assume that the Member is correct about the amounts. I do not have them at my fingertips. They are three separate projects that tie into each other relating to water mains, sewage facility and sewer mains.
Mrs. Firth: I see also that we are spending $55,000 on the fire-flow improvements completion. That is for the completion of a new well to be drilled for the community. Does that tie into that total project of the fire-flow improvements of $2.178 million?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: That should be the conclusion of the fire-flow project, which ended up, with this application of dollars, being a three-year project after all.
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of $365,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Mr. Devries: Two years ago, samples of the water in Watson Lake were taken to determine if there was a pollution problem with the seepage from the septic tanks along the airport road. They were going to monitor that again last year to see if it was a serious problem. Could the Minister take that as notice and get back to me on that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will take it as notice. It appears that the testing the Member speaks of would have been done by Environmental Health and they would have not only advised us but the municipality as well. I am not specifically aware of any particular issue or problem, but I will check.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to know why there is a 241 percent increase.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In some measure, we already discussed the projects under that. Again, they are listed in the sheets I circulated. They reflect just a number of projects in various communities in the sewage treatment and disposal area. The $680,000 cost for phase 1 of the sewer and water extension in Mayo is part of it. The lagoon completion in Old Crow is part of it. Some work in Ross River is part of it, and $154,000 is identified for Carcross under this vote. The long and the short of it is that it is an increase because of the demands and the priority this government places on sewage and water disposal systems to address the serious environmental questions that are arising.
Mr. Brewster: The only reason I am bringing it up is because we were under $265,000 back in 1988-89 - for $218,000 we did Haines Junction, Teslin and a few others. Now, all of a sudden, we shoot way up and it seems to be mainly all on one project, with a little bit for Old Crow.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member should add that $150,000 of that is in Carcross, as well as Ross River and so on. It is a fairly comprehensive listing.
Madam Chair, I move that you report progress, albeit slow, on Bill No. 19.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I move that Mr. Speaker do now resume his chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: 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. 19, First Appropriation Act 1990-91, and has directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report from 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 hon. Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
The following Legislative Returns were tabled February 13, 1990:
Mary Carlson, Probation Officer, re educational leave (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p.933
Costs associated with Yukon Government Employee Benefits Handbook (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, pp. 930 & 933
Compensation packages for terminated employees in calendar year 1989 (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 933
Contract by Northern Writes to research and draft Yukon Teachers Association Benefits handbook (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 933
Executive Leadership Survey by Mansour Javidan of Mandus Management Consultants Inc. (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 933
Consideration of local and outside candidates for jobs (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 929
Public Service Commission costs relating to health transfer (M. Joe)
Oral, Hansard, p. 929