Whitehorse , Yukon
Thursday, April 20, 2006 - 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Withdrawal of motions
Speaker: The Chair wishes to inform the House that Motions No. 619 and No. 620, standing in the name of the Member for Klondike , have been removed from the Order Paper as they are out of date.
We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of Earth Day
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Earth Day. On Saturday, April 22, there will be celebrations for Earth Day in many places around this planet, and in many cases the celebrations and events are organized at the grassroots level.
Whether you are in Indonesia , Ukraine, England or here in Canada, you will find an activity related to Earth Day - so, too, it is true here in Yukon . Events will include guided hikes and a look at the community Earth Day map with the Yukon Conservation Society. Here in Yukon , as you know, an emphasis has been taken a step further with Biodiversity Awareness Month and the Celebration of Swans, National Wildlife Week and, of course, this includes Earth Day itself.
Since assuming the Environment portfolio, I have met with the department's fish and wildlife branch and its staff to obtain their advice directly on what we can do to enhance and support their invaluable work here in the Yukon. I've had representation from the Yukon Fish and Game Association and the Yukon Outfitters Association and indeed First Nation governments on the need to extend additional financial support to the field studies and operations carried out by the Department of Environment.
I have directed officials in that regard to prepare the details on how we can improve, enhance and expand our annual wildlife survey population and work therein, so we have timely and accurate information here in the territory. We need the information so that resource managers can make informed recommendations and so decision makers, who must look at all the aspects of resource management, have the tools necessary. This information is also important to help us determine whether we have a healthy wildlife population or whether we need to start plans for species or populations that might be considered at risk.
Officials have been asked to come back with a five-year plan so that we can improve our research and management capabilities. This government also recognizes the importance of educating our children about the value of Yukon's biodiversity, and in that regard the department has developed a board game in conjunction with the Department of Education involving teacher and student focus groups to help teach our elementary school students the importance of our land and our wildlife.
These are examples of the steps we are taking to help everyone understand and appreciate Yukon 's biodiversity to celebrate Earth Day.
Mrs. Peter: I rise today on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to Earth Day. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, people around the world have sought to celebrate the planet through a variety of individual and community activities, but Earth Day, which is this Saturday, is about more than observing the beauty and vitality of Nature. It is about renewing our commitment to saving our living planet before we reach the tipping point and “the slow creep of environmental decay gives way to sudden and self-perpetuating collapse” as a Time magazine article recently put it in a cover story on climate change.
Of the 20 hottest years on record, 19 occurred in the 1980s or later, and last year was one of the hottest in more than a century.
But global climate change is not the only problem facing our planet. It's suffering from several threats simultaneously, such as overpopulation, pollution and ecological destruction and fragmentation. It's not a pretty picture and all the pretty words that people keep repeating year after year - during Earth Day for example - will not do a thing to reverse the destruction and degradation. What's really needed is a dramatic shift in how we think about our home, our planet. We need to get over the idea that this earth is here for us to exploit as fast as possible and start living in greater harmony with the planet and all its creatures.
First Nations talk about our Mother Earth. This is a good way to refer to her as she is one who gives us life and nurtures us. We need to rethink our relationship with our Mother Earth. We need to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We need to stop dumping toxins into our water and on our land. We need to leave lighter footprints. In short, we need to stop living like there is no tomorrow, or there literally will be no tomorrow for our future generations if we don't change our ways and do that soon.
Mr. McRobb: I am pleased to also rise to pay tribute to Earth Day and Earth Month. April 22, Earth Day, is the largest, most celebrated environmental event worldwide. More than six million Canadians join 500 million people in more than 180 countries in staging events and projects to address local environmental issues and celebrating the importance of our planet's natural systems. The goal of Earth Day Network for 2006 is to hold 10,000 climate change events worldwide. Earth Day 2006 will launch a sustained three-year campaign to educate consumers, corporations and governments worldwide on the urgent need to take concrete steps to climate change now, before it's too late.
There are so many events organized in April that the entire month has grown into Earth Month. Here in the Yukon we have had many wonderful celebrations and events to honour our many diverse ecosystems, where wildlife and nature abound and, in fact, are intrinsic to our very culture. It is critical to the future of Canada 's ecosystems to educate our young people about wild plants and animals and their role in our environment.
