Tuesday, April 7, 1998 - 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Are there any tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Ms. Duncan: I'd like to ask all members to join me in welcoming Mrs. McCallum's grade 5 class from Jack Hulland school.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I'd like to welcome the class from Jack Hulland and I would also like to welcome another student who's in the gallery today: Jeneen Njootli is here with her mother, Sybil Frei, former Yukon residents.
Speaker: Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Harding: I have a legislative return, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: I have for tabling the principles of supply options for the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I have for tabling the property management agency business plan, 1998-98.
Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Notices of motion.
Statements by ministers.
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Violence against women
Mr. Phillips: My question today is to the Minister of Justice on the issue of violence against women and the Yukon's justice system.
The murder of Susan Klassen and the sentence that was subsequently handed down outraged and offended many Yukoners. Now, we have the murder of another young woman, Maranda Peter, and the lenient sentence is also outraging and offending many Yukoners, especially the Kaska Dena of Ross River.
While government talks about having a zero tolerance of violence against women, the criminal justice system's actions clearly show the zero-tolerance policy has no meaning. While the minister was considerably vocal in opposition about violence against women, her actions as a minister have not demonstrated any changes that are forthcoming to enshrine the zero-tolerance policy in law, and I'd like to know why.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I'll thank the member for his question, although I think his tone was not respectful of the grief that many of us feel when these crimes are committed in our societies and communities are devastated by them.
I have been working hard as a minister and we have been working hard as a government on taking action on reducing the crime of violence against women. Let me remind the member that in the previous legislative session, we brought forward and passed bills in this House - the Family Violence Prevention Act and the Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Act - both of which are designed to make changes to provide options for women to be safer in their homes and to fund crime prevention and victim services initiatives that can help women victims of violence, as well as prevent crime.
Mr. Phillips: Well, I can assure the minister that we on this side share the sympathy with the families in the tragedies that have happened, Mr. Speaker, but there is a lot of anger out there from Yukoners about how the justice system doesn't appear to be working.
In both the Susan Klassen murder and the Maranda Peter murder, the judges' hands were somewhat tied in issuing sentences by the fact that the prosecutors opted for lesser charges of manslaughter rather than for the first- or second-degree murder charge.
Mr. Speaker, Yukoners do not accept that these two murders were accidental killings and are demanding that justice be done. Can the minister advise the House what action she is going to take to now restore Yukoners' faith in the justice system, which I believe is at an all-time low.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, as that member well knows from his previous experience serving in the capacity of Minister of Justice, it is not possible for ministers to speak on specific cases that have been before the courts and that remain open to appeal.
Mr. Speaker, I can, however, respond to the member's question about a number of actions that we will continue to take to restore and improve public confidence in the justice system.
As the member is aware, the Crown attorney function in the Yukon Territory is held by the federal government. We have been attempting to negotiate the devolution of the Crown attorney function so that we can make charging policies and make other policies on the subject of violence against women as well as others here in the territory. We're waiting for federal government responses and continuing to work with the federal government on the possibility of devolution of the Crown attorney function. We're also working with the communities on crime prevention initiatives and on education of youth in our schools, and of RCMP and others.
Mr. Phillips: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister should check with her officials, because the advice that I got from the same officials when I was the Minister of Justice is that you can't talk about a case if it's before the court that day, but you can talk about it when the decision has been made.
Mr. Speaker, I find it bitterly ironic that we label drunk drivers who kill as murderers because we will not accept their being intoxicated as a legitimate excuse for accidentally killing someone; yet in a case such as the James Ward case, the fact that he was drunk at the time of the murder has been used for the reason of the charge being reduced from second-degree murder to manslaughter. I don't buy this perverted logic, nor do most Yukoners.
What is the minister going to do about that, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, I think I need to be clear with the member opposite that I am unable to speak about the case that he is mentioning. Although a decision has been rendered in that case, there is still the possibility of an appeal. Let me -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Now, the member's saying that's not true, but I seem to recall hearing criticisms from him on that very subject.
I can also tell the member that I have been actively working for change in improving the justice system, in improving how women are treated in the justice system. I've been leading the national effort to try and have the defence of provocation removed from the Criminal Code. That's an ongoing effort that I've been working on with my national colleagues, the other Ministers of Justice, as well as with ministers responsible for the status of women.
Although it is sometimes difficult when we are heart-sore over the loss of life that many young women and older women unfortunately experience in our communities, we cannot give up hope. We have to continue to work for change, and that is what we will do.
Question re: First Nations healing camps, funding
Mr. Jenkins: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services. It's concerning First Nations healing camps and the replacing of Crossroads. In the minister's response to the Crossroads petition, the minister stated, "This new system also allows us to empower Yukon First Nations in their own healing programs. Some of the money will be available for per diems for treatment centres in communities, and I have to say that I'm very pleased to say that the Aishihik treatment centre is now in operation and we have begun to develop a relationship with this centre. In fact, I've met with a number of representatives from healing centres and we have discussed where the centres can fit into the overall treatment program."
Would the minister advise the House if the Yukon government has agreed to provide stable funding for this 20-bed facility, which I understand only has enough money to operate for three months? How many beds of the 20-bed facility is the government prepared to fund?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, Mr. Speaker, if the member was cognizant at all about the situation, he would realize that there are five treatment centres in the territory.
We have begun some discussions with the Aishihik treatment centre. We've begun some discussions not only in regard to alcohol treatment but they have also raised some issues surrounding justice. We will be discussing with some other treatment centres how they see themselves fitting into this particular situation or particular program. As well, we've also had some preliminary discussions with CYFN to seek their input in this and seek their advice, and also to seek their cooperation on how we can move this process forward.
Mr. Jenkins: Previously in this House, I raised the rather high cost of the youth wilderness camps in both Mayo and Old Crow, which cost in the neighbourhood of $160 per day and $215 per day, per client, respectively. The Old Crow contract totals some $246,820. That is a quarter of a million dollars for 15 clients. The Wind River camp contract totals some $104,878 for 10 clients for 61 days.
Can the minister indicate what the cost per client per day would be at the Aishihik treatment centre and what the total amount would be that the Government of Yukon is prepared to fund the treatment centre for this fiscal year?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: Well, we haven't arrived at the point of discussing what the per diem rates are or, as a matter of fact, what kind of programming is being suggested. As I said, we have begun some discussions with the Aishihik folks and we'll be discussing some of the options with other treatment centres. But for the member to seek a definitive cost as to what we're willing to pay, or seek a commitment from me as to how many beds in this centre or that centre, I think that's very, very preliminary. I can just tell him that I would suggest that if he has further questions on wilderness treatment for youth that he raise that at the appropriate time.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, this is the appropriate time to raise questions of this importance.
Mr. Speaker, I also previously raised the issue of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs' fiscal responsibility for paying for First Nation status youth, and the minister sent a letter to me on March 9 indicating that his department had billed DIAND for the 1995-96 period and 1996-97 period, $153,651. Can the minister advise the House how much of this bill to DIAND has actually been paid?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I'd have to get back to the member on that, but I can tell him that he is fully aware - and if he isn't, he hasn't been listening here - that our ongoing struggle with DIAND for recoveries is a continuing one. We've made some successes. We're making some gains. There are some positive signals there, but it is an ongoing issue that we have to be dealing with DIAND on and try to recover as much as we possibly do.
Question re: Justice, appointment of deputy judges
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Justice. There had been some publicly reported friction between the minister and the Judicial Council on the appointment of judges to the territorial court. This was last year. This was one of the reasons the Hughes inquiry was set up. Mr. Hughes is reviewing the operations of the territorial court and the independence of judges.
Now the minister has just appointed three deputy judges to the court. Has the friction between the Judicial Council and the minister been resolved, and did these appointments go smoothly?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite is somewhat overstating the case and characterizing it as there being friction between my office and the Judicial Council. I can advise the member that the recent appointment of deputy judges was done by following the normal process of the Judicial Council reviewing candidates and submitting recommendations, and that there was no difficulty with the appointments at all.
Mr. Cable: The Hughes inquiry, of course, is inquiring into the independence of the courts in this jurisdiction, and the terms of reference call for Mr. Hughes' findings to be tabled with the minister no later than March 15. Has the minister received his findings and, if not, when does she expect to receive them?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I have not received a copy of the report to date. There has been a request for an extension to complete the report and I believe the new date is June 30. I can confirm that date and provide it to the member opposite, but there is an extension, as Mr. Hughes is concluding the preparation of his report.
Mr. Cable: Reading the submissions from the minister's department and the replies from the court, there appears to be some significant differences of opinion on the operations of the courts. What does the minister intend to do after the receipt of Mr. Hughes' findings to build a bridge between her department and the courts? Is there going to be any public discussion? Just what is going to happen? What does she envisage?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Hughes is meeting with the judiciary and with the department, and from what I have been informed, the discussions are very collegial and proceeding well. They are not fraught with friction, as the member seems to be implying.
As the member knows from reviewing the terms of reference for the Hughes inquiry, the purpose of the inquiry is for him to come forward with a report and some recommendations, and the government will be following up on those recommendations.
Question re: Seniors housing and multi-level care facility
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. On December 8, 1997, during the Yukon Housing supplementary budget debate, the Government Leader spoke of preliminary discussions between the Yukon Housing Corporation and CMHC exploring the potential for public and private partnerships and providing support for seniors housing.
Now, a December 9, 1997, meeting between Health and Social Services and Yukon Housing Corporation was called to discuss a multi-level care facility. The Government Leader indicated that by this spring budget session, the government would be prepared to discuss options for seniors housing and a multi-level care facility for Whitehorse.
Mr. Speaker, how have those discussions progressed?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, my department and Health and Social Services have been dealing with the issue of seniors facilities. We have done a study on the senior facilities that we do have. I mentioned to the member that we would have this complete. With that we have an action plan to do some upgrades to those facilities. Now, I can provide that information to the member, as it has just come forward to me over the past week.
In regard to building of new facilities, that has made little progress. We don't have in sight, of course, in this year in this budget, building any new facilities for seniors.
What we want to do is get out into the communities a bit more and do community studies and have, from the communities, direction given to us on how they would like to see their seniors housed.
Now, in the past, from some information we got, we heard from the general public and the seniors that they wanted not so much institutional-style housing but more like granny suites that are built beside families and so on. That avenue is being looked into by the department.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, we've heard repeatedly in this Legislature about the need for a multi-level care facility in Watson Lake, and the minister has told this House that he is prepared to do two more pilot projects in the rural communities to study housing needs, similar to the one he conducted in Carmacks.
Will he consider putting Watson Lake on the list of communities to have their housing needs assessed this budget year?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We are close to completion of one community study and that's in the Town of Carmacks, and we are hoping to do Haines Junction and Dawson.
In regard to whether or not the department can do that, I will go back to the department and ask if this is possible to do this year.
What we want to do is do as many as we can in the next couple of years so we can have this all completed.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Speaker, I suppose the point is that, no matter how much you study it, if you don't do something about the results of the study, it doesn't do you any good. All you've got is another study.
Now, in Carmacks there has always been a long-standing shortage of housing, as the minister is very well aware. Now, if BYG and Western Copper start again, they're going to need staff housing. We've almost got the results of this audit and it's showing once again that there's a shortage in Carmacks.
What is the government going to do about that housing shortage in Carmacks?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, we're certainly going to take the recommendations that do come back from the community. And if they need assistance to do apartment complexes and so on, that is a possibility. We're not throwing any of that out at all.
What we did get back from the community in the past years was they wanted Yukon Housing to get out of the business and let private sector move in.
That's certainly the case in Haines Junction, where Yukon Housing, I think, only has a few units left. How do we go about ensuring that there's adequate housing for people moving into the community? Well, we're working with the municipality and the First Nation. The First Nation, of course, is playing a big role. They would like to expand their housing department and look at the community as a whole. These community studies are going to result in community-drive direction to us, not one from the village council and one from the First Nation. We're hoping to compile them together, so that they can look at all issues of the community.
Question re: First Nations healing camps, cost effectiveness of
Mr. Jenkins: My question is for the Minister of Health and Social Services on healing camps.
When the minister stopped funding the Crossroads treatment centre, effectively closing its doors, Crossroads was receiving annual funding of some $450,000. The minister is on record as claiming he would be saving some $100,000 per year. The amounts expended on the two youth healing camps is well over $300,000 and, in the case of the Wind River camp, this is for a seasonal, two-month service.
If the trend is to fund healing camps throughout Yukon, it is readily apparent that the cost Yukon taxpayers will be facing will far exceed the costs of running Crossroads. The so-called $100,000 saving from Crossroads will be spent many, many times over. Each camp could cost upwards of a half a million dollars each.
In view of this direction and these costs, will the minister undertake to conduct an audit of the Old Crow camp in order to determine the effectiveness of the camp and whether we are receiving value for the dollars spent?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: I think I mentioned this before with regard to the member's questions on this. There was a four-day review of the camp completed in the fall of 1997. It was reviewed both for the fiscal site - we had our residential services coordinator observing all aspects, including programming, staffing, et cetera.
