Tuesday, December 10, 1991 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with Prayers.
In Recognition of Human Rights
Hon. Ms. Joe: As Members are aware, 43 years ago today, most of the worlds countries including Canada, signed the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration marked a turning point in modern history.
Out of the atrocities committed in World War II, came a new determination that never again would we allow our rights and freedoms to be trampled upon.
Sadly, much of what this declaration was designed to rally against is still with us. In our own country, racism, intolerance, violence and poverty are all failings that must not be accepted as facts of life. The most difficult challenge still facing us is to make real the ideals pledged 43 years ago.
I would like to commend all Yukoners who choose not to ignore injustice, but instead choose to confront the many issues facing women, minorities, the illiterate, the elderly, the poor or anyone suffering in silence.
Those of you who work for change know that we all have a long way to go, but it must be accepted as an article of faith that we will make it, provided that each of us personally embraces the pledge of human rights and makes it our own.
Mr. Lang: We on this side of the House would like to join in sharing some of the views expressed by the Minister of Justice.
I would like to very strongly emphasize how fortunate we are, as Canadians, in our country compared to some of the disruption that you see around the world, even today.
One only has to look at what is happening in Russia and the right of the majority versus that of the right of the minority. There is civil strife in Yugoslavia, and one cannot help but think how fortunate we are as individuals and collectively as a society.
I would like to conclude by saying that we, as a nation and as a group of individuals, have much to share with other countries of the world, to help those who are experiencing the problems they face.
The reality is that there are still some problems within our own country, as the Minister has outlined, but it is up to legislatures like our own to look at those particular problems and see how we can resolve them. I think it is safe to say that politicians of all political stripes share the same objectives - we just may argue how to get there.
Speaker: Tabling Returns and Documents.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: I have for tabling the Electoral District Boundaries Commission report, 1991.
Are there any further Returns or Documents for Tabling?
Hon. Mr. Webster: I have for tabling several legislative returns.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I, too, have some returns for tabling.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Whether anyone likes it or not, I have for tabling the annual report of Yukon College, 1990-91.
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: Whitehorse rental accommodation
Mr. Lang: I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Housing. It has to do with the zero percent vacancy rate in the Whitehorse area and the fact that there is very little rental accommodation being constructed in the community other than people converting existing housing into suites, which the Minister mentioned the other day.
It is obvious that the present programs in effect are not of that much benefit to builders or investors who are prepared to provide rental accommodation. The only significant rental accommodation built in the City of Whitehorse in the last number of years has been built by the Government of the Yukon. I would like to ask the Minister of Housing: in view of the poor success rate of the programs to encourage investors providing apartments, what steps is she going to take to revise or redirect existing programs to provide further incentives. Perhaps then we could meet that great need in the community?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: As I previously told the Member, there certainly are a number of programs in place. The joint-venture program is there. The build-to-suit at a certain price is there. There are many programs. We certainly have built at least one large apartment building in the past short while. We have supported another organization or agency in their building.
Where the problem lies is that it seems that entrepreneurs, at this time, are not interested in picking up the programs. We certainly are not going to give them totally free money to build, if that is what the Member is saying. The incentives are numerous, from decent interest rates to approving and guaranteeing that we will purchase a set number of apartments within a privately built centre.
As I said previously, the corporation is having discussions with something like five different construction companies at the present time, and we expect that there will be several more. It is my hope that from some of those discussions will come the conclusion that more space will be built. I do not see much else that can be done at the present time, other than building ourselves.
Mr. Lang: Our concern is that the government will once again go in and build more government housing. We will get to the point where the City of Whitehorse will be like many of our other communities, with a stock of housing basically owned by the Government of Yukon.
I am talking about incentives for investors and builders to go ahead with apartment blocks, not necessarily giving them free money, as the Minister referred to. I am not talking about duplexes. I am talking about apartments so we will have some rental accommodation in our community. Is the Minister prepared to go back to Yukon Housing Corporation and see what other incentives or what other revisions can be made to see if we can get people building this type of accommodation within our community?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: We are always prepared to look at new ideas and new concepts to try and increase the housing stock in the territory. I was not just referring to duplexes. I was referring to major apartment blocks. The Housing Corporation is prepared to purchase a number of suites within any given block.
The problem, as the Member knows, is that there is not much available in the way of affordable land within the City of Whitehorse. Certainly, there is in some of the other communities, but there still seems to be no uptake by private enterprise.
If the Member has any suggestions, I would certainly be interested in hearing them.
Mr. Lang: Over the past year there has been a fair amount of national debate ensuing with respect to RRSP investments and whether or not they should be utilized for home ownership, allowing individuals to invest in their own homes.
I would like to know if the Minister has had the opportunity to review this type of financing, and if so, has she and her government approached the Government of Canada to make the necessary changes so that people can put their RRSP investments toward private home ownership?
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I personally have not reviewed this; I cannot say whether the board of the corporation has or not, but I can certainly obtain that information for the Member and bring it back to him.
Question re: Whitehorse rental accommodation
Mr. Lang: The Minister, in her comments earlier, talked about the question of land and the availability of land and the difficulty that that has caused in respect to people investing in apartment buildings. I realize, and I think that anyone in the House who has looked at land development in the City of Whitehorse, realizes that it has been a real dilemma.
It is my understanding that, since early fall, there has been a number of apartment lots zoned by the city and the city has recommended that they be released; however, these lots have not been released.
I want to ask the Minister why these parcels of land have not been made available to the public to see whether or not there is someone out there prepared to invest in the land and go ahead with an apartment block.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: I am not quite clear what the Member is asking. Is he asking me why the City of Whitehorse has not released...
Mr. Lang: The City of Whitehorse has already approved it.
Hon. Ms. Hayden: They have approved it, but as I understood the question, it was: why have they not released it? I have no idea why the city has not released it.
Mr. Lang: I do not know whether the Minister is aware of this, but the Minister and her government are the ones responsible for the development of land in the City of Whitehorse; all the City of Whitehorse deals with is zoning and also, I gather, gives some sort of approval for release. The blocks of land I am indicating are within the Government of Yukons purview and I want to know why the Government of Yukon has not put them out to the market, since the city gave its approval quite some time ago.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps I could assist in answering the question. I take it, from the Members question that he might be referring to development of additional Granger lots. If the Member is seeking information surrounding the next release of Granger lots, I can quite easily speak to that.
The City of Whitehorse has plans to release the next phase of Granger lots some time in January - in fact, at the last breakfast meeting we discussed the matter and were looking at some additional 40 lots in Granger in January. I cannot, while on my feet, indicate to the Member the configuration of those lots but if they are the ones he is referring to then that is when they are going forward.
Mr. Lang: My information is that in September the city council approved the release of lots as well as some designated areas for the building of apartments. The city gave its approval for release, and now it is December. I want to know why those lots were not put on the market. Why are we waiting until January, when obviously it is just going to sit there until spring when construction can start? We have lost a whole year again. Can the Minister tell us why they were not released?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I can assure the Member that certainly we are not causing a holdup. I can investigate the matter the Member raises, to seek out just what land allegedly was released and not offered for sale. It puzzles me. I do know that the Granger lots sold quite rapidly this past year. In fact, it seems to me, in our discussion with the city in the course of the last week, it was revealed that there are something like only a dozen lots left in the last package of lots released. So, there is indeed some desire to move another batch of lots onstream. They are ready. I believe the development agreement has long since been approved.
I understand that there are some final technical details to wrap up, relating to off-site levies that the city is proposing to put forward on those properties, and everything should be in place for release in January. But there was no particular pressure for them to come onstream before that. I do not know the configuration of the lots, so I cannot tell the Member if, in those 40 lots, any of them are apartment lots.
Question re: Indian land claims
Mrs. Firth: I have a question for the Government Leader regarding the land claims process. This government has committed $6.75 million, over 10 years, toward land claim implementation costs and allocated another $1 million for the education trust fund. I would like to ask the Government Leader if they have done any projections with respect to the cost of First Nation self-government and whether the Yukon territorial government will be expected to pay for any of these costs.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: At this stage, it would be practically impossible to predict, with any degree of accuracy, what the implementation costs of First Nation self-government would be for the fairly plain reason that we have no way of knowing, yet, what powers each First Nation is going to draw down, and on what schedule, in the next few years. The thing the Member should understand about the agreements is that, as a result of the implementation of First Nation self-government in the Yukon, there will be no net cost to the Government of Yukon whatsoever, according to these agreements.
Question re: First Nation lands/YTG constructing buildings
Mrs. Firth: My second question is with respect to the policy of the Yukon territorial government when it comes to putting buildings on First Nations land. The Government Leader said they would anticipate problems and deal with them in a broad framework. We think that a clear policy would better serve all Yukoners. I would like to ask the Government Leader if he would consider establishing a policy to address this specific issue.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I think the question is in the form of a representation - would the government consider...? Of course the government would consider that, but it does not do much to deal with problems that already exist, such as buildings built by the previous government on land set aside for Indians or what is now settlement land. There are a whole number of situations like that. They will have to be addressed in what I hope will be friendly negotiations with First Nations in the coming years. It may be well to have a general policy, but I doubt there will be one policy that will be entirely satisfactory in dealing with every situation, such as the situation that exists already in Old Crow, Teslin or places like that.
Question re: Council for Yukon Indians/recognition of chair as government leader
Mrs. Firth: My final question regards the question of protocol between the Yukon territorial government and the Council for Yukon Indians. In a letter in August, the CYI raised a concern that the chair of the CYI had not been considered as a government leader and recognized as such by this government. I have had correspondence with the Government Leader regarding this matter. I would like to ask him when they are going to make a decision with respect to how they will be recognizing CYI or does this government have a position with respect to this? I wonder if the Government Leader would tell us what it is.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: First of all, as I have indicated in the past, we do recognize the legitimacy of First Nation governments. We have done so for a long period of time and have recently negotiated agreements that recognize the authority of those First Nation governments. We have, as well, recognized the Council for Yukon Indians as an organization that represents those First Nation governments and we want to treat that organization and its leadership with appropriate respect.
Even though I have had one subsequent discussion with the chair of the Council for Yukon Indians, the Member may understand that we have been rather busy with more pressing matters and have not yet had a chance to sit down and talk about the precise nature of the concerns by the Council for Yukon Indians with respect to protocol matters.
I do understand the sensitivity with which many people approach such questions, but, to be perfectly frank, the matter of protocol is not something to which this government has devoted a large amount of time or energy.