I would like to recognize all Yukoners, especially school-children who are participating in Earth Day events. Virtually every school child takes part in an Earth Day event. It is an important date on the school activities calendar each year. With young people reminding us to care for the earth, there is hope for the future. This is a time to acknowledge the dedication and hard work that Yukoners involved in environmental organizations in this territory contribute every day. Many events will be happening in communities throughout the Yukon this month.
The Yukon Conservation Society will be holding Earth Day events and celebrations from their location at 302 Hawkins Street in Whitehorse from noon to 5:00 p.m. each day, with guided hikes in early afternoon, a barbecue and potluck with entertainment later in the day.
Another YCS event created with help from Yukoners is an Earth Day community mapping collage known as “Mapping the soul of the Yukon”. All Yukoners are encouraged to be responsible citizens and respect our fragile environment. Let us pay tribute to our planet, work hard to achieve local solutions to improving the ailing state of the world's environment and become better stewards of our land.
Please join in the celebration of Earth Day - get involved.
In recognition of Live Words Writers Festival and Young Authors Conference
Hon. Mr. Lang: It gives me great pleasure to rise today to recognize the 16th annual Yukon Writers Festival, known as Live Words. Each year, this successful event brings Yukon people together with local and visiting writers to celebrate the joys of Canadian writing and reading.
This year's festival will again be exciting and interesting for all the participants. It kicked off yesterday evening with an opening reception MC'd by Yukon 's poet Al Pope. Readings by five of the guest authors were received by an enthusiastic audience. Yukon's own Barb Dunlop is part of the lineup for this year.
I would like to welcome six other Canadian authors to our territory. They are Michael Crummey, Jay Ruzesky, Lawrence Hill, Colleen Murphy, Karsten Heuer and Graeme Gibson.
The excitement will continue for the next week as Yukoners exchange ideas, skills and stories with these acclaimed Canadian writers. The Yukon public and Yukon writers are encouraged to participate in reading, workshops, book signings and receptions.
I would also like to emphasize that this is a Yukon-wide festival with events taking place in Haines Junction, Watson Lake , Teslin, Tagish and Dawson City, as well as here in Whitehorse.
Yukon has abundant literary talent. It is part of our history and it is events such as the Live Words Writers Festival that encourage Yukon writers to work hard and to pursue national and international literary success.
Mr. Speaker, I am particularly pleased to say that the 27th Yukon Young Authors Conference is taking place today and tomorrow at F.H. Collins High School. This event includes almost 100 grade 8 to 12 students from schools throughout the Yukon and northern British Columbia.
The students work closely with the guest authors to develop their craft through workshops, readings and discussion groups. For our young writers, this is expected to be an intense but wonderful opportunity to write and be coached by Canadian experts.
Mr. Speaker, events like these only happen with support from many community groups and businesses. I would like to thank all our partners and sponsors who have collaborated over the years to ensure the success of this conference and, of course, the festival. Thanks to the public library branch, public school branch, Nakai Theatre, the Yukon Science Institute and the Yukon News for organizing this very important event.
Many local businesses have generously contributed to the festival;, in particular, Mac's Fireweed Books, the Westmark Whitehorse and Air North. Their support is greatly appreciated.
Financial support from this government, as well as from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Writers' Union of Canada and the Playwrights Guild of Canada, has made it possible to bring writers from across Canada to Yukon.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to give special acknowledgement and thanks to our Yukon volunteers. It is their love of the written and spoken word and their hard work that will ensure that this year's events are successful.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind Yukoners that the festival events are free or a nominal charge. Program information is available through the local media and from the public library branch.
Thank you, and I invite all Yukoners to enjoy the festival.
Mr. Cardiff: I rise today to pay tribute to the Yukon Writers Festival and the Young Authors Conference, which runs from April 19 to 30. Six Canadian writers from as far away as St. John's, Newfoundland, are converging in Whitehorse this week and next to share their love of the written word with Yukoners. These writers are widely known for their novels, their poems, plays and works of non-fiction. We are lucky to get them as they are in much demand.
While they are here, they will be taking part in public readings, lectures, workshops in Whitehorse , as well as Dawson City, Haines Junction, Teslin, Tagish and Watson Lake .
This year the festival is actually running for two weeks, which is different from previous years, so it is obviously getting better and better every year. As well, the visiting writers are spending today and tomorrow at the Young Authors Conference at F.H. Collins where they are sharing their knowledge and insights with some of Yukon 's best young, aspiring writers. These events are excellent, and many people deserve a lot of credit for making them happen year after year, because organizing an event like this takes much energy and much enthusiasm.
