Thursday, April 8, 1999 - 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.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Ms. Moorcroft: I have a report for tabling.
Hon. Mr. Harding: I have for tabling the Yukon oil and gas draft strategy.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Mr. Speaker, I have a legislative return for tabling.
Speaker: Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill. No. 72: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 72, entitled An Act to Amend the Municipal Finance and Community Grants Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 72, entitled An Act to Amend the Municipal Finance and Community Grants Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 72 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills to be introduced?
Bill No. 73: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 73, entitled Seniors Property Tax Deferment Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 73, entitled Seniors Property Tax Deferment Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 73 agreed to
Bill No. 74: Introduction and First Reading
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I move that Bill No. 74, entitled An Act to Amend the Assessment and Taxation Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community and Transportation Services that Bill No. 74, entitled An Act to Amend the Assessment and Taxation Act, be now introduced and read a first time.
Motion for introduction and first reading of Bill No. 74 agreed to
Speaker: Are there any further bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to the Question Period.
Question re: Tombstone park, mining claims
Mr. Ostashek: My question is to the Minister of Economic Development on this NDP government's mixed message about mining development and environmental protection.
Yesterday, the minister wouldn't admit that this NDP government is opposed to the legitimate mining claims in the Tombstone park study area. The minister states that this government is following due process and isn't taking sides, either for or against the claims. Nothing could be further from the truth, Mr. Speaker.
While the minister is saying this, the Department of Renewable Resources has submitted an intervention to the chief of mining land use opposing the mining claims and effectively advocating the same position against the mining claims that is being advanced by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Association.
My question to the minister: can he explain why the Department of Economic Development hasn't submitted a review of the proposed mining development outlining the potential economic benefits of this mining development? And is the minister going to submit such a review? And if not, why not?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, this is an environmental assessment process; this is not a mine development application.
Mr. Speaker, this is an exploration project, potentially. The submission was put through due process within the government. The submission was released to the media a couple of days ago, on April 6. The government does have a balanced agenda. The government is not opposed to these legitimate claims, as the member opposite has said, and we are respecting due process by submitting issues for the environmental assessment review to consider as they go through the process of this land use application.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, Mr. Speaker, the submission went more than just to put forward issues. It asked that the process be put on hold until more information was obtained. I want to ask the minister - we listened to the shallow political rhetoric of his about everything they're doing for mining in the Yukon, and for economic development in the Yukon, but actions speak louder than words.
So I would like to ask the minister to explain why a comprehensive mineral assessment of the Tombstone park study area - as promised in the NDP's A Better Way - hasn't been done yet? And when is it going to be done, so that a balanced decision about the ultimate disposition about the Tombstone park boundaries can be made?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, we have increased the assessment budget of the Government of Yukon. We have done some assessments in this area. The member is incorrect.
The member opposite seems to be advocating that it is not the responsible position of the government to raise issues surrounding this application. I would argue that it is important to raise these issues.
The position we've taken is that these issues should be considered before any decision is made. They could compromise the integrity of what was agreed to at the land claims negotiating table with the Government of Canada, with the Government of Yukon, and with the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation.
This government's action, Mr. Speaker, on the economy is extensive, in the resource sector, on mining, what we're doing in forestry in the southeast Yukon and other areas of the Yukon, to try and get a mill - a major investment in a mill - in Watson Lake some secure access to timber, the work we're doing, just announced today, the oil and gas strategy. Yesterday, we announced $15 million has been raised for investment through the immigrant investment fund - the first time ever in the Yukon's history that program has been initiated and, in two short months, we proved we have a very good reputation internationally as an investment jurisdiction.
Mr. Ostashek: What the minister is forgetting is that the commitments made at the land claims table were after the fact. The claims were staked in a legitimate manner, and they should not be superceded. In fact, land claims went out of their way to make sure that third party interests were taken into consideration. That hasn't been done in this case, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I want this minister to send out a clear message that the so-called process will, in fact, be fair. That means that there needs to be a comprehensive mineral assessment done of the Tombstone study area and a review of the potential economic benefits of the Canadian United Minerals claims must be prepared and considered in that review process to counter the negative environmental review being submitted by Renewable Resources.
Will the minister commit to do that?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Mr. Speaker, the review submitted by Renewable Resources is not negative. The review raises issues.
Mr. Speaker, the claims in question were not quashed. They just have to go through due process, and that's what this government is saying and has been saying all along. The member opposite should know that political interference in due process doesn't make it fair. What we are trying to do as a government is establish processes and then just live by them.
We have put so much effort into the economy on so many fronts that I believe the Yukon people, for the most part, recognize that this government, in very difficult resource markets, is focusing on diversification, focusing on new areas of activity like with the mill in southeast Yukon, like with the oil and gas strategy, like with the mineral exploration tax credit, like with the immigrant investor fund, like with so many other programs we've initiated, such as tax reform, that they understand that we're doing everything on so many fronts to try and present a balanced agenda, both economically and environmentally.
Question re: Bison hunt on category B settlement land
Mr. Ostashek: I have a question for the Government Leader. There was a report this morning that the Department of Renewable Resources was thrilled with the way that the bison hunt turned out, but I'd like to cut through that euphoria a little bit and get some answers to some questions that we asked earlier in this House. One of the fundamental questions relates to the bison hunt and provisions of the land claims settlement in the area of the hunt.
Mr. Speaker, section 16.12.3 of the umbrella final agreement states: "Any person has a right of access to enter and stay upon undeveloped category B settlement land without the consent of the affected Yukon First Nation for the purpose of non-commercial harvesting of fish and wildlife." Under the bison hunt, however, First Nations charged a $50 access permit for non-natives hunting bison on category B lands. This $50 permit appears to contravene the UFA, and I understand that the Government Leader was going to obtain legal advice over a month ago on this, so I would like to ask him to report the results of that opinion here today.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, Mr. Speaker, I believe that I did submit a legislative return on this very subject recently. I'll check the record with respect to that matter, because the question was raised by the Member for Riverdale North, and the information should be in the member's hands. I'll get the information to the member.
Mr. Ostashek: If the minister believes that he has tabled the legislative return, he should be able to relate to the House what was in the return. I would appreciate hearing it here in Question Period. What did the legal advice say? Did they say that First Nations could charge an access fee on category B lands, or did they say that it contravenes the umbrella final agreement?
Hon. Mr. McDonald: The advice, Mr. Speaker, did not say that it contravened the umbrella final agreement. The advice indicated that it was consistent with the agreement and cited provisions to that effect. I will get the information with respect to that matter for the member, but my information is that what was determined with respect to the bison hunt was within the bounds of the umbrella final agreement and the First Nation final agreement in that area.
Mr. Ostashek: Well, I'll look forward to receiving that because, quite clearly, it's opposite from what we understand the umbrella final agreement to say.
Further on that question, my final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is that I understand that 80 or 90 people paid the access fee permit when they went into the draw and those who weren't successful in the draw didn't have the money returned to them. So, I would like to ask the Government Leader if he believes that is also fair.
Hon. Mr. McDonald: Well, I noticed the member didn't ask me whether or not it was legal. Certainly I can ask that question of the department - as to whether or not there was anything illegal about it. I think with respect to fairness, Mr. Speaker, I'm not the minister responsible for Renewable Resources and I haven't given it thorough consideration, but I'm certain the minister may have an opinion on the matter, if he is looking for an opinion.
Question re: Oil and gas strategy
Mr. Cable: I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development on his draft oil and gas strategy that he released this morning.
One of the key elements in the strategy is a common regime, where oil and gas operators will be dealing with the same set of rules over both First Nation lands and non-First Nation lands. This requires that each of the First Nations signs on to a common set of rules for exploration and development. I understand that no First Nation has signed on yet.
Could the minister fill us in on where these negotiations sit? What timeline are we working on and how many of the First Nations is now negotiating with and is there any First Nation near the point of signing?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, the First Nations have agreed, Mr. Speaker, to the common regime, and all elements are material to that common regime in the act that was passed. So that work has been done. The work that's underway now is discussing some areas of the regulations. There's a meeting of the working group this Friday, as I understand it, and that work will continue.
We've been engaged in the business of moving this agenda forward in a thoughtful and deliberate way, for the first time in 20 years, since we took over control of the resource by negotiating it from the federal government in November. We expect, in due course, to be able to move forward on both an environmentally responsible and economically responsible way.
Mr. Cable: The strategy contemplates some further arrangements with the First Nations. Have all the regulations been passed by the First Nations? And are we at a point where the First Nations, say in the Liard Plateau, are happy with the common regime and are ready to accept the set of rules?
Hon. Mr. Harding: Well, Mr. Speaker, the First Nations have all signed on, as I said, to the Yukon Oil and Gas Act, and the MOA that we all signed - all 14 First Nations - on this particular initiative.
As I said, there's still some regulatory work underway. But we have concentrated on the areas that we need to concentrate on first in order to initiate some land transactions, so that we can get some development happening that will create some jobs and some economic activities - hopefully, even this coming winter season - for Yukoners. So that's where the brunt of our activities has been.
It may be that some areas of the responsibility differ somewhat on settlement land, if particular First Nations choose to do that. But the nuts and bolts of the agreement - of the Yukon Oil and Gas Act - do dictate a common regime. And that's what we have.
Mr. Cable: The minister seems to be saying that everything's in place with the First Nations then, so the question I have now: is the minister prepared now to go ahead with the land sales in the Liard Plateau area? Is everything in place? The First Nations are happy, and the people are lined up to buy land. Is that what he's saying?
Hon. Mr. Harding: What I told the industry, and what we've discussed with the Kaska Nation, is the status of the land claim itself, not the common regime. I've told industry that, prior to inviting them in to do business in this territory, we want to have a good degree of certainty for them with regard to land tenure, and that would involve the Yukon government and the federal government ensuring that the issues of title to land are not later complicated after investment decisions are made. They're very comfortable with that, because they believe that that kind of leadership will keep them out of future difficulties.
So, after waiting 20 years to come into the Liard Plateau area, they're prepared to wait until we are able to negotiate with Canada and with the Yukon government and with the Kaska Nation, some terms that would be acceptable to moving ahead with oil and gas development there.
Question re: Beringia Interpretive Centre, business plan
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Tourism. In 1997, after the NDP government took office, the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre business plan was updated, and a copy was provided to me, Mr. Speaker. The business plan for the centre says that revenue projections for the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre show that the centre would become profitable in year three of its operation.
Year three, the 1999-2000 year, projects revenues of $230,000.
This year, the 1999-2000 budget, projects revenues for the Yukon Beringia Centre of $80,000. My question for the Minister of Tourism: has the Beringia Centre business plan been updated, or is the centre not meeting its projected targets?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Speaker, I can say that the business plan hasn't been updated. I can also elaborate a little bit if the member would like. There was not a business plan when I took over the Department of Tourism. One of the first actions that I took at that point in time was to develop a business plan. It might have been somewhat after the fact, but it was certainly done based on the visitor exit survey of 1994. Those types of numbers were incorporated into it. So, certainly, there has been a bit of a falling, I guess, in the numbers, but we'll certainly have to work our way around that.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, the business plan revenue projections aren't the only part of the plan that isn't being met. The Beringia Centre business plan also calls for the development with the Vuntut Gwitchin of a community museum facility to be established in Old Crow. This building would also serve as a visitor reception and heritage programming centre. Parks Canada has also indicated an interest in being in a building of this nature in support of the Vuntut park.
Mr. Speaker, the NDP has gutted the heritage budget this year, and this facility doesn't appear in the government's own five-year capital plan. It's obvious that this part of the business plan is no longer under consideration. Why has this minister and the NDP deep-sixed the proposal for a shared heritage parks facility in Old Crow?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Speaker, I can quite categorically say that the member is absolutely wrong in her preamble. This government has not gutted the heritage department. This government, if anything, has moved forward in great strides with tourism - a 12-percent increase, Mr. Speaker. I mean, we've done the Taylor House within our history of two and a half years. We've done the fire halls, and we will continue to do the good work with heritage that we've set out to do. We recognize that heritage is a very important component of the mosaic of the Yukon, but also a very important component of the tourism industry in itself.
So, Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the member opposite comes from with her predictions, but I can certainly say that the community museum, of which the member speaks, was a part of the plan that I had inherited when I first took over. We know that the former administration had promised to move forward with Beringia. We certainly knew that it would be a problem, so we are working our way around those problems.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, we've established that the Beringia Centre is making a lot less money than was projected in the business plan. We've established that the NDP is no longer interested in building a Beringia-related shared facility in Old Crow as part of the business plan. The business plan at the Beringia Centre also says that the future plans in the heritage branch five-year capital plan identify a seasonally operated Beringia field research station, to be built in the goldfields at Dawson.
That was 1997; this is now. The Beringia field research station does not appear in this year's budget nor in the five-year capital plan.
Why is the NDP government ignoring all the commitments made in the Beringia Interpretive Centre business plan? Why is the government ignoring all those commitments?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, money does not grow on trees. Maybe in the lovely Liberal la-la land money grows on trees but, certainly, it does not here, so we have to spend wisely, and that's exactly what we do. Tourism has increased its budget totally. Again, I can reiterate - the White Pass Building, the Taylor House - all of these things are related to heritage. The historic resources heritage tax credit - this government is doing great things for the heritage community and will continue to do those things, but certainly it will be within the confines of fiscal reality. That's what we work within, Mr. Speaker.