Question re: Taga Ku convention centre project
Mr. Phelps: I am rather curious with respect to a couple of the items that appear in the Yukon Development Corporation annual report and some of the discussions we have had with respect to Taga Ku and the $2 million that has been advanced to that body.
In the books, there are two receivables. One is for just under $300,000, which is owing from, in essence, the Yukon Indian Development Corporation and the Kaska Dena Council. It seems to be secured against the end result of land claims. The other has to do with the advances I have already mentioned to the Taga Ku Development Corporation. Again, there is the statement that they are secured against land claims advances.
It aroused my curiosity, because I was under the impression that this would not be acceptable to the federal government. Could the Minister tell us if the federal government has agreed to this form of security taking place, that is, monies given to these business ventures secured against advances under land claims? What is the federal governments position?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot speak for the federal government, and I cannot say definitively what their position is. What I can tell the Member is, as I indicated in a legislative return tabled today, that the Champagne/Aishihik First Nation has provided a band council resolution that effectively guarantees the repayment of the $2 million as a first assignment under their land claims agreement. That is documented and part of the conditions and security surrounding that loan.
Mr. Phelps: It is interesting in both cases. In the case of the $298,000, which is receivable with respect to the purchase of shares in Yukon Pacific and in the case of the advances to Taga Ku, we have the security mentioned.
In the event that the Taga Ku convention centre complex goes sour, is the Minister convinced that there will be no difficulty in obtaining these monies from the land claims advances, particularly given that the federal government apparently has not signed any documentation giving their authorization?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think the Member will recognize that he has placed a hypothetical question. He has made an assumption that the Taga Ku project will not proceed and the $2 million loan will have to be recovered. I cannot speak to the hypothetical nature of the question. What I can say is that in terms of the security, again, as outlined in the legislative return and according to my understanding, the funding can be recovered. It will be up to the proponents to discuss the legal forms of repayment. In the same hypothetical vein that the Member posed the question, I can respond in the same hypothetical manner to say that there may be options.
Mr. Phelps: This is not hypothetical at all. It deals with the nature of the security that is outlined in the books of Yukon Development Corporation. Either the last resort security is legally binding or it is not. It is not hypothetical. Either those monies will be collectible as an assignment from the proceeds out of land claims settlement, or not.
My question again is: has there been any kind of agreement reached, or discussion held with, the federal government respecting this lien against land claims money that normally would be accruing to the First Nation people, not to some corporation?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I hesitate to enter into debate on what amounts to substantial legal matters, but I have been assured by my officials that the security is legal and that the commitment from the Band is substantive. The Member should also recognize that the security is not just that recovery shall come from land claims settlement monies. There are shares involved. There are assets involved, and as I indicated earlier, we could well have some combination, should recovery be necessitated.
Question re: Taga Ku convention centre project
Mr. Phelps: We have one security the Member claims is hypothetical, because it is a fresh advance and nothing has gone sour yet; and we have the other one, the long term receivable: $298,000 for shares in what now is obviously a worthless company. It is secured in the same manner, according to the kind of information provided in the books of Yukon Development Corporation, on page 9 of the report for the last fiscal year. I note the $298,000 has not been written off, so is the Yukon Development Corporation expecting, and going to insist upon, the $298,000 being paid to it out of land claims when they are settled?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am looking at the same page and the same number, and I am puzzled as to the assumption drawn by the Member. The $298,000 is listed as a long-term receivable; it is intended to be recovered. It is stated in the books and those are the facts of the matter.
Mr. Phelps: I do not understand. I gathered, once again, that the ultimate assurance that the corporation had in this instance was the settlement of land claims. In the end result, is it the intention that these monies will come from land claims advancement?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot answer that question on my feet. I will seek advice on the question, because I do not know the specific terms of security of that particular receivable.
I repeat: it is registered in the statement and it is stated as a long-term receivable. Clearly, it is not written off so it is therefore expected to be recovered. Precisely how it is going to be recovered, I would have to take notice of the question in order to have time to see the terms of the security and get back to the Member.
Mr. Phelps: So that we are clear, what I want to know when the Minister does get back to us, is what the position of the Government of Canada is with respect to securing these land claims advances in the end result.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I think that the Member will appreciate that I am certainly not in a position to speak on behalf of the federal government, but I can certainly take notice on his point and see if I can provide him with the information.
Question re: Old Crow crime rate
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Justice. This morning the RCMP confirmed that instances of crime are up in the community of Old Crow. This is a bit contradictory as the ban on alcohol is now in effect and most thought that this ban would reduce crime in that community. The alcohol ban is beginning to divide that community.
The RCMP say that there seems to be more drinking going on in the community at the present time, even with the ban.
I would like to ask the Minister if she could confirm to this House that the crime rate has increased in the community of Old Crow since the alcohol ban was put in place?
Hon. Ms. Joe: I have not heard the radio news at all, so I am not familiar with that information, and I have not had an opportunity to speak with the RCMP from Old Crow. I only know what I have been told. The ban is not in effect yet. There have to be regulations to make that enforceable and that is not in effect yet. So, I think the information he has is a little bit confusing.
Mr. Phillips: That information was relayed from the RCMP in Old Crow, who have confirmed that the crime rate is increasing there.
Is the Minister going to do anything special about this recent increase in the crime rate in the community of Old Crow?
Hon. Ms. Joe: In consultation with the MLA for Old Crow and the people from Old Crow, there will be some decisions made. I believe there will be a meeting on Friday in Old Crow in regard to this situation. So, it is being dealt with by the people who are involved. All the individuals from Old Crow will be able to participate in that meeting.
Mr. Phillips: I would like to direct my final supplementary question to the Government Leader.
Recently, I have received many calls and letters from concerned residents of Old Crow who are worried about the implications of the ban and the process that is being used to put it in place. I know the Government Leader has also received letters on this issue. Would he and the Justice Minister travel to Old Crow to hold a public meeting or go up there Friday to meet with the people of Old Crow to discuss this very important issue that is dividing the community?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I certainly did not need the Member for Riverdale North to tell us that this was a divisive issue, but let it be said that this government is acting on this question entirely in response to the demands of the people of Old Crow. As a matter of record, I am informed that the Member of the Legislature for Old Crow will be travelling to Old Crow for the purpose of holding a public meeting.
I do not regard the Member for Riverdale North as a reliable communicator of the wishes of the people of Old Crow, so I would rather depend on the advice we get from the chief and council, and from the MLA, than from the Member opposite.
Question re: Electrical bill-relief program
Mr. Nordling: I have a question for the Minister in charge of the Yukon Energy Corporation.
I would like to follow up and clarify the situation electrical consumers are going to be faced with over the next few years. Yukoners are very concerned about what is happening, and I see the editor of the Whitehorse Star has picked up on my call for a public enquiry or, perhaps...
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible).
Mr. Nordling: ...He came up with that all by himself, in response to Yukoners concerns. In any event, I understand that $4 million, or thereabouts, for bill relief would offset the rate increase requested by the Yukon Energy Corporation for 1991-92. Can the Minister confirm that figure?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: On my feet, no.
Mr. Nordling: The Minister was going to get back to us on that very issue. The Minister said that the $20 million in dividends paid by the Yukon Energy Corporation to the Yukon Development Corporation have no bearing on the rate increase being requested. I will accept that for the moment. I would like the Minister, though, to confirm or agree that the dividends paid by the Yukon Energy Corporation to the Yukon Development Corporation do have a bearing on monies available for the bill-relief program.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: In the first instance, I could not have said that there were $20 million worth of dividends, in any kind of context, because there never were. The dividends that were drawn by the parent company, Yukon Development Corporation, in the years 1988-89, amounted to something like $16 million. That, as I have pointed out repeatedly, was an entitlement that the corporation could claim at any time it chose, when there are surplus funds available, from its subsidiary.
In the case of those dividends, they were taken at the time that funds were surplus, and they were taken clearly within the authority and corporate permissibility, as legislated under the act in this House.
I reiterate to the Member that the drawing of dividends by the Yukon Development Corporation, which has a legitimate entitlement to a rate of return for its investment of some $40 million, in no way has any bearing on rate increases that are occurring at this time. During the entire period since the Yukon Development Corporation purchased the Yukon Energy Corporation, rates have been reduced. The nine percent rate ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I was trying to put some correct facts on the record because of the extreme influence the Member has on editors of newspapers to carry forward misinformation and erroneous statements.
Mr. Nordling: I will give the Minister another opportunity to clarify the position, because I would like to understand it, as I am sure a lot of Yukoners would.
These surplus funds that were available could have been used for the bill-relief program. Using the Ministers figure he just gave me a moment ago, by my calculation, at $4 million a year, the $16 million that was paid in dividends would have offered bill-relief for Yukoners for the next four years. To put it another way, could the Minister confirm that, if that dividend was not paid out from the Yukon Energy Corporation to the Yukon Development Corporation, Yukoners would not be facing an increase in their electrical bills for the next four years?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member is quite wrong. If he understands anything about corporate structures and utilities, he would understand that any money that is retained within a company becomes part of what the rate of return is calculated upon. In other words, if monies remained in the utility without being spent, that would create an increased equity, upon which a rate of return is calculated. There would have been a higher cost to the consumer, had the money remained within the corporation.
That is a fact of corporate reality. The long and the short of it is that the dividends that were drawn down have nothing to do with anticipated increased costs that are related to the generation of electricity for next year and for the six months of this year, which strictly addresses the reason for the increase. The increase is related to the costs of generating electricity now ...
Speaker: Order please. Would the Member please conclude his answer.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am concluding. The final point that I would make is that the increase is unrelated to the dividends that were taken four years ago.
Question re: Lewes Lake student busing
Mr. Phelps: This is a change of pace. The poor, old Minister over there responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation has been trying to answer questions for over a year now. The answers are not any better now than they were last year.
I have a question because of concerns brought to me by a constituent in my riding with respect to the incident respecting the weeks cancellation of the school van that was used to transport kids to Carcross from Lewes Lake.
We understand that this operation was in fact, entirely legal. That was not very difficult for the Minister to prove. What does concern me and a number of parents out there has to do with allegations that are forthcoming from the Independent Alliance that the van is not safe.
Has the Minister checked into this, and can he assure us with respect to the safety of utilizing that van as opposed to other vehicles for transporting kids to and from school?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: I would like to state at the outset that the allegations that the service was illegal are as unfounded as the allegation that the service is unsafe. It is important to point out that the sections under which the Motor Transport Board sought a cease and desist order had nothing to do with safety but was at the assumption that this was a private commercial activity.