I can go on at great length but, generally, what we can say is that the program was deemed to be safe, comfortable, and that the youth who graduated from this program graduated successfully.
With regard to the effectiveness, family and children's services has documented that the youth going there have shown positive changes while at the camp.
Mr. Jenkins: Alcohol abuse and drug abuse are endemic problems in Yukon First Nation communities, and as I have tried to point out to the minister in recent days, drug abuse in particular is on the rise. Can the minister outline the treatment programs for drug and alcohol that are currently being provided at the two youth camps and the programs that will be offered in any new healing camp, specifically the one at Aishihik, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: With regard to the two healing camps, I would have to get him a program description. That's fairly detailed, and it's not something I can provide just standing on my feet.
With regard to the Aishihik treatment centre, we have taken a first look at the program proposed. I have discussed the program proposed with CYFN very recently. We're going to look at it in more detail and see if it meets our needs. Obviously, we'll have some issues around the kind of programming that we're seeking, and so on.
With regard, however, to some of the things we are doing to mitigate the effects of illicit drugs, one of the things that we've done is we have our street-nurse program working out of three sites. This individual does direct work with street people abusing drugs, and we also try to provide counselling and medical advice.
We've expanded the needle exchange program. It's now operating out of three sites, based on a harm-reduction concept, and we also have expanded the needle exchange program out to the rural communities. The member might be aware that there is one in Dawson, for example.
Our detox staff has been trained in the handling of clients, particularly coming down from the effects of cocaine. Our ADS folks have received specific training in working with individuals on chemical addictions. We have a variety of interventions with youth in schools. The department's youth health promotions unit is involved with Justice, Education and Health Canada in a program called positive action with Yukon youth, focusing in on determinants of health. And, as well, our youth health promotion has worked along with the college, Justice and Skookum Jim in taking a look at illicit substance abuse in the territory.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'd certainly like to thank the minister for providing answers today to yesterday's questions. Why he didn't have the answers yesterday to yesterday's questions, I don't know, but I'd like to thank him for providing them today.
With respect to the audit that was conducted on the Old Crow healing camp, can the minister make available to us a copy of that audit? Can he also include the number of staff involved in these healing camps and their qualifications for dealing with alcohol and drug abuse?
I'm pleased with the minister's comments that while attending these camps, the youth are safe and comfortable, but what I'm looking at is the effectiveness of these healing camps in relationship to the treatment that is provided. Would the minister provide the recidivism rate and the effectiveness of the reintegration of these individuals into society?
Hon. Mr. Sloan: The member seems to have some kind of obsession with this camp, and is absolutely convinced that it doesn't do any good. I would suggest that he is somewhat mistaken. He persists in calling this an audit. It wasn't an audit; it was a review, as we review many of our programs.
We could certainly provide at least some information on this, and I can get the department to provide him with further information.
However, he makes reference to the fact of responding to questions. This member has a habit of jumping all over the place. He's first of all claiming that we've got some kind of rampant panic-in-needle-park sort of drug abuse problem out there. Now he's switching to healing camps, now he's switching to wilderness camps. I really wish he would sort of focus his attentions on one particular series of questions so that we can provide information to him in a timely manner.
Question re: Government employees, pension plan transfer
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. My colleagues and I have been approached by a number of constituents who are employed by the Government of the Yukon who are interested in the issue of early retirement, and it's our understanding that discussions regarding the transfer of superannuation of Yukon pensions is between the Treasury Board officials and the Government of the Yukon. Could the minister tell us the status of these discussions?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, we too are very keen on the issue of patriation of the pension plan. We're doing it, obviously, in concert with the union. We would not make any moves without their concurrence. We want to ensure that the full value is transferred from the Treasury Board to the employees of the government. So far it has been stalled at the Treasury Board level, and I think it would be very nice if they would move on this particular items and patriate it to the Yukon, because then it would certainly be desirable to our employees and I think it would be a good thing for the Yukon public as well.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, our response from the minister responsible for the Treasury Board says that at this time, officials are informing YTG that there are two options regarding the Yukon superannuation. It would be withdrawn now by the Government of the Yukon at actuarial value, or the Government of the Yukon could wait until after pension reform discussions.
Has the government chosen one of these options, and could the minister tell us which option has been selected?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, I'm not so sure that the information that she has received is as we have received it. If the full value of the actuarial, including the surplus, is to be transferred by the Liberal government, we'd more than welcome that. We want to see that action take place by the federal government. I've been pushing for it since I've become the minister, and I think there are too few reasons right now for this not to take place. So, certainly if she could talk to her cousins in Ottawa and they could speed this process along, that would be helpful.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to send the minister a copy of the letter that we received, including the backgrounder and the media release. We received this information simply for the asking.
Could the minister indicate - he has previously stated that he's interested in doing this as soon as possible. I would take that to mean that they would look at withdrawing the transfer of funds based on actuarial value. Could the minister indicate a time frame, then, of what we might be looking at for a conclusion of these discussions?
Hon. Mr. Harding: It's not my time frame. Our position is clear. We're waiting on the federal government. Unfortunately, the federal minister has indicated a desire to privatize the pension plan, something that we are not in support of, and we fundamentally have expressed our opposition to that.
However, the issue of patriation of the pension plan, including the surplus funds that we have for the benefit of our employees and for the benefit of including more options for the Yukon people who work for the government as well as the Yukon public who are keen to see these kinds of things offered in the Yukon, would be a good thing for Yukoners.
However, the holdup, I must say, is completely with the Treasury Board and the federal government. Regardless of whatever letter they sent the Liberal caucus, they haven't sent us anything confirming that we are going to get what we need to get for the security of the employees.
And I think that that's got to be our primary concern. We've got to work very closely with the union to ensure that the information that we get and the proposals we get from the Liberal government do include any surplus funds, and we'll respond properly to the needs of our employees because, if we can't get concurrence from our employees, then we don't want to take this patriation on.
So, hopefully, perhaps there's been a change of heart at the Treasury Board. That would be most welcome and I think it would be to the benefit of the people who work for this government.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now lapsed.
May I have your pleasure?
Notice of opposition private members' business
Mr. Phillips: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the official opposition to be called on Wednesday, April 8, 1998. They are Motion No. 115, standing in the name of the Member for Klondike and Motion No. 94, standing in the name of the Member for Klondike.
Ms. Duncan: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.2(3), I would like to identify the items standing in the name of the third party to be called on Wednesday, April 8, 1998. They are Motion No. 116, standing in the name of the Member for Porter Creek South and Motion No. 99, standing in the name of the Member for Riverside.
Speaker: We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Harding: I think you caught the opposition off guard there. They were heckling each other there for a while.
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 government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Is it the members' wish to take a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 9 - First Appropriation Act, 1998-99 - continued
Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
On Capital Expenditures - continued
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I have answers from questions that arose in debate last evening. As per usual, I also have copies for the table, the official opposition critic and the critic for the third party.
In response to a question raised by Mr. Jenkins, the hon. Member for Klondike, on fuel storage tanks, he asked, "What is the phase-out and replacement policy of the Government of Yukon with respect to fuel storage and waste-oil storage tanks, and what is the effective life cycle is of these units, and how are we coming with replacing them with the envirotanks?
The response now is that the storage tank regulations were put into force on January 1, 1997. The regulations provide requirements for the storage of hazardous substances, including petroleum products, pursuant to the Environment Act. The regulations apply to new tanks being installed or existing tanks undergoing major renovations that have a capacity of more than 4,000 litres.
The life cycle of a buried tank will depend on the soil conditions and the way the tank was initially installed; however, generally speaking, a buried tank is expected to have a life of about 20 to 25 years.
The Department of Community and Transportation Services does not have a written policy on the replacement of storage tanks. However, the department has been testing underground tanks for leaks. Any tanks that showed signs of leaks have been removed, contamination has been cleaned up and above-ground envirotanks are being placed. The above-ground double-wall-style tanks obviously reduce the risk of leakage and liability of a spill.
In a question raised by Mrs. Edelman and Mr. Jenkins on the portable scale: "Is there one location using the portable scales more than another and, normally, we just use a battery pack. Has that not been looked at?"
In response, the portable scales are currently located at Haines Junction, Watson Lake and Whitehorse. These are utilized by our highway enforcement mobile safety officers during the mobile patrol of highways throughout the Yukon. A set of portable scales, located at Whitehorse, get the most use, as most mobile patrols originate from this location.
When the problem was first discovered, the batteries were replaced. Unfortunately, this did not resolve the problem, as it appears that the design of the scale is the problem.
Even transporting them in the trunk of a car or in the box of a pickup truck during cold weather is enough to deplete the charge in the batteries and the current portable scales could not be used in winter weather. They will continue to be used for summer operations where required.
Again in response to a question raised by Mr. Jenkins: "Is there any chipseal anticipated along the Klondike Highway this year?"
Yesterday, I advised the member during the capital budget debate that there is no funding for chipseal on that portion of the Klondike Highway. To clarify my response, I would like to add that BST work is funded out of the operation and maintenance budget and there is no chipseal work planned for the area on the south Klondike.
However, there are four jobs planned for the north Klondike this season and they are from kilometre 248 to kilometre 260 in the Fox Lake area; kilometre 386 to 406, north of Tatchun Creek; kilometre 500 to 518, which is south of Crooked Creek; and, kilometre 710 to kilometre 717, which is the intersection of Bonanza Creek Road south of Dawson City. As this is remedial work, it is planned in the maintenance program and is not funded from the capital budget.
I'd also like to table today a report, titled Kudz Ze Kayah Mine Development Effects on the South Campbell Highway - Final Report. The report describes investigations carried out to determine the measures required to upgrade the south Campbell Highway from Watson Lake to kilometre 232, should the Kudz Ze Kayah property proceed to the production stage. The issue is, of course, not limited to a single mine or mineral property. The real issue is the action needed to upgrade the south Campbell Highway in response to the initiation of a sustained bulk concentrate haul of any kind.
The major conclusions of the study are, one, that upgrading is needed for a sustained bulk haul to operate safely in conjunction with regular traffic; two, the most appropriate standard for upgrading is a 90-kilometres-per-hour design speed with a gravel surface; three, if the upgrade cannot be completed before bulk haul is initiated, interim safety measures will be required; and four, the total cost of upgrading was approximately $55 million expressed in 1996 dollars.
The report contains a thorough analysis of each of the issues which arise in considering the use of the south Campbell Highway for a bulk concentrate haul. The subject is complex and involves major financial consequences for the Yukon government. At the moment, there is no need to implement full reconstruction as no developer has made a commitment to develop a property adjacent to the Campbell Highway.
The report does identify the need to upgrade certain short sections of the route which fall far short of acceptable highway standards. The funds allocated in the current fiscal year will be used to achieve the spot upgrading. Future upgrade efforts will depend on the development which takes place.
It should also be noted that the area addressed by this report is not the complete section of highway from Watson Lake to the Faro cutoff. The section of highway from kilometre 232, where the access to the Kudz Ze Kayah property leaves the Campbell Highway, to kilometre 415, where Mitchell Road leaves it, would also require upgrading to accommodate a sustained bulk haul.
The cost to upgrade the kilometre 232 to kilometre 415 section of the Campbell Highway would be of a similar order of magnitude to the cost of upgrading the southern section.
Mr. Chair, I'd just like to say that outstanding from the capital debate yet is the arbitration process that was required and asked for, and also how many legal claims are outstanding. Again, we are working toward timely responses for the members opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: I just have a number of small questions arising out of the information that the minister has just provided, Mr. Chair.
With respect to underground fuel oil storage tanks, the minister indicated that C&TS does not have a written policy on the replacement of storage tanks.
When one looks at the industry across the board - the private sector - and looks at the issue of underground storage tanks in the Yukon, what is occurring in this domain is that the insurance carriers will not cover environmental damage and the lending institutions are insisting on the owner doing regular tests on underground fuel storage tanks by an authorized testing agency and providing a report on a regular basis on the condition of the tanks.
Furthermore, they're also insisting that the life cycle of these tanks be X number of years. This is also leading to additional costs. They're insisting that when these tanks come due for replacement that they be replaced with the tanks that are double walled, and we're talking a considerable sum of dollars.
Now, I'm not taking issue with the dollars. I'm taking issue with the process, that government should be a leader in this area and have a policy in place that could be the cornerstone for the industry and, indeed, for Yukon.
Is the minister prepared to consider such a policy? I'm sure it's a question he'll have to bounce off his officials before he responds and, if so, when could we look forward to seeing such a policy? I'm sure it would be developed in concert with the environmental department, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, there is merit within the discussion going on now from the Member for Klondike, and I will talk with the department regarding the direction and advice from the Member for Klondike, and I will also - as he has laid out the process - take it up with my counterpart, the Member for Mayo-Tatchun.
Mr. Jenkins: The second issue I would like to raise with the minister is the portable scales and the explanation that was provided, that if they move the scales on the back of the pickup truck during cold weather, the batteries wouldn't perform very well. No batteries will. Battery life in cold climates is reduced considerably. As the ambient temperature drops, so does the output of the battery. To replace the scales because the batteries won't stand up in the cold weather is going to be a recurring problem, even with a brand-new battery and a brand-new set of scales.