Question re: Bison hunt on category B settlement lands
Mr. Phillips: My question is for the Minister of Renewable Resources on the bison hunt.
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Renewable Resources stated today that they are quite pleased with the way the bison hunt turned out but, as the minister knows, there are an awful lot of Yukoners who submitted their names for the draw who weren't quite as pleased with the way the draw was carried out. Further, that the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation indicated publicly that the lottery draw that we held this year that so many Yukoners were unhappy with was only held that way because of time constraints and it was a one-time situation.
Can the minister advise the House today how the next bison hunt lottery will be conducted? Will there be a non-preferential lottery draw, open to all Yukoners equally? Is that how the draw will be conducted?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We have not put a draw in place at this point. The only thing that we have done so far is to deem bison as wildlife. That would give us more of a management tool in the future, but we have not worked out any system for a permit hunt for next year. We know that we're going to be doing a hunt that is probably as big, if not bigger, next year, which means a lot more animals will be taken out by Yukoners.
Mr. Phillips: I hadn't realized that they had changed the designation of bison to wildlife; I know they were considering it, but my understanding is that it hadn't happened yet. Maybe the minister could clear that up if it has actually happened, because that will make a difference.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the minister where his government stands with respect to a fair and equitable lottery system where all Yukoners - First Nation Yukoners and non-First Nation Yukoners - will compete on the same basis in the lottery for bison permits in the future? Will it be an equal draw so all Yukoners are considered equal?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the way we did the draw this past year, everybody who put their name in had an equal opportunity. It just went through a different system.
Now, we said the way we had the draw last year would not set a precedent for what we'll be doing this year. We haven't put a system in place yet, and until such time as we do, we'll be continuing to work with the different interest groups, including the Fish and Game Association.
Mr. Phillips: Well, as the minister knows, Mr. Speaker, it wasn't an equal draw last time around. With respect to anybody who put their name in for the Champagne-Aishihik area bison, non-native Yukoners paid $50 and First Nation Yukoners paid nothing. That's not equal.
I'm asking the minister - I don't have a problem with a fee - if all Yukoners will be treated equally with respect to submitting their names in the draw and if the draw will be a fair and equitable draw?
These resources belong to all Yukoners equally. The Yukon taxpayers' dollars paid for the establishment of the bison in the territory. I'd like to ask the minister if he will support the concept that all Yukoners will be treated exactly the same when it comes to submitting their names for the bison lottery in the future? Will that happen?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: We haven't put a system in place yet. I told the member that. One thing that he fails to recognize with his government signing off the First Nation land claim agreement, the UFA, is that First Nations are, in fact, a senior government, and they have the ability to make laws and do what they like with their dollars. If they want to give that chunk of money back to their membership, they are perfectly within their right to do so.
We would like to see all people treated the same, and it's something that we put forward. The system that we're putting in place could involve that. We don't know where it's going to go at this point. Champagne-Aishihik still has concerns with the whole permitting process, and we'll continue to work with them.
Question re: Beringia Interpretive Centre, business plan
Ms. Duncan: My question is for the Minister of Tourism. I'd like to revisit the issue of the Beringia Interpretive Centre business plan.
In my last series of questions, in his first response, the minister said that he commissioned the plan shortly after taking office. In his second answer, the minister said he inherited the plan.
Mr. Speaker, would the minister clarify for the record. The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre business plan was provided to me in response to a question I asked the minister. My understanding of the date is that it's 1997. Is the business plan that I'm referring to the work of this government or the work of the previous government?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Not only is this government putting money into heritage resources, we're also putting money into the airport, to expand the runway. We've put $750,000 into a tourism marketing fund. We put $200,000 extra into our marketing fund, so I do enjoy talking about tourism, and I look forward to the debate on it.
I will say, again, though, quite categorically, to answer the member's question, is that this government commissioned the business plan. When we took over the administration of the governance of the Yukon Territory, there was not a business plan developed. One of my first initiatives was to develop a business plan so that we might have predictability as to where we're going within the Beringia Centre.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, this business plan to which I referred in my earlier question - there were a series of projections for revenue that the government has not met. There was a commitment to the Beringia field research station in the Dawson City goldfields, and there was a commitment to examining the desire for a shared facility in Old Crow.
The minister has said this business plan was the work of this government. Why is the government not living up to the business plan that they created? Has the plan been reviewed, in light of the changing commitments by the government?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Speaker, if I might say, the Beringia concept that was developed by the previous government was developed, I guess, by a by-gosh-and-by-golly approach. The prediction that they had as they looked into the future was that it was going to be self-sustainable.
I did not look through the crystal ball and share the same vision as them, so I did develop and commission a business plan. Now, that's somewhat after the fact, but is the proper business procedure to do that.
Certainly, those initiatives that the member opposite has listed are part of the business plan - always subject to the fiscal reality. Again, this government has put millions of dollars toward the tourism industry here in the Yukon Territory, and will continue to work with the operators in the Yukon Territory.
I can also say, though, that the private sector gift shop that is within the Beringia Centre - they're very pleased, and they're looking for further successes. The centre is now working on the privatization of the logo, so that we might be able to sell a logo and whatnot. So we're looking at many different initiatives to be able to generate dollars.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, in response to the minister's comment about profitability, the comment came directly from the report that the minister just admitted was the work of this government. It was the minister's report that projected that the Beringia Interpretive Centre would become profitable in year three of its' operation. That's the minister comment.
The minister also said that these other projects that I mentioned were part of the business plan, and he talked about them being part of the vision. My question very clearly to the minister is: are they still part of the vision of this government and, if so, when? They're not in the five-year capital plan.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, again, I can say that when we took over the administration of this government, the Beringia Centre was just about complete. It was certainly based on the predictions of the previous government that the business plan had evolved from the 1994 visitor exit survey.
What we are doing is that we're putting megadollars into the tourism industry. We're taking an approach from the big-picture approach. We've extended the runway. We've put extra dollars into the marketing fund. We've created a $750,000 marketing fund to enhance the tourism industry, of which heritage is a small component but a very vitally important component.
Again, I reiterate: what are we doing for heritage? We've done the Taylor House. We've done the White Pass fire hall. We created heritage tax breaks. We're doing everything that is possible, and we'll continue to do that to work to that end.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, 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. Do members wish to recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Fifteen minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is on the Department of Community and Transportation Services.
Bill No. 14 - First Appropriation Act, 1999-2000 - continued
Department of Community and Transportation Services - continued
Chair: Is there further general debate?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, last evening, when we left off, we were talking of the waterfront residents. We talked, I guess, very pointedly. We also spoke of the big picture of what we're doing, and I thought it might be appropriate if I just took the floor to reiterate some of the discussion that we had been carrying on.
I'd like to just go back a bit here to distinguish some of the facts. Certainly, I believe it was 1988 when the squatter policy came into existence and, at that time there were thousands of people who were affected by the policy.
Why was the policy brought in by the New Democratic government? Because the New Democratic government knew that we had to do something at that point in time.
Something had to be done, so we reflected it through the squatter policy. The objective of the squatter policy, at that point in time, was to legitimize the people who were living on the land, no matter where it be. We consulted with the local municipal governments, we consulted with the First Nation governments within the territories that the squatters were in, underneath the policy. We brought all people together. We went through a process to legitimize the people there, because we recognized that they had rights.
The only time that they might have been rejected is if there was a health or safety occupancy conflict. So, if somebody's septic tank was running into somebody else's garden, infecting their well or running into their lake, then it was disqualified.
Now, I'd also like to say here, at this point in time, that the people affected by the squatter policy were from all political backgrounds. It crossed all the political bounds, so it's not a political issue. It never was. It was simply meant to clean up and legitimize the process, to take away from the feeling of the Yukon that this is the last frontier, and that you can just mosey on up and go ahead and stake a claim because it was unoccupied Crown land.
Well, you know, all those things were put to bed. We've put to bed that type of mentality.
The mentality has been put to bed through that process. I think the two points I want to make here are that the squatters policy was to legitimatize the place where the people actually live and that it did. It affected a lot of people - young people, old people, people of every political stripe of both genders. It affected all.
Another thing that had taken place at that point in time was in the Klondike area. It's not restricted simply to the Klondike area, but it was predominantly in the Klondike area in the areas where placer mining is taking place. People, at that point in time, only had to do, I believe, $100 or $200 worth of assessment per year and they could enjoy the land that they lived on for their home, even though it was filed under the placer mining process. So again, it was a misuse.
Many, many people were affected by it. We worked with the appropriate First Nations, the appropriate municipalities and the people, the folks who were affected by it. We worked with them to bring credibility back to the process of placer mining. Of course, the federal government was a player at the table also.
So, we worked with the folks there, and certainly it worked out very well. Quite a few of the individuals affected were legitimized and ended up having ownership of the property and continue to enjoy a very fruitful life on the land that we're talking about. Right to this very moment, many people do.
So, there again, we cleaned up an issue that was being abused, I guess, for many, many years, but this government - again, a New Democratic government - took it upon themselves to correct the problem, not to blind themselves to the problem, but to look into the greater vision of where we are going as a Yukon Territory and to know that, one step at a time, we'll get there.
We'll clean things up through the squatter policy to legitimize the issues that are surrounding it. We will work with the placer mining folks to make sure that things are done right in that manner. If you want a home, you don't have to go through another policy. Placer mines are for placer miners.
And then thirdly, of course, what we have is the Whitehorse waterfront residents here. Now, there is a major fundamental difference between the first two issues - the squatter policy of 1988 and the placer mining issue that was a part of that - and what we've been involved with over the last 10 years.
What we're talking about here, what we're doing here, Mr. Chair, what we're doing at this point in time is we are removing the waterfront residents, Mr. Chair. We're asking them to leave. They're being evicted. There are so many different ways to say it. But certainly, as we go through this process and we talk to them as human beings, I mean we set principles together with and for them, so that we would have principles to be guided by as a government. So it would not be a personality-driven decision, but it would be a good consensus-driven decision that was driven by the principles that are contained within the policy.
Now, as we displace people - and, as I say, displace people at this point in time, with the refugees from Kosovo; I look at that and I'm so very proud to be a Canadian because Canada is opening its' heart. The Yukon Territory is looking at ways - communities in the Yukon Territory are looking at ways to accommodate displaced people.
Now, why is there such a rigmarole in the Yukon Territory when we're talking about our own - a very select few. Well, not select few, but certainly our own, and a few people who live on the waterfront - in some cases who lived there for 45 years - to treat them differently, or treat them meanly, or treat them as not people.
I just can't see the difference when, on a national front, all parties agree - the three parties that are represented in this Legislature - that we have to have compassion for the human being, for the human spirit, for the elders, the middle-aged, the youth who are our future, and Kosovo's future. We have to have them.
So I ask for the same type of sense of responsibility of society that we have for those folks, to have that for our own, because we are asking them to leave. We're displacing them from their home. They have a culture. They have feelings; they have all these issues that we're asking them to give up.
So, that's the fundamental difference, Mr. Chair, and that's a very big, fundamental difference between the squatter policy and the placer mining issues, et cetera - we're for and we're all about.
At this point in time, we absolutely have to find a way to work with the waterfront residents to find suitable accommodation for them, so that we might be able to get over this little hiccup that we have here.
So, if you look at it in that light - as I said last evening, after we debated these very same issues and principles for the duration of two hours - I think I summed it up with the point of view that the official opposition - certainly the official opposition - and the government of the day are at terrific odds in their philosophical approaches as to how to deal with people, how to work with people, the governance of the land. We certainly have great philosophical differences.
I anticipate that, unless something extraordinary happens, unless a bolt of lightning comes streaking out of the sky and zaps somebody in the head in here, that that will not change. Those basic, philosophical differences will always be there. I can absolutely say that there is nothing wrong with that. That is what politics is all about - the debating of policy and how you effect it and how you would do it.
There's going to be an election in the Yukon Territory in a year and a half. It has to be held, I believe, by the end of September of the year 2000, and certainly then we will let the people set the course as to which philosophy they wish to work with. Do they wish to work with the philosophy of the Yukon Party or do they wish to work within the philosophy of the New Democratic Party, and, of course, there are other parties represented. They will have the opportunity to make their choices.
So, I would ask the Member for Klondike and the official opposition if they would take that into consideration and have an understanding that to go around and around and around and around and be hurtful to people is to the absolute detriment of all. It is not good for economic growth. It is not good for bringing people together. It is not good for social development, coming together however people would come together. It's not good for any of these issues, Mr. Speaker.
So, I would ask the member of the official opposition to consider that as we go through the debate of this budget. We are at great differences, and that it is incumbent upon the government, if you're displacing people, to find people a place and to work with people and to get an understanding of them so that we would not have one area of our society that is depicted for these type of folks and another area that is depicted for these type of folks and another area that's for these type of folks. We should have an area and a freedom of choice so that people can live where they want to.
Are there rules that people have to live by? Absolutely, there are rules that people have to live by. We have to be here for the greater good of the community. We have to think about good governance, about how we work with people, and that is incumbent not only upon the politicians of the Legislature that are in this room, or anywhere, but it is incumbent upon the people of the Yukon Territory to actually live up to that spirit also.