The service that has been provided until now has been, in my view and that of the Department of Education, not only consistent with the regulations, but is also quite safe. The van that is transporting the students is in first-class working order. It has all-weather tires, seat belts for all passengers, a radio phone and safety gear, including a first aid kit. The driver is experienced in driving a van of this sort; she had a fourth class licence in Alberta and drove a similar van there. There are no pick ups on the highway, which even the school bus service cannot boast. There is substantial liability insurance available should there be any problems in the future.
I can only say that I am disappointed with the unfounded and irrational allegations that have been presented by Members opposite in the Independent Alliance. This service is safe, in my view. It is as safe as any contractual arrangement we have with a private busing company.
Mr. Phelps: I know the parents involved with those kids who are being transported to school; each and every one of them is a caring parent, and I am curious whether any of them expressed any reservations with regard to the safety of this mode of transportation prior to the matter becoming a political issue in the House?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: No. The parents did not express any concerns along those lines at all, either to me or to the department, to my knowledge. I met with a number of parents and with the school council in Carcross and the only comments they had about the service, the solution of which they had a hand in designing, was that they were more than happy with the service, very grateful to the government and to all those, including the Member opposite, who had pursued it with the department in the past.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed. We will proceed with Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Notice of Business
Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify an item standing in the name of the Official Opposition to be called on Wednesday, December 11, 1991. It is Bill No. 103, An Act to Amend the Yukon Development Corporation Act, standing in the name of the Member for the soon to be disappearing riding of Hootalinqua.
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I now call the Committee to order. We will take a break.
Chair: I will call Committee of the Whole back to order.
We will continue with general debate on Community and Transportation Services.
Bill No. 19 - Second Appropriation Act, 1992-93 - continued
Community and Transportation Services - continued
Hon. Mr. Byblow: When we adjourned last night, I indicated that I wanted to conclude with some additional points related to the concern that the Member for Hootalinqua was putting forward about taxation policy.
I believe last night that I conceded to the Member that there are perhaps some reasonable grounds to examine tax rates in relation to services provided. I indicated that at the upper end of service provision, which we find in organized municipalities, clearly, the level of service is directly tied to property taxation.
The point that I want to leave with the Member is that in rural Yukon the factors that govern levels of service are a little more fluid and a little less rigid. While there may be an original concept in taxation policy that governs levels of service according to the tax rates, there has been some disintegration of that concept.
As some rural areas increased services, they may not necessarily have increased their tax rate. I think that is probably at the heart of the Members very legitimate presentation yesterday.
We, as a government in rural Yukon, attempt to implement a policy that basically improves services in those rural communities. In a broad sense, our general policy is to improve those services to a level that more closely reflects the standards that people expect. In that implementation and in those decisions that govern the provision of services, which may not always be tied to tax rates, clearly there are attempts to respect the principles of fairness and equity. The reality in rural Yukon is that communities are constantly developing on an ongoing basis.
It is a fact of life that some communities have been in place much longer and have had more years of community development. Through that evolution, they have clearly developed an improved standard of services. Some communities are coming into being now. They are at the earlier stage of service development or infrastructure development.
The exercise the Member suggested - doing a much more refined analysis of some communities that would reflect the full cost of services provided to those communities and relate that to fees, taxes and other revenue aspects - could well be useful. In rural Yukon, we will find that there is a tremendous amount of subsidization. That exists even in Whitehorse. Whitehorse receives a comprehensive fund of some $5 million as part of its financial regime. It is a fairly complicated exercise to try and compare a level of service to revenue generated from the community getting that service. It probably would be a useful exercise.
The Member was legitimately making the case that Tagish tends to get short changed. It is interesting, because Tagish, on the one hand, has existed since the turn of the century.
Unfortunately, I suppose, in terms of community development, it did not develop from that state into any kind of a commercial, organized community, even though it has been there for well over 90 years, in the modern history of things. I think it is only in the last few years that Tagish has begun to develop with a sizeable group of people who, in an organized sense, legitimately make a case for improved services.
If we try to compare Tagish and Keno City, Keno City has been in place probably as long as Tagish but Keno was a much more organized community, over the years, and it has evolved into a level of services that Tagish is aspiring to, one could argue. I expect that Tagish will indeed be the recipient of increasing levels of services and infrastructure in the next short while because of the nature of the evolution and the development that is taking place.
It comes to mind that Tagish has a community hall and there is talk of a better community facility. Steps are being taken by the community to plan for that.
The Member raised the issue of the well in the area, and I should tell the Member, while I am on my feet, that I have been reassured this morning by my officials, who I said have staked their reputations, perhaps careers, on the accuracy of this: the well is working. It ran non-stop to fill a 200-gallon tank yesterday and on one occasion ran for 20 minutes at its full volume, so we do have an operating well. It is not a dry one.
It may remain to be said that I respect the Members point on taxation. I want the Member to respect that it would not be prudent to tie levels of service to a property tax base at all times, and I do not think the Member was saying that. I will concede that we will be spending some time at trying to assess and do a better refinement of our taxation policy. I am sure this debate will continue.
Mr. Phelps: I want to say in a fairly cordial way that one can always tell when this Minister is on thin ice, because he skates and skates and skates. His answer took several pages last night, and I am sure it was filling up an equal amount today before I could get back into this discussion.
I want to curtail discussion on this area anyway, because it was my intention to do a number of things. One was to point out the need for some kind of certainty, and how grey the area is. It is an area that could lead to a lot of misunderstandings between First Nations and other residents in rural areas when there is a cry for more services but no understanding of what the ultimate cost might be. That was one of the points I wanted to make.
Secondly, I disagree somewhat with some of the comments made by the Minister in his lengthy response. I want to make it as clear as I can that most of the people who have decided to live in rural Yukon - particularly in what is presently Hootalinqua, and even more particularly in Tagish, Marsh Lake, the Carcross Road, the Mayo Road and the north highway - really do not want that much interference, or much in the way of services, from government. They are fiercely independent. They want some basics, but I think it would be misinterpreting the mood out there to suggest that they are really looking for a lot of these services, and that they want to emerge as a community. They do not.
They quite adamantly feel that, at the very most, they want a voice with respect to plans of government, developers or anybody else in their area; that is all.
I am not making a pitch, or suggesting for a minute, that Tagish wants to be like Whitehorse, which incidentally is subsidized a hell of a lot more than Tagish is, if one looks at the fact that Tagish is paying $89,000 a year in property tax revenue and the O&M for the current year is estimated at $17,000, or if one looks at Marsh Lake, which is paying $124,000 collectively in property taxes and they are getting $14,000 worth of O&M.
With regard to the tax revenue side, the point is that, when they do complain that they do not get very good service - road clearance or snow ploughing - or if they are a little upset because a new scheme is imposed upon them after a well is built about how to pay for it, I think they have a justifiable case to make. They are not asking for very much, they pay a hell of a lot of taxes and they have a right to ask what they are getting for their taxes.
There are lots of answers that can be provided: they are getting the use of the school and so on and so forth. But, I think it would be folly to interpret the mood in what is currently Hootalinqua as being one of them wanting to get all the services. It is quite the opposite; they are quite upset that, in the past, Whitehorse, for example, has tried to extend its taxation base to include them. I am sure the Minister is quite aware of some of the extremely hostile speeches that have been given on that subject by numerous constituents in the area surrounding Whitehorse.
I think we have discussed this area sufficiently, at least from this side of the House - not to dissuade the Minister from speaking some more if he wishes, but I would just as soon move on, because I want to touch on a few things in general debate. It is a very large, complex department; it is a department that is of interest because it deals with peoples needs.
There are very basic levels throughout the territory and I only wanted to highlight three or four areas before we got into line by line. I want to do that each time we are in session so that we can prepare to go through a department as large as this without exhaustively trying to deal with every conceivable subject.
I would like to move on, very briefly, to the next area. There was some discussion about hamlets, and we are pleased to see that we have a couple of new hamlets close to Whitehorse. It may be that more will be on the way. The Minister did say that after receiving submissions from the hamlet councils, there is recognition that there ought to be honorariums paid to members on hamlet councils. Is that policy now in effect?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To my knowledge the answer is yes. I believe that the matter has been discussed with both hamlets. We have raised the issue and dealt with it. I believe that we have put that into place this past month. We had to find reallocated money from within to meet the short-term obligation for the balance of the current fiscal year, but it is fully budgeted for next year.
Mr. Phelps: I would like to say that I am very pleased with the way that the hamlet councils have been functioning. They are carrying on their duties in an extremely non-partisan manner, and a lot of work goes into this type of position, particularly when you start fresh with a brand-new concept. I think it is appropriate to give credit to all of those who have served and are serving as members of the hamlet advisory groups.
As well, I wanted to touch briefly on the issue of sewage treatment. We are hearing more and more about the wetlands treatment.
If I heard the Minister correctly last night, it is certainly being suggested as a solution by some for Whitehorse, Carcross and for Ross River.
The one concern that I have, is that we really do not have any experience with respect to wetlands treatment in the Yukon. Teslin has certainly decided to go the wetlands route and they do have the facility in place. As I understand it, they have not really determined the effectiveness of their facility. Correct me if I am wrong - has there been discharge from the wetlands into Teslin Lake and has the discharge been monitored with respect to coliform content?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Before I answer this specific question, I want to agree with the Member on the point he makes about hamlet councils, having undertaken a much more involved role in their respective hamlets. Clearly, I think, if anything, I heard from council members in recent meetings that there was a deluge of issues to be dealt with, policy matters they had to grapple with and the paperwork they had to deal with. It became quite imperative that they required not just some remuneration for honest decision making, but some clerical and financial support for the operation of their councils. It became so evident and obvious, that for them to do a conscientious job as they wanted to, they would require some support. I agree wholeheartedly with the Member when he compliments the hamlet councils for undertaking such a responsible role.
With respect to sewage treatment, in the Teslin case - if my information is not accurate I will correct the record - it is my understanding that the lagoon in Teslin has not filled up yet and there has not been any discharge into the wetlands.
I believe that in previous debates we have had extensive discussions about wetlands. I am certainly very positively inclined toward that method of treatment. But, yes, the Member is correct in his assumption that it is an unproven treatment method in the Yukon. We do use it in a couple of rural communities where there are lagoon discharges through wetland areas, and the preliminary evidence we have is that it certainly does the job of purification that is intended. A proper wetland system is one that takes secondary-treatment effluent and puts it through tertiary treatment. In other words, there is already considerable treatment provided to the effluent prior to release into the wetland system.