Does the minister want to take this back and rethink it or does he have the assurances of the department that we're not going to experience any problems with the new scale? I would suggest to the minister that that is not going to be the case. If this type of equipment is transported in cold weather outside, the efficiency of this piece of equipment and - in fact, a lot of this electronic equipment, they tell you, has to be stored and transported in a warmer climate and that its efficiency is reduced as it goes below a certain temperature. Your surveying equipment goes into the same category.
I'm afraid that explanation doesn't wash. Is the minister prepared to go back to the department and have them make a further response than is being provided here?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I guess I never really looked at it as a case of whether it was to wash or not washes, but to weigh; that is certainly the question at this point in time. Now, it does say in the response that part of the problem, it appears, is that it is the design of the scale that is the problem, so I would assume that that is what the department is saying.
Also, I would, again, assume that in the trunk of a car or in the box of a pickup truck, that they also would be transported by Suburbans, and so on, which are out and about for folks. Certainly, I will get back to the department and ask for a bit more. It certainly seems to suffice for me at this time, but I will get back to the member opposite with a bit more detail as it becomes available. Thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I'm quite familiar with what the response is. They're buying a new set of scales because the existing ones won't work in the cold weather, and I'm not aware of very much of this type of equipment that will work in the very extremely cold weather that we have here, Mr. Chair.
Is this a justified, bona fide expenditure in light of the fact that this type of equipment does not operate satisfactorily in the extremely cold climate conditions that we have? Is the minister prepared to give his assurances that this new scale being purchased is designed for and will work in minus 40, minus 50 degree Celsius temperatures? Is that what the department is saying?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I will assure the member opposite that, with the information I have before me, to the best of the department's ability, it is the best expenditure of funds.
Mr. Jenkins: I will be noting that and asking for a report next year, Mr. Chair.
Could we move on to BST repairs and replacement along the Klondike Highway. My question yesterday was that there appears to be no capital undertaking of chipseal replacement along the Klondike Highway, and the minister's response comes back, "It's in O&M."
Could the minister provide the policy as to what determines the difference between O&M and capital? What I'm looking for is a consistent application of rules in this regard. When it comes to painting a bridge, we paint the bridges every so many years and the minister's explanation was that that is a capital undertaking because they are only done every so many years. When we get into chipseal replacement, is there a formula that's used if it goes beyond a certain number of kilometres, that it becomes capital and, if it's under that, it is O&M? How are we determining what is O&M and what is capital, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, that is a question I will take up with the department and will provide a timely response to the member as to the formula and the difference between the policies.
Mr. Jenkins: We look at south Campbell Highway - I'd like to thank the minister for another three-quarters of an inch thick report that will make for very interesting reading for me. I am sure that this type of a report is done on Yukon highways that are requiring upgrading on a regular basis. Is there a similar report on the area between the turnoff to the Kudz Ze Kayah property, where the road leaves the Campbell Highway, to the turnoff into Faro or the Rene Mitchell Road?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I do not believe so, but certainly I will check into it and provide all of the reports that the member would need.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the estimate that is provided here would lead me to believe that there is at least an order-of-magnitude estimate based on some kind of report on that section. So there certainly has to be some background information somewhere within the department on that section, Mr. Chair, and I'd certainly appreciate receiving a copy of that.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, I will honour the member's wishes.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I had one question yesterday that perhaps has already been answered. I don't recall, and I wonder if the minister can help me out. We were talking about the new Zodiac out at Marsh Lake, and I was wondering whether that Zodiac would also be covering the area of the river and into Tagish.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, I will have to get that information back to her and I'll have to consult with the folks involved so it might take a bit, but I certainly will get the information back to the member.
Chair: We'll proceed now to Transportation Division, Top of the World Highway.
On Transportation Division
On Top of the World Highway
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, the $763,000 is for two projects. It's for the reconstruction from kilometre 60 to kilometre 105, at $63,000, for seeding areas disturbed during the previous year's construction, and for resurfacing from kilometre 0 to kilometre 60, at $700,000, for BST on the grade previously improved between kilometre 0 to kilometre 30, and for seeding between kilometre 0 and kilometre 60.
Mr. Jenkins: Part of the Top of the World Highway is the crossing at Dawson City, and I was wondering if this line item contained funds for the ice study.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: As I said yesterday, Mr. Chair, no. Nowhere in the budget is there a line item for the ice study, but certainly I can assure the member that it's a political decision and we'll be working within the caucus to find a resolution.
Mr. Jenkins: I was hoping the minister could tell us he had this sum of money for this ice study squirreled away somewhere in this line item, but could the minister advise how many dollars would be expended on the ice study now that we're in Top of the World Highway?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it is a question that has not been answered and I do not have an accurate forecast.
Mr. Jenkins: While we're on the Top of the World Highway, Mr. Chair, it's probably appropriate that the minister take the time to drive out along the Alaska Highway and turn up the Klondike Highway. He'll see a sign there, in a short distance, indicating that you're on the right road to the Top of the World Highway. In previous years, there has been a sign covering it, saying that this highway is closed during certain times of the year. Now that highway sign hasn't appeared this year. Could the minister indicate why?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly not at this time, on my feet, but certainly I will check in. It certainly sounds like it might have been an oversight by the department, but we will get back to the member.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, when one turns the corner there, one clearly sees "Top of the World Highway, Klondike Highway", the route signage, and one sees a little sign farther on saying, "Ross River", so many kilometres; "Faro", so many kilometres, but there isn't anything to indicate that you're on the road to Dawson.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Jenkins: In fact, if it wasn't for the Selkirk First Nation, who have a nice big sign further down the highway, indicating that they have a gas bar in Pelly Crossing, and that you're halfway to Dawson City when you reach that point, you wouldn't know where the heck you were, in a lot of cases.
Is the minister prepared to place a sign there, indicating the kilometres to Dawson City, and some sort of an indication that you're on the correct road? It might be a moot point, Mr. Chair, but it is most important. In fact, I can think back a couple of years, beating up on ministers down here when I had the responsibilities of mayor of our community, and we couldn't even get a sign on the Alaska Highway saying Dawson City was this way. In fact, that big overhead sign up along the Alaska Highway that says that this is the way to Dawson and Carmacks, and straight ahead, that cost the City of Dawson some $19,000, because the Government of the Yukon wasn't prepared to fund it. They said it wasn't within our signage policy, and now that that's up, at least you could have the common courtesy of telling people how far down the highway Dawson City is.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Jenkins: Here we're trying to attract tourists and visitors. Here's the minister with the responsibility of both areas, and he can't even get the department to put up a sign that says, "Dawson City", so many clicks down the highway.
Now I think he can at least stand on his feet and give an undertaking to do that today.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, in the member's own words it might be a moot point, but it is a point that is well-taken. I'm not here to debate the Tourism budget, but to get information and to share information on where we can go. I can also say that other communities have raised the issue, so certainly we will look into the policy and see if we can put something catchy up there, and my colleague to my right might be able to help with a catchy phrase that would attract tourists to the Klondike area. I can certainly think of a few myself.
Mr. Jenkins: I certainly thank the minister for his tremendous gesture here today in the House of offering to place a sign in that location. It's probably very much appreciated.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: (Inaudible)
Mr. Jenkins: Well, if he didn't offer, what was offered? I am hoping that I can get the minister's agreement that he's going to place a sign on the Klondike Highway just after it leaves the Alaska Highway, northbound, saying that it's so many kilometres to Dawson City.
Can I have that undertaking from the minister?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I will endeavour to look into the policy and to see if there is a need to change the policy so that we can accommodate signage requests - because certainly we want people to know where the heck they're going, in the member's own words, "I really want people to know that they're going to heck or wherever they're going to," and certainly that is one of the steps.
But I also recall a cold old, I don't know if it was - was it a November or a December day, when the Member for Klondike and the Member for Ross River-Southern Lakes took a drive together, in the same vehicle, in the same front seat. And we talked about signage, and I put my department on to it and I asked them to please carefully analyze this and to look at the benefits. Because there are benefits to the sign. I was asking where that was, just a couple or three weeks ago, and I was told that it has been satisfactorily resolved. I believe it might have been the executive director of the KVA who had said, "No, we don't want one." So, certainly, we'll get together and we'll maybe have a think-tank or a chat with all folks so that we can get one direction. And then, certainly, if we can get a consensus in that one direction, that's the way that we'll most likely proceed.
Mr. Jenkins: For the minister's understanding, there was a sign at the juncture of the Klondike Highway and the Alaska Highway where the Klondike Highway goes north. The sign was placed on private property, because the Government of Yukon wouldn't agree a number of years ago to allow signage indicating that Dawson City was north along this route. That sign was bought and paid for by the Klondike Visitors Association. It remained in place and there was an annual fee paid to the property owner to keep it in its present location.
What was being explored with the minister, since the property there is now changing hands and the rental rate is going up significantly - and the sign required replacement and upgrading - was to re-do the sign and move it to the other side of the highway into the right-of-way.
The Han First Nation in Dawson was approached to take over ownership of that sign and add "Home of the Han First Nation" on the bottom or anywhere on the sign that they so chose. This conversation took place between Chief Steve Taylor and me. Unfortunately, it did not come to fruition and the Klondike Visitors Association was left with no recourse but to take the sign down. The sign is of a larger size than is allowed within Whitehorse municipal boundaries and there are a lot of other policies in place that would be tremendous hoops to jump through to get a sign of that size located where it would have a marketing advantage for not just Dawson City but for the whole Yukon. And i
t just wasn't advantageous for the Klondike Visitors Association to undertake that kind of an approach to having this sign dealt with.
So, the sign has been removed. It's now down and it's probably a dead issue, as far as I'm given to understand.
The issue still remains that we have people at this time of the year who end up in Dawson City when the highway from Dawson to Alaska is closed. In fact, it happens in the wintertime. While we like to see these people, they are some annoyed when they find out that they can't get to there from here, even though there's a little thing on the map and there's probably some indication that that road is seasonally opened. So, they have to do a 180 and end up all the way back in Whitehorse and then travel the Alaska Highway west.
So the minister's department has annually placed a sign saying that the Top of the World Highway is closed from this time to this time of the year, and the dates are given. If the minister could give his assurances that that type of a sign will be installed on a regular basis there, I would certainly appreciate it, as would a lot of visitors.
The other sign that I'm looking for, the minister has conveniently hidden behind policy. There comes a time when you have to take the bull by the horns and apply common sense. And common sense would dictate that when you turn onto that highway, chances are you are looking for the end destination, and the end destination is Dawson City for a lot of our visitors. That's the kind of sign that people are looking for, with the distance. If the minister can stand on his feet and give his assurance in that regard, I'd be most appreciative.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, the first question that comes to my mind is, how appreciative? Well, I guess we're not here to be appreciative of one another but certainly to work with one another.
So, just in answer to the member's comments, certainly I will check with the department and make sure that the sign that says "Closed" is placed annually, because we don't want upset people, venting on the folks at KVA - or anybody in the Klondike, for that matter.
I'm not hiding behind policy. I'm trying to work within policy, and then if policy must be changed and should be changed, in a commonsense factor, it certainly will be changed and done with a commonsense factor.
I have given my comment to the member that I would look into it expeditiously, so that we don't have any negative side effects or anything, such as have been portrayed already by the member. So I would hope that the Member for Klondike would certainly take some comfort from the fact that we will proceed with that.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, I thank the minister very, very much and I only have to think back - when the minister says how appreciative he is - to when the present-Government Leader was Minister of Community and Transportation Services and spent the money in Dawson on a much-needed dike to prevent us from being flooded again and some considerable sums of money on the water and sewer system, and we made him an honorary citizen and some other title that went along with it. I can assure the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that if he wishes to stand on his feet and announce the construction of the bridge in Dawson City, that we'll have a similar type of honour coming his way also.
So, there is a -
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Mr. Jenkins: - commitment there on my part and I'd very much like hearing a commitment on the minister's part in this regard.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, it just gives me one more milestone to achieve in my life.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, milestones are achieved on a regular basis and I'm very much hopeful that the minister can achieve some in our area before the mandate runs out on his government. I think both the Minister of C&TS and the Minister of Education have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate their skills as well as they can and to either construct a bridge or a school or probably both in the next couple of years.
It is an issue. Directions for visitors is an issue and they are issues that have to be addressed and they have to be addressed in a proper manner. I know when the city was exploring signage, the signage along the Alaska Highway in Alaska indicating which way Dawson City was, was put up after one request by the Governor of the State. He just phoned the Commissioner of Transportation at that time from his office when I was sitting there and instructed him to put up a sign and I think, when I was back there the next week, that sign was up.
That's how fast governments can move. Mind you, that's in a different country. We'd probably take a year of "run around the bureaucracy" to figure out how to do it. I'm sure the minister can stand on his feet and give us assurances that that sign could be up before the end of the month is out.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, certainly, I will check into the policy, as I've reiterated, and I will reiterate again that I will check into the policy, and we'll certainly give it best efforts to see, especially in this banner year of 1998, that we can accommodate the request.