And it's incumbent upon those people to give direction to their legislators. So, again, I would ask that the official opposition put that into their backdrop of thinking to understand that if you're going to displace somebody, you have to offer something to somebody, and you definitely have to have the ability to work freely with those people. You just can't herd them up, round them up, and move them on out. You just cannot do that. That is not the way we do things around this government, and we will certainly never do things in that manner.
So, I would hope that the member from the official opposition, Mr. Chair, would take that into consideration so that we might be able to consider all people's lives in the direction in which we're going with this issue in the Yukon Territory and to reflect that into his statements.
Thank you very much for the time, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, we've gone through this at great length. Last night, the minister spent hours of this House's time running around in circles, not answering the question. Our party's position is quite specific. The Whitehorse waterfront residents have been paid a very, very generous buy-out package. We're not arguing with the sum of money. Some have received an amount approaching $100,000.
What our party is taking exception to - and I guess to quote the minister, there are rules that people have to live by - is that these individuals are now being moved to the front of the line to acquire agricultural land. And not only that, but when they acquire that agricultural land, they don't have to follow the rules in place for the development of an agricultural parcel of land, Mr. Chair. Everyone else has to follow through that procedure, and many, many Yukoners are dismayed at this government breaking their own rules, moving individuals to the front of the line for these parcels of agricultural land - parcels of agricultural land that other individuals in the Yukon have applied for.
The government either told them they aren't accepting applications on it - they aren't available - or flatly refused to even consider them for that parcel of agricultural land.
Currently in the Yukon there are 131 applications in process for agricultural land. That says to me, Mr. Chair, that there are a great number of Yukoners who are desirous of obtaining agricultural land and there are a lot of others who haven't been successful in the bidding process to even get their name drawn to be considered for a parcel of agricultural land, let alone numerous other Yukoners who are frustrated trying to obtain land and have given up on the process.
What we have here is a case where the minister and his department have jumped these Whitehorse residents from the Whitehorse waterfront, the squatters from that area, after they'd been paid and bought out on a pricing principle that gives them the additional, flat-rate equity of another $3,000 to $5,000, and a long-term occupancy of $1,000 a year up to 45 years. That's $45,000. There was another special allowance of $10,000 for senior citizens and another $5,000 moving expenses and then, after all of that is said and done, they have an additional amount where they have an earned equity of up to $20,000, and it's a land-relocation option.
Under that part of this compensation package, these individuals are being moved to the front of the line to acquire agricultural land. All the rules are avoided; they're not even looked at - the agricultural land policy developed by the Department of Renewable Resources.
Could the minister explain why these individuals are, number one, being moved to the front of the line to acquire agricultural land; and two, why the government is breaking all their own rules and why these individuals do not have to conform to the agricultural policy with respect to their land development? Could the minister explain those two issues?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, it appalls me, and I certainly ask the Member for Klondike for compassion for people when you're dealing with people. Obviously, the member has not an iota of compassion for these folks who are affected in their heart. If the member had his way, I'm sure that there would be homeless people on the streets, even more than there are. That is not what this government is about - absolutely not. We're here to work with people, and we'll continue to work with people, Mr. Chair.
We're asking - and we asked those folks who are waterfront residents there - if they would move. Again, I reiterate that we asked them to move, to be displaced. Why? For the greater good of the Yukon Territory, so that we might be able to stimulate the economic growth of the Yukon Territory, because every day that the Legislature is on, the opposition spends half of the Question Period - no, spends the Question Period - thumping on the government of the day that the economy is down.
Most certainly, and we're doing many things. We're diversifying the economy, we're doing many, many wonderful things to bring it out, of which the waterfront is definitely a part, and the people who live on the waterfront, who are affected - squatters, in the mind of the gentleman from Klondike, Mr. Chair - but certainly, in our minds, they're residents. They have the absolute right, at that time, and now we're asking them to leave.
So, we're asking the residents to move for the greater good of the Yukon Territory and, Mr. Chair, they are, because we're working with them as people, and that is what they enjoy about it.
I'd like to reiterate, Mr. Chair, that this has been around for many, many years. It's certainly been a problem - if you categorize it as a problem - within the mandate of the previous government, which was the Yukon Party, and the Yukon Party was in government for four years. Did they ever, at one time during that tenure, attempt to tackle this problem, to look at the greater good of the Yukon? No, no, no, no, no, they did not. And why? Because they do not have the skills.
They don't have the skills. They can be abrupt; they can play a heck of a game of rough hockey if they want, at times. But it's not always the roughest team that wins the game. It's the team that coordinates together, that works with the people, has the people behind them, and will continue to work with the people - and that's what this government represents.
So why did they move to the front of the line, and why is the government breaking the rules? Well, the government is not breaking the rules, Mr. Chair. I'll say that right now. We are not breaking the rules. We are taking on a problem that has existed within the previous mandate of the Yukon Party, which they had no gumption to deal with, and we are dealing with it.
We are working with the people of the Yukon Territory, and will continue to work with the people of the Yukon Territory for the greater good of the Yukon Territory.
It was told to me by very wise people - when I first entered the political realm, and I've been in politics now for almost 20 years of my life, and one of the issues, one of the principles that they said is, "Dave, you will not be able to please all. Do not even attempt, because other people have different thoughts. All you can do is be yourself, be who you are, and work within that."
And, Mr. Chair, we are working within that. We're working within the reality of the Yukon Territory, and will continue to work within that reality, because I do know that Yukoners want to get along together, they're very desirous of getting along together, they want land development, and they're going to come forth with all those issues, as we can.
But it's not going to be me at the front of the pack, "Yo! And let's go." It is going to be me working with my department, and the department working with the people of the Yukon Territory. That is how we're going to move forward, Mr. Chair.
Now, Mr. Chair, we have not broken the rules. We have tackled the greater vision and will continue to tackle that greater vision.
Why did they move to the front of the line? Well, Mr. Chair, as they agree to give up the waterfront, which has been their home in some cases for 45 years or better - in some cases, and less in other cases, I guess - what are we to do?
We are talking, Mr. Chair, about people, in some cases, of being elders. In our budget, we are putting money toward the aging community because we recognize that the growth rate of the community is growing, and so we have to work with the people. So we're putting money through Health and Social Services and other departments and through my own department, which I just tabled today, factors to enable seniors and elders to enjoy a better quality of life.
Now, some of the people that we're talking about fit into that category, fit into that age group of being an elder, of being a senior citizen, the ones that we're very much talking about. They've raised children, they've participated in school committees, they've participated in the PTAs, they've gone to the curling bonspiels in the communities, they've participated in the quality of life that is a Yukon quality of life. And now the Member for Klondike suggests that I just gingerly reach over and say, "Thank you very much for giving up the waterfront. We really appreciate it. You're outta here."
No, no, no, no, no. That is not the way we can do it, that is not the way we should do it, and that's not the way we will do it. Certainly, that is a Yukon Party initiative on how they would like to do things, but what we're going to do and will continue to do is to work with them and to offer them places to move to, because they are definitely giving up something. They are absolutely giving up their quality of lifestyle on the waterfront.
So, therefore, is it not incumbent upon government to work with those people and, in some cases, find them land that they are desirous of, that will help fit their lifestyle? I mean, surely to goodness, if they went into some of the city lots in Granger, I guess there would not be a problem.
I guess that's what the official opposition is saying, that there would not be a problem because there is an overabundance. I would suggest that maybe that's another question, and the Member for Klondike should absolutely ask that question of me, and then we can talk about that, because it's not to be confusing the waterfront residents with the ability to develop land and to do it for the greater community good, for the economic growth of the Yukon Territory. There are two different instances.
But certainly, it is a wonderful thing to have an incremental approach to the betterment of the quality of life for the growth, for the cooperation of working with the two respective First Nations in the area, who are historical governments and contemporary governments, and who bring their values of their history forth and portray them in a modern-day government structure, for the greater good of the Yukon, and for the City of Whitehorse and the territorial government to work together. And so again, Mr. Chair, it is incumbent upon us that we work with people. It is incumbent upon us as a government that we work with people and continue to work with people.
So, no, Mr. Chair, I am not going to go down to the parking lot and look for shopping carts or wagons or whatever the member from the official opposition would like me to do with these folks. No. We are going to continue to work with these people in a realistic manner, in a kind and a gentle and a consultative manner, because that is what these people deserve.
In certain situations, yes, I guess we will have to put them where they would like to go, because certainly, Mr. Chair, I look at what they are giving up also. Are they giving it up for free? Well, no, they're not giving it up for free. But again, we have an agreed upon set of principles, and we are going to continue to work with that agreed upon set of principles.
So, Mr. Chair, on the issues that the Member for Klondike had spoken about on the government breaking the rules, no. Again, I reiterate, the government is not breaking the rules. The government is working with people. 030
On the other issue of why they were moved to the front of the line, well, I think I explained that, Mr. Chair. You cannot expect people to give up something and not have a place to go. Certainly, that's what this government should, and will, continue to do.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister's right. This NDP government is not breaking the rules. This NDP government has broken the rules. They've clearly broken the rules with respect to this issue. There is a paper published by the Department of Renewable Resources, Mr. Chair - the eligibility for acquiring agricultural land. It's the process that Yukoners must go through in order to acquire agricultural land. It's a legitimate process. Those rules have been broken by this minister, Mr. Chair.
Then, after due process, when an applicant receives an opportunity to acquire a parcel of agricultural land, it spells it out quite succinctly in this agricultural land application and land use policy, that the land is released to the applicant under an agreement for sale, with an attached value. With this figure in mind, the applicant is required to meet all the conditions of the agreement for sale, including development of the property. Under the provisions of the Yukon agricultural policy, for every $2 of approved development - and I urge the minister to read this policy, because the minister has broken the rule here.
Number one, he's moved the squatters from the Whitehorse waterfront, Shipyards, Sleepy Hollow area to the front of the line to acquire that piece of agricultural land.
Furthermore, this NDP government, through this minister, has broken their agricultural land use policy with respect to title transfers and what they have to do once they acquire that parcel of land.
The minister stated, in this House, that these individuals just have to make a promise. We're working on a handshake. Everyone else has to enter into a five-year agreement with the government for the purpose of acquiring agricultural land, but not these individuals. This NDP government has a double standard for agricultural land use: one for virtually all Yukoners and another one for the Whitehorse waterfront residents, the squatters that the government is relocating.
Mr. Chair, the minister still hasn't explained why he's creating this double standard, why this minister is breaking the NDP government rules and why this NDP government is treating the squatters way, way differently and putting them way in front of the rest of Yukoners.
Hundreds of Yukoners have applied for agricultural lands. Few have been successful. It is a lifestyle that many Yukoners wish and are seeking. One of the hardest things to do, Mr. Chair, is acquire land in the Yukon. What this minister has done is break the rules - the rules of his own government - in allowing these individuals to come to the head of the line for the acquisition of this agricultural parcel of land and to grant them terms and conditions that do not exist for any other Yukoner acquiring agricultural land here in the Yukon.
They don't exist. These rules are rules that have been put together by the minister, I'm sure in collaboration with the Minister of Renewable Resources, who is responsible for agricultural land. So, I'd just like the minister to stand on his feet, admit he's broken the rules, and we can move on in general debate.
I'd also ask him to reconsider his position with respect to this piece of agricultural land on the Hot Springs Road and to deal with it in the same manner any other parcel of agricultural land is dealt with in the Yukon - to have a draw, and these individuals from the Whitehorse waterfront, who have been well compensated for their assets on the Whitehorse waterfront, can enter into that draw or they can acquire land in any other region of Yukon. They certainly have the financial wherewithal to do it, Mr. Chair.
Will the minister agree to proceed in that direction, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Just for clarification, Mr. Chair, some of the numbers that the Member for Klondike put out may have been an old list that we've had, but in regard to the number of applications that are active to date, it's around 59, and the ones that are on hold are considerably fewer than what the member had said. They're around 22, and most of those have been bumped into the federal level, which I think ends up going through the FTLAC system.
So, the ones that are at the federal level right now number around 47 - for approximately 128 applications. So, 22 basically are on hold. They're in the system and they've gone through the old agricultural policies where, for example, one might have a piece of land where they could get more in addition to what they have, they need to be clearing their land and basically preparing for the next chunk of land. They haven't gone through that process yet, and that's why the additional parcels that they want to be added on are on hold.
In regard to the question, just to add to the Minister of Community and Transportation Services' comments, these people were not bumped up in front of anyone in regard to this particular piece of land. The member knows that it has been zoned agriculture, and that there is a 1996 Hot Springs Road zoning regulation, which is under the authority of the Lands Act. That zoning regulation allows for more flexibility of agricultural land parcels on the Hot Springs Road.
The member knows that this regulation was developed by the residents of the Hot Springs Road, and it was put together between 1994 and 1996. All the terms and conditions that are required of the waterfront residents, who are going on this agricultural piece of land, are the same terms and conditions that apply to all the Hotsprings Road residents.
Now, the Department of Renewable Resources, the agricultural branch, had requests for agricultural land on this particular piece of land but, in 1994, it was reserved as rural residential, and then it wasn't until 1996 that, with the residents of the Hot Springs Road, they made a Hot Springs Road zoning regulation.