It is certainly raising a number of questions in the Whitehorse case. I am involved in discussions with the city and the two First Nations about the wetlands option in Whitehorse. Clearly, it is not a fully endorsed option. All parties and all stakeholders are more closely examining the technical detail and the consequences of wetlands treatment. The bottom line is that one is releasing a form of polluted discharge into the environment. The environment is contributing to the purification before the final product is released back into the waterways.
It is a matter of concern. We are in fairly detailed and thorough discussions on the matter.
Mr. Phelps: I just want to be on the record as saying that our laudatory comments about the Teslin wetlands may be somewhat premature because we have not seen the final acid test of it. At the same time, we seem to be moving rapidly ahead with that as a preferred solution in the three communities that are on the books for sewage treatment: Carcross, Ross River and Whitehorse.
All that I am saying is that I certainly hope that the faith of the Minister of Finance in the economic diversification that he assumes might soon occur in the Yukon as a result of this governments action, is not just an article of faith. I suspect that the wetlands treatment is - although not quite as unsteady on its foundations - still somewhat an article of faith because we really have not seen the end result. I think that a lot of Yukoners are under the delusion that the wetlands somehow have been through the acid test, that discharge has occurred and the end result was a complete success.
I wanted to move on briefly to touch on Dawson City. I was somewhat surprised with respect to the comment on airports, that the Dawson site selection was still ongoing. This has been more or less on the books for a long, long time. I am wondering whether or not, of the few potential sites - and I am sure there are only a very few that would serve as airport sites in Dawson - what steps, if any, have been taken to protect them from land claims or from claim staking.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am not entirely versed with the detail of steps that have been taken and the technical matters relating to specific sites, but it is my understanding that a site is being examined in the area of the Dempster cutoff. We are budgeting some funds to do a more comprehensive analysis of that particular site.
Over the past couple of years, a series of meetings have been held by a special committee consisting of representatives from the community. At one point, three sites were being examined. For various reasons, they have narrowed that down to the final site at the Dempster cutoff.
It is my understanding that the Dawson First Nation is being invited to comment on that selected site. A review of the feasibility of that site is currently going on.
Mr. Phelps: It seems to me that, as soon as possible, if it is down to a handful of possible sites, there ought to be some steps taken to protect those sites until a decision is made.
I wanted to briefly get into the issue of transportation and the issue of deregulation, and how that has been proceeding.
I am particularly interested in the reciprocal arrangements between jurisdictions, especially Yukon and B.C., because we had been hearing complaints from the trucking industry that Yukon had moved very quickly into a deregulation mode and, at the same time, B.C. was throwing up various kinds of artificial barriers for trucking outfits from here that wanted to obtain various types of motor vehicle licences in that province. A concern was expressed just last spring, I think, that perhaps the Yukon was moving too quickly so that our industry was exposed to a situation where B.C. truckers would have relative ease in obtaining commercial transportation licences in Yukon, yet our people would not have the benefit of a level playing field by having the same opportunity to obtain licences into the neighbouring province.
Does the Minister have any comments with respect to this issue?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: There are two points I would make in relation to the issue raised by the Member. The Member is correct; some concern was expressed, over the course of the past two years, about the deregulation surrounding interterritorial and extra-territorial trucking. I spent considerable time, as I am sure the Member knows, with representatives of the industry to address the question.
I also spent some time with my British Columbia counterpart, where some of the comparisons were being drawn by the local industry, that suggested our rules were too relaxed and outside truckers could come in and essentially cream the market.
I guess the report that I can provide to Members is that we did an analysis of the industry operations here in the territory. It is in its final draft and it reflects that there has been no major impact to the industry by the issuance of various permits and licensing through the Motor Transport Board.
What was successfully determined was a method by which we would require outside truckers to be more responsible in their entry into the Yukon. Part of the old regime was one of public need and necessity. That is, to enter the industry you had to show that there was public need and necessity, so the trucking firm trying to gain a licence had to present its case as to why it should be granted a licence.
In the deregulated regime, it was more of an open licence, and the concept of public interest protection was fundamental to the new regime. Under that new regime, the local industry felt that it was being taken advantage of by the relaxed rules permitting outside trucking coming into the territory.
In our series of discussions over the past two years, what we did is essentially create a tougher situation for outside truckers to come in. We cannot affect the federal portion of the responsibility. In other words, truckers can come back and forth between jurisdictions under federal regulatory licensing, but within the territory, we have an opportunity to have some impact on what was going on.
So we did a number of things. We required much more detail on the applications so operating authorities would have to maintain local operations. In other words, they had to maintain an office here if they wanted to do in-territory trucking. They had to reflect the level of employment they generated. We essentially created a compromise regime, where the public interest had to reflect whether or not the outside trucking influence detracted from the public interest in that by coming in, they could impact on local truckers and a lower level of service to Yukon people would be the result.
It seems to have worked. In the last six to eight months - perhaps even longer - I have had no complaints from the industry. Two years ago, I was meeting with them almost on a monthly basis, trying to address the problems they were complaining about.
I think we have worked out a tougher regime within our deregulation legislation.
Mr. Phelps: I noted that that was alluded to in the Motor Transport Board annual report that was tabled here a few days ago. Can the Minister advise whether, in his opinion, there is, as half the equation, a level playing field for Yukon truckers in terms of the conditions they must meet in order to obtain the same kind of vehicle licensing in B.C.?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Unfortunately, I cannot answer favourably. In my past dealings with B.C., on behalf of the industry and government, there was no desire to reflect a deregulated regime.
I have not had any discussions with my counterparts since the last election. I have not been able to determine what the attitude of the new government is. Truckers clearly do not have the same rules in B.C. or in some other jurisdictions, as well.
Mr. Phelps: Can I then take it that the Minister will be continuing to press for a more level playing field, given that we now have a regime and certain criteria set up here for truckers from B.C. that want to do business and obtain licences in the Yukon?
Secondly, will the Minister undertake to make available to this House the recent motor transport industry economic study, commissioned by his department, that is referred to - I think he mentioned it briefly in his answer - in the Motor Transport Board annual report?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Unfortunately, I have not seen the report itself, but I am certainly quite willing to share its information when I receive it. That is no problem.
Regarding the first point, about communication with B.C., because it is an outstanding issue, it is one that I will follow up on.
Mr. Phelps: I want to move from that issue to the problem of the housing shortage, particularly in the Whitehorse area. Of course, one part of the equation has to do with the availability of building lots and trailer lots in the community, and so on, as was explored by the Leader of the Official Opposition in question period. There is a shortage of certain kinds of accommodation in the Whitehorse area. I understand that apartment rental is really at a premium. It is difficult to find a bay to put a house trailer on in the Whitehorse area and there is a large demand for country residential and rural residential lots, as well.
I know the intention is to proceed with the trailer lot subdivision in Granger. It was not clear in my mind as to when those lots would be coming on the market.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Perhaps I could provide some information surrounding land in general in the Whitehorse area, as an extension of the questions raised in Question Period and the question raised by the Member now.
In phases 1 and 2 of Granger, there were 114 lots available to the public. There are 158 lots in phase 3. As of today, there are 12 lots remaining in the original 114 of phases 1 and 2. When I was referring in Question Period to 40 lots coming on stream in January, that will be 40 lots of phase 3.
I have not yet been able to determine just what the Member was getting at about land. I do know that the 40 lots that are to be released in January, are subject to a special off-site levy in the amount of $2,500, which is essentially committed to future infrastructure upgrading.
Perhaps I could share with Members what part of the problem is facing the City of Whitehorse. The City of Whitehorse is currently facing some very expensive infrastructure upgrading. A number of high costs are facing them in order to maintain their water and sewer systems, not to mention the sewage treatment being one of them. There is a need for an increased level of water capacity through town. There is a need for a number of other infrastructure upgrades.
The question then arises about how they pay for it. To come out of the blue in 1991 or 1992 with the millions of dollars required for it poses a problem. So, the city has volunteered to start assigning a special off-site levy to all new lot development in the future. These 40 lots in Granger are going to have this new assignment. This will essentially be put in the bank for future upgrading.
The Arkell mobile residential subdivision at Granger is going to be ready to be released next summer. Arkell has two phases to it. There are 102 lots in the first phase, and 92 in the second phase. The second phase is expected to be released in 1993, if the first 102 lots go quickly.
In addition to that, in Whitehorse there are going to be three rural residential lots in the south Klondike Highway area; Kopper King commercial is expected to have some 14 lots released late next year or the following year; and McCrae has some industrial lot development earmarked in the summer of 1993. Those are some of the intended developments.
Mr. Phelps: I am interested in pursuing the issue of the Pineridge development, which went through phase 1 and apparently is bogged down with regard to phase 2. I am told that the developing corporation initially made application for the phase 1 land and then the phase 2 land, but that the companys application is being held in abeyance until it is grandfathered in. In addition, the City of Whitehorse wanted to proceed with this development, so they applied for the transfer of land that was utilized and developed in phase 1. I understand as well that the city has applied for the phase 2 lands and that the concept was to proceed as a second phase of the original development and that the same developer would be proceeding.
I have also reviewed some of the correspondence and Hansard with respect to previous statements made by the Minister on this issue, and I am rather surprised now that YTG wants to change the ground rules. I also understand that some of the residents in the area had voiced concerns and written about concerns with respect to the process that was to be followed for consultations, and that is an issue with which I have no difficulty.
My concern is that somehow, somebody wants to change the ground rules as to how phase 2 should go ahead. Rather than have that land go to the original developer at the appraised market value of the land, suddenly YTG is insisting on something else. I am not speaking about the consultation but, that there be a tendering process whereby the city would go out to proposals.
My reading of the information is inconsistent with previous answers given by the Minister on the subject, and it also seems to me to be entirely unfair, because the ground rules seem to be changed halfway through an agreement.
The city certainly could have shared costs with the developer. The scope of the project was a two phase project and some of the costs incurred by the development company were based on phase 2 to follow phase 1.
The information I have is that the city has steadfastly been of the opinion that there was this commitment and that it would be unfair, halfway through the project, to suddenly insist on a tender whereby the concept developed by one party at some considerable expense, would be open for grabs by people who came along because of a required policy change for future subdivision developments by private companies.
My first question is whether the Minister appreciates the fair play aspect of this? The feeling that has been expressed by city councillors is that the project initially encompassed two phases.
The expenses were predicated on there being two phases and on ownership of the phase 2 property changing hands in the same manner as phase 1: from YTG to the city and from the city, at appraised value, to the same developer.