Mrs. Edelman: I'm sure the minister's interested in making sure that all municipalities are treated equitably, which brings me to these questions. I've heard a concern, and it's been raised a couple of times with me, about the signage for the loop - you know, the Carcross loop that goes down - and the concern is that the sign doesn't appear in the right place, and that the sign isn't big enough.
Indeed, I go by that sign fairly regularly on my way down, and it is pretty small and it is pretty complicated, and it should be out on the Alaska Highway in both cases. It should be right by Jake's, and it should be right by the Carcross Cutoff, as opposed to in the access road.
So I'm wondering if the minister is going to examine those signs as well, with a view of, perhaps, putting them in an area where more tourists are going to see them and turn, and that they might be larger and more explanatory of what the loop is.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, we will endeavour to look into the request and to accommodate the request. I will certainly have to get some information, and I will certainly share the information and the process with the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: While we're on the topic of highway signage, there currently is a study underway with respect to this issue. What is the time frame for its completion, and when will the minister be tabling the report on this area, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I'll have to get some detailed time frames for the member opposite on that, although I do know that we will be looking into it. It's certainly not at my fingertips here, but certainly we'll get information on time frames back.
Mr. Jenkins: There was a move a couple of years ago, Mr. Chair, to construct a new Customs building on the Top of the World Highway, a joint building between U.S. and Canada, but would the minister be aware as to where this structure is at, if it's going to come to fruition, and if there's any more development in this area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Again, Mr. Chair, that is certainly something I do not have at my fingertips. I will have to get back to the member opposite on that.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, when we were last in Juneau on our annual exchange with Alaska, we were talking about shared roadways - and, of course, Top of the World is one of those roadways - and it was our understanding that the area from Chicken to the border is very much in need of repair and upgrade, and that there's a very, very extended time line on the repair for that section of road.
Are we doing anything to lobby the Alaskan government about repairing that section of the road in a more timely manner?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, it's been brought to my attention now that, just in correspondence over the last few days, it looks like the Alaskans are attempting to back off on their time frame of this year and next year. So, certainly, we'll be doing some work -
I've just been handed a sheet here.
Yes, it says, "The MOU that was signed on October 27, 1993, committed both parties to fully cooperate to expedite the improvement of the Alaska/Taylor Highway and the Yukon Top of the World Highway." Certainly, we've been living up to that. Now, as we proceed with the remainder of the Taylor Highway, yes, the work being done in Yukon was very disappointing when the priority of the work was reduced in the 1997 state-wide transportation plan. So, as it says right here, yes, it does not appear on their six-year planning horizon. It's not included in their plan now at this point in time.
Right now, we are starting the initiative to talk with the appropriate people in the Alaskan government to urge them to carry it out. Certainly, I will be following up with that at the ministerial level and asking my Government Leader after, if I do not have success, to work with me to accommodate it, so that we might get them to live up to that portion of the agreement.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, this is an important issue, particularly to people in northern Yukon. Will we also be following up at the committee level in Alaska with the deputy minister, for example?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes. Certainly we will be following up at every level to attempt to get them to put it into their six-year horizon and get them to live up to what they have at every level.
Mr. Jenkins: The MOU, signed in 1993 between the State of Alaska and the Government of Yukon, is quite specific. Has there been any formal correspondence from the state indicating that they were not going to honour the MOU?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Not specifically in terms of an notated letter, or anything as such, but through the observations and the working at committee level - at the bureaucratic level - is where it first arrived, and again, as I say, the latest version of reducing the priorities of any improvements to the point that reconstruction of the highway does not appear on the six-year horizon. So, as I've said, I'm right now instigating all types of discussion at the political level and at the technical level to see what the problem is and to see how best we might be able to get this back onto the track that was defined within the memorandum of understanding.
Mr. Jenkins: I know the last time we were effective in encouraging some work on the Taylor Highway was when we invited the then-Governor of Alaska to come and visit us and travel via the Taylor Highway - Top of the World Highway - and he did so, along with his Commissioner of Transportation at that time.
That was probably the best message about the needs of that highway that we have ever sent to a governor or to a Commissioner of Transportation in that state on the needs of that highway. And, shortly thereafter, the process began to put in place the initial realignment coming out of Tetlin Junction - the first 23 miles that were eventually upgraded and chipsealed.
So, there is a wonderful opportunity coming up for our government, in that this Legislature is sitting in Dawson on June 13. If we could ask the Government Leader to invite the Governor of the State of Alaska over for that occasion and to drive the highway, we might be able to drive home the point that this highway needs attention - and the Canadian side, other than that little river-crossing, is in very, very good condition, Mr. Chair - but we have to use every lobbying effort at our disposal to get the State of Alaska to pay some attention to rural roads.
They've done the engineering. In fact, a lot of it was flagged out, and they were ready to go to tender, and then the approval process was changed, and they concentrated on another area, because there is a considerable amount of realignment from Chicken east-bound, Mr. Chair. It's something that could occur if we put the correct political pressure in place on the Government of the State of Alaska. I would encourage both the Government Leader and the minister to explore this avenue, and we might have something going for us.
The last major upgrade - for the minister's benefit - on that portion of the Taylor Highway was undertaken by the U.S. division of a Yukon contractor. Some 60 or 70 miles were upgraded by a Yukon contractor who also has an operation in Alaska. So there could be a lot of benefits for Yukoners in a number of ways, as well as the enhancement of our visitor industry, by having a loop road and not just driving one dusty road, called the Taylor Highway, and another road, called the Alaska Highway. We are going to have to get those routes up to paved standard, or chipseal standard, before we can attract the visitors who are using U-drives, or rental cars, and a number of motorhomes that are rented over there.
There's an opportunity. It can stimulate the economy of Yukon in a number of ways, and it's just going to take some skill and political manoeuvering by the government of the day and by all of us. So I would encourage the Government Leader and the minister to explore this avenue.
Can I have that undertaking from the minister, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, point taken, and we'll have a discussion surrounding that. As I've said, we are looking for ways to involve and to lobby the Government of Alaska for this very important link, and to live up to the MOU, so we'll certainly take that into consideration.
Top of the World Highway in the amount of $763,000 agreed to
On Bridges - Numbered Highways
Mr. Jenkins: Is this enough to do the ice study on the Yukon River bridge at Dawson?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, it is not, but, of the $710,000, there are two projects. There is $60,000 for bridge assessment and inspection, which is done to rate all bridges and large culverts on a rotating schedule and $650,000 for the repainting of the Lewes River bridge at Marsh Lake.
Bridges - Numbered Highways in the amount of $710,000 agreed to
On South Access
Mr. Jenkins: I'm aware that this is the continuation of the funding for the South Access program into Whitehorse. Perhaps it's an opportunity to explore something with the minister. We have the South Access into Whitehorse. We have the Two Mile Hill. On the South Access, we're well-aware of the capital cost of that. The Two Mile Hill is purported to be some $12-plus million. I don't know the final number. Now, what we need into Whitehorse is the north access and that would include the bridge at Dawson City. So, if we could put this all together and call it the Whitehorse north access, I'm sure the funding would come through tomorrow, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the member is correct. It is for the final payment of the road reconstruction, as negotiated between C&TS and the City of Whitehorse.
Mr. Jenkins: While we're on the subject of access roads into Whitehorse, is there a total figure expressed in constant dollars that we can have as to what it has cost the Government of Yukon overall for the South Access, for the Two Mile Hill, for sundry changes to the Alaska Highway and probably for the extension of Quartz Road? I don't know, but at the time, the minister of the day was Danny Lang and it was called the Danny Lang expressway, so I don't know what it's called today. Mountainview Highway?
What have we spent on access routes into Whitehorse? It looks like it's some $20-odd million, Mr. Chair. Is that what we're looking at? I'm sure if we express it in constant dollars, we can probably go half again. So, if the minister could just bring back a legislative return on the total cost of access roads into Whitehorse, I'd appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, it might be difficult and take some time, but we will endeavour to do so.
South Access in the amount of $800,000 agreed to
On Other Roads
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It consists of three projects, Mr. Chair. The main project is a miscellaneous construction and reconstruction, of $500,000, for the upgrading requirements identified through the rural roads maintenance policy. The other projects include $65,000 for the Freegold truck bypass, for clearing work, and $50,000 for Mount Nansen road improvement of glaciation for grading and alignment services to alleviate the safety concerns and winter maintenance problems.
Other Roads in the amount of $615,000 agreed to
On Aviation/Yukon Airports
Mr. Jenkins: Could we have some detail from the minister, Mr. Chair, as to - I don't know - how many refuelling stations this includes?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair. Of the $605,000, it consists of Whitehorse airport, at $310,000, for phase 2 of the combined services building conversion to accommodate the airport emergency response service and to investigate extending runway 01 to accommodate larger international aircraft.
At the Dawson airport, we're looking at $220,000 for the construction of a secondary taxiway and expansion of aircraft parking to meet the certification standards and relocation of the aviation refuel facility.
Capital maintenance projects are $25,000 for ongoing minor capital repairs of aviation facilities throughout the territory and for planning and engineering work at $50,000 to carry out the studies, planning and survey work.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister just confirm that the Whitehorse runway is runway 01? I'm not aware of that runway being in existence. There's 13 and 31, but 01?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'll have to get back with that. It could be a typo. I'm not as familiar with the runways as the member opposite is. I'll have to see if that's a typo.
Airports in the amount of $605,000 agreed to
Transportation Division in the amount of $12,383,000 agreed to
On Municipal and Community Affairs Division
On Assistant Deputy Minister's Office
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Public Safety
On Major Facility Maintenance
Mr. Jenkins: Can the minister provide some details on these next two line items?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The major facility maintenance for $22,000 is for the ongoing maintenance of firehall structures and systems within or attached to these structures. On the fire protection - may I proceed, Mr. Chair?
The Member for Klondike asked me to proceed on the next two items, and I only have permission for one from the Chair. Is it ruled that I may proceed?
Chair: We clear one at a time here.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Could the minister break down which firehalls are requiring capital?
Well again, Mr. Chair, I'm at a loss as to how we determine what is capital and what is O&M. Now, replacing water tanks is a normal O&M occurrence. Hot water tanks have an effective life of eight to 10 years. I know in the private sector, they are not capitalized; they're just expensed. How is this policy being determined? When we get into door replacement - now I can understand if they are large, overhead doors or something of that nature. But for a standard door into an office, why would we be capitalizing that kind of an expenditure when it should be expensed? We probably spend more time in the paper process determining what is capitalized and what is expensed than we would in the actual replacement cost of these components. A 40-gallon hot water tank is $200, and a 60-gallon one is $300.
I need some explanation here as to how we determine what is a capital project, what is expensed and what is O&M.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I will endeavour to get back in a complete manner as to the reasoning for distinguishing between the O&M and the capital provisions in any case where they may arise throughout the budget. I will get a satisfactory answer for the member opposite. And right now, I do not have that available.
Major Facility Maintenance in the amount of $22,000 agreed to
On Fire Protection
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, this consists of two major projects. It is $50,000 for firefighting equipment, which is territory-wide to provide the funding to equip the volunteer fire departments to the standard of the fire protection policy; and $50,000 to construct a training room addition on to the Tagish firehall. Other 1998-99 projects include $19,000 to provide a high-volume hose for the Klondike Valley and Upper Liard firehalls, and a high-volume pump for the Ibex firehall; $12,000 to purchase four sets of self-contained breathing apparatuses with tanks for the Carcross firehall; and $4,000 to purchase four mobile radios for old firetrucks that have been converted into tankers.
Mrs. Edelman: I'm not too sure if this is the right place to be asking this, but then you've sort of been jumping around today, to say the least.
One of the things that's come up in the latest EMO newsletter is that the minister announced that, for volunteers for search and rescue and for Red Cross, they would not be accepting 16 year olds. Are you not going to be accepting 16 year olds for volunteer fire, as well?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I'll have to get back to the member opposite on that. It sort of stands to reason, but certainly I will have to check with the department and get an answer back. I possibly could do that during the break, but I'd appreciate some time.
Fire Protection in the amount of $135,000 agreed to
On Recreation Facilities
On 2007 Canada Winter Games Fund
2007 Canada Winter Games Fund in the amount of $1,000,000 agreed to
On Recreation Facilities
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister provide some detail, please, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The recreational facilities funding of $1,405,000 consists of four projects, and the two main projects are the $1 million for establishing a fund to begin the plans for the hosting of the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Yukon; $360,000 for construction of a swimming pool in Ross River; and the other projects include $40,000 for repair and upgrade of existing recreational facilities and small capital projects in unincorporated communities; and $5,000 to assist the community of Beaver Creek to develop a community plan for recreational facilities.
Recreation Facilities in the amount of $405,000 agreed to
On Community Services
On Reserve Fund for Dawson City Project
Reserve Fund for Dawson City Project in the amount of $1,000,000 agreed to
On Community Planning
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister provide some detail on community planning, please?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I may - just a moment please.
The community planning, at $1,120,000, consists of five projects. Its main project is $1 million to establish a fund for the City of Dawson for either the secondary sewage treatment or the community centre capital project. The other projects include local area plans, land use reviews, zoning regulations, air photography and production of orthophoto mapping.