That's what took place during that time, so everything that the waterfront residents have agreed to in regard to this agricultural piece of land are the same terms and conditions that apply to all the Hot Springs Road residents. There are very simple things. It doesn't go through the regular process, because they are not going into a land sales agreement with the Department of Renewable Resources. It has gone through C&TS, through a zoning regulation.
So that basically bumps out Renewable Resources, and anybody who's looking for a piece of land goes through C&TS. They weren't bumped up in front of any of the applicants who are now going through the system through Renewable Resources at all. And the permitted uses are very flexible - that's what the residents wanted. They're not required to put a plan in place. They could do things, like they could tree farm or fur farm or fish farm on this piece of land.
What they are required to do is make sure that a dwelling is put in place within five years. That is how flexible the zoning regulation is on the Hot Springs Road.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'd like to thank the Minister of Renewable Resources for that input, and I've just got some new information here that I think would be helpful. That's why I stood up before the Member for Klondike, so I certainly do appreciate the opportunity.
I'd also like to say that - and just reiterate a bit what the Minister of Renewable Resources has said - this regulation was developed between 1994 and 1996 with input from the folks on the Hot Springs Road. The terms and conditions that will apply to this individual being relocated from the Whitehorse waterfront are consistent with the terms and conditions that apply to all agricultural land on the Hot Springs Road.
The regulation was not done as an initiative of the agricultural policy, as the Minister of Renewable Resources has stated, but it is something that is quite separate, and was done as a result of a planning and zoning development through the Community and Transportation Services underneath the authority of the Lands Act. If it would be helpful I can read into the record what some of the permitted uses would be on the property that we're speaking of on the agricultural zoning.
The permitted uses come in two categories. It's the principal uses. The principal uses are listed as such: agricultural uses, horticultural uses, game farming, tree farming, sod farming, fur and fish farming, minor agricultural pursuits and public utilities. The accessory uses are for one primary single-family dwelling, a secondary single-family dwelling, home occupations, guest ranches, outdoor recreational facilities, agricultural supply sales outlets, bed and breakfast lodging, riding stables, animal boarding and breeding facilities, family day home programs, farm produce outlets and accessory buildings that would be needed for farming and agricultural purposes.
So, I do hope that that brings some light to the Member for Klondike. To reiterate what the Minister of Renewable Resources has said, there was no one knocked off the line for this particular piece of property. That property was available and became available for this individual.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, I'd like to thank the Minister of Renewable Resources for his information. I'd like to suggest that the Minister of Renewable Resources ask his department to upgrade their Web site. The information I took from the Web was on March 30 of this year and it is quite specific that there are currently 61 agricultural land applications under active consideration, 44 on hold, 26 awaiting federal orders-in-council transferring them to the Yukon government, for a total of 131 applications in process. The minister in the House today stated that there is only 128. Well, that's a difference of three, Mr. Chair, and I would imagine in the last little while there has been some progress made. So, we're looking at a difference of three individuals.
But the information that has been provided to the House is not accurate. Mr. Chair, let me read from a letter that was directed to residents on the Hot Springs Road. It was signed by Bryony McIntyre, manager of lands disposition section. It is regarding the intended land disposition at kilometre 5, Hot Springs Road: "As you may be aware, the Government of the Yukon is presently working with residents of the waterfront area in downtown Whitehorse to assist them in relocating from their current homes. This initiative is being undertaken to address long-standing land use and health and safety issues, as well as facilitate upcoming City of Whitehorse waterfront planning. Our primary commitment is that individuals are dealt with fairly and with respect and dignity. Having the utmost regard to ensuring that their future accommodation needs are met, individuals who own and occupy waterfront structures are being offered an agreement for sale for alternate lands. We have been working with these eligible individuals in identifying suitable alternate sites. These various prospective residential sites are distributed both within and outside the City of Whitehorse. A site near your lot, lot number 1247, suitable to this purpose has been identified near kilometre 5 of the Hot Springs Road as shown on the attached sketch. This site comprises vacant Commissioner's land that has been identified by the community in the Hot Springs Road area's development regulations as being suitable for future rural development. In support of the waterfront program, please be advised that it is our intention to survey and dispose of this lot ..." - now, listen carefully, Mr. Chair - "... for residential/agricultural use." It is quite specific that this lot is being disposed of for residential/agricultural use. "It is expected that an agreement for sale will be entered into, and this lot will be occupied during the 1999 building season. Please be assured that this agreement will be subject to the applicable land use provisions as specified in the current Hot Springs Road zoning regulations."
So, the minister, Mr. Chair, is suggesting that this is not an agricultural piece of land, and yet this letter from officials within his department says otherwise - very much otherwise. So, what is the truth? What is the accurate disposition of this land? As I read this letter, it is very, very specific: it is for residential/agricultural use, and that would have the connotations that it would be subject to the agricultural land use policy as is in place by this NDP government. It would also lead me to conclude, as it would any logical individual, that this NDP government has broken its own rules by moving this individual to the head of the line, allowing this individual to acquire agricultural land under terms and conditions that are not available to any other Yukoner.
This NDP government, Mr. Chair, has broken its own rules, on two occasions.
Now, what is it going to take for the minister to recognize that he's broken his own rules? And will the minister consider dealing with this land disposition in a forthright manner? Put the parcel of land back into the pot and have a draw. There are other individuals who have tried to acquire this piece of land for agricultural purposes. Their application was not even accepted by this government in the last case. The government refused to accept it, saying it wasn't available. Yet, in the next breath, this NDP government, and I'm sure it was done on political direction, Mr. Chair, writes a letter to the Hot Spring Road residents saying, "We're going to provide this piece of land for residential/agricultural purposes."
This minister has broken his own rules. This minister has avoided the question, and I would ask him to reconsider his position, once again, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, not only is the Member for Klondike insulting me, but the Member for Klondike is insulting the departmental people now.
Was this done under political direction? Yes, Mr. Chair, absolutely it was. We had taken the initiative, as I had said earlier, that we would like to move forward with the waterfront development in conjunction with the other levels of government, and that's exactly what we did. That is where it stopped. We had worked then, and I instructed the department, based on the principles that were developed, to go out and to work with the people.
So to insinuate that the author of this letter was doing something that was particular to me coming down and saying, hey, go and do this - is not only an insult to me, but it's an insult to the department, and it disgusts me, is actually what it does. It absolutely disgusts me.
The letter that the member is speaking of I have in front of me, and I really thank the Member for Klondike for reading it into the record. I would direct the Member for Klondike to go to the third paragraph, one, two, three, four lines up from the bottom, where it starts with, "for residential/agricultural use."
Now, oh my God, things have lined up. We've got agreement between the two of us. Let's see if we can build on that agreement now. There is a scene, there is a glimmer of hope that we can find us agreeing on one thing.
So let's see if we can put a little bit of spring sunshine and April rain to that, and make it flourish and grow like the flowers on the desk. Let's see if we can do that, because it's not often that we get agreement.
So, if it's for residential and agricultural use, as I have just read now to the Member for Klondike, as to the permitted uses, what does it say?
It says, yes, that underneath the principal uses it is for agricultural uses. So if you look at that, in the letter that the member so elegantly quoted from, it says, "Residential/agricultural use". So again, I think we've got agreement. Now, that's one step to agreement, and now we're one further step to agreement.
Now, does it say anywhere in here about residential uses? Well, by gosh, just look at that. Under accessory uses, what does it say? You can have a single family dwelling.
So, Mr. Chair, I would suggest that the Member for Klondike is absolutely wrong. And if I can put a caveat to that I would say, "Again." Again, the Member for Klondike is absolutely wrong.
So, Mr. Chair, we are not breaking the rules. We are working within the rules. We are working with people, and will continue to work with people.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, the minister is carefully attempting to avoid the question, but the obvious is before him. This land on the Hot Springs Road is being offered for residential agricultural use. I would refer the minister to any of the current land use applications and what can take place under those agreements for sale.
Under those agreements for sale, residential agriculture is permitted. They can't subdivide, and they have to retain it for a certain number of years. But that reads exactly the same way - the agreements for sale for agricultural land - as what this letter states.
So, really, what we are talking about is a piece of agricultural property.
A piece of land is being disposed of and conveniently transferred from within the various departments so it's not subject to the whims and wants of the government. The minister is probably finding a way to move it around appropriately. But, the bottom line, Mr. Chair, is that the minister has broken his own rules. He's broken his own departmental rules.
Could the minister kindly table a blank copy of the agreement for sale for this parcel of land and, at the same time, could he table this agreement for sale for this residential-agricultural lot, Lot 1247 on the Hot Springs Road, without the name of the individual on it? Can the minister table a copy of that agreement for sale, as well as a current agreement for sale for agricultural land?
What the minister will find is they're both one and the same, Mr. Chair - or they should be, unless measures are being taken to amend the current agreement for sale for Lot 1247 on the Hot Springs Road.
The issue before us is a very, very important issue. Number one, Whitehorse waterfront squatters are being moved to the head of the line, and, number two, they are being given land tenure without having to adhere to all of the Department of Renewable Resources agricultural land use policies.
That comes through abundantly clear, Mr. Chair. So, this minister has broken his own rules in two cases. Why is the minister breaking his own rules? Why is this NDP government breaking its own rules?
He talks about fairness. Well, he might just be focusing on the Whitehorse waterfront residents, but what about fairness to and equal treatment of all Yukoners?
Would the minister kindly agree to table a copy of the agreement for sale for Lot 1247 on the Hot Springs Road, and a current agreement for sale for agricultural land? Could the minister agree to provide those by way of legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly. I thank the Member for Klondike for that waltz around the floor one more time.
Yes, Mr. Chair, I will table blank copies of an agreement for sale. An agreement for sale for the parcel in question on the Hot Springs Road does not exist at this point in time because, certainly, we haven't concluded the deal, but, when applicable, oh, absolutely - absolutely - we'll table them for the Member for Klondike.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, we're starting to make a little bit of progress, Mr. Chair, and I'd like to encourage the minister to keep up the spirit of cooperation.
I have another request of the minister. Will he consider cancelling the arrangements that he's currently negotiating for the acquisition of this lot on the Hot Springs Road, and dispose of it in the normal manner in which agricultural land is disposed of, through a lottery? Because I'm sure there's interest in that lot other than what the minister is expressing.
And would the minister encourage the Whitehorse waterfront squatters to go through due process? They've received a generous buyout of their assets on the Whitehorse waterfront. Now, will the minister encourage them to go through due process in the acquisition of land here in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, there are two questions in there, and I'll answer the latter first: "Would the minister follow due process?" We are following the process, I would suggest. I think what we have here is philosophies in collision, because we set up a process called the waterfront relocation program, so we are following the process. We're following the principles that have evolved and that are entailed in the process at this point in time for solving them.
So, will we follow the process? You betcha. You bet your booties we'll follow the process, because that's what we're doing.
Now, I think the member might be mixing his McIntosh apples up with his Spartan apples, because, you know, they probably both do have different fibre contents, but they're both apples.
You heard the Minister of Renewable Resources speak about one program. Well, I'm speaking about another, and I can again reiterate that the regulations were developed between 1994 and 1996, and they were developed with the people from the Hot Springs Road. The terms and conditions will apply to the individual. Those are consistent with the terms and conditions that apply to all the agricultural land folks on the Hot Springs Road.
Now, I'm going to quote this: "This regulation was not done as an initiative of the agriculture policy. It is something that is quite separate and was done as a result of planning/zoning development through the C&TS underneath the authority of the Lands Act."
Now, in the Hansard, the member will be able to look at that quote and take the Spartans and the McIntoshes and make sense out of them.
Hopefully, that's what the member will do, because I suggest, Mr. Chair, that yes, we are following the process. There's going to be an agreement for sale. The individuals who are affected are going to live up to the rules, as they have said. One of my department officials, who is working with great diligence, and likely under great stress, coming from this debate, is quite right when they put in their letters that it is going to be residential/agricultural use. Because I did read into the record now what the permitted uses are - the principal uses and the accessory uses - and certainly, Mr. Chair, it falls within.
So yes, Mr. Chair, to the one question, we are going to follow process, and no, no, Mr. Chair, I'm not going to back away from this, because this is following process; it's working with people; it's conforming to the land, as it's been zoned. The people are desirous of moving onto the land and starting a fresh life, or a new life - it's not for me to say whether it's fresh or new. They're going to live in a new dwelling. They're certainly giving up something for what they're doing there, but it's a two-way street, Mr. Chair, and we'll continue to work on it on that basis.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister stands up and says he is following due process, and then he advises the House that he set up a special process to deal with the Whitehorse waterfront relocation. So we have a special process that he set up for that purpose.
Then he hides behind this veil, saying he's going to follow process.
It doesn't matter what other rules and regulations are in place, Mr. Chair. It doesn't matter what other Yukoners feel about it. I'm sure that there are many, many Yukoners who would like to be in this special process to acquire agricultural land in the Yukon through this special process the minister has set up for this purpose. In order to get involved in this process, is that all one has to do - go down and squat on the Whitehorse waterfront? Is that what the minister's suggesting? It appears likely. It appears reasonable by the minister's standards, Mr. Chair.
Because that's exactly what this minister has done. He says, "I am following process." But when you dig through all of the muddle of rhetoric that the minister provides, what we find is that the minister has set up a special process that he's following.