I want to make the assertion that concern of those lot owners who have discussed the need for a process involving consultation is one thing, but their concern and requirement for consultation is in no way met by the second thing, which is this new condition that the land be put out to a whole bunch of people for tender. That does not really address it in any way, as far as I can see - and I am sure the Minister will correct me if I am wrong or if I have misunderstood something. All that means is that someone else will be developing the property. As I understood from the land owners or residents, the concern is that they be fully consulted in a process that ensured their needs be taken into full consideration before the project would proceed.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have some familiarity with the issue the Member raises, because it is an issue I just recently dealt with.
I do not accept the Members assertion that the ground rules have changed. I say that because, in the past month or two, I undertook to examine the records and the available evidence on what form of commitment may have been made when Pineridge, phase 1, was undertaken.
The Member will remember that Pineridge phase 1 was the product of extensive discussions with the city and the proponent, and agreed to on a trial basis. Again, as the Member knows, from a policy point of view, the Yukon government undertakes the land development on behalf of the city, and has, historically. This Pineridge development was something of an experiment, to explore other means to develop land. Quite often we will release land to a junior government, meaning the municipality; we have done it in Whitehorse; we have done in the municipalities.
In the process of providing the land to the municipality for a dollar, we maintained our policy principle to turn land over to municipalities who can then opt to develop it under their criteria.
Pineridge phase 1, as I have said, was something of an experiment, subject to an evaluation following the development. The evaluation of it made it fairly clear that any land transfer made to the municipality should be contingent on the finalization of a residential land development policy in the city. The evaluation also said that such a policy of the city should make, as the Member noted, provision for a public consultation process, and it should also ensure a public tendering proposal.
Because I had to deal with the issue recently, I am quite familiar with some of the details respecting this particular deal. I brought it up with the city council less than two or three weeks ago. The council supported the view that their land development policy - which is in the final stage of approval, I gather - should be applied in any future land development.
I am sensitive to the fact that, in the proponents mind, there was an understanding of some commitment to continue this development, but nowhere, not even with city council, could I find anything to confirm that such a commitment was given, and it was certainly not written.
It seems to me that the proponent clearly has a distinct advantage in any tendering proposal, but that is speculative and I ought not to comment on it. However, if phase 2 of Pineridge is undertaken according to the citys policy, then it is an open-tendering process. If the proponent has any intimate knowledge, then he is in an advantageous position. Because everyone else has an equal opportunity, that may not be the case.
To summarize, I am aware of the issue; I am sensitive to the issue; I have researched the issue and support the principle of land disposal being undertaken in an open, public method, which supports our current policy and, at the same time, is consistent with land being turned over by us to the municipality.
Mr. Phelps: Clearly, the issue is whether or not there was indeed an understanding between the city and the developing company, and whether there was a commitment. In the view of the majority of the city fathers, there was indeed a commitment. It is my understanding that that is the view in this particular case. If this were the case, certainly previous to the election, minutes would show that the councillors felt that with respect to phase 2 that this was a concept that was designed and was motivated by the corporation that developed phase 1. A good deal of expense had been incurred at some risk to that developer on the understanding that they were developing various generic things that would be utilized in phase 2, such as forms of agreements - legal work that was done - as well as physical work that was done in anticipation of phase 2, including such things as oversized electrical, telephone and street designs that would meld into the phase 2 project, which was under application before the city got involved in the application.
I am suggesting that there are all these pieces of evidence of that commitment. It seems to me that the other player certainly proceeded with that understanding as well - that being the City of Whitehorse.
I have a great deal of difficulty with the fairness of changing the ground rules in mid-stream to the detriment of a corporation that has proceeded to spend extra money on a certain understanding, as part performance, and as evidenced by some of the expenses incurred.
This is certainly supported by city administration and, in the minds of a number of the city fathers, past and present, there is that commitment. I am wondering why the Government of Yukon is taking this hard line. I can understand that, in the future, now that this policy is in place, the calling for tenders or proposals is a fair suggestion. This is a grandfather situation, in my view, with respect to the normal NIMBY complaints of people who might be affected by development. They have every right to insist upon and expect the process end, in terms of consultation, being fully adhered to by the city and by the developer. I do not see, though, that they are adversely affected. They are certainly not negatived in any way by the Ministers comments in Hansard in May of last year. If that commitment is lived up to, it does not in any way prejudice the people who want consultation and who already live in the area. All that the grandfathering-in of the right to proceed with phase 2 impacts upon, surely, is the fair treatment of the developer. If somebody else gets it instead of this developer, this developer would have a fairly valid complaint, particularly if the city is supportive and feels there is a moral obligation here and, quite probably, a legal one. I am not here to act as a lawyer, of course, and land conveyancing was never my strong suit - if I ever had a strong suit - but I do know that part performance goes a long way to proof of an agreement with respect to land in the absence of a full agreement in writing, which is subject to the old statute of frauds. Part performance is what a judge looks at, and there is some part performance here, but I do not know if it is enough.
There is certainly enough in my mind to put the moral case forward to the Minister on grandfathering that aspect of this application. I would respectfully submit, if I am endorsed by the city on this, that surely in this instance, government, in terms of equity and fairness, ought to recognize that injustice would occur if they insist that that aspect of development does not interfere with the rights of people to be consulted and have input into the plan.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: We seem to have a differing view based on our respective information surrounding the alleged commitment by the city. I certainly do not propose to enter into a debate or even any great discussion on finer legal points. I will concede those to the Member to make and accept his legal seniority on the matter.
We differ on the purported commitment by the City. I raised the matter with the city council of whether or not there may have been an agreement, even if it was verbal, surrounding further development on that project, and I received no such assurance.
In the internal review of the matter, there was clearly no evidence or reference to any form of commitment to this proponent and, internally, there was unlikely to be such a commitment because of this trial or experimental approach in our turning the land over to the city.
The Member drew reference to some previous statements made last year. I reviewed those statements and it was clear in my mind that my understanding and intention of my statements had to do with the land transferring to the city. It is not for me to comment on the nature of the citys approach to land disposition, other than seeking from the city a consistent policy, which is now, I believe, formally approved, or in the final stage of approval. In my most recent discussion with the city, that was reaffirmed.
In short, we clearly have a difference of opinion and a difference in our respective information about the issue of commitment. In principle, I think we agree that sole-sourcing land development is not a policy of this government, and ought not be a policy by any government on such matters.
On the issue of costs related to the development, I have sought some further information, as I recall, because it seems to me that if there are some legitimate costs, then there is room for investigating whether or not those costs should be recovered and whether there is any legitimacy for that recovery. It is fair to say that I have sought further information - I believe from the proponent himself - on the issue of costs.
Mr. Phelps: I do not want, at this time, to carry the discussion on, but it seems to me that we are agreeing on a number of matters here. It seems to me, from our debate this far, that surely the fair thing, then, is - I will put this to the Minister, through the Chair, if I may - there seems to be a dispute as to a question of fact here. I have some information and obviously the Minister has some information that does not completely square itself with my information. Surely the issue is whether or not the city feels that there is a commitment sufficient to warrant grandfathering in this one situation, providing that the rest of the proposal and the consultative process, and all of the rest of it, goes ahead according to the plan. Surely that is the nub of the issue. The Minister says that he has the impression that that view was not taken by the city fathers. I have a different view, as a result of some minutes that I am told about.
Would it not be appropriate for the Minister to take the view, and for myself to take the view, that if, in this instance, the city feels that there is a commitment - there was a lot of money spent - and that they feel that in this one case it is only fair that the developer be grandfathered, that surely should be the test?
If they do not feel there is that type of commitment, ought it not resolve itself by them making that decision, rather than us, because surely it is the moral obligation, and potentially the legal one - I was not trying to throw in a bunch of law here, but occasionally judges do make wise decisions and some precedents are humane and moral and just - is this really not an issue of ascertaining what the city feels? It seems we have a grey area here. If they feel they are committed, then it ought to go ahead on the basis of the development process, except for the tendering end of it, or the proposal calling, or whatever you call it. Would it not be the just thing for us to proceed on the basis of what the city thinks is best?
I do want to say that I do not have any direct commitment, either way, from the city.
I have seen enough evidence to make me feel that there is a body of opinion over there that there is a commitment.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I agree with the Member that I am not sure to what extent we can gain any resolution of this today if it appears that our facts are not the same.
One thing I would not want to do is second-guess the city. It would not be appropriate or fair. As I have indicated previously, through my research, I have determined that there was no commitment. Our position is clear about land disposal policies. Should something to the contrary be justifiable, that ought to come from the city. The undertaking I could provide the Member is to keep an open mind and seek further advice and discussion from the city on the matter.
Mr. Phelps: I do not have much left in general debate, but I wanted to make the remark that we are very pleased to see the new process for facilitating home owner grants working in a smooth fashion. I know the Member will recall that it was a motion from this side that was briefly debated in the House that, in large part, led to this decision.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I am sure the Member for Hootalinqua would want it known that it was first proposed in this House in 1979 by the then-Member for Whitehorse West.
Mr. Phelps: Over the Christmas season, when the Member is sitting with his feet up in front of the fire and looking forward to Christmas dinner, I hope he takes the time to read through the debate on the motion I put forward. I gave ample credit to the Member for Whitehorse West for the steps he had taken to bring this forward prior to being in the position to form the government.
I can only say that we supported it and we tried to give the issue some urgency and some priority in the minds of all concerned.
I wanted to ask a question with regard to garbage dumps. The Mt. Lorne Carcross Road dump, I understand, is one that should no longer be used as a landfill site. We have had some debate in the House with respect to what is taking place there, and I understand that there is consideration now being given to creating a transfer station to resolve the future needs of that community and others who use the Mile 9 dump on the Carcross Road.
Have there been discussions with the City of Whitehorse with respect to using the city dump as a place to deposit garbage that would be trucked in from a transfer site in the area?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The issue of the Mile 9 dump is one that has concerned us for the past several years, due to its near-capacity situation.
I believe that we have eliminated some forms of disposal at that site, because it is rapidly filling.
I may have indicated this during supplementary debate, but the proposal that is being undertaken now is to explore whether a transfer station can be located in that area for movement to the Whitehorse dump. This was first raised by the hamlet council and discussed at length in a meeting that I had with the hamlet council. I have subsequently raised the matter with the city. The city is favourably disposed to investigating the concept.