Specific 1998-99 planning projects include the Golden Horn local area plan at $15,000; photography and mapping at $30,000; a Ross River local area plan zoning at $55,000; and the Hamlet of Ibex Valley zoning regulations at $20,000.
Mrs. Edelman: Is there any thought being given to introducing, perhaps, the beginning of the consultations out in the Marsh Lake area in this line item?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Not in this particular line item, no, there is no thought to that.
Mrs. Edelman: One of the items that we've been discussing over the last while in the House is the fact that there is going to be some sort of advisory committee developed in that area. It makes sense to build a connection with that advisory committee as soon as it comes into existence.
Does it have to be budgeted in this line item, or anywhere else in the budget, to start that sort of connection with that advisory committee in the Marsh Lake area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I thank the member for the question, and I have just been informed that it will be handled through and continued on through the O&M budget, but certainly it is something that I am very interested in working with now as the community seems to be formulating themselves and coming together. I would be more than willing to work with them.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, the minister indicated that at Golden Horn there was $15,000 for planning Ross River. Did he say $5,500 for planning the community plan there?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Pardon me for any misleading, Mr. Chair. I can just start from the Golden Horn local area planning at $15,000; photography and mapping at $30,000 and Ross River local area plan zoning at $55,000.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you. I'm quite interested to know why it's going to cost $55,000 for a community plan for Ross River. What's the justification for that kind of a major expenditure? It seems to be very much on the high side, given that I've been through one exercise to develop an OCP for one municipality that's considerably larger and took quite a more lengthy process. An amount of $55,000 appears to be an unreasonably high cost for an OCP for a community of this size or, indeed, any community outside of Whitehorse, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, a major portion of that will be included because the area has be flown over to provide the air photography for the production of the orthophoto maps to be used in the local area plan. We do have the support of the First Nation and they were not prepared to support the plan as it was developed in 1989-90, but now that folks are coming together up there and they're definitely willing to support the plan. It now requires updating by a new consultation process. We'll commence with it, but also caveat to that is the community must be flown over in order to provide the orthophoto maps to be used in the local area plan.
Mr. Jenkins: What component of the OCP for Ross River is flying in the mapping process?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I've just been informed that we don't have it broken down, but certainly I will have to get it back to the member opposite and get it broken down for the member opposite.
Mr. Jenkins: I'd appreciate that. It just seems like an unreasonably high cost for an OCP for a community of that size. You know, just like a recreational plan for Beaver Creek costing $5,000. We're talking a considerable expenditure for a plan when we can probably put $5,000 into an expenditure in Beaver Creek and accomplish much, much more than we would be by having some document sitting there, Mr. Chair.
Community Planning in the amount of $120,000 agreed to
On Public Health/Roads and Streets
On Planning and Pre-Engineering
Hon. Mr. Keenan: This consists of three projects: a water and sewer project plan assessment, for $40,000, to provide engineering and development, with funding to carry out the required work with smaller scales and of emergency nature; project management for $75,000, to cover costs of project administration and technical support; and planning various sites that involve the feasibility and site analysis to determine land development potential in various locations, at $40,000.
Planning and Pre-Engineering in the amount of $155,000 agreed to
On Water Supply, Treatment and Storage
Water Supply, Treatment and Storage in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Water and Sewer Mains
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Water and sewer mains funding of $60,000 is to identify, study and report the options and make recommendations to improve the water and sewage systems in various unincorporated communities. When funding permits, selected improvements will be carried out.
Water and Sewer Mains in the amount of $60,000 agreed to
On Sewage Treatment and Disposal
Hon. Mr. Keenan: This consists mainly of two projects: $50,000 is for Tagish sewage treatment, to investigate the requirements for upgrading the sewage treatment facility, and $150,000 is for the Destruction Bay sewage treatment to replace the existing sewage disposal system - onsite sewage treatment - with another simple system.
Mrs. Edelman: I have questions about two sewage treatment programs. The first one is in Carmacks. Has there been a problem with the Carmacks system? Now, that's the only mechanical plant we have in the Yukon. What's going on? It has been slated for replacement a number of years ago and nothing ever happened. If it is going to be replaced, how are we going to replace it? I wonder if we could get some details on that one.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, it is absolutely correct that it is the only community with a mechanical plant. Previous investigations indicated that the plant operated reasonably well at lower population levels and was capable of handling flow rates generated in the past, but the facility is now being overloaded.
So, C&TS and DIAND assisted the village on a preliminary advisory basis. How things work out now is that the current water licence specifies that upgrading is now required. The Village of Carmacks has submitted a water licence renewal application and the initial screening report indicates that the sewage treatment plant will have to be upgraded or replaced in approximately three years.
I've been working with the Village of Carmacks and waiting until the specific cost information from the studies is available for the funding discussions, but certainly the Yukon government is receptive to the idea of cost sharing in the required improvements for the Village of Carmacks.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, sewage treatment plants, whether they are lagoon systems or whether they are mechanical in this case - there have been a number of different systems that have been replaced over the years, and a large portion of them came in before 1985, and that's precisely because there was capital block funding coming in and people wanted to replace their systems before 1985. Unfortunately, that put the communities that hadn't done that in a bad position - for example, the City of Dawson and Carmacks who knew that eventually they were going to have to replace their systems.
The ones who had their systems replaced prior to 1985 literally had the whole thing paid for by the territorial government under extraordinary funding. What I'm wondering is, what sort of percentage are we talking about as far as a cost share, bearing in mind that other municipalities have had almost the whole project paid for?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, there are provisions within the Municipal Act, as I recall, to apply for extraordinary funding so that the community wouldn't have to have a burden placed solely on it. Certainly, each case is treated differently. I've been told that it must go through the negotiating process.
Mrs. Edelman: So am I to understand then, Mr. Chair, that the negotiations that took place with the City of Whitehorse, for example, would not be a precedent-setting case, so that the 80/20 split - or was it a 90/10 or 80/20 split?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mrs. Edelman: It is 90/10. Somewhere in that vicinity. So that is not the precedent that we're not going to be using for funding cost share?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I have just been informed that we don't think that it would be the precedent, but certainly I would say likely that it would be within that area someplace.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, we always have to be careful that we treat all communities the same in a lot of cases. I would say that probably even if the department doesn't see that as a precedent-setting case, then certainly the communities do see it as that. And that's common practice, and that is reasonable.
The other issue is the Destruction Bay sewage system. Now, a number of years ago, we brought in a system for Destruction Bay.
It was a lagoon system. The lodge in that area had their own system but they were enticed into joining the lagoon system. They joined the lagoon system because their private septic system failed because of the nature of the soils in that area.
What does the department think has changed in the soils and the permeability factors in that area, that suddenly now we can go back to septic systems, even though septic systems have failed in the past in that area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'll just start with the last question first, if I may, on Destruction Bay. The branch has reviewed the geotechnical report, so it's been done from the basis of a geotech report, and we'd certainly be more than willing to provide the geotech report on Destruction Bay to the member opposite. There was some initial discussion with the residents, and certainly now the branch plans to complete the detailed design of the work by the end of April and then go out to tender and complete phase 1 of the work by September of 1998.
So I will, in answer to the question, provide the geotech report on that, and that would therein show the difference, I'm sure.
On the issue of the precedence of whether it's an 80/20 split or if it's a 90/10 split, or anything like as such, I would assume that it is not to be harsh on communities because if, in the case of - and now this is hypothetical also, if you don't mind - say Dawson City it costs $10 million and we put up, say, 90 percent of that, it would cost the community, say, $1 million. And if you took that same figure into a different cost, it would shift the burden that the community could bear. So, certainly, we would be looking at - I'm sure, one of the principles is to not overburden the community - that as the reason for the negotiation. Therein also would be that YTG would be looking to assume the high end of it, I'm sure.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, certainly the minister is quite correct. A million dollars in Dawson doesn't seem to be the same as $1 million in Carmacks, perhaps. Is that what the minister is saying? He seems to be nodding his head.
To go back to the issue of the Destruction Bay sewage system, one of the reasons that the soils weren't suitable for septic systems was the fact that there was permafrost underneath, and the minister knows that permafrost moves - you know, at some places it's higher and at some places it's lower, depending on the depth of the permafrost.
It changes from year to year - not substantially, but a little bit; it does change - and that makes system failure quite likely in some areas. To go back to this private lodge owner, his septic system failed last time. It's extremely likely it's going to fail again this time, but he's been given no alternative, even though he was forced off the other system - or is going to be forced off the lagoon system.
Some of the things that may or may not have been looked at is the idea of, for example, burying the force main. One of the problems was that the force main kept freezing up. Has the department looked at other options for this area? Because even though we're spending an awful lot of money in Destruction Bay, there may not be any choice. There are some projects where you just have to continue to throw money at it until it finally works.
I know that we've thrown a lot of money at Destruction Bay in the past, but I don't want to see people in that area truly suffering because they have a system that doesn't work. I mean, sooner or later, you have to bear in mind that if you have a septic system that doesn't work, then you're in big trouble, particularly if you have a highway lodge going.
Has the minister looked at other options?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Let me say that we've gone through a process of consultation with the community, and have incorporated the community into the decision-making process. We've identified six alternatives for an upgrade, and it was reviewed to determine the most acceptable option. The residents, of course, were consulted throughout the process on this selection.
The selected system consists of decommissioning the pumping enforcement system to the lagoon in favour of ground disposal, and that's therefore eliminating the deteriorated parts of the system.
Mr. Jenkins: If I could just add to the confusion of this area, Mr. Chair, I ask the minister to explain the rationale for the user charge for the systems in some of the organized communities. That doesn't appear to relate to any of the capital costs or any recovery of any of the capital cost - the user fees that are charged the people on the water and sewer systems in these unorganized communities that the Government of the Yukon has care and control of.
How is the user fee determined?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I have just been handed a sheet of information. There is some variation in the rates and recoveries for these services, and the territorial government charges can be considerably less than the charges in some communities for private delivery. The situation has been aggravated in that the territorial government charges have been fixed by an OIC and not responsive to increased costs and market influences. The territorial government's decisions appeared to have been made in the absence of a clear policy and were perhaps sensitive to different circumstances and issues of that day. There have not been any communities added for delivery service for many years and there have not been any adjustments made in fees. Now, we certainly will be examining, in absence of a policy, the OIC so that we might be able to rationalize between the recoveries and the service, and therein is a lot of the work that is contained within the rural services policy and the delivery of the services that the folks want.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, but wouldn't the minister agree that at the time that the capital is expended that that is the opportune time to adjust fee schedules, to put in place a new OIC to set a new fee level, or are we just going to go on and continue to fund capital and not look at the recovery side of it because there is a disproportionate burden being placed on the Yukon government vis-à-vis the users of these systems, and it's not keeping pace with any of the organized communities where user fees have gone up alarmingly in the last few years.
I know in our community, we have the highest water and sewer charges of any place in the Yukon. A single-family resident's home is well over $1,000 a year just for the provision of water and sewer.
I'm looking for some rationale, and I don't think we have to wait until after we do this rural service policy and we have another year before this other thing is implemented. But, if we're going to be investing in major capital upgrading in these organized communities, hand-in-glove with this investment there should be a change in rates for the end user. That's only common sense.
I would ask the minister if he would consider that approach.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly I can agree with the member in principle and say that there is merit behind the thought. I will take it up with the department and talk with the department and folks so that we can begin the establishment of fair rates across the territory, although it will take time. Certainly, that is one process that I'll take into consideration - and also the rural services consultation process.
There is merit there, and I agree in principle. I thank the member for his direction.
Mr. Jenkins: The Member for Riverdale South raised the issue of the Carmacks sewage treatment system. I was just wondering how the department determines their involvement in this project, and how they put their involvement into dollar terms and express it when the total capital outlay for such a project is underway.
There are some organized municipalities that the government gets involved in and there are some they do not get involved in. How do we keep track of those costs that we incur when the Government of the Yukon does have an involvement, and how is it looked at in the total picture when that municipality goes to negotiate a cost-sharing arrangement?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, one I'll have to get, but I do believe there's a formula derived that says that if it's X amount over the municipal grant, then that is what it is. That is alluded to in the formula. I will certainly get back to the member with the formula.
Mr. Jenkins: On the issue of secondary sewage treatment as installed in Carmacks and their current plight with a requirement that seems to be imposed upon them, they might be well-advised to wait for the outcome of Dawson's application to the federal minister with respect to the toxicology report from Dawson, because the LC-50 test that determines whether you pass or fail in a system appears to have been misapplied in a lot of cases. And the LC-50 test is under a lot of time constraints, Mr. Chair, in that the sample has to be randomly pulled from the discharge of the municipal sewage system and sent to a lab in Vancouver, and the fish fry are introduced into that solution within so many hours of the sample being pulled. And if the survival rate of the fish fry is 50 percent or more, you pass the test. If it's 50 percent or less, you fail. But from my understanding, having read the toxicology report, what the lab has done is, because the sample is so late in arriving, they've introduced the fish fry at the same time as they've started oxygenating the water, and that was a shock to the fish and killed more than they normally kill.