I must also mention the many government and corporate sponsors - the minister mentioned them all - who help make this event possible every year. Without them, there would be no Yukon Writers Festival or Young Authors Conference. Thanks to all those individuals and sponsors.
I'd like to mention one other thing. I understand that the writer-in-residence program at the Whitehorse Public Library for visiting Canadian writers has not been happening for the past few years. That is too bad, because many established Canadian writers have spent several months in the territory each year. Not only did they do public readings, but they also coached aspiring Yukon writers on a regular basis - not just a two-week basis. Some of these writers have gone on to publish their own books. The minister mentioned one person. I can think of a few others - Peter Steele and Al Pope have both gone on to publish their own books. The Yukon Writers Festival began yesterday at the Beringia Centre, but there are many more readings, workshops and lectures. I would encourage everyone to take part in the activities - come and see some of Canada's and the Yukon's best writers, and share their love of the printed word.
Ms. Duncan: I rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to join with my colleagues in paying tribute to the Yukon Writers Festival and the Young Authors Conference.
In 1990, a number of organizations joined together to blend the Young Authors Conference and the national book festival into the far-reaching Yukon Writers Festival. This year, 2006, is the 27th anniversary of the Young Authors Conference and the 16th anniversary of the Yukon Writers Festival.
Student participation in the Young Authors Conference has always been entirely voluntary. Those who wish to join the two-day festival submit, in writing, to a school-appointed selection committee. There are only a fixed number of seats available and the selection committee chooses students for the conference based upon the quality of their writing.
The 27th annual Yukon Young Authors Conference, as my colleagues have noted, takes place today and tomorrow at F.H. Collins High School here in Whitehorse . The conference is open to students from grades 8 to 12, from all schools in the Yukon, and my colleague, the leader of the Liberal Party, has noted that his son has also participated in this particular conference.
The main focus of the conference, as has been noted, is to give aspiring student writers, from all Yukon communities, the chance to work with professional writers. My colleagues have noted in the Legislature today our thanks to our visiting writers, our own local, very talented writers, as well as the corporate sponsors and Government of Yukon sponsorship of this event. We would also like to join in giving our thanks to all those who have contributed voluntarily and monetarily to this event.
I note also that it blends very nicely into the fact that most elementary schools throughout the Yukon are also celebrating Reading Week, beginning this week and carrying on into the next - an opportunity to examine the efforts of the writers who are visiting as well as the Young Authors Conference.
We encourage all students and Yukoners to participate in this particular event and again offer our best wishes to all those participating, to those who will attend, and thank you again for your sponsorship and volunteer participation in this event.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: We have many Carcross citizens in the gallery to witness my tribute. Therefore, I believe it is appropriate to introduce them at this time. I ask members to join me in welcoming elder Lucy Wren; Andy Carvill, the Grand Chief of Council of Yukon First Nations from the Carcross-Tagish First Nation; clan leaders Darla Lindstrom, Albert James and George Sheppard; elder Norman James; Lucy's daughter Colleen, and also the community education liaison coordinator and Lucy's son, James.
Also in the gallery are principal Brian Shanihan and students Jade McCloud, Jacob Smith, Julia Smith, Ayla Smith, Roberta Wally, Nicole Welin, Anthony Harder and Brandon Gold. Welcome also to Winnie Atlin, elder in the school, and Linda Augustine, education assistant from the school.
We are honoured to have everyone here today. If there is anyone from the respective clans that I have missed, I also welcome you and thank you for coming.
In recognition of Lucy Wren
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I rise in the House today to recognize a very special individual who has made a significant contribution to education in the Yukon . This government is deeply honoured to recognize the integral role that Carcross-Tagish First Nation elder Lucy Wren has played in maintaining and enhancing current knowledge of the Tlingit and Tagish languages and cultures, both inside and outside of the classroom. Certainly, we are no stranger to her good work, as she was a long-time employee of the Carcross Community School.
Ms. Wren was in her mid-80s when she retired from her job as a First Nation language teacher at the Carcross Community School, and at 89, she continues her work in advancing First Nation language and culture.
On behalf of the Department of Education and the school staff and students in Carcross, I would like to thank Ms. Wren for all her hard work at the school. She has invested her time and energy to make the classroom a more culturally relevant and engaging place to learn. She was not only a great source of great wisdom in terms of First Nation languages and cultures, she was also a very important support within the school community.
Ms. Wren still spends time in the classroom, teaching students about her First Nation language and culture and, most recently, she played a key role in helping to create the First Voices digital language archives. Ms. Wren's participation in the First Voices project is a very special gift. Now those who want to learn to speak her language have her teaching available to them, wherever they are in the world.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to pay tribute to Ms. Lucy Wren for her dedication to lifelong learning, and I am also pleased to recognize her dedication through the re-naming of the Carcross Community School to Gh̀uch Tlâ Community School. The Government of Yukon is renaming the school in honour of elder Lucy Wren, Gh̀uch Tlâ, and Ms. Wren's Tlingit name, which translates into English as “wolf mother”. And I do hope I didn't damage that pronunciation too much.
I would like to note that the respect to rename the school was brought forward by school staff and the Carcross-Tagish First Nation due to Ms. Wren's significant contributions as an elder. The government fully supports the re-naming of the Carcross Community School to Gh̀uch Tlâ Community School, as we have much to thank Ms. Wren for, in terms of her contribution to our students' education.
A public renaming ceremony will take place in the spring of 2006. The date and time of the renaming ceremony will be announced in the local media and the public will be invited to attend.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I would ask the House to turn its attention to the gallery. As we all know, the ATCO Group of Companies, through its entity Yukon Electrical, has been a valued corporate citizen in our territory for over a century. It is a great honour today to introduce to this House the president of the ATCO Group, Nancy Southern; the managing director for utilities of the ATCO Group, Mr. Siegfried Kiefer; and the president of Yukon Electrical, Mr. Doug Tenney.
Please join me in extending a warm welcome to all.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: It is also a tremendous honour this afternoon to introduce to this House the newly appointed bishop for Whitehorse, Bishop Gary Gordon. Make welcome our new bishop.
In recognition of Law Day
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I rise today to pay tribute to Law Day in the Yukon . Law Day is the day on which we recognize the anniversary of the proclamation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Nationally, Law Day was celebrated by the Canadian Bar Association on April 6. Our local branch is celebrating with activities all this week - Law Week.
Our laws define the kind of society in which we wish to live. They govern how we live together as a peaceable community, where everyone has equal rights.
Law Day and Law Week give us an opportunity to learn about how the law and the whole legal system protect our rights under the law. This year's theme is “Access to justice”. Having laws is not enough to guarantee justice if not everyone has access to them. It is important that our legal system and legal professions work every day to make sure that everyone can have access to the law. Access is assured when people are well informed, the legal language is understandable and the legal process is easy and not intimidating.
In our 2005-06 operational plan, we state our intention to work toward a responsive and accessible justice system for Yukoners. We identified the priority of improving access to justice for Yukoners. Some of our recent initiatives supporting this priority are: increasing the value of claims that may be adjudicated by the Small Claims Court, improving information about family law, streamlining the process for support orders and introducing the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act.
The Small Claims Court until recently only dealt with claims up to $5,000. In the fall of 2005, amendments to the Small Claims Court Act raised the maximum claim to $25,000. This means that more claims can be heard in this less formal court where litigants can more easily represent themselves.
The result is that access to justice requires less expense and effort. Information about family law was improved by the production of six family law court procedure booklets that assist people with family issues to navigate the court system.
Parent education workshops have been offered to provide parents with information on the effects of separation and divorce on children.
There have been a number of community presentations on family justice issues, such as child support, maintenance enforcement and the office of the public guardian and trustee. The new Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act allows a faster process for support orders to be established, recognized and changed between Canadian jurisdictions. The new MEP line - maintenance enforcement program's automated telephone answering system - provides clients with password-protected information on the status of claims. The maintenance enforcement program now also operates a direct-deposit service that deposits payments directly into the client's bank account.
I'd like to thank the members of the legal profession who, in partnership with governments, strive to make the law understandable and accessible to the general public. Law Week activities are organized by local lawyers who also volunteer their time. I encourage everyone to take part in these activities.
Mr. Cardiff: I rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to Law Day. National Law Day is in recognition of the anniversary of the proclamation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Because of our Charter, all Canadians enjoy rights to equality under the law. We are given the right to freedom of religion, expression, association and peaceful assembly; democratic rights to vote; mobility rights; and the legal right to life, liberty and security of the person are also included.