I believe we have a pro tem or an interim committee struck, consisting of members of the hamlet council, my officials and the city, to explore this concept as something of another experimental or model, trial-basis sewage disposal method. A number of factors come into play. One factor would be that the Whitehorse dump would be used and there would be some expectation of compensation for that. Another factor that comes into play is that a properly located transfer station in that area would also service the peripheral areas of the city, which is something of a compensatory matter as well. At the same time, we are very concerned about doing it right; in other words, this will be the first time in the Yukon that a transfer station will be put in place. So it will be important for us to construct a facility that is environmentally sound, that will meet the needs of people, that we have some full assessment of cost, so that we are meeting our obligation to develop a more comprehensive solid-waste disposal policy in the territory.
If one can get excited about garbage, I am excited about the development of this prospect. It has tremendous potential for setting the stage of what we might be able to do in other areas.
Mr. Phelps: The Minister misspoke himself, I am sure unintentionally, when he mentioned sewage. We are speaking of solid waste, of course.
I am pleased to see this proceeding. As the Minister no doubt is aware, there was a draft proposal and meetings were held with respect to the concept of transfer stations for the area we are speaking about regarding the steering committee - Whitehorse South, the Carcross Road and part of Marsh Lake. As well, it was proposed for the Mayo Road area, when an engineering study was performed by Stanley and Associates about five or six years ago. There was a fair amount of controversy at the time.
Ever since that time, I have been promoting that transfer site whenever I have been at meetings with residents in the two areas. I have sent as much information as I have been able to provide to residents particularly along the Carcross Road. I want to be on the record as supporting at least this hard scrutiny of the concept to see whether or not it is viable. I certainly hope it is and look forward to hearing what the results are as the steering committee is able to report back to the officials of this government and the Minister.
Those are the main areas I wanted to touch, in general. I understand that the Member for Kluane has some questions.
Mr. Brewster: It was very interesting to hear the discussion on garbage dumps, particularly since I have been writing for almost three years to both the Minister of Renewable Resources and the Minister of Community and Transportation Services, trying to get a decision for the Champagne/Aishihik people and for the other people down the Dezadeash Road. So far, we have nothing. So far they are still hauling it 30-miles in - a 60-mile round trip.
I also found it very interesting, and maybe the Minister can comment on this. I suggested to the town council several time that this government should be paying for the dump there. To my knowledge, they never got any of that, but I understand we are prepared to pay the City of Whitehorse to do it for the Carcross area. Is there some reason why we can do it for the Carcross area and we cannot do it anywhere else in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The short answer to the Member is no. There is no reason why we could not do something similar anywhere else in the territory, where there is willingness to look at doing it, and the residents and municipalities are prepared to work together with the understanding that there is a problem that must be dealt with. There is no reason why it could not happen elsewhere in the territory. That is part of what I said earlier. What we are trying to do on the Carcross Road may well serve as an excellent educational exercise in the development of other sites.
Mr. Brewster: This is rather surprising. As I said, we have been corresponding for three years on this issue. All of a sudden we think we might have an answer. In the meantime, for the past three years, people have been phoning me. They have not been too happy. The Champagne/Aishihik band has written a number of letters to both Ministers asking that something be done. I have copies of this correspondence. Nothing was ever done. Perhaps we have now progressed to where something will be done.
I would also like to put the Minister on notice that the new Kluane riding has jumped across the Takhini River. We now have an eyesore on the other side of the Takhini River - a garbage dump. We will be starting that tomorrow morning. As it is now in the beautiful Kluane area, and we do not accept things like that going on in our area, we will have that stopped as fast as we can.
This dump is located about one-half mile from the bridge on the right hand side coming into town. It has been there for a long time. I have had it cleaned up twice, even though it was not in my area. It is now a mess again. I guess this is my next project, in the new part of the Kluane area, to get it beautified like the rest of Kluane. We will have no problem in getting this area cleaned up and looking pretty nice fairly soon.
While I was in Burwash, a concern was raised that there are no mileage signs designating Burwash. There are signs for Destruction Bay and Haines Junction, as well as other communities. Burwash has protested this violently. I, however, would have to caution the Minister on this. Burwash is not completely correct. They did not seem to know this, but at mile 1118, there is one sign saying Burwash is so many kilometres ahead. This sign is on the side coming from Whitehorse, but they do not have a mile post.
It should not cost much to ensure that this rapidly growing community also receives a mile post, the same as anybody else, showing the distance into the community. They are the little green and white signs that tell you how far it is to the next community.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Regarding the last issue that the Member raises - and he can nod or shake his head - is this the historic sign?
This is the regular signage on the highway?
Okay. I take notice on that and will have officials check it out.
On the general issue of garbage, I would remind all Members that part of the assignment or mandate of the special waste committee, which dealt with the issue of site selection for a hazardous waste facility, has been to develop a refined policy on how we are going to deal with solid wastes throughout the territory.
So, for the Carcross Road, in relation to Whitehorse, we are trying to parallel the committee investigating this very matter. I can assure the Member that matters of waste disposal will always be addressed in terms of public needs and policy guidelines that we are refining and developing, to ensure that we are doing it the right way.
Mr. Brewster: Although I do agree with the Minister, I guess I have been five years fighting this thing and I have always said - and I will recommend again - that we get this under one department, rather than under the Department of Community and Transportation Services and the Department of Renewable Resources. Then the big forestry department from Ottawa comes charging in. We have had some very serious consequences with garbage dumps there.
To me, there is quite a simple solution: get it under one Minister, so he knows what he is doing and does not have another person countermanding what he did the first time. However, that is just a comment and a suggestion that I have made a number of times. As usual, it did not go any further.
The Minister was going to bring back his decision on the street lights, which cost $23,000. The whole community, including the Kluane Tribal Council, objected to putting that much money into lights, which would have to be maintained from Whitehorse, when cedar posts could be installed that the people in that area could maintain. They could get a couple more lights in the area and still save money for the government. The Minister did not seem to think too much about that idea, but I would like to point out that he made a contract at the airport at Haines Junction, for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and now they are trying to negotiate with the contractor - which I think is a good principle - to see where they can save money. Now, here is a community that is trying, solidly, to tell you where you can save some money and it is beginning to look like the bureaucrats are saying, No way, just blow it.
The operation and maintenance from then on will be from Whitehorse, because nobody can climb those steel posts.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Member will recall that during supplementary debate I did come back before the end of the debate and provided some information, which I recall further outraged the Member. Being a very sensitive and cooperative Minister I wanted to be sure that I provided the best of information to the Member.
I have asked that the outstanding questions raised by the Member be thoroughly researched and answered in writing. Having directed that to happen, I do not have any additional information today that I did not have when I spoke to the issue in supplementaries.
Mr. Brewster: I would like to thank the Minister, but I was unaware that I ever became outraged about anything. I thought I was very cool and collected around here.
Would the Government Leader like to stand up and talk? Should I sit down?
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I was curious about whether the Member described himself as apopleptic or cool and collected? I did not quite hear him.
Mr. Brewster: Since I did not go to university I do not really understand what the Government Leader is talking about, but that is all right.
Hon. Mr. Penikett: I just wanted to know if he was describing himself as red faced or blue eyed. That is all.
Mr. Brewster: Well that depends which position I am in, but quite a few people tell me that I have nice blue eyes, so we will accept that part of it.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Penikett: That is true, I myself think that they are lovely.
Mr. Brewster: I have no problem, I do not think that I have lost this battle. I will keep right on, if the Government Leader wants to. I can stay here all night and quip with him if he would like.
Chair: I will call a recess.
Chair: The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Mr. Brewster: A year ago, I started asking about a firehall for Champagne. Apparently, we now have a secondhand truck, but we have no building. Where are we going to progress to from there?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I am working from memory. My recollection is that, under terms of our fire protection policy, the community is not eligible to be provided with the facility in question. I have asked department officials to examine the policy in terms of anticipated growth of the community to determine whether there is any reasonable justification for providing the facility.
If we blatantly breach the policy on one occasion, we may as well not have a set of guidelines to govern our expenditure, but I am prepared, in recognition of the community being in existence and anticipating growth, to be flexible in my attitude toward finding a better rationale to provide the service. It is a recognized basic service; it is a recognized service the government provides, given criteria of population size and other factors - I believe I have provided an actual copy of the policy to the Member in the past.
I am still of an open mind on the matter and I will try to help the Members constituents.
Mr. Brewster: I find that rather confusing. Number one, the fire department has told them their fire engine is available and they are just waiting for them to find a building. There seems to be a contradiction when the Minister says they do not qualify, yet they have a firetruck, which is still here in town somewhere. I would also like to point out that they offered to put the building up much, much cheaper than all these expensive ones. It would not be the same standard but it certainly would be satisfactory to them. They have the fire engine; now they are just anxious to put up a building in which to put it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I appreciate that information. In light of what the Member informs me is a willingness by the community to participate very directly in the construction of the facility, perhaps a compromise can be achieved. As indicated, I am quite open to suggestions about how to achieve the service.
Mr. Brewster: Their idea, which is a very good idea and one we should be doing more often, was that they could get help with the building materials and teach young people how to build, under the supervision of the people of the Champagne/Aishihik band who have quite a bit of experience now with building.
I have two other, simple questions. I noticed in one of the forms that was sent to us that there is $40,000 for the Koidern emergency airstrip. I hope this is not another survey and that these funds will actually get the airstrip into place. As you recall, we put the survey stakes in a year ago. It had already been surveyed, although the government did not seem to think it had. Will this $40,000 cover the emergency gravel airstrip?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The amount of money identified for Koidern is $40,000. The decision was precipitated by the Kluane regional plan, developed in the course of the past year. There is a recognition that there are a number of economic interests that would benefit from a strip in the area, namely, tourism and mining. The $40,000 will essentially be for site evaluation and work preparatory to construction.
Mr. Brewster: Almost since the time I have been in this Legislature, the people in the area have been asking for that strip. This strip is necessary because the fog continually shuts off the White River strip. They cannot get any further and they then have to land on the road. It apparently takes some other kind of organization to get more than the MLA and the people who live in the area every day can get. I am pleased that we are at least started, though. Maybe it paid to bring the survey stakes in.
The MacIntosh subdivision, outside of Haines Junction, applied under the rural maintenance policy to have their road cleared during the winter. Was this application accepted? I know that an engineer came out to the subdivision to look at it, but I have heard no more on the matter since.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I take notice and will advise the Member. I do not know. The Member is familiar with the improved policy we put in place this past year for road maintenance. If the residents of an area applied for it and are eligible under the criteria of the policy, there is no question we would kick it in. I will check and get back to the Member on it.