They have recently taken samples that didn't come from the municipal sewage, introduced the same fish fry into it and oxygenated it in the same manner, and had virtually the same death rate of the fish. So it's a very interesting test, and a lot of capital dollars in the Yukon are being predicated on the requirement that you meet this and pass this LC-50 test.
Now, I'm not advocating that we don't do things in an environmentally friendly manner, but there are certainly a lot of other areas that have to be explored and looked at before we make a major capital commitment, such as a sewage treatment plant in Carmacks or in Dawson City.
It's not so much the capital side of the equation that comes back to haunt us; it's the O&M side of it. When you look at the sewage treatment that you can install in a lot of these communities being a mechanical one, and that was the only one that would have the area that you could work with, it virtually doubles your O&M cost. And, if you're looking at some $2,500 per house per year for the provision of these services, the last one leaving the Yukon might as well turn the lights off, because we can't afford those kinds of costs, Mr. Chair.
So I'm just suggesting to the minister that his department keeps closely attuned as to what is transpiring with respect to this toxicology report from the City of Dawson. It could be applied to Carmacks and to Dawson equally as well, because it's the same receiving body of water.
That receiving body of water is very, very massive, and it is a very interesting exercise when you look at the Northern Inland Waters Act, from which the Water Board in the Yukon and the Water Board in the Northwest Territories take their direction and guidance. When you look at the rulings in the Northwest Territories and the rulings in the Yukon, Mr. Chair, they're like night and day. We can't afford what is being suggested by the Water Board here - or the people who provide input into them, specifically the federal Department of Fisheries.
That's one government agency that has probably lost the confidence of the people of not just Yukon but in a lot of areas of Canada, in some of their determinations.
So I'd just ask the minister, before he agrees to any expenditures in this area, to be very, very careful and to review the information that should flow very quickly from Dawson with respect to secondary sewage and the requirement there.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, surely the minister is also aware that dilution is not always the solution. The people of Victoria are very clear on that one.
The Member for Klondike brings up an interesting point, though. He's talking about the LC-50 test, which has to be done in Vancouver, and for many, many years there has been one firm in Whitehorse that has been trying to do the LC-50 in Whitehorse. Indeed, if we did have that type of testing available here, many of these problems would be overcome.
I am wondering if the minister is investigating any of that possibility?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, certainly I have not been investigating that possibility, but I will take up with the department as to "why and why not and how can we", with them. So I will do that.
As to the comments from the Member for Klondike, certainly we'll take those comments into consideration and talk with the mayor and others of the affected community.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, on the issue of the local delivery of the LC-50 test, I should warn the minister that I've dealt with this issue in the past and I have never met a bureaucratic wall like I did on this particular issue, and I've met a lot of bureaucratic walls. This was just absolutely incredible. Not that there's anything wrong with the people who take care of the standards in our world, but I do warn the minister that he will have a very interesting time trying to get into creative ways of dealing with this particular issue. However, it doesn't mean to say that it's not an issue that shouldn't be pursued, and we should be looking at delivering that here. They certainly do in every province in Canada and there's no reason we can't do it here at some point.
Mr. Jenkins: Further to that LC-50 test, I know the Member for Riverdale South is quite well-versed in the bureaucratic wall that she reached on that test. I know, having put together a number of these testing programs for Dawson, which had to be done in Vancouver, I know the City of Dawson eventually explored labs in Fairbanks where our samples were pulled and sent the next morning on an Air North aircraft to Fairbanks for testing. Otherwise they had to come on the airplane to Whitehorse. They usually didn't get transferred that same day to go to Vancouver. It was the next day and, of course, it would be late at night before they arrived there and before they'd get delivered to the lab. We were looking at some two or three days from the time we pulled the sample.
In Alaska, with the labs that we have dealt with, they do not do that LC-50 test. All the other tests are uniform and standard across North America, with the exception of that one test. That is a very interesting test and it seems to be peculiar to Canada. Now, why? I don't know. It seems to be a requirement more from DFO than anyone else.
To set up the test here in Whitehorse, even to set up a lab here in Whitehorse and even if all of the tests of the municipal governments were done at that one lab, that lab couldn't be justified and economically viable unless it receives some other level of subsidy from the Government of Yukon, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I thank the members opposite for their advice and their direction, and certainly will proceed to, I guess, attempt to climb the bureaucratic wall or to break it down, but to get some answers from it and most certainly to try to expedite the process.
Sewage Treatment and Disposal in the amount of $200,000 agreed to
On Solid Waste
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, there is a funding request of $290,000, consisting of four projects, of which $100,000 is for general solid waste work to be based on the outcome of a study of solid waste disposal in the southern lakes area that will be completed - well, it should be completed now.
Miscellaneous garbage dump improvements at $70,000 is for site improvements. Also, there's the Quigley waste disposal at Klondike Valley for $100,000 to complete the construction of a new facility in conjunction with the City of Dawson and $20,000 to assist the Village of Haines Junction in the planning for the relocation of the existing dump.
Solid Waste in the amount of $290,000 agreed to
On Mosquito Control
Mosquito Control in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Equipment Purchase
Mr. Jenkins: Can the minister just provide a bit of detail there, please? We've been through the mosquito area quite thoroughly. I haven't received any answers. It's still not an economical in-house program for the minister's department to undertake, but we'll move on.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The equipment purchase is for the purchase of miscellaneous new and replacement equipment for the branch use or for facilities and systems in the unincorporated communities.
Mr. Jenkins: Such as? Like what?
Equipment Purchase in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Pre-Engineering Roads and Streets
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, this will provide the engineering and development branch with funding to evaluate the needs and carry out required work of a small-scale and emergency nature. That is all the information I have on it.
Pre-Engineering Roads and Streets in the amount of $25,000 agreed to
On Road/Streets Upgrade
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, this consists of three projects: to finish the Ross River road upgrade and the amount of $200,000 to upgrade the additional roads in the community; $50,000 for minor drainage, final shaping work and BST application to complete new construction on the streets disrupted by the installation of the sewer extension in Teslin; and road and street improvements for $25,000 to investigate problems in making miscellaneous improvements to various roads in unincorporated communities.
Mr. Jenkins: Road/street upgrades - the minister indicated that you are spending money in Teslin, in an organized community, on applying BST because of sewer or water main replacements. Are these municipal water mains and sewer main replacements? Normally that's a cost borne by that municipal government. Can the minister just clarify what this is all about, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I have been assured that it's outside the municipality.
Road/Streets Upgrade in the amount of $275,000 agreed to
On Quarry Development
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's for quarry rehabilitations and site identification, to cover remedial work on bonded, existing quarry sites and to conduct quarry site identification on affected land claims areas that are near the communities. Funds will also allow for contributions to studies, general planning, investigation on non-project-specific issues as they relate to quarries.
Mr. Jenkins: I was under the impression that the land claim process, that all of the quarries have been identified, that they have been developed or staked out for future use, and all of this was in place. Now we're still looking at planning, and we're still looking at spending funding for rehabilitation of quarry sites.
Could the minister be specific as to what area and which quarry pits?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: In the detailed explanation I have, Mr. Chair, it says it's work that's to be carried out in response to requests from communities, interest groups, First Nations and general public, to assess the potential quarry issues, investigations, as well as quarries in general. In brackets here, I have "to conduct..." - well, it's my own bracket, pardon me - but it says, "to conduct quarry site identification and effect the land claim areas that are near the communities." It doesn't have a breakdown. It has two per the communities, as it's triggered in response to requests from communities, interest groups, First Nations, governments and the general public.
Mr. Jenkins: It seems to be a pretty loosey-goosey expenditure of money, or a window of opportunity for the expenditure of money. Is this area consistent with what has happened in prior years? The prior year quarrying was quite specific as to developing and the actual quarries that were developed were quite specific. Now we're getting into a way, way broader scope than what we have in previous years.
When did this change come about, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I've been assured that it's the same as it has been in previous years, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: It's rather a small area, so if the minister could just provide some additional information by way of legislative return as to what specific communities and what areas and what they anticipate the expenditures to be per community pit or quarrying pit, Mr. Chair, I'd appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I will endeavour to do so, but again, I'd just like to let the member know that it is triggered by communities and governments, et cetera, but certainly, historically, I could get more of the detail that the member would like.
Quarry Development in the amount of $40,000 agreed to
On Land Development
Hon. Mr. Keenan: This consists of five projects this year: Carmacks, stage 3, in the amount of $200,000 to carry out concept design and to begin the initial work of development of approximately five to eight heavy industrial lots; in Dawson, the Callison, stage 3, the amount of $200,000 for construction and release of an additional eight to 10 lots in the industrial subdivision; the Faro industrial, in the amount of $100,000, for the construction and release of remaining lots; Watson Lake industrial, in the amount of $400,000, to complete road work; and Whitehorse industrial, in the amount of $100,000, for construction of a first set of lots.
Mr. Jenkins: Is the minister awaiting the outcome of the Anvil mine situation before the money in Faro for the development of industrial lots is released, or is this going out to tender very quickly, Mr. Chair?
It would appear to be prudent to await to see what happens this Thursday before we authorize any expenditure of that nature for the development of industrial lots that may not be necessary in that community.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the Town of Faro has been requesting these lots and are quite adamant that the lots are needed and people are desirous of having them with or without the mine.
Mr. Jenkins: So, is what the minister saying is that the Town of Faro has got signed purchase orders from firms that want to buy these lots? Because if they end up in land inventory and the mine shuts down, that's a heck of a carrying cost, Mr. Chair.
Now, if there are willing purchasers who are going to be putting their money down and have that in place, I don't have any quarrel with going ahead and developing them, but if that's not the case, I'd be somewhat concerned until I heard the outcome of the Anvil Range potential receivership that may occur this Thursday.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair, I do not believe that the Town of Faro has folks sitting there with purchase orders other than to say that I know when I've talked with the mayor and council of the Town of Faro, they say that there is a need for this and that people are desirous of having the development of these lots within their reach, and they've assured me that they would like to continue with this.
Industrial in the amount of $1,000,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, this is for the development of commercial lots along the Alaska Highway at the Kopper King.
Mr. Cable: For what purpose, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Commercial lots along the highway, it says here, have not been economically feasible to develop, as off-site services are very expensive in this area. We expect other development activities in the area in the near future and can then move to have sites developed - the feasibility and preliminary design of 1997-98 and implementation of this year, 1998-99 and 1999-2000.
I can go on to give some background, if you would like. It's a very prime commercial location. Some construction has already been completed, and the project deferred, pending an agreement with the City of Whitehorse. The City of Whitehorse is asking for development that cannot be recovered through the sale of lots.
Commercial in the amount of $300,000 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair. This is for the planning and development of cottage lots.
Deputy Chair: The location was the request.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Here we go. It's a pilot project that we undertook in 1996 to 1998, territory-wide, to establish a process and policy to implement the guidelines. Emphasis now has been placed on land claims settled areas. If I do recall correctly, it's going to be specifically looked at in the Champagne-Aishihik area.
Recreational in the amount of $50,000 agreed to
Mrs. Edelman: Part of this line item is the development of the Porter Creek bench in Whitehorse. People have been waiting for that area to be developed for quite a long time. What is the zoning expected for that area? Are you talking about developing country residential or are you going to be doing multi-residential? What sort of zoning are we expecting in there?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I can certainly read through here and try to highlight to see if there was anything on the zoning, but the residential consists of three major and other projects. The three main projects include $3 million for the Copper Ridge phase 7, which will be constructed, and for construction and release of mobile home lots; $600,000 for Whitehorse urban residential mobile home lots, and that's to continue with planning work to identify sites for the development and to design, engineer and construct off-site services to unidentified sites over a two-year period that has been planned and developed by the Yukon Housing Corporation; $580,000 for the development of rural and country residential lots in and around Whitehorse, such as the locations of Mount Lorne, Pilot Mountain-Stevens and McIntyre West. Certainly, we are working in collaboration with the city where we have to for the zoning initiatives that the member is talking about.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, given the current residential land inventory in Whitehorse, is this kind of an expenditure a prudent expenditure, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, by the lots that I have here, the rule of the day is to keep the availability of land a couple of years ahead of the inquiries that are coming.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, given the state of the Yukon's economy, and this government's inability to stimulate the economy and encourage growth in it, we're probably looking at a flat spell or, indeed, a downturn in the Yukon economy for at least the next year, or until we get another mine or two up and running, Mr. Chair. The question is still there. In light of the economic situation here in the Yukon, is it prudent to have this much of an inventory of vacant lots in the Whitehorse and Whitehorse peripheral area, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, we certainly do believe it is prudent.
Mr. Jenkins: Are any carrying costs going to be associated with it? I notice some of the lots now are not moving, and the carrying costs are going to bring those up to a considerably higher level. There appears to be a need for just some lots - larger lots, view lots - in the mid- to upper-price range, but for some of these low-end lots, I'm not convinced that there is a definite market, in light of what we have in inventory at the present time.
Is the minister prepared to review this before we incur this liability?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I've just been informed that there are no carrying costs. The interest is included within the prices on the receiving side. So it's on the price - the interest is included in the price of the lot on the receiving side.