We on this side of the House are proud to have been responsible for the Yukon human rights legislation that was passed in this House a number of years ago.
We also sometimes take our rights and freedoms for granted. We take this opportunity to remind ourselves of the very important legal underpinnings of our way of life. In these times of war and terrorism, excuses are being used to slowly erode the basis of our democracy. Our greatest defence of democracy is to make certain it is used and respected.
The theme of Law Day is “Access to justice”. Because most of us find the aspects of our legal system complex and difficult to understand, the Canadian Bar Association uses Law Day as an opportunity to educate the public. This is a week of events being sponsored by the Yukon Bar Association. There will be lunch seminars on legal issues important to employees and families. There will be a mock trial that will prove very entertaining as well as informative about court processes.
The week ends with the annual fun run and walk tomorrow at noon, and the money raised in the run and walk will be donated to the Youth of Today Society. We encourage everyone to take part in the activities celebrating the law and commemorating our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to join with other Members of the Legislative Assembly in tribute to Law Day.
On Law Day, we celebrate the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It also serves as a time for educating and informing the public about the role and the importance of the law and the justice system in people's lives. The public learn about the law, the legal profession and some of the legal institutions that form the cornerstones of our Canadian democracy. There are a number of events that take place in recognition of Law Day. My colleagues have mentioned many of them. The highlight is the 16th annual charity Law Day run/walk that takes place tomorrow, and that's April 21, and it departs from the law courts on Second Avenue. I would encourage Yukoners who are able to attend the fun run tomorrow as well as to participate in many of the other events celebrating Law Day and Law Week.
I would also like at this time to congratulate all members of the bar in Yukon and those volunteers and individual organizations who worked throughout the year and who organize and celebrate Law Day in the Yukon . And, Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the public and private sector sponsors of this event.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any other tributes?
Documents for tabling.
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Speaker, I have for tabling the crime prevention and victim services trust fund annual report of 2004-05.
Speaker: Are there any other documents for tabling or returns?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the writer-in-residence program at Whitehorse Public Library has been of tremendous benefit to aspiring Yukon writers interested in learning the craft of writing from established Canadian writers;
(2) the program has not operated in recent years because the Department of Community Services has not been able to match the funding provided by the Canada Council for the Arts; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to provide sufficient funding each year so that Yukon Public Libraries can resume offering the writer-in-residence program.
Mr. Mitchell: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to develop policies that will encourage the hiring of Yukon students who have received nursing degrees.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a ministerial statement?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re: Meadow Lakes Golf and Country Club, land development
Mr. Cardiff: Once again, a subdivision proposal on Crown land within the Whitehorse city limits is making headlines. The owners of the Meadow Lakes Golf and Country Club originally signed a lease with the territorial government for an adjacent parcel of land so they could add an extra nine holes. Now they want to tear that agreement up and build a residential subdivision on the land. We are going from a lease to a for-sale agreement. They are also asking the city to change its official community plan. This sounds pretty familiar, Mr. Speaker.
The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources has previously stated that he would write a comfort letter for anyone asking the city to make such a change. My question: did he do that in this case? If so, would he table any correspondence he has regarding this matter?
Hon. Mr. Lang: In answering the question - no, the individual, the corporation, has a lease on the land and is going through the process.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, Mr. Speaker, there was a lease, and now it is going to be an agreement for sale.
We certainly wouldn't want to suggest that friends of the government might be getting preferential treatment when it comes to developing public lands within the municipal boundaries.
Community land planning comes under a different minister but we understand why that minister has chosen to sit this one out, so let me follow up again with the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, who almost seems like the Yukon 's land tsar these days.
Not all the neighbours are very happy with this proposed change in this land use, going from a golf course to a residential subdivision. The minister lives quite close to the land in question. Has he taken a position on this proposal? Does he have any intention of doing so?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We all live close to the land in question. It's just a matter of how far you want to drive.
To malign the individual who is going through the process is a cardinal sin.
Mr. Cardiff: I wasn't maligning anybody; I was asking him a legitimate question of whether or not he planned to intervene.
The latest proposal is one of many issues regarding land development in the Whitehorse area. There's controversy in Porter Creek; there's controversy along the Mayo Road; there's controversy in the Fish Lake Road area; there's controversy in Mayo; there's controversy in Dawson; there's conflict on the Annie Lake Road and in other parts of my riding.
We have the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, who has publicly stated that mineral development can proceed at the same time as land use planning. He doesn't seem to understand the notion of planning first and acting later.
Will the minister now acknowledge the urgent need for a regional land use plan for the Whitehorse and surrounding area, or should we just accept the conflict and chaos that is a normal part of the land disposition and development system we have today?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I think in addressing the member opposite, the confusion is in the member's mind, not in the general public. There is a process. The process is being followed and the individuals are going forward. Land in the City of Whitehorse is being managed by the City of Whitehorse . We as the territorial government manage the land outside the municipalities.
Mr. Speaker, there have been 45,000 land transactions in the last 10 years. Mr. Speaker, we will not give out land or make decisions in this House. We have a department to do that.
Question re: Education reform
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Speaker, three years ago, the Minister of Education promised an education reform process that was to be the answer to all our problems in the education system. It finally got underway last August. The project team published a workplan that started in mid-October, in December they had an open house for their new office, and four months later we're still waiting to see some evidence of progress. Will the minister give us an update on what's happening with this project? Perhaps he would table the quarterly reports he is supposed to receive as part of this process.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The member opposite is correct in saying that this education reform process is underway. I could take under advisement the request from the member opposite.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Speaker, this minister's education reform is a $1.5-million project. It's one of three major consultations this government has started, all of them based on a similar structure. The Children's Act review lurched through two and a half years and is now in the hands of a working group in the hopes that it might solve its political headaches. The corrections consultation has produced a final report that we hope will be acted on very soon, since it says what we have all known for years.
We understand the education reform team has three position papers for discussion, but it is not clear who else besides the minister has even seen them. Will the minister provide the House with those three papers and tell us how they came about and how they will be used?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Rest assured I can give the member opposite some comfort in saying he's again correct. There are some discussion papers being developed and they are in draft form, and that's all they are at this point in time - discussion papers. I'm quite confident that, when these reports and papers become final, they'll be accessible to the public.
Mrs. Peter: We would like to have a look at the draft papers before they become final. The corrections consultation did its work - consulting with people, meeting on schedule and listening in the communities, at least twice. The education reform team's initial consultation with specific groups was to begin in October and end in February. Community consultations were to begin last month but they haven't started yet.
Education is a very serious issue with all communities and people are eager to speak about it. This minister says he's consulting, but the process he started won't be completed until 2008, at the earliest.
What is this minister doing to get this process back on track, or is education reform one more Yukon Party mess the next government will have to deal with?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Again I can provide some comfort to the member opposite by assuring that member that the education reform team has never been off-track. They know exactly where they are going, and all the work that is involved in this process is going to be extensive.
Part of the process is to review all the comments that were made during the Education Act reform by the previous government. There is an awful lot of documentation over the years with regard to education in the Yukon. There are several reports from different governments, from different organizations, about changes that need to take place in the Yukon with regard to education in order for all the self-governing First Nations to feel that they do have a voice - and this is going to be a process that everyone in the territory is going to benefit from. I believe it to be a very good process for creating a strong unity among everyone in the territory when it concerns education.
Question re: Kelowna accord implementation
Mr. Mitchell: The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is going to be in Whitehorse tomorrow. There are a number of issues that the Premier should raise with the minister on behalf of Yukoners, and the Kelowna accord tops the list. During the election campaign the Conservative candidate from Alberta, who is now the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration - Monte Solberg - said his party did not support the Kelowna accord and would not honour it. He in fact described it as being written on the back of a napkin.
Mr. Speaker, Yukoners and Yukon First Nations support the accord. They want to see the Conservatives fund this action plan. Will the Premier commit to raising this issue with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and to telling him that Yukoners expect the Government of Canada to implement the Kelowna accord?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, we are very pleased that the newly appointed minister of this very important department for the Yukon and the north is going to be attending the northern territories this week. He has already been to Nunavut and to the Northwest Territories and is arriving here in the Yukon this evening. We will have a full day tomorrow with the minister on a number of levels. There will be a bilateral meeting between the Yukon government and Minister Prentice. There will be a trilateral meeting among Minister Prentice, the Yukon government and First Nation governments, represented by the Council of Yukon First Nations. Of course, as it is his responsibility, Minister Prentice will be