Mr. Devries: I just want to bring up a matter that occurred last year in Watson Lake. This is regarding the land lotteries scam that happened there. I am sure the Member is aware of the history about it, where a land lottery was held in Watson Lake and several applicants were not Yukon residents. They applied for lots and used B.C. addresses.
Just looking at the qualifications for it, it is very clear one has to be a Yukon resident and a Canadian citizen. I wonder how someone ever accepted these applications. It created a lot of anxiety for legitimate people who wanted lots. It was a real concern for a while. How did it ever happen?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: How did it happen? I gather that the fundamental flaw in the process was the absence of statutory declarations confirming Yukon residency. If accurate information is not provided on the application in a lottery, there is no army of civil servants running around checking to ensure that the information is accurate. The applications are taken at face value.
The Member, of course, is quite intimately informed about that particular lottery.
We did spend time with the RCMP who advised us that what we did in terms of conducting the lottery and the rules surrounding the lottery, were legal and reasonable, and that no rules or laws were broken in the lottery process.
If there was any deficiency, it was the absence of statutory declarations from all applicants confirming that they would be using this place as their principal residence.
As the Member knows, we did recover the lots. Fortunately, the lots that were recovered met the requirements of the people who did not receive lots in the original lottery. There was generally a fairly acceptable resolution to the matter, and it is a simple matter where, in future, we will ask that additional documentation be submitted with the application. If this information is falsified, then we have a case of the law being broken.
In the case of Watson Lake, those declarations were not there because they were not deemed to have been necessary and at no other time were they required.
Mr. Devries: When I see three people using the same last name and, I believe, Dawson Creek and Ft. St. John addresses, I need no declaration of residency to tell me they are not residents. I still question whether someone was just not watching what was going on.
I have one other question relating to the Watson Lake weigh station. I informed the Minister that the roof was leaking and there were pots and pans all over the place a few weeks ago. Has the Minister done anything about that?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes, I raised the matter with my officials the same day the Member raised it with me. I have been told the roof has been repaired and the problem does not exist the way it did.
Going back to the issue of the lotteries, under our lottery system we can sell to non-resident people. However, in the case of both residents and non-residents, it is required that the person use the land acquired for a principal residence. That is spelled out in the criteria of the application.
We are now going to ask people to sign a statement that that is what they plan to do. It is not enough for them to say only that they have read and understood the eligibility criteria and are therefore eligible. We are going to push the statutory declaration requiring this criteria to be met, so we do not have false declarations, indirectly, through the application.
Mrs. Firth: I have some questions about the South Access Road. I see there has been $600,000 identified in the budget for it. That must be for planning. Are they just going to look at doing the South Access Road? I have a copy of the functional planning report and terms of reference for the Whitehorse South Access Road. It was provided to me by the Deputy Minister. This was the contract that was awarded to UMA Engineering for $80,000.
Is the final report done on that yet? Could it be made available to us? Is this project just going to involve the South Access Road, or are they going to tie it in with any reconstruction, traffic lights or turnoffs over the bridge, any expansion to the bridge to accommodate the traffic that is going on to the Hospital Road now?
I also have a question about the Schwatka Lake road. There is a small piece of road from the highway turnoff to the airplane docks, which, I gather, is under the jurisdiction of YTG and it has never really been fixed up with BST. The rest of the road to Miles Canyon has been fixed up.
I would like to ask the Minister what is planned there? I do not see any multi-year costs for any upgrading to the South Access Road. Perhaps he could elaborate on exactly what the $600,000 is for and what the plans are for that whole section of the highway?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: With respect to the study, I cannot, at this time advise the Member whether the final report is in, but I can tell her that certainly, if and when it is available, I will make it available to any Member.
The $600,000 is principally pre-engineering and detailed engineering work. Detailed design work will be done with the money, as well as some offsite land clearing and preparation for construction. This money is not construction dollars; it is preparatory to construction - design and offsite clearing. In subsequent years, we anticipate spending up to $2 million to do the actual construction, so the multi-year costs would be $2.5 million, of which this is a part.
Mrs. Firth: There is nothing in the budget for the multi-year costs for the South Access Road and nothing in the multi-year page. I looked at it. It is on page 109, and I do not see anything in transportation for South Access Road, unless I am missing something.
I would also like to bring to the Ministers attention that in this proposal call, these terms of reference, it said that the final report was to be ready for July 29, 1991, and that there were to be some public forums held in Whitehorse and some public input would be reflected in the final report. I do not recall seeing any public meetings advertised at all, so perhaps the Minister could update us as to exactly what status this project has and when we plan to proceed with it.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not have the detail at my fingertips, but it seems to me that there have been public meetings concerning the South Access reconstruction proposal. I am sure that I have seen it in the paper. Clearly, the Member has a request for legitimate information, and I will provide it. I expect that if the public meetings I am thinking of refer to the weigh scale relocation or other capital projects of the department, then I am sure they will be held. That is part of a commitment I have made to residents, and I believe to Members of the House; there will be opportunities for public input into major capital projects involving transportation. That is happening with the weigh scale. It did happen on the Two-Mile Hill and it will happen for the South Access Road. It may have already begun.
I will check into the matter of the multi-year costs. I cannot determine from the budget whether it is included or not, but I have provided that figure to the Member.
Mrs. Firth: I would appreciate the information about the multi-year costs. Perhaps the Minister could help us identify it in the budget.
On the concern about the public meetings, I can appreciate that there were some advertisements about the weigh scale relocation. It is part of the proposal, as well, that they were going to relocate the weigh scales on the Alaska Highway and it was going to be not far from the South Access Road intersection.
The report I am referring to that was going to be done was going to be discussed at that public meeting. If they had the public meeting and the report was not ready, perhaps it was not discussed. I would be both interested in knowing whether or not the report has been completed and whether or not I can get a copy of it. If I missed the public meeting that would be my misfortune, but I would like to get some idea of what the governments time line is for the reconstruction of this particular section of highway, as well.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I have already undertaken to provide the report, if it is available or when it is available. I have indicated that the $600,000 is for detailed design work, engineering preparation and off-site clearing.
The multi-year costs, I note, are not listed in the budget. I do not know why, but my information is that the multi-year figure is $2.5 million. I will inform the Member on the time lines and scheduling of the project directly. The actual construction will not take place until the summer of 1993. That makes sense because we would not want to be doing work on Two Mile Hill and the South Access Road in the same year, and particularly in a celebration year, so we have phased it to have everything ready to go in 1993.
Mrs. Firth: It has been brought to my attention that there was a meeting called last Wednesday about the South Access road. Was the report ready for the meeting, then? Could we have a copy of the report on the South Access road? I understood that the report was to have been discussed at the public meeting.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: If the Members information is correct that the report was available at the public meeting, I can certainly undertake to provide her with a copy of it.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As well as the Member for Riverdale North.
Mrs. Firth: It was supposed to be ready for the meeting. I do not know if it was or not. The Minister seems to be unsure about whether the report is ready or not. He has indicated that he will bring that report back to us when he finds out if it is ready or not.
The other question that I had with respect to the South Access upgrade was the Schwatka Lake road. I wonder if the Minister could address that issue and then I will move on to the Riverdale section.
The Schwatka Lake road, from the turnoff on the highway to the airplane dock, is a piece of road that apparently comes under the jurisdiction of the territorial government. I was told by the city that YTG was responsible for it. Maybe there is some dispute between the two levels of government, but I wondered if there was any plan to fix that section of the road. It is usually full of potholes. Once you get to the airplane dock, the road is BST treated all the way out to Miles Canyon and back out to the highway. Is that going to be part of that upgrade as well?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The Members information is news to me. I am not aware of any portion of that road being our responsibility. I will undertake to check out whether there is a problem or a negligence on our part to properly repair it. I am not aware of it and, to my knowledge, there is no dispute, as such.
I know that on the fish ladder road we are doing some substantial work through a community development fund application. That road was in some dispute and in order to resolve the dispute we decided to proceed with an upgrading. This road has other economic and tourism potential and purpose.
Of course, there was an advocate pressuring me daily on the matter.
With respect to the Schwatka Lake road, I will have to get back to the Member as I know nothing about it.
Mrs. Firth: I have checked with the city, so the information that I am giving the Minister with respect to who has jurisdiction is that the city is of the impression that it is YTGs.
This is the road where all the tour buses turn off to go to Miles Canyon. You turn off the main highway, which is a nice paved highway, go through this little no mans land of pot holes past the water reservoir, and then you hit the nice BST road again to drive through Miles Canyon. I would recommend that, if they are going to be looking at that section of highway, they should do something about that small portion of road, as well.
I know that some of the studies done have included the intersection, widening of the bridge and looking at the intersection of Lewes Boulevard and Hospital Road. Does the Minister know if there are any plans to take that into account when they do the upgrading to the South Access?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: To my knowledge, the portion of the South Access that is our responsibility has its boundary at approximately the city boundary, which is at the location of the sign.
If we were going to upgrade the South Access to the sign, it might make sense to enter into discussions and an arrangement with the city to do the entire portion up to the bridge, at city expense. That would be fair.
The issue of the bridge and Riverdale access is another matter entirely. I believe I have indicated to Members that I plan to have some discussions with the city about that early in the new year. In fact, since it was raised by the Member a few days ago, I have already flagged it with the Mayor for our January agenda.
The Member knows that the entire matter of the bridge is one of responsibility. No doubt, there are advocates of both sides of the issue as to whose responsibility it is. I am quite prepared to have thorough discussions with the city on it to address the question of congested traffic entry into Riverdale.
Mrs. Firth: In his opening comments, the Minister made a comment about the under budgeting for snow removal last year. It ended up costing $1 million, and they had identified something like $900,000 in the budget this year. Do I have those figures correct?
How is the budget for snow removal this year? Obviously, we may have a shortfall again.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As of today, I am advised the budget is pretty tight for this year. In the last fiscal year, not the current one, we did run into a budget shortfall of $900,000 because of unusually high snowfalls last year. As the Member may recall, we ran into some concerns raised by the placer operators, because we held back for a couple of weeks on opening some of their roads.
This year, we have reallocated our identified needs. In the budget, there is a percentage increase but no increased contingency, if you will, largely because, at the time we assembled the budget, we could not predict what the needs would be. Historical levels dictate our budget projections, and we calculated modest increases, reallocations, and reapportionments throughout our highways budget.
With the increase of BST, we can reduce our summer maintenance, which can reallocate the money to where the need is identified.