The interest is included on the receivable that is outstanding - not on the pricing, but what is outstanding.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, the Auditor General would disagree with that statement. As a matter of fact, in the last Auditor General's report there was a major concern about the inventory costs for holding land, particularly the high-density residential in the City of Whitehorse.
I suppose that's the reason that I'm wondering what type of zoning we've got going on in the Porter Creek bench area. We can move country residential quite easily in the territory and I can understand that there's been a request from the real estate association to have a two-year inventory, and that is the type of land that sells here. But if we're starting to develop high-density residential down in the Porter Creek bench when we can't sell the high-density residential up the Copper Ridge area, except for the ones that the developers are buying at the low end, then we're in trouble, and that doesn't make a lot of sense.
We have a warning already from the Auditor General that we don't want to be having these excessive holding costs for holding this land.
If the minister could get back to us with more detail on that Porter Creek bench, I would greatly appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, specifically to the Porter Creek bench, if that's the question, I can certainly get that information provided to both the critic from the third party and the official critic.
Mr. Jenkins: I guess, at this juncture, my concern is the economy of the Yukon is flat. It's already been identified that there is a cost of carrying such a large land inventory, especially when it's been clearly demonstrated that some classes are not moving. They're not selling.
So, it's probably prudent of the department, and fiscally prudent, to consider an analysis at this juncture before we expend further dollars into this area, Mr. Chair. I don't want to say I don't want to approve this line item. If it's necessary, fine. But it's probably a prudent exercise of the minister's department to go through an evaluation to see what is moving, what classes of land are moving, what are not moving, and only get involved in a development of land that we know is going to sell.
Now, can I have an undertaking from the minister that he will consider such an approach?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, in general, the department has been taking a prudent approach on the level of budget allocated for land development over the last few years: $12.5 million in 1994-95 to $6.04 in 1998-99. This indicates that the department has effectively been planning to avoid tying up funds in financing land inventory over and above the level of reserve that would be required to meet the demands.
That is the answer. It has come down quite significantly, but in regard to the Porter Creek situation - from the Member for Riverdale South - we will take that into consideration. Certainly, again, as I say, the reason is that in general it's come down from $12.5 million in 1994-95 to $6.04 million this year.
Residential in the amount of $4,690,000 agreed to
On Land Central Services
On Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space
Office Furniture, Equipment, Systems and Space in the amount of $31,000 agreed to
On Central Services - Recoverable
Central Services - Recoverable in the amount of $10,000 agreed to
On Rural Electrification and Telephone
Hon. Mr. Keenan: This is to assist rural property owners with the installation of power and telephone services in 1998-99. It is anticipated that 237 properties in Tagish, and other areas will be provided with telephone service, depending on local decision making and votes. The description here and further detail is that it is to provide 100-percent recoverable capital funding to assist rural property owners with the installation of power.
It goes on to repeat that 237 properties at Tagish and other potential areas, such as the Marsh Lake area, will get the proposed telephone service.
Mr. Jenkins: The rural electrification and telephone policy sets out the specifics, but the one area that I'm somewhat concerned with is the recoverable area and the fact that a survey is done of an area, and people have the option to opt in or not opt in, but at the end of five years they start to pay anyway.
Now, is that policy a fair policy in light of the fact that some people are choosing a rural lifestyle and do not wish to have these services? They are forced into it, and in the event that their property sells or they trade their property, they're also forced into it. That is tagged on to the selling price, and the minister hasn't indicated how he's going to do this; whether he's going to register a charge against the property - a second or third position charge against the property or whatever the case may be - or a caveat.
So, could the minister explain how these funds are going to be recovered, because we're looking at 237 customers for $1.15 million. We're getting up there in dollars per customer.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, as you know, these are recoverable dollars. We anticipate that there will be more folks wanting to come on because, certainly in the Tagish area, in areas surrounding the periphery of Whitehorse, folks are very desirous of having telephone service. Certainly after we've consulted with folks and talked to folks about how can we make a program work that would be, in essence, fair to the majority of the people, we were inclined to move in the manner in which we did.
We wanted to make it even more fair, so we looked at the establishment of the two-tier process, so that we might be able to get community consensus on it. Basically, that's what we're looking at - for the communities to come together, or the people who lie within the established areas of the service areas to be able to come together, and to work together on it.
So the question specifically - is it fair? - yes, after we've gone through and looked at it, I believe it was the most fair decision to make for people.
As to how to collect - I believe was the other part of the question. It is going to be done through - I'm talking with the absence of a briefing note here - the property assessment process and added on in that way.
Certainly all the folks that I've talked to are enthused about the program. Now, there certainly might be others out there who aren't, but certainly the ones who have let me know are enthused about the program.
Mr. Jenkins: I can understand, when a home owner or a property owner subscribes into the program, that they render just a frontage charge or an assessment, a utility charge against the property and it's amortized over a certain number of years.
What I'm asking the minister is, in the eventuality that a property owner does not want to avail themselves of this service but they're in that area, a charge has to be registered against that property. How does the minister envision securing the funds that are advanced for this utility service?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Let's explain this. Whether they comply or whether they don't comply, it will be recoverable after five years through the assessment process that I've laid out.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm just looking for further detail as to how the government is going to secure their investment, because if you go to the tax base and it's an improvement charge and it's uniform across the board, that's fine - that's one thing. The property owners agree and the majority of them do, but there is a provision in this formula that the property owner can opt out for five years. How is the government going to secure their position? Does the property owner just not pay for five years and then it's recoverable after that? How is the system going to work?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's as I have outlined and I will check with the department, so that we might be able to get the process on how government will secure it to the member opposite and to the critic for the third party.
Mr. Jenkins: I'm just looking for the ways that the government is going to secure on those properties where the owners indicate that they don't want to opt into this system.
And there is a provision in the programs so that they have a five-year hiatus. Now, how are you going to secure the government's investment during that period? It has to be by way of a second or third position charge or a chattel or something, because you can pose a uniform charge for a utility or a frontage charge or whatever the government wishes against all the properties, but that provision where you can opt out for five years, I don't know how that works, and I can't quite get a handle on it, and I'm looking for clarification, Mr. Chair. That's the only area I have a concern with.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I will get information back to the member as outlined. There is a five-year hiatus and then it will be incorporated into the assessment process. I will certainly be more than happy to get the finer details.
Mr. Cable: Just to follow up on that, is it anticipated that there will be a contingent entry onto the tax rolls so that somebody who wants to check the outstanding charges will know right from day one?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I thank the Member for Riverside for that, and I certainly will incorporate it into the previous answer and get back to both oppositions.
Rural Electrification and Telephone in the amount of $1,150,000 agreed to
On Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The main project here is the Whitehorse waterfront squatter relocation, at $294,000. It's for the cleanup and building removal of 17 sites and for planning and development of 10 sites. Twelve thousand dollars is allocated for various legal survey activities, and $15,000 for cleanup and site restoration and rehabilitation of unauthorized land.
It goes on to provide more detail, if you'd like, here. It's to provide for a satisfactory solution to the outstanding issue of residents who have been on the waterfront. We'll have to address the long-term concerns regarding the land use, the building codes, the health and safety issues and the balanced interests of different parties who will all have an interest in the preservation and development of the waterfront area.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, is there any indication that any of that land is contaminated?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, there is no indication, but I will check into that. I have nothing here that says that it is, but just certainly knowing the history of the area, it's certainly worthwhile to check into it.
Mr. Jenkins: Could the minister just indicate what this tract of land will ultimately be used for?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's not going to be golf, as other people were saying. It is going to be working in collaboration with the City of Whitehorse, and of course it's the 100-foot high-water mark - from the water to the 100-foot high-water mark is the property of the Crown.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, there's a 30-metre setback, but before we spend some $294,000, we should know what the intended purpose of that land is after we clear it all off. Now, the minister must have some idea as to what we're going to be doing in that area after all of these individuals are relocated or purchased out. What is that purpose, Mr. Chair?
Now, I'm not looking for the dance that we're going to work in cooperation with the City of Whitehorse and ascertain the needs of the people, and all the flowers. There has to have been some goals or aspirations that drove this process. Now, what is the purpose of the land after all of these people are purchased out or relocated? What is that land going to be used for, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Dancing, flowers - I'm not here to share any of that, but certainly we'll be working with the city to identify long-term benefits to the economy.
We'll be working again - I know the member doesn't want to hear this - in collaboration with the city. As the member is very well aware, it is mostly not our land; it is land that we've been historically brought into, but we've been looking for a satisfactory solution to the outstanding issue of the residences on the waterfront for a number of years. I think it's been over 10 or maybe 12 years since the policy has been brought in. There are also health and safety concerns on the waterfront, which have been outstanding, that must be dealt with. So, we're certainly looking to resolve the outstanding issues and move on with life, so that they're not major obstacles or anything like as such.
Also, the city is looking at the site for a possible multiplex site in conjunction with the Canada Games, so certainly it's working in cooperation with the city. That is all the information and direction that I have at this time.
Mr. Jenkins: Will the land be provided to one of the First Nations in settlement of land claims?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That would be a case for negotiation at the land claims table, but at this time it's hypothetical, but I don't anticipate it, although there is a Ta'an Kwach'an site there. I'm not sure what it is. It's site-specific, and I'm not sure if it's a lease estate or what not, but certainly that is up to the Land Claims Secretariat.
Mrs. Edelman: One of the problems with the waterfront is that typically - and the City of Whitehorse has bought a number of tracts in that area - it has been contaminated. If the territory takes over this land, would they assume the responsibility for cleaning up any contaminated sites in that area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I would certainly assume - but I will have to check on that - that no, we would not. It would lie with the offender, if it could be put out.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, one of the problems with that particular area is that it's very difficult to determine who was the original offender. It's been contaminated, and then there are other layers of contamination. It's gone on and on and on for many, many years, many, many decades. Am I to understand that the territorial government will go back to, say, White Pass and maybe other former users of the land, or are they going to go back to the people who are squatting on the land right now?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, yeah, I don't want to put both feet in my mouth, but certainly, we'll be looking at that. And no, I don't believe it would be put on to the residents of the area.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I think that just as we leave Community and Transportation Services in this particular line, we do have to remember that regardless of who did it, they are still contaminated sites, and somebody is going to have to take responsibility for cleaning up. At the end of the day, who would take that responsibility, in the territorial government's eye?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, I agree with the member opposite that we could not pass on the contaminated soil. I also agree that it would be very, very difficult to track in some situations, because we've both been around for 40-some-odd years, and we certainly know that it's got quite an extensive history to it. So I will have to get back to the Member for Riverdale South as to the exact responsibility, but rest assured that we will be looking to having it cleaned up and, if possible, to get the original contaminator to be responsible.
Deputy Chair: Just a question and direction. If you feel that there is only a few more minutes of questions on this last item to close out this department, I would recommend that we finish it now, and then we can start a new department when we come back in. If you feel that we are going to be discussing this area for a while longer, what is the direction? Should we come back? Take a break?
Some Hon. Members: (Inaudible)
Deputy Chair: Okay. We'll take a break now. Ten minutes.
Deputy Deputy Chair: I call Committee of the Whole to order.
Is there any further debate on miscellaneous projects, non-recoverable?
Mr. Jenkins: Before we broke for a break, Mr. Chair, we were just exploring with the minister the Whitehorse waterfront capital expenditures to buy out the residents in that area and relocate them. There seems to be three groups of people. Some of them are located within the Crown land right-of-way, which is the 30-metre setback from the river. Some of them are on City of Whitehorse property and road allowances. Is there any thought of recovering some of the costs for this program from the City of Whitehorse and from the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, pertaining specifically to that, no there has not been any thought put to that. Now, I say that just loosely since my involvement with it. There might have been something historically that I could work from but, certainly not here though.
Mr. Jenkins: In order to drive this process, something must have initiated it. Would the minister be prepared to table any correspondence between the City of Whitehorse and his department that would have started this project - or any other department that would have gone to C&TS and asked that department to initiate this process? Something had to start the process, and it had to have some goals that we were hoping to achieve. What I'm looking for is what started this process.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly the land ownership is required prior to determining future waterfront land use policies. The city is taking the lead role on initiating a waterfront planning process, and has purchased property in support of this project.
I would say again that it is tied to the 1988 squatter policy, but I would have no qualms or quarrels regarding tabling any exchange of documents between the city or the department.
Deputy Deputy Chair: Is there any further debate in Miscellaneous and does the line clear?
Miscellaneous Projects Non-Recoverable in the amount of $321,000 agreed to
Municipal and Community Affairs Division in the amount of $11,314,000 agreed to
Deputy Deputy Chair: Before we clear the capital for Community and Transportation Services, are there any questions about recoveries?
Capital Expenditures in the amount of $23,823,000 agreed to
Department of Community and Transportation Services agreed to
Department of Education - continued
Deputy Deputy Chair: We'll turn now to the Department of Education. Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I have some information for the members that I would now like to provide, and will be calling on the page to distribute some things to the members as I go through.
There were a number of questions asked during general debate. I have responses for most of them here, and in some cases there are legislative returns being prepared. The information requested takes more time than we've had, so we'll be continuing to produce information requested for the members.