Now, is that right, Mr. Chair? Is that fair to all Yukoners? I don't think so. Many, many Yukoners out there do not think so either, Mr. Chair. I once again encourage this minister to reconsider his position of offering this parcel of land without following due process for its sale to a Whitehorse waterfront squatter.
If someone on the Whitehorse waterfront wishes to relocate to an agricultural, or a country residential lot, there is a procedure in place to accommodate land acquisition. The minister will stand up next and say, "But they're special. We've asked them to relocate, and we're going to take every step we can to relocate them, at virtually no cost to them." They've been well-compensated through the pricing principles, Mr. Chair, some almost to the tune of $100,000.
We're looking at almost $1 million in line items the last two fiscal periods for this program, Mr. Chair, as well as countless time for the minister and his officials.
What's the downside, Mr. Chair, of disposing of this lot on the Hot Springs Road through due process - putting it in the lottery and letting all Yukoners have an opportunity to bid on it? What's the downside of that scenario? Can the minister advise the House why he's not willing to entertain that proposition?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I guess I should start by saying that the member doesn't listen because, certainly, if the member would - well, I guess what I'm trying to say is that the member has stated some of my words. Now, did the member believe the words that he has read? No, no, no. But at least he's listening and, again, I think with April showers we might get a little better here, we might be able to flower together.
What's the downside? Well, before I get into what the downside is, let me go back to what the member said in his passionate appeal to me to encourage the minister to change his position. I'll take it right back to what I said last night, last evening, this afternoon earlier. We have philosophies in conflict. Philosophies in conflict, that's what we have. Is it going to change? No. There are processes for that, and they're coming up in awhile, definitely coming up.
So, I would encourage the Member for Klondike to change his position, to take more of a global look at the Yukon community. The youth who are coming, the workers that we have here, the elderly people in the Yukon Territory - all cannot get along without one or the other. It's called community; it's called family. I guess it's called family and then it's called community, because that's how it arrives.
I would encourage the Member for Klondike to look at it in that light because, you know, the Member for Klondike was not a legislator at the time we were working in the Klondike Valley. I think he might have been the mayor, at the time, of the City of Dawson. So, he was involved but, by gosh, I had to do a little bit of research here because I can't quite recall that far back. I was doing a little bit of different stuff at the time, but working within the process.
Was there any yip-yap in the paper over this, I wonder, as there is now? I don't know. I think it's now because the member is in a different station of life, I guess you might say, so he feels it's much to his benefit - his political benefit - to talk the way he's been talking.
Well, I suggest that maybe we should take a deep, hard look into our souls and encourage each other to make politics the politics of what you have in your soul - not to be separate, but to bring the two to entwine together so that we might have a better community called the Yukon. I think it's possible.
With 30,000 people in the Yukon Territory, I think it's very possible that we can do that and I would suggest to the member, as he considers changing his position to the global-territorial outlook, that he might come to his senses. If he does, I'll certainly be the first one in line to sell him a party membership.
I think that that's where it lies. It lies not within me changing my position, or you changing your position - or, Mr. Chair, pardon me, the other fellow changing his position. I think it lies in politics, and I think it lies in definitely a class of philosophies, but I, as a representative of this government and the head of the department, will continue to encourage people to work within - and I'm putting it out again - the waterfront residents relocation program.
So, no, I cannot stray from that, not at all.
Let's talk about what the upside is. By garry, the upside outweighs the downside by far, by a millennium, that's how much, because we're working with people, we're creating a better social fabric, people are getting along together, or attempting to, until politics interferes with it.
So, if we're having people come together in their social development, to me that's an upside.
As they vacate the waterfront and they free up the land, there's an economic generation called economic growth. I would say that's a plus side. So, if we have a social-plus side and an economic-plus side, I don't even see where there is a downside. I don't even see that there is a downside. As a matter of fact, there is not a downside, not at all.
Now, I see the member is going to be reading from propaganda there, as I speak. Well, I know that he's an avid reader of the Blues, so I know that he will get this.
So, I would encourage the member to mull it over. I didn't quite know what he meant when he said "muddle," but I'll say that the member should not make hasty decisions - not hasty decisions at all. He should mull it over, and I would encourage the Member for Klondike and his party, the official opposition, to change their position, to look at what we're doing within the big picture, to look at what the waterfront residents are giving up, to look at what we are as a Yukon community again.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the minister is skirting all around the issue, and he still has not addressed the question before him. That issue is the equal and fair treatment of not just the Whitehorse waterfront residents but all Yukoners, Mr. Chair. He's missed the boat completely.
Mr. Chair, we're spending a great deal of money cleaning up the Whitehorse waterfront. Could the minister advise the House what the intended use of the land will be after it's brought back to its natural condition and all the individuals residing there have moved off it? What is the intended use of that parcel of land?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the intended use certainly does not lie within the jurisdiction of this government, as the member well knows.
Mr. Jenkins: Is this land not Commissioner's land, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, I do realize where the Member for Klondike is coming from. I welcome him to come from that angle. No, it is not Commissioner's land, but certainly, within 100 feet of the high watermark, we have responsibility.
Mr. Jenkins: So it's federal Crown land to the 30-metre setback from the river. Beyond that, who currently has land tenure?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the majority of the land is the city's land.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Well, what has precipitated the arrangement with the City of Whitehorse to remove the Whitehorse waterfront squatters? There must be some plan down the road that I'm sure we'd like to be privy to that's costing just about $1 million, plus untold time of the Department of Community and Transportation Services.
What's the ultimate disposition, or what's going on here, Mr. Chair? Could the minister apprise the House?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, it gives me pleasure to speak about what this government is doing for the economic growth of the community of the Yukon, of which the waterfront is a vital component.
Certainly the member knows that the city is going through an exercise right now of planning, of which the waterfront is a major part.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, there has to be some ultimate arrangement that has been discussed between the City of Whitehorse and this government in order for the government to take up the challenge and initiate the relocation of individuals from that area. Now, what is that initiative? What's driving this program, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: In cooperation with the City of Whitehorse, Mr. Chair, for the benefit of all the people in the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, what's the ultimate benefit that the people of the Yukon Territory are going to see from this land becoming vacant - Commissioner's land, in many respects, and federal Crown land right to the river? What are the ultimate benefits that are going to accrue to Yukon people?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It would be economic growth and quality of life.
Mr. Jenkins: I'd like the minister, Mr. Chair, to be a little more specific and elaborate on how this is going to evolve.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It will evolve with the partnership of the governments that are applicable.
Mr. Jenkins: And what is the timeline for this evolution between the governments involved, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, sooner is better.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, either the minister is very naïve or he doesn't know and he's been given political direction as to this is what he must do. Now, what is the case?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Neither of what the Member for Klondike is insinuating, Mr. Chair. It's nice to see now - well, not nice to see, but it's good to recognize that it's time for the insults to come out, but I will not stoop that low.
Certainly, Mr. Chair, we are going to work in cooperation with the respective governments where we have to, and we're going to work for the ultimate good of the community, both in a social fabric and within economic growth.
Mr. Jenkins: Ultimately, there must be some sort of a plan somewhere for this parcel of land as to its ultimate intended use, and I'm sure the minister must be privy to that game plan.
I'd just like the minister to put on the record what that plan is.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The opportunity we have here as the waterfront residents vacate the waterfront is one of cooperation with the city. Certainly the city has their own processes to go through. I am not going to delve into explaining the city's process. Surely, the Member for Klondike can talk to the city or get one of his officials or his researchers to do that work for him.
Ultimately, we like to respect the jurisdiction of other governments and will continue to respect the jurisdiction of other governments. We will continue to work with them in a forthright, respectable manner. That has always been our game plan.
Why are we doing it? We're doing it for the economic and social growth of the Yukon Territory to bring the community of the Yukon Territory together. The ultimate benefit will be for all Yukoners.
Is there a specific plan that I have just waiting to blow some dust off in the back of my cupboard, dresser, bookcase? Nope, I don't have one of them, because I'm a New Democrat. I'm a New Democrat and we don't have ulterior motives or any other type of motive. The only motive I have here is to work with the people so that we might take the opportunity to move forward for the betterment of the Yukon people, both socially and economically.
Do I have a game plan? No, but I have a definite desire to work with people and I think that's what it takes.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, the House has a right to know what purpose we are pursuing with respect to this expenditure. By the time everything is all said and done, Mr. Chair, this government has clearly identified a sum approaching $1 million to date in the last two budgets. In addition to that, there is all of the in-house time and effort expended by the department on this initiative. Yet, the minister will not share with the House and Yukoners why this government is spending $1 million in this area.
That's all I'm asking. Will the minister kindly share with the House the purpose of clearing the squatters off this land and rehabilitating this parcel of land?
Yukoners have a right to know, Mr. Chair. We are talking about an expenditure that probably, when it's all said and done, will be well in excess of a million dollars. Now, it's a very legitimate question of the minister. What is the intended purpose of this parcel of land, after we've spent the money on it and reclaimed it?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, I can agree with the Member for Klondike, Mr. Chair, that the House has a right. Absolutely, and never would I hide anything from the House. The Member for Klondike does not wish to listen to the explanation, but I'd like the people of the Yukon Territory to take assurance that I have nothing to hide, this government has nothing to hide, but we have every obligation to move forward for the ultimate social and economic benefit of the community of the Yukon.
The member asks: what is the plan? Well, the plan is to work with the other governments involved. That is absolutely the plan. I do not have a plan in my back pocket to take out, blow off and to say, this is what we're going to do. No. But we have a desire and the willingness on the part of the City of Whitehorse to go through an exercise to talk to people - of which they are doing now, which the Member for Klondike is well apprised of. He knows what they're doing; he's just asking questions in the House, which is absolutely typical.
What we're doing it for is that the socio-economic side of things, as we clean this up, will show sensitivity to the needs of those being relocated - very important to us - and will support the waterfront planning project.
"We'll support the waterfront planning project." Who are the major beneficiaries? Well, the major beneficiaries are the Yukon public, the community of the Yukon. That's who the beneficiaries are. So, am I doing it for a hidden political agenda? No. Am I doing it for any other reason than to move forward with economics? No. Social development? No. I'm doing it, and we're doing it as a government, so that we might be able to move forward in the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, the only reason that governments will spend the sums of money that they are doing in this case is, number one, they have a legal requirement to do so. That's not the case in this matter. Number two, there's an environmental issue that must be addressed. That's not the issue. What this Legislature is being asked to approve is about $600,000 on this occasion, about $200,000 on a previous occasion, and the minister won't tell the House why we are cleaning up this land. What is the eventual intended purpose for this parcel of land?
Now, it would lead me to conclude, if the minister doesn't know, that he's just acting on directions from someone, probably the Government Leader or someone else, or there is something there that he's not aware of, and he's very politically naïve - but I can't believe that of this minister.
Now, can the minister just tell the House what the eventual intended purpose of this parcel of land will be? What will it eventually be used for, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, I must start off by thanking the Member for Klondike for stating quite categorically that I'm not politically naïve. I very much thank the Member for Klondike for that, because, certainly, I do believe that through my politics - but my politics are more close to my soul; more close to what I want people to see and to do and to be for people. That's actually why I ran to be a part of this government, because I knew that that's what this government would represent. That's not what the previous government represented, but that's what this government represents.
The member has spoke; well, the House has a right, yes. I've cleared that up with the member, and we'll talk about this till the cows come home and till the ravens fly off. Either one - it's not going to happen in the near future. He said, "Is there a legal requirement?" Well. He said, "Is there an environmental requirement?" No.
But you know what? We are elected to govern. We are elected to stimulate economic growth, to help bring the social fabric tighter and closer to our hearts as a community. That's reflected in a moral obligation. So certainly the Member for Klondike never spoke about that at all. But certainly that is incumbent upon this government that we must do that.
Why are we doing this? Now, again, I want to reiterate that we're doing it to work in conjunction with our partners - our partner being the City of Whitehorse in this case. And they are going to continue to do the good work that they have been doing on the waterfront, and I say God bless them and Godspeed. Because certainly it is something that is needed here in the Yukon Territory.
What might - and this is purely hypothetical - what might happen and evolve out of there is any number of things. Any number of things, from business development to anything that reflects community development. Any of those initiatives might take place.
Is that characterized in a plan that I have hidden in the background? Nope, not at all. Not at all.
I would like to quote from a letter that I received from the City of Whitehorse. It's signed by the Mayor of Whitehorse and it's dated March 29: "On behalf of council, let me again express our appreciation for your efforts in returning the waterfront to the public, and we look forward to continuing to work with your department to a successful completion."
Well, that means a lot to me, Mr. Chair. It means a lot to me when I receive a letter like that from the city mayor and the council on behalf of the constituents they represent, saying that they again express their appreciation for our efforts in returning the waterfront to the public and that they look forward to continuing to work with the department to a successful completion. I guess that means that we're on the right track. I think the only one who doesn't think we're on the right track is the Member for Klondike.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, without the information of what the eventual use of that parcel of land will be, it's very hard to make a determination as to whether this minister is on the right track or not. And, since the wheels fell off his cart, I'm not sure that he has the ability to drive down the track.
So, let's look at it in its proper light. Let's go through with simple, yes-and-no questions.
Will this be returned to park or green space - yes or no?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, if the member wants a rousing game of snakes and ladders after this is over, I'll try to accommodate the member but, certainly, this is not a yes-or-no situation. I will not be dragged down the garden path of yes or no. What we are doing, Mr. Chair, is continuing to work with the City of Whitehorse for the meaningful development of the waterfront planning process for the benefit of all Yukoners.
Mr. Jenkins: Will this parcel of land be provided to one of the First Nations in the Whitehorse area in the settlement of land claims in this area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: That is a question best taken up with the minister responsible for land claims.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, it doesn't appear that we're going to get anywhere with questioning the minister in this area but we have it in Hansard, on the record, Mr. Chair, that the minister is just very, very evasive in all his answers and responses.
I have another area we could explore with the minister that he's probably much more familiar with and would have a greater understanding of, given the nature of his answers in the House in the last few days.
Has the department priced out what effect the new draft solid waste regulations are going to have on the garbage dumps in and around the Yukon? Now, this should be an easy question for the minister, given his answers of the last few days. He should be right up to speed in this area.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It just took me a few moments to get the appropriate material together.
The member was asking a question on the solid waste and the costs that there would be. I can say that the O&M expenses would be increased to about $250,000 per year, and that's currently over the sum of about $94,000 a year.
Mr. Jenkins: Has the minister looked down the road, especially given the no-burn requirement that appears to be coming into place if the draft solid waste regulations are accepted? Has he looked down the road? Because one would read that to conclude that with no burning, instead of achieving our intended goals of reducing waste in our sanitary landfills by 50 percent, we'd be increasing it by almost 90 percent with a no-burn policy - this no burn and this policy of constantly covering once a week. Has someone in the department looked at more than for one year in this area, because it appears to be something that is going to escalate very much in cost in the next few years for not just the Government of the Yukon but for any municipality or city that operates a landfill site.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, these thoughts are being pursued within the department. We do realize that it is going to be expensive, but it seems to be what the people of the Yukon would like to have. We do have to look at the capital side of improvements over the next five years. We're working on figures at this point in time. They're not solid figures, but they're figures that are evolving. We could end up spending an additional, approximately, over the next five years, $1.8 million on our dumps, should the non-burning process be put into place. Now, as these figures come about, I guess the greater challenge for us, as a government, is how do we implement these over the next five years, or the next few years, or whatever the case may be, so that we can mitigate the impact - the impact on ourselves, on the municipalities? That is a greater challenge that we have - find ways to mitigate the impact, but still live up to the desire of the Yukon people.
So, it becomes just a bit more complex. There are other ways. I mean, there are transfer stations; there are regional landfills; there are recycling initiatives that could come into play here, so there's certainly lots that has to be thought about, and will be thought about, because we're very desirous of mitigating the costs and to make them so that they're not too extraordinary, they're not over and above what they should be.
So certainly, as we work with people and the respective governments that are implicated, we will have to find ways.
Mr. Jenkins: Let me ask the minister this. Does the minister's advice from his department buy into the no-burn regulation that is being suggested in the draft regulations? Do the minister and his officials buy in? Do they accept that we shouldn't be burning in our landfill sites?
The information I have is that if we stop burning, we're going to increase by 90 percent the amount of material going into our landfill sites, and there are a lot of other areas that are thrown into limbo because what is being suggested is that the landfill sites won't accept brush or cut trees and older building products that have been scrapped. They will not accept those into the landfill sites. Well, where are they going to go, Mr. Chair?
Let's focus on the issue, because I see these draft solid waste regulations as being extremely one sided, from the environmentalist side of the government, and I think they're not addressing the totality of the situation.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I don't know where the Member for Klondike gets his figures. Certainly, the consultation has just been completed, I believe, by Renewable Resources, which was the lead department, along with C&TS. It was completed at the end of March, I do believe.
So, certainly, the issues have not come to Cabinet yet. They will be coming soon, through the process.
Then Cabinet will deliberate and ask questions, and at that time make decisions. And I think the decisions will be made on what we're saying. Now, the Member for Klondike has asked me, "Does the department buy in and does the minister buy in?"
Well, certainly that's not the process. I can tell you my personal feelings, but this is not about my personal feelings. This is based on consultation done by the Department of Renewable Resources and we will reflect in our decisions what the greater public good is and directs us to do.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, thank you, Mr. Chair. Virtually all of the landfill sites in the Yukon - in fact, virtually all of those operated by the Government of the Yukon - are designed for trench-and-burn operations. It's an accepted fact that burning will reduce by 90 percent the contents of a landfill site.
Now, I hear what the minister is saying, that he's budgeting an increase of over 100 percent in their O&M costs - an additional $1.5 million a year in capital costs over a certain number of years. Knowing the growth in the cost of maintaining landfill sites throughout the Yukon by the municipalities, that doesn't even come close to addressing the Government of Yukon's responsibilities in this regard, especially given the conditions in the draft regulations that you have to cover once a week. So we're going to be filling the trenches up at a much more rapid pace if we do not burn and we are required to fill.
Just how much thought has gone into the review from the government's side? Have actual figures been prepared by Community and Transportation officials to cost out what the O&M will be, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, very roughly, I can say and I can reiterate, as I did earlier, the O&M could increase to approximately $250,000 a year from what we're spending now, and I think I said it is approximately $94,000 that is being spent now.
So, we are doing some rough work. It's just rough figures at this point in time. I'd like to take it back to what the Member for Klondike has said and that is that they are draft regulations that haven't come to Cabinet. The consultation has just been concluded by the Minister of Renewable Resources and his crew, along with C&TS. So, we will be making a deliberation over the next little while, I guess, as a caucus and as a Cabinet to make decisions and to deliberate on this.
Certainly, I hope the figures that I have provided are adequate. Again, we're looking at rough figures to be approximately $250,000.
Mr. Jenkins: I looked at this quite extensively, Mr. Chair, and I couldn't find a justification. Given the number of dumps that the Government of Yukon has in operation and is responsible for, I calculated out a considerable increase over that.
Now, there is one clause where the government could exempt itself and that is that these draft regulations do not apply to landfill sites on federal land or those operated by the federal government. Now, is that how we're going to get out of imposing a lot of these regulations on ourselves, Mr. Chair, or are all the Government of Yukon operated dumps on Commissioner's land?
I'm given to understand that the majority of them are on federal Crown land. Now, is that the way that we circumvent our own rules, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I'm somewhat appalled. I mean, it's a purely hypothetical scenario that's been evolved upon by the Member for Klondike, and then to insinuate that we'd be looking for a way out, based on what the people say. That's not the way I work, it's not the way we work. They're draft plans, at this point in time, and we must find ways to work within the direction of the people of the Yukon Territory.
Again, I reiterate that - it's the 8th today, I believe. I mean, it's just a little over a week since this has concluded. The process has not concluded, by far, but I can definitely say that we're not looking for ways out. As a matter of fact, that's the type of attitude that absolutely disgusts me.
We should not be looking for ways out, but we should be looking for ways to make things work. That's what this government's all about.
Mr. Jenkins: Then why would dumps on federal Crown land, or operated by the federal government, be exempt from the provisions of these regulations - the solid waste regulations?
I know that that's more of a question for the minister responsible for that area.
Mr. Chair, given that virtually all the dumps - the landfill sites - operated by Community and Transportation Services are on federal Crown land, is it the department's view that they are exempt from these proposed regulations?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, it's not the department's obligation or responsibility to impose their view. I mean, we've spoken to the people of the Yukon Territory. We're going to continue to work under the direction that the people of the Yukon Territory have given us through the consultation process.
I suggest that the member is speaking of a hypothetical situation at this point in time, and I would remind the member that the devolution process is certainly to be considered within this scenario. The Member for Klondike knows where the situation in devolution is with us. So, again, I would just like to reiterate that the department does technical work for us under the direction of the deputy minister who works with me, and will continue to, on this project.
Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, let's not hide behind devolution, because the way devolution is going today, the Government of the Yukon would be just the caretaker of federal Crown lands. We'd be just administering their wishes in most respects.
I guess my question, Mr. Chair, is this: can the minister confirm that the majority of the dumps operated by the Government of the Yukon are on federal Crown land? Can the minister just confirm that?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes.
Mr. Jenkins: Now, we're getting to the crux. One of the clauses in the solid waste regulations is that the federal government facilities or those on federal lands are exempt from the solid waste regulations. Is that why the O&M of the department with respect to these facilities would not be increasing to the extent that it is with other municipalities?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, I would urge the minister to go back to his department and ask them to review what their costs will ultimately be, because I don't buy into their costs increasing by just over 100 percent. I think anyone who has had any exposure and any experience in the operation of a sanitary landfill would concur that, with these new draft solid waste regulations, we are going to see probably an eight- to 10-fold increase in the costs of operating our landfill sites here in the Yukon.
Now, I can buy into making no burns of some of the landfill sites adjacent to some of the rural areas like Mount Lorne and out by Marsh Lake, which have had a great deal of difficulty with burning, but it's very, very hard to police and it's very, very hard to administer a dump unless there's a full-time individual stationed there.
If we go to the extent of just locking the gate after having it open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for three or four or five days a week, the repercussions of that are also horrendous, Mr. Chair, because most of the people will end up hauling their garbage into Whitehorse and disposing it of it in the containers along the highway. So you put an added burden on Whitehorse or on your municipalities when you do that.
All of these areas are well-known to the department officials, Mr. Chair, and on the numbers that the minister has presented in this House, I don't think anyone who would be aware of the cost of operating landfill sites would buy into just that small of an increase.
We originally had a program in place where we were going to reduce the amount in our landfill sites by some 50 percent. Could the minister advise just how accurate this position is with respect to the dump operated by the Government of the Yukon? Have we achieved that level of reduction?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, I know that the Member for Klondike is one heck of a G-man. I mean, he's been in there for awhile, so he knows all about the garbage dumps and whatnot.
I would like to say that the member finds it hard to believe the dollars. Well, no, no - those are a preliminary rough draft. I'm going to continue to work with the department, and the department's going to continue to work with us, so that we might be able to come up with realistic numbers.
I must say that this is a bit premature, but we aren't working now. I mean, the consultation's just finished. The target of 50 percent, I think, which the Member for Klondike is speaking about, Mr. Chair, is the three-R - reduce, reuse, and recycle - initiative, and I've been lead to believe that in the rural communities, it is not working quite as well as within the greater community of Whitehorse.
But certainly those are figures that I would have to check out, but I do believe that they're getting close, but I don't know exactly what the figures are. I'd have to check with the city.
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair. If the minister could provide that information by way of legislative return, I'd certainly appreciate it. Can the minister undertake to do so, please?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: The recycling program is certainly a Renewable Resources program, but I will work with the Minister of Renewable Resources to get the information, certainly.
Mr. Jenkins: The minister, as he gets more involved with his department, will soon learn that sewage and garbage are very fast escalating cost centres, and they will continue to rise. Unless one is fully conversant with all aspects of these two areas, the costs will run away very, very quickly for the department. I would urge the minister to attempt to get a handle on it, because our original intention, here in the Yukon, was to reduce the amount of garbage going into our landfill sites by 50 percent, and we were to achieve that through the three-R program. Just having a cursory monitoring of it done, we have come nowhere close to 50 percent. In fact, in many cases, we've actually increased the amount of material going into our landfill sites.
So I would urge the minister to give careful consideration to that area.
Let's look at another area that we dealt with, the Motor Vehicles Act. There were quite a number of amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act in the last session. Very few of the regulations have been brought down, or have been imposed.
Just where is the department at in respect to the regulations - vehicle impoundment, all of the National Safety Code provisions? A lot of these areas we moved out of the Motor Vehicles Act, and a lot of them are being dealt with by the board now.
Are they fully implemented as of this date, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, I can provide for the respected members the brochure that is out. We have the brochure that says, "Kiss it good-bye" with a picture now of the vehicle impounded and it says, "The tough vehicle impoundment laws are now in effect."
Mr. Jenkins: What I asked the minister was, are all the regulations now in place for all the amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act? What areas are in place and what areas are not in place?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, the vehicle impoundment laws are now in effect; for instance, with the graduated drivers' licences. We've committed to talking to the youth. We're looking to have that concluded by the end of the school year, as I said previously in the House, in June. Certainly, we're living up to the obligations that we have under the Motor Vehicles Act and we'll continue to do so.
On the National Safety Code regulations, the department is just about to begin consulting with the trucking and busing industry.
Mr. Jenkins: There has been a review of the Motor Transport Act and a number of changes are being proposed in that area. Just what is anticipated that we cover off there? Is the Yukon going to come in step with the rest of Canada, or are we going to be out of step with the rest of Canada and North America in some respects?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the member asked a specific question. I'm going to catch up. We've just concluded some consultation with the industry. We have not yet had a chance to get deeply into it with the department, but it's certainly the next step into the initiative. So, after that - we've finished consultation - we'll sit down with the department and have a chat about it at the Cabinet table, and we'll make decisions at that point in time. But no, at this point in time, we've just finished the consultation. We have not made a direction or decision as of yet.
Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, are we going to buy into the deregulation of motor coaches and buses and the LTL trucking industry?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, I can reiterate for the member opposite again that yes, it is a specific question regarding scheduled bus services. There are tour bus services. There are charter bus tours services. There is trucking. The member knows that. A decision has not been made at this point in time, but certainly the consultation is finished, and we're just receiving some paper from the department now. When it has been discussed at the appropriate levels, I will immediately turn it over to the official opposition and to the critic from the third party.
Mr. Jenkins: On that initiative, Mr. Chair, on the deregulation of motor transport, the buses and LTL trucking, I would urge the minister and his officials to give serious consideration to maintaining the status quo, given the seasonality of a lot of the operations. What we'll have is just an influx of new carriers for several months in the summer and then they'll be gone. In order to maintain a lot of these services year-round, if we maintain regulations, which I know will be out of sync with the rest of Canada, it might prove to be the most beneficial for Yukoners, and I would urge the minister to give some consideration to maintaining the status quo in that area.
With respect to some changes in the commercial class drivers in North America, I'd like to thank the minister and his officials for exploring the area that you no longer have to carry an additional medical fitness card with you when operating Yukon-licensed vehicles in the U.S. That is a very good initiative, but there are quite a number of areas where Canada is still out of step with the U.S. with respect to medical certification, hearing levels, levels of hearing impairment, levels of vision impairment, and several others - epilepsy and insulin-using diabetics.
Does the minister envision a time when we will be in step and have one uniform medical for North America? We're moving in that direction and we're moving quite quickly as of recently, but there are still a number of areas where we are out of step.
When does the minister feel that we would be fully implemented in that and have a uniform standard for medical fitness?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Mr. Chair, the deputy tells me that the federal government is working with the United States. As to the time frame, it's going to take quite some time, but I'll try to provide a more accurate time frame, if I may.
Chair: Do members wish to recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Ten minutes.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee is dealing with the Department of Community and Transportation Services. Is there further general debate?
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, we were talking, prior to the break, about the change in regulations for the Motor Vehicle Act. One of the sets of regulations that needs to come into effect so that that amendment has some impact on us is the development of regulations around graduated licensing. Now, the minister in the past has talked about how he will have the consultation done by the end of this year, and when I've looked back in the Blues, he's been very clear that that's the end of the school year, which means June of this year. But I have had some conversations with people at the high schools here in Whitehorse, and there doesn't seem to be a lot of consultation going on.
Time is marching on here, and what are we doing with that, and what opportunity are youth who are going to be most affected, obviously, by the graduated licensing regulations being given in order to be part of the consultation process?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, the Member for Riverdale South is correct. It hasn't gone out yet, so none of the high schools have got it, but we're looking to distribute the package to the youth of the Yukon through the schools, and we're looking to do that later in this month of April. Of course, the member realizes that it's not just simply youth - it's first-time drivers, but it's predominantly the youth, so that's the focus.
We are going to be going out and chatting with them, mid to late April, and concluding by the end of the school year.
Mrs. Edelman: As the minister is aware, high school students, in particular, are usually finished their academic year early in the month of June. The consultation process - what are we talking about? Are we talking about giving them a package, and then actually expecting that they're going to be giving this information back to us in written form, at a time when they're obviously busy with their academic pursuits, or are we talking about going out and having one-to-one conversations with the youth at the high schools - also, I imagine the high schools in the other parts of the Yukon, as well?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Yes, Mr. Chair, we will be distributing the packages within the time frame I said. We are asking the youth to comment in written form and of course we're going to make ourselves available to the high schools. Certainly, I would ask two things. It's going to be done in written form. We're going to leave the package there and they're going to comment to us. We're going to touch into the high schools in the Whitehorse area and talk to them on a one-on-one basis, and we're going to make ourselves available to the community schools if so requested.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I think that, for example up in Dawson City and down in Watson Lake, it makes sense to go into those communities because they have particular concerns around graduated licensing that are different than they are here in the larger centre of Whitehorse.
Is the minister saying they are waiting for an invitation from those places in order to consult?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I thank the member for her concern and direction. Certainly, we want to do a bang-up, crackerjack job of consultation so that we would let the youth - the first-time drivers - know that we're very concerned about them coming back home, so we must take it upon ourselves to do a bang-up job on the consultation with the schools.
The Member for Riverdale South's point is a good point because some of them are going to be involved with their academic studies. It has just been pointed out by an educator of sorts and a legislator of merit that there is a time frame with the Watson Lake and Dawson high schools because they both close at the end of May, so we've got to make a special effort to get their opinions, and we will.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, the Member for Porter Creek South, my colleague in the third party, has recently been in contact with the high school up in Porter Creek and the concern that has been raised with her is that the grade 11s and grade 12s are the only groups who are going to be consulted, and indeed, most of those students already have their licences, so it's not going to impact them much at all. Are we talking about grade 8 and up, or are we only talking about consulting with the grade 11s and grade 12s?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, Mr. Chair, we're going to consult with high school students. It's kind of ironic - well, not ironic, it happened. I was walking through the entrance in the parking lot here the other day, and two young gentlemen, and I don't think those young gentlemen - well, they did say they were born in 1985, I think - asked me a question, "Will I be able to drive when I'm 16?" So I had to sit down and explain it to them.
So there is concern among the high school ranks, and certainly I want to not direct the high schools as to what we're going to do, I want to listen to them, and I want them to listen to the department and to find a mutual way, because it is for the benefit of family, of the Yukon. I've lost a brother myself to a vehicle accident, and I don't wish that terror on anybody else. And that's the type of thing that we're going to be taking to the schools so that they understand it.
But no, it's going to be high school students.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, that makes an awful lot of sense.
There are youth out there who aren't in the regular school system for a variety of reasons. And there are a lot of parents who also have considerable concerns - as great a concern, I think, as the youth that this most affects. I think that - well, we've had a number of calls from parents, specifically, who have concerns about this issue. It's great to go into the high school and give a piece of information to a high school student, which in all likelihood will never get back to the parent, but I'm wondering about what sort of information the department is going to be giving out to parents and to the public in general about the fact that they're doing this consultation on graduated licensing and getting the information about what graduated licensing could look like - not only to the youth, obviously, but to the parents and to the general public.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair, the package will be made available here at the government building and, for that matter, from the department, for anybody who wishes to comment on it. This is such a vital and critical thing for the safety of first-time drivers.
And I guess we should stop saying "youth," because it is not really youth, but it does affect the youth not only more, but it is for first-time drivers. We want them to come home, and I want the parents and everybody in the family who wants information to certainly have access to that information.
The Member for Riverdale South raises a good point regarding the children who are not within the education system or are within the alternative placement system. So, for the ones who do not receive a formal education at school but certainly receive an education at home - through the mail or the treatment centres - we must make it available, and we will make it available. So, I anticipate that there will be newspaper advertisements and that type of thing as a matter of course, that would say that this is available, these are some of what the implications are, and this is what we want to hear.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, we're talking about fairly tight timelines. This has been left for awhile, and we're talking about implementing regulations in January of 2000, and I know that the government is very interested in hearing a variety of opinions on graduated licensing and how it might look for us as Yukoners.
I wonder if the minister could take a constructive suggestion. Because of the tight timelines and the importance of the consultation process, I wonder if the department would consider doing some of the least-expensive advertising, perhaps on rolling ads within the City of Whitehorse. There are rolling ads in all of the communities. There is also newspaper advertising for a minimal rate on the less expensive days. And if they would put them into places where youth would see them, and that is on bulletin boards, putting posters up on the bulletin boards in high schools and in various other places where they often go - the billiards hall in all the communities. That's where you're going to find youth, in just about every one of them.
I think that it makes sense for us to make a bit of an effort here for public awareness of the fact that this consultation is taking place, and how people can get their input into this process. I wonder if the minister would consider some sort of campaign to say that this consultation is going on.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I think it is a very constructive suggestion, as the member said. I'll even go as far as to see if I can get my colleague to my right here to wear a sandwich board, because he's greatly involved, and he loves that type of stuff.
But no, certainly, I will definitely consider it, but I would like to reiterate that we have consulted on this to the greater public, and now the next step is to -
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Oh, a couple of years ago. It was done when this was brought up. This was one of the issues, and I will provide the information, though. I will just put in a backdrop here, and the backdrop does say that we have consulted. That's where we got the direction. I can't quite remember the percentage, but I'd say it was 89 percent, if I can remember correctly. It was a very high percentage that wanted the graduated drivers' licensing, and now the concern among first-time drivers, especially the youth, is, "Will I be able to get my driver's licence? What are the implications of it?" And certainly, that's what we want to talk to them about, and to get their buy-in. Definitely I want their buy-in, so yes, constructive direction, and well worth the merit to consider.
Mrs. Edelman: I hope that there is some sort of advertising that goes on along with this consultation process. I know that the direct-mail consultation that went on was very successful regarding what changes we need, as Yukoners, to the Motor Vehicles Act.
Some of those other changes that were suggested haven't been implemented yet. The minister has talked about a multi-year plan for amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act. What other amendments are going to be considered for this fall's legislative sitting?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Let me try and clear that up a little bit, if I may. There is no planned legislation for the Motor Vehicles Act coming this fall, but certainly the regulation process is going to be continuing, so we'll definitely be able to keep the member informed as to that process and what it means through the regulation process.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, one of the issues that comes up, not only in the Yukon but in other places, and I'm looking at the National Post here, which I'm being told by the Member for Whitehorse West, who would probably know, is a right-wing party paper, and it talks about "Alberta mulls cellphone restrictions". "It's a driver's concern". Every one of us has seen somebody driving down the road with one hand on the steering wheel, talking into their cellphone, and wondering if they are going to be able to shift and what happens if somebody darts out in front of them, and how much attention are they really paying to what they should be doing, which is driving. I think some of us have probably even used cellphones in our own vehicles, so that we're aware of just what a risk that is.
I wonder, are we looking at this as there's going to be some sort of regulation that we're developing around cellphone use in motor vehicles when they're being operated?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: No, Mr. Chair. I can say that to the best of my knowledge. I was looking at that approximately three or four months ago, and that wasn't part of it. Not at all, but certainly it could be considered. I'd like to see that. There are a lot of people in the Yukon Territory who would just love the ability to drive down the road with a phone. They'd just love that ability. So, in some cases, it's not even applicable, because we don't have access to the phones. But I certainly hear where the Member for Riverdale South is coming from and I'll certainly talk it over with the department to find out the mood, et cetera, and how we might best approach it, if I can put it that way.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I think that I'm going to presume from the minister's comments that he is aware that this can be an issue, and not just talking on a phone but trying to dial out or do other things on the phone while you should be paying attention to driving. So, what I'll do is leave that for another day and hope that at some point the minister thinks about that when he is the Minister of Community and Transportation Services.
The other issue is the issue of road bans. There has been a lot of concern raised by the business community that we have road bans for no particular reason and that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that there should be road bans because 75 percent of the front axle doesn't really affect the way our roads survive under the large vehicles.
Now, I know that for some businesses in particular, they are finding they aren't able to transport the goods that they'd like to in a timely manner on the vehicles that they traditionally use, and they have been considering applying for rebates because they don't believe that there is any scientific evidence to back up the idea of a road ban and it's drastically affecting their businesses.
Now, is the government considering giving rebates on licences? One company I'm thinking of has spent $3,600 this year on licences for five trucks and they haven't been able to use those trucks. It has affected their business. Is the department willing to look at rebates?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I think, Mr. Chair, it's a much deeper issue than rebates. I have just been chatting with the department within the last couple of days and the issue has come up. It's come up from two businesses - one a rural business and one a business within the City of Whitehorse.
And both depend upon the transportation of their product to other areas. But there is evidence that road bans are very beneficial to the protection of the roadbed, especially the BST that is put onto the surface to protect the bed and to give a better quality road, and a better ride.
There is scientific evidence that it does harm the roadbed, so I do believe that it is good, and I'd be more than willing to provide a technical briefing for both the opposition parties, or provide information, if the opposition parties would prefer. We have worked with the trucking associations on this, and members of the trucking association are supportive of this.
Maybe what we could do - we could look at it - to do an advertisement more ahead of the time. But that's difficult - as I say, that's difficult - because the road ban is put into place from the weather conditions, so again, I'll have to look into my crystal ball, and say on April 7, 1999 or 2000, that this is going to happen.
But we try to give a minimum of a week's notice - okay, since this year, we're allowed to have a two-day notice by regulation, but we gave four. And we'll try and stretch that as much as we can, but again, it's very much dependent upon the weather conditions.
But certainly I can provide the information to the member opposite on the evidence that we have that it does affect the character of the road, and I will provide that to the member opposite.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, speaking personally, I'd be more than willing to have a briefing from the minister's department, but I would also like to be provided the information, the scientific evidence that the minister says is out there.
I also am a little leery about the fact that businesses don't feel that they're being treated well by the government on this particular issue.
I'm wondering what the government can do to help deal with that point. Has the minister considered talking to some of the businesses in town about road bans - maybe going to a Chamber of Commerce meeting or talking to the Yukon Transportation Association about this issue, or doing a mail-out on road bans with some of the scientific information?
It's a very widely held belief, and if that's not the case and that it's not the information that the department is using to make decisions, then people have a right to know what sort of information is being used and whether it's valid or not - obviously it is valid because the department is still using it - and they have a right to know why these decisions are being made, because they affect their businesses and they affect their livelihood and the food that they put on the table.
If the minister is willing at all to do a little bit of communication back and forth, I think it would only be helpful. But that also talks about two-way communication. Like, we can't just go out and say that this is the way it is. There has to be some willingness to hear what businesses are saying to us as well.
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, there are some good constructive suggestions regarding the communication flow, but I'd like to step back in time and say that we did consult with the Yukon Transportation Association. They are aware, and I do believe they are supportive, somewhat, of the condition. It's not a concern with them, but maybe some of the independent people that are affected by it - you know, such as the retail lumber industry, the folks that are out there right now trying to harvest the trees to get them in before their time expires - I want to talk to them.
If the department has concerns, they can call Mr. John Cormie at 667-5155, and he would be more than willing to put forth the evidence that we have, and we can make available any of the evidence because, certainly, I do believe that it is for the benefit of the road. We have a wonderful transportation system here in the Yukon Territory and I want to keep it in that shape, definitely. But then, again, I definitely want a buy-in, so if it's a matter of information, we're very willing to share that information, and we should and would and will look for ways to share that information - 667-5155.
Mrs. Edelman: One of the other issues we were discussing prior to the break was the issue of the agricultural land disposition on the Hot Springs Road.
I'm wondering if the minister can give me more of a visual explanation of this particular parcel. It's my understanding that the parcel that is going to the Shipyards resident is in the very centre of a very large agricultural piece of land that was zoned agricultural under the community development plan in that area, and I'm wondering how that affects that parcel. Are we talking about subdividing that parcel out into a number of different pieces, and then it's going to be coming up for future agricultural land disposition? What is the plan for the larger parcel?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, the proposed parcel is not in the middle of it. It's on one end. It would be, I guess, on the extreme west end, and it's six hectares.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, are there any plans to subdivide the larger piece of agricultural land? It's a very large parcel. The Shipyard resident's lot is at one end. Is there going to be an opportunity for people to buy, or in some way acquire, the remaining agricultural piece of land in that area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: It's a proposed six-hectare site, which leaves 20.5 hectares. I will talk to the Minister of Renewable Resources, who is so attentively following this debate, to find out when and if the rest of the land would be and could be let.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, I'd like to receive that information as soon as possible.
The concern that I have - and one that the Yukon Liberal caucus has - is that this goes beyond NIMBY. We actually had a meeting this morning and this is one of the issues that came up.
When I was at the City of Whitehorse, I went to a Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in Vancouver, where I met then, by the way, Mayor Gordon Campbell. At the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting, they have a series of workshops and you get a real opportunity to network with people from all over Canada and talk about the issues that you have in common, and, you know, they are pretty basic. There is water, sewer, garbage, fire protection.
Then you talk about people and how they feel about land. One of the workshops was called NIMBY - not in my backyard. So, I went to the workshop and it was filled to the rafters because there isn't a municipality anywhere that doesn't deal with the issue of NIMBY. It's something that you get used to when you're working at the municipal level.
And there was one way that seems to work with the issue. People don't want any change, period. We sort of had to grasp that idea first - people don't want change, in general. And they don't particularly want change that affects them.
So what you do to try to combat the NIMBY syndrome is two things: first of all, you have a very long consultation process, and you don't go out and tell people the way things are going to be; you listen to what they have to say, and you make sure that they feel that they have been heard.
And the second way to combat NIMBY is to treat people fairly and consistently. In this case, that didn't happen. The Shipyard residents were given preference on that land out on the Hot Springs Road, and that was not the best way to deal with this issue, so it created a not-in-my-backyard syndrome. It created the problem.
The Yukon Liberal caucus feels that people should be treated fairly and consistently, particularly in the land acquisition process.
So that being in mind, perhaps if the government of Yukon had come up with a cash package for everybody, we probably would be fighting about the amount of the package, but at least we would have decided that everybody had been treated fairly. But in this case they weren't. That is the Yukon Liberal caucus position on this particular issue, and it makes infinite common sense. You can't treat some people one way, and somebody else another, because you will get the problem - and that's NIMBY.
The issue of the community plan for that area, the minister said that there was a consultation that went on in 1994-95, I believe. When did the community plan actually come into effect for that area?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: We do believe that it was set in regulation in 1996, the official community plan - the regulation, I beg your pardon. It was set into place in 1996.
Just a few words, regarding the Liberal Party caucus position on NIMBY. I, too, have been around the political spectrum for quite some time, and I, too, understand the issue of NIMBY. It doesn't just necessarily arise in municipalities. It arises in quite a few places, because people do want to protect and preserve their lifestyles, and I know it takes quite some time to talk with people, and to make them feel heard.
Certainly, that's what I'm very desirous of doing. I want to hear people, I want to listen to people and, at the same time, communication is a two-way street. You have to have the broader vision, the greater vision, and I think that's what I represent. To treat people fairly and consistently, well, yes, I think that's absolutely a must, and I think that's what we're doing, but again, I don't know if this is so much a NIMBY principle of the waterfront resident going to the Hot Springs Road. I don't think it's a NIMBY, because it is already zoned. The people have gone through and said that. It's a bump to the front of the line, yes, but then I think I've explained, or I've certainly attempted to explain, what they're giving up, what they hope to aspire to, and what the vision between the respective governments that are involved is. So, I take somewhat exception to say that it's not fair and consistent and, you know, that's again a matter of political differences, philosophical differences, et cetera.
And I guess we can go through this again and again and again, but I would ask that we all try to work together, and that is certainly how I try to work with people - on a fair basis and a consistent basis and to absolutely listen. I think that, if anything, that's one of my strengths, and we have to be able to have that strength as a government caucus and as a government. It has to be reflected through the bureaucracy, and I do believe that it is getting there.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, the other issue that I guess I haven't been clear on about our party's position is the fact that we very much believe in the development of the waterfront in the City of Whitehorse. In my short two terms on city council for the City of Whitehorse, we developed two waterfront plans, and I think there were about six prior to that that were developed, and I think there have been three since I left city council. Plainly, people want to see it developed. Everybody has their own different point of view about, you know, what it should look like, but it's something that we have got to move forward with. The minister is absolutely correct. This is a great economic opportunity for the people of the Yukon. That's also the most valuable land in the Yukon.
It makes sense that we do something with it in one way or another.
The other issue that we talked about prior to the break was the issue of the changes in solid waste regulations.
I've asked the minister this before and I didn't really hear a response that addressed this question. It's my understanding that most of the municipalities in the Yukon right now are saying no to the end of burning by the year 2004. Initially, they didn't seem to have a lot of problems with it, but now their position is very negative. That's not every municipality but the majority of Yukon municipalities are now saying that they cannot afford to go to a no-burn by the year 2004.
What happens with that? Is the minister going to pay attention to the fact that municipalities can't afford it, that they're saying no, and what impact is that going to have on the decision-making process?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: I spoke earlier regarding the implementation of the solid waste regulations. Just to reiterate it a little bit, this has financial implications to the Government of the Yukon, as well as it has financial implications to the municipalities. It's in its early stages now. I've said that it's going to take some time to implement. It's certainly the direction of the people that we will follow as we evolve through the consultation process, which as I said has just finished, so we've got to factor in what it is. The Cabinet is going to be having a look at it, I assume, and we will be working with the direction that has been given to us through that consultation.
I've said that we have to be creative and we have to do it in partnership with the municipalities, because it certainly affects them as it does affect us, and we're going to try to be as creative as we can. So, I'm certainly willing to work with the municipalities to find ways that we can mitigate it.
Now, I know that we can go to any municipality and say, "If you have a dump, no burning. It's going to be X amount of dollars," and we can pull a figure. We can say $100,000 or we could say $50,000, whatever.
You know, by jeepers and by golly, if somebody did that to me, it'd scare the tar out of me, but it's a hypothetical type of a figure. So we have to get more closely related to the actual cost, and that's what the department is doing. Now, the Member for Klondike says that he doesn't believe the figures. Well, you know, I don't think that he was calling me a fibber - at least I hope he wasn't calling me a fibber. That's not the way I took it, but maybe he had some other motive, because he has been a mayor.
So, those are the types of things that I listen to, and I want to work with, so I'm going to be doing this. We are going to be making a decision on it, and the decision is going to be made so that we'll find ways to mitigate the impact. It might take some time to do it, and it might take some creativeness, but, certainly with me, as a representative of the government, and the department as the representative of the department, we're all very desirous of working to mitigate the impact.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, it sounds like the decision has already been made to go to a no-burn by the year 2004.
Has that decision been made? Has the Government of the Yukon decided that we will go to a no-burn by the year 2004? Is that decision cast in stone?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Like the minister said, it's out for public review, and we're compiling that information. That was one thing that we wanted the public to have a discussion on. So, there's no decision made on that until we get that feedback from the department and have a look at it as Cabinet, and, at that time, we can make a decision, but not until then.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, one of the other issues that I brought up with the minister previously was the issue of recycling. Now, some are dumps and some are landfills; of course, there is a vast difference - some of them are sanitary landfills and others are just landfills. But, the biggest problem all landfills have is paper. Paper makes up a very, very big portion of the waste that goes into all of those facilities that we use to get rid of solid waste, and in particular, cardboard.
Now, some municipalities and rural areas have already taken it upon themselves to start sorting so that they do have large areas of their landfills or whatever for cardboard and that is great, but the cardboard sits there nicely clean, duly sorted, piled and the municipality can't do anything with it because it costs so much to bring it to Whitehorse and then farther to the southern markets. What is the government doing to help with that issue around recycling, particularly in the rural areas?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Well, certainly, Mr. Chair, we must work quite closely with the Department of Renewable Resources. I cannot answer for the Department of Renewable Resources but I do know that the minister is eagerly anticipating the debate here within the next month, so certainly I think that would be the right time to bring it up.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, this is one of those areas where we cross between Renewable Resources and C&TS. Regardless, the municipalities get the money to operate their landfill sites from the Department of Community and Transportation Services. Their input on this issue came through Community and Transportation Services, and they were assured by Community and Transportation Services that this would be one of the things that C&TS would help them deal with - in particular, recyclables within their dumps.
What is the Department of Community and Transportation Services doing now to help municipalities deal with their cardboard, deal with their paper, deal with their other recyclables, but most specifically, cardboard, in their landfill sites.
I'm thinking of Dawson City for example. What is C&TS doing?
Hon. Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Chair. With regard to cardboard itself, I don't know what it's like in bigger places, but those with the recycling centres, those materials that are not refunded and people are just voluntarily bringing them back, every time a truckload goes to Whitehorse, they throw that on top of it too, with that load. So it's mostly a voluntary thing with the communities.
Mrs. Edelman: Mr. Chair, that's lovely for those that do it voluntarily, but one of the greatest costs that municipalities have is waste disposal, and it doesn't matter whether it's sewer or the garbage. Dealing with this in sort of an ad hoc, haphazard fashion is not going to help municipalities deal with solid waste, and if we're going to be bringing in a no-burn by the year 2004 - or even contemplating it - you have to make sure that municipalities know that that's a possibility. This bit where somebody throws a can on the top of the truck when it's coming into Whitehorse is not going to help municipalities plan for the future. They need figures. They need to know that there is a plan in place, and they need to know what the government can do for them to help make those regulations work, and you cannot consult with municipalities without facts. They live in a balanced-budget world. They can't do what the territorial government does, which is to go into deficit positions. They have to balance the books at the end of the year. Most of them have reserves, which they are very fortunate to have. However, municipalities are very lean in administration. They live very, very close to their actual cost, and they have to because they have only had a very minimal increase in their block funding in the past 12 years, and they have reduced their staff in some municipalities by over one third. The ratio of municipal staff to citizens is considerably large. You have a large number of citizens to every municipal staff person. You don't have a lot of room for error.
Municipalities have to plan very, very well in advance. They can't talk about landfills or anything to do with these new regulations without an awful lot of information.
They have to know that the Community and Transportation Services department is willing to help them deal with this issue. All I've heard from the minister and I've heard from the Department of Renewable Resources is that this is something we're doing in a haphazard fashion. That doesn't help the bottom line when it comes to municipalities and it doesn't help dealing with the issue of solid waste.
Sure, C&TS is only going to be affected by $250,000. That's chicken-feed compared to what the budget of the City of Whitehorse is going to be over the next decade to get rid of solid waste - our waste.
Mr. Chair, I wonder if the minister could get back to me on our next sitting day to talk about some of the efforts that C&TS is making to deal with municipalities and landfill and recycling?
Hon. Mr. Keenan: Certainly, Mr. Chair. Before I report progress, I'd like to answer the question because we're looking for many different ways and, as I said, I'm going to work with the municipalities. I'm going to continue to work with the municipalities to mitigate the impact. I'm going to share what I can share with them. I'm going to definitely do that.
This government certainly believes in the strength of communities and I think that was, again, reiterated by this government today when I tabled Bill No. 72, An Act to Amend the Municipal Finance and Community Grants Act.
I think that the member, being a former city councillor, will be quite happy with that act, because it's certainly going to allow ultimate, ultimate flexibility to the municipalities. No, again, we're going to continue to work with them to find ways.
Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress.
Motion agreed to
Mr. Fentie: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. McRobb: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 14, First Appropriation Act, 1999-2000, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn. Are you prepared for the question?
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 5:28 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled April 8, 1999:
Department of Education 1997-98 Annual Report (Moorcroft)
Oil and gas strategy (Yukon): draft for public comment (dated spring 1999) (Harding)
The following Legislative Return was tabled April 8, 1999:
Relocation costs related to the ADM, land claims secretariat: within government policy (McDonald)
Oral, Hansard, p. 4314