The long and the short of it is that we had a budget shortfall of $900,000 in the last budget year and we anticipate, the way things are shaping up for this winter, that we are going to have a shortfall and we have only indicated modest increases based on historical levels and reapportionments for next year.
Mrs. Firth: When the Minister talks about reapportionments, does that mean that none of the extra funds that are required for snow removal come from general revenues in the form of supplementaries, and that they end up having to find all the money within the department?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: No. Reapportionments are just the business of managing available funds of the base budget. The point I was making to the Member was that, if we add 20 miles of BST to a particular highway, it reduces the summer maintenance on that highway and allows the managers to calculate that reduced grading - because now there is BST - and assign that money to other priorities identified in the highway system. The Member will also recognize that we have introduced the rural maintenance policy. I have introduced a capital component to that rural maintenance policy. This year it is some $525,000 to upgrade secondary and tertiary roads, but we did not apportion maintenance dollars for those secondary and tertiary roads. That is coming through some of this reapportionment of available funds, which a good manager will do.
Now, what was the Members question?
The $900,000 that we added to last years budget was new financing. It was not from within. I think that was the question.
Mrs. Firth: That was the question, not the lecture on reapportionment.
I want to ask the Minister another question about another area for which he is responsible: the new Yukon licence plates. When does the Minister anticipate that everyone in the Yukon will have changed over from the old licence plates to the new ones?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe the new licences are supposed to be all in place by March 1992.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: The Member seems to be getting some heckling on his side of the House.
Does that mean that all Yukoners who have licensed vehicles will have the new plate by that time and there will not be any stragglers? I am trying to think of my own personal plates. I believe they say January 1992.
Does the Minister have any idea of approximately how many more people have to change over before the process is complete?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: As I recall, when we implemented this system it was set up so that people had an option where they could take a licence plate to the next month of their category. I believe the way it worked out was that you could go up to 23 months forward, if you opted to go to your next available month. March 1992 was the twenty-third month from the date of implementation. I think that is how I recall it worked.
To answer the Members question specifically, I cannot tell the Member just what the ratio is of conversions, to date, but certainly if the original plan was to have all of the plates changed over by March 1992, we must be getting pretty close to full conversion now. As the Member points out, her licence plate - without the goldpanner, I think I recall - will change in January 1992.
Mrs. Firth: Just about everybody in the Yukon was without the gold panner, if I recall.
I would like to ask the Minister another question about one of my favourite subjects. His colleagues are probably going to groan when I raise it, but it is about the 911 number.
I received a very long letter from the Minister when I asked for an update on when the 911 number was going to be implemented. He writes long letters, just like he talks.
I realize that there probably is no money in this budget for the 911 number. Is that correct?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Yes.
Mrs. Firth: Can the Minister tell us why we cannot have the 911 number now, other than all this stuff he talks about in the letter, where they are still talking about it and studying it. They keep reminding us of how expensive it is. I wonder if he can give us any indication of when we are going to have this service in the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I cannot give a specific date. The Member knows that I have requested detailed information surrounding the costs of the service, the nature of the service and the level of technology recommended. That committee has been working quite diligently, along with Northwestel, the RCMP and health service people. I am told that there is a preliminary report on costs and options to be submitted to me before Christmas. I am hoping to have some idea at that point of where we might be headed.
Mrs. Firth: I wonder if the Minister will be providing us with a copy of that report so that we can make some assessments as well.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I will seek advice on that without giving a firm commitment. I personally do not see any reason why it should not be available. I have not seen it and I do not know what it says. I do not know whether there is any confidential-type information relating to numbers of calls or personal matters of people or corporations. My attitude is positive, but I cannot confirm that I can; I will certainly try to.
Mrs. Firth: We would very much like to see that report, so I hope that the Minister will be providing it. I cannot see any reason why it would not be made available, because we have already had two or three reports from the department with respect to this particular initiative.
I found it quite interesting, when the government tabled the information on the buffalo that we have spent over $240,000 on the buffalo...
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Firth: ....but that is not all YTG money. YTG money is about $240,000 to $250,000 and yet that is what we were looking at for the 911 number and the Minister cannot find the money to spend on the 911 number. There is still as strong a feeling out there with respect to having the 911 number here in the Yukon.
There was an interesting story on television last night, on the British Columbia news. The story was with respect to a young fellow and his dad. They were at home in an area where they were not serviced by a 911 number. The father was doing repair work in the washroom, cut his hand off with a skilsaw, and the young boy, who is about 10 years old, dialed the operator. The operator had to patch him through to a 911 service in order to get help. With that service, the operator stayed on the line with the young fellow and he was able to attend to this father under her guidance. I think that is a very powerful statement for providing this type of service to Yukon people, which is a service that serves all Yukoners, in that the government can look at having it in the communities, as well.
To remind everyone, all that we have asked for, initially, is that the service be provided to Whitehorse on a trial basis to see if the communities want to opt into it or not. I know that in the studies the government has been doing, it has been looking at communities that are close to Whitehorse to see if it is feasible to extend it to those close communities, as well.
I would just like to remind the Minister that I would like to have a copy of the report to look at. I am sure that he knows I will be keeping after him about this particular issue.
I guess that if it is not in this budget, it will be ready in the next budget and for the next election, so the Minister can cut the ribbon when the 911 number is started, or something dramatic like that.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I do not think our colleagues are highly desirous of a debate on the merits of 911. I agree with the Member. Anything that contributes to better service for people in distress is worth looking at. If it is feasible to do, it should be done. It must be pointed out that the very reason we are looking at this proposal in detail is because we are giving it serious contemplation.
The Member knows that 911 is not a cheap service and it is not a service that will work territory-wide, as it is intended. I dare say that 911 - and I stand to be corrected - does not exist in any community with less than 50,000 people. So, if we are able even to put it into place in Whitehorse, that would be quite an accomplishment.
The Member is correct. I have asked the committee to look at rural communities and to address - not necessarily 911 because it may not be the best system - the issue of how we can improve the emergency response services currently available.
I have every conviction that the committee is doing a diligent job of looking at the levels of technology, the complications of communities, the potential for Whitehorse; it involves other agencies; it involves the telephone company; it involves additional staffing; it involves additional technological implementation. It is a fairly complicated matter in my general understanding of things.
I am looking forward to the report, too, and I will share it with the Member if it contains no confidential material.
Chair: Shall we go to line by line?
On Office of the Deputy Minister
On Operation and Maintenance
On Deputy Ministers Office
Mr. Phelps: Is the Minister not going to speak to clarify the dramatic reduction? Is it because part of this item has been transferred over to Education?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The decrease is due to a number of reduced costs, some of which are incurred this year but will not be incurred next year. Some of those costs will be the deputies leave. Some of the costs relate to the printing of reports, and some to a number of miscellaneous administrative items relating to travel and telephone, and so on.
Deputy Ministers Office in the amount of $257,000 agreed to
On Departmental Land Claims
Departmental Land Claims in the amount of $215,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Hon. Mr. Byblow: I believe I flagged this in previous debate. The reduction is largely due to this years $850,000 special cost, relating to the Old Crow flood. I believe I spoke to that previously. I would point out that it is 90 percent recoverable.
Emergency Measures in the amount of $245,000 agreed to
Mr. Phelps: I am surprised at the extent of the reduction. Does that involve the decentralized group to Carcross?
Hon. Mr. Byblow: The reduction appears to be related to a higher level of recovery for user fees of the VHS system. The decentralization to Carcross is expected to be done in the coming budget year.
Mr. Phelps: I just want to go on the record as saying that we would have expected an increase from decentralization, particularly given that there will be travel back and forth and communications being a central department. I am surprised that there would not be associated costs. I would simply like to flag it.
Communications in the amount of $342,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance in the amount of $1,059,000 agreed to
On VHF System Replacement
Hon. Mr. Byblow: What we are looking at is the phase 3 completion: the Robert Campbell and North Canol segments. Ultimately, still to be done is the Dempster Highway corridor, which still requires some preparatory work.
The capital dollars are part of the overall costs related to the new system. There are some specific capital costs related to additional channels and software that will be put in place on the existing lines.
VHF System Replacement in the amount of $805,000 agreed to
On Mobile/Portable Replacement
Mobile/Portable Replacement in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Community TV and Radio
Mr. Phelps: Just before we clear this, I trust the Minister is looking at the feasibility of providing another channel to the TV receiver-transmitter at Tagish. We discussed this at length, and I pointed out the need and numbers of people, particularly seniors and retired folk, who would benefit. Once again, I hope, with Christmas on the horizon, the Minister could put on his red suit and call up a couple of reindeer, and see his way fit to spend a very small amount of money to gladden the hearts and uplift the souls of a good many people who live in the Tagish area.
Hon. Mr. Byblow: Ill do that tonight. The representation is duly noted.
Community TV and Radio in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Emergency Measures
Emergency Measures in the amount of $90,000 agreed to
Capital in the amount of $1,095,000 agreed to
Office of the Deputy Minister in the amount of $2,154,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that you report progress on Bill No. 19.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Webster: I move that the Speaker do now resume the chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Ms. Kassi: The Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 19, First Appropriation Act, 1992-93, and directed me to report progress on same.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Webster: 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 5:26 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled December 10, 1991:
Electoral District Boundaries Commission Report, 1991 (The Lysyk Report) (Speaker - Johnston)
Correspondence to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development regarding the Kaska Forest Products business proposal to obtain the Timber Harvesting Agreement formerly held by Yukon Pacific Forest Products of Watson Lake (December 1991) (Webster)
Yukon College Annual Report 1990-91 (McDonald)
The following Legislative Returns were tabled December 10, 1991:
Beaver-proof culvert design for $100 (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1475
Bison project cost to date (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1540-1541
Bison fencing material (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1295-1296
Parks Canada Audio-Visual for the new Yukon Visitor Reception Centre: contract details (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1482
Freshwater fisheries transfer contribution and program expenditures (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1481
Bison accidents on the highway (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1446
Parks Canada Audio-Visual for the new Yukon Visitor Reception Centre: local input and access to government photography collection (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1483
Wildlife management plans: their effect on hunting rights of beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of land claims (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1480
Fort Selkirk Management Plan: implementation plan and cost to date (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1484
Congdon Creek campground trails (Webster)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1481
Yukon Development Corporation: status of lawsuits regarding the Watson Lake sawmill (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1371
Yukon Development Corporation: loan to the Taga Ku Convention Centre project (Byblow)
Oral, Hansard, p. 1372