The Member for Porter Creek North asked a question about a plan on dealing with incidents of student violence. I indicated to him when those questions were posed that the F.H. Collins school administration had reviewed their response sequence and identified some possible changes to it. The member requested a copy of the procedures on student confrontations, and I have a copy here for the critics, the Member for Porter Creek North and the Member for Porter Creek South, as well as for the Clerk's table.
The F.H. Collins growth plan that was developed as a result of the school improvement plan also includes goals that relate to developing a safe school environment. The school's commitment to providing a safe environment for all students is shown by the ongoing evaluation and revision of school policies and procedures.
The acting ADM of public schools also discussed with superintendents the procedures for reporting incidents that occur at schools. The discussion included the importance of immediately contacting parents and the appropriate authorities if any situation was severe. So, schools have been reminded of following appropriate procedures in cases of school violence.
There were questions about Elijah Smith enrollment and the explanation of a decrease. The enrollment for Elijah Smith Elementary was estimated for 1997 at 299, and the actual was 256. In May 1997, the actual number of students enrolled at Elijah Smith was 284. In February 1998, the enrollment was 254. So, the enrollment has been relatively stable.
There are a couple of reasons why Elijah Smith Elementary and other schools lose students from catchment areas. Some parents choose French immersion as an option for their children. This choice may be made at the beginning of the kindergarten year or the beginning of grade 1. Parents may also choose to enroll their children in the Catholic schools. Students may enter the Catholic system at any grade. So, Elijah Smith could lose students at any grade level if their parents choose to enroll them in the Catholic schools.
Christ the King Elementary School had a waiting list when it was located on Wood Street. The move to the school on Nisutlin permitted the accommodation of some of the students on the waiting list. This resulted in some shift in elementary school populations.
Systemwide in education, parents may choose to send their children to a school outside their catchment area because of day care requirements or after school care.
There was a question asked by the official opposition critic about the child psychologist recruitment. The special programs branch currently has four school psychologists on staff. One of the school psychologists is on maternity leave and is expected to return in September of 1998.
The Member for Porter Creek South asked the question about the outdoor recreation plan for Porter Creek Secondary School. I have for the member opposite a copy of a letter from me to the chair of the Porter Creek Secondary School council dated February 25, 1998, which she had requested. In that letter, I have stated that the level of funding available to undertake the work will remain fixed at $400,000.
As we have discussed in general debate on this particular budget, $400,000 is budgeted in the 1998-99 capital budget for Porter Creek Secondary School, and it's work on its grounds. I have for the page to distribute a copy of the letter for each of the critics and for the table.
The Member for Porter Creek South also asked about whether the spring school council conference would have a discussion on the subject of the discipline policy. The answer is that that is not on the agenda at this time; however, it is being considered by the school councils and may be added to the agenda.
The member will note - and I have a copy of the draft agenda for distribution - that there is an enhancing school safety workshop already scheduled. There's also a round table on reporting current issues and concerns, where the subject of discipline policies may be raised by school councils.
We certainly encourage and support school council representatives to have the opportunity to share their questions and concerns and successes during the two-day conference. The page could now distribute copies of that draft agenda to the table and to the critics.
In response to the question about tracking the kids 1-800-660-6868 help line and its use by Yukon students, I have the following information for the member.
The kids hotline was advertised in the YTA newsletter. This is a national hotline where callers are kept anonymous and the information is confidential. The call does not require a quarter and it does not appear on telephone bills. The statistics that are available are for the first six months of 1997. During that period, 1,400 calls were received nation-wide and 14, or one percent, were from the Yukon.
The Porter Creek Secondary School TAP-16 group took the kids hotline on as a project. April is quarter-back month as a fundraiser for the 1-800 number. TAP-16 is having a treat of the day for a quarter and hopes to raise $200.
The Member for Klondike asked questions regarding a student support worker position. The position began in September 1991 as a federally funded project initiated by the Tr'ondek Hwech'in. When the federal funding ended March 31 of 1995, the Tr'ondek Hwech'in sought funding from the territorial government. The Department of Education entered into a partnership arrangement with the First Nation by way of a contribution agreement.
In September 1996, the Tr'ondek Hwech'in withdrew from the partnership, leaving the Department of Education as the sole participant in the project. The department agreed to contract services for the 1996-97 school year.
Subsequent to that decision, the Tr'ondek Hwech'in established their own student support worker at the school.
The Department of Education did not wish to continue funding a parallel position. The department, in consultation with the Robert Service School administration, committed to providing increased support for students at the school for the 1997-98 school year. This support included an additional full-time equivalent, or FTE, for special education, approved over the existing staffing to allow for the creation of a school-based resource room to address special needs concerns for junior high students.
The approval for one teacher to participate in the reading recovery training project for the 1997-98 school year and an increase in the remedial tutor time from one to 1.5 FTEs. That has now been increased to 2.1 FTEs. There has also been an increase in the hand language allocation from 1.5 to 2 FTEs.
The enrollment at Robert Service School as of February 28 was 288 students. There are 22.5 teachers, three education assistants, 2.1 remedial tutors and two aboriginal language teachers.
The Department of Education is also moving toward a comprehensive counselling model to enhance counselling services for students and will support Robert Service School in implementing this initiative.
The member also asked for breakdowns of numbers of staff assigned to each school. This information does take some time to compile. What I have available I will now read into the record. The total enrollment - and, again, this is a February 28 date - is 6,249 students in the Yukon public school system. There are 464.575 FTEs. That figure includes the program implementation teachers and learning assistants, who are assigned by each school as needed. The department does not track them in the budget; they are included in the teacher numbers.
There are 70.06 FTEs in the education assistants complement. Of remedial tutors, there are 27.32 FTEs, and of aboriginal language teachers, there are 28.56 FTEs.
We haven't set the FTEs for September for the next school year.
I would encourage members to ask these questions at the technical briefings in advance of the budget debate in the future, and then we can strive to have them available during budget debate, but the Education personnel are working hard to finish compiling information requested by the members.
The number of paraprofessional staff is determined by several factors, including the budget, the number of special needs students who may need or have individualized education plans, and classroom size and composition.
That leads into a response on the subject of special program assessments. Site-based management is in place in all Yukon schools and focuses on placing decision making in the hands of school personnel. The school-based team in each school decides who will be assessed and develops a priority list. The school-based team is the essential focus for case management, referrals and resource decisions. The team is responsible for doing the pre-screening of students who may require an assessment, and providing this information to the Department of Education.
Each school determines which of their students will be referred for further assessment. The school directs the consultants' use of time as they make regular visits to each school. The school-based team identifies the priority students, and they are generally assessed first. A complete answer will involve contacting individual schools and compiling the information regarding numbers and reasons for the existence of a waiting list.
We have asked personnel in special programs to provide this information for us. However, they also work hard getting out of their offices and into the schools to do such things as assessments and providing support for the students and the school-based teams. We will come back with the further information that the member requested when we have it.
I'd also like to respond to questions about student attendance at the Gadzoosdaa Residence in Whitehorse, which offers housing for students coming to Whitehorse for high school programs.
Over the last few years, there have been two students who have come from outlying communities in order to register in high school programs. One student registered in the MAD program in 1997 and one student registered in the experiential science program in 1998.
We have not had cases of students registering with Gadzoosdaa in order to take one additional course that may not be available in their local communities.
Members had also requested a breakdown of the communities and the number of students registered with Gadzoosdaa for the current year. There are, from Carcross, 10 students; from Teslin, 13 students; from Old Crow, seven students; from Ross River, three students; and from Atlin, five students.
There are four students from Atlin on the waiting list. The priority for student housing at Gadzoosdaa is first to Yukon residents, second to Atlin residents and third is for students who want to register to take a class within the school program such as the MAD program or the experiential science.
We also have space available paid for under the Stikine agreement if there are beds available after accommodating Yukon students.
The Stikine agreement also covers the Atlin students. The policy and handbook for Gadzoosdaa residents is being reviewed at the present time, and a printed copy will be available in approximately four to five weeks. I'll be happy to make that available for the members opposite when it has been updated and reprinted.
The Member for Riverdale South asked a question about fencing at Grey Mountain Primary School. A representative of the department met with the principal and a school council representative on January 14 of this year to discuss the school's priorities for capital upgrading in general and for the 1998-99 fiscal year in particular. Grey Mountain Primary requested that the log borders around the playground be replaced, at an estimated cost of $12,000. The department has agreed to do this in the 1998-99 fiscal year.
In the long term, they requested that the department consider a large-scale project involving upgrading and reorganizing the school site. The issue of building a fence around the school site was not raised as a priority. We will not be implementing such a project during the current fiscal year. If a fence does become a priority of the school, the superintendent should be notified and steps can be made to consider it for inclusion in the department's 1999-2000 capital upgrading plan.
The department is also undertaking two other projects at Grey Mountain Primary at the request of the school community. Entrance stairs around the building will be upgraded, at an estimated cost of $15,000, and exterior doors will be repaired or replaced, at an estimated cost of $10,000.
The Member for Porter Creek North asked a question about one-year planning for school councils, as opposed to three-year planning for school councils.
Between the adoption of the Education Act in 1990 and the 1995-96 school year, the school calendars were set on an annual basis. This process conformed to the act, which stated that the minister proclaim the calendar every year. A legal opinion for section 46 of the Education Act was provided to school councils, and indicated that school calendars should be set annually because school council members change each year and holidays vary from year to year.
In the setting of the Yukon school council spring conference agenda, the question of the school council was not identified as an issue to be included. Any school council may submit a multi-year calendar proposal if they wish. The proposal will be introduced on a yearly basis in the annual school calendar Cabinet submission. So, the legal interpretation that has been done has been provided to school councils over the past two years.
I will ensure that school council chairs are aware that, at their request, government is prepared to accommodate a three-year school calendar. I believe it would be wise if such a request were made at the beginning of a school council's term, rather than toward the end, immediately prior to a school council election. However, we are certainly prepared to accommodate a request for a three-year school calendar if one came forward.
One other factor on that is that holidays vary from year to year and this has been something that has made the setting of school calendars a somewhat longer process to establish than one might think.
A request for some statistics on home schooling was made by the Member for Porter Creek North. For the past three years beginning in 1995-96, there were 47 registrants in home schooling. In 1996-97, the number was 49 students and in 1997-98, the total registrants was 45. I would note for the member that home education plans may be scheduled at the families' convenience and therefore registrations are submitted to the department for approval throughout the school year. We may yet see an increase in the number of home-school registrants for the current school year. The number of students registered has been fairly consistent for the last three school years.
That's all of the information that I have available in response to questions. As I indicated earlier, there is more information being prepared that I can provide for the members as it's completed and I'm happy to respond to members' questions.
Mr. Phillips: Mr. Chair, I want to thank the minister for providing the information she has today, but I'm going to be polite and make a constructive suggestion to the minister.
We've taken a break from this debate since March 24 - I think that's the last day we were in here discussing Education. It's rather frustrating. The minister in her presentation here this afternoon suggested that we could have asked some of these questions in the technical debate and we could have had the information for the debate on the floor. And yet the questions were asked in the debate on the floor. The minister has had over a week and then some to compile this information and do what she said she would do when she was asked the questions in the House and table legislative returns. We could have had legislative returns all this week on this information.
The minister has been in opposition and knows how unfair it is to be given dozens of pages of information - and much of it just read into the record - and then be expected to respond in a reasonable way to the information that's been presented. It would have provided much more constructive and useful debate if the minister had sent this down even yesterday or the day before, knowing that we were going to be entering into the debate.
So, Mr. Chair, I do have some questions in general debate, and I know the issues that the minister has presented here today raise a few more questions, I believe, certainly from the Yukon Party, and I think there are some questions probably from the Liberal Party. And, in the spirit of constructive debate, Mr. Chair, and in light of the time, I move you report progress on this bill, and we will deal with it again tomorrow.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Chair, it's certainly not my intent to be unfair to the members. The member has also sat in this chair and he knows that, when these questions are raised during debate, the department officials work hard at compiling the information as quickly as they can. I apologize for not making the information available to him earlier. There could have been a couple of small legislative returns as a few items were ready, but most of the information has only been completed in the last day, and even today.
So, I know that tomorrow we'll be back in Education debate, and the members can review the Blues. I have also provided copies for them of some of the letters and agreements and policies that they had requested copies of.
So, I would also move that we report progress, so that members have some time to review the record and come back with their questions tomorrow.
Deputy Deputy Chair: Does the motion to report progress carry?
Some Hon. Member: Agreed.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: Mr. Deputy Deputy Chair, I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Deputy Deputy Chair: It's been moved that the Speaker 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 Deputy Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Livingston: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 9, First Appropriation Act, 1998-99, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Deputy Deputy Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Education that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled April 7, 1998:
Principles of supply options for the Yukon (dated 1998): Cabinet Commission on Energy (McRobb)
Property management agency: 1998-99 business plan (Sloan)
The following Legislative Return was tabled April 7, 1998:
Faro mine closure: status of assistance to the community (Harding)
Oral, Hansard, p. 2262 and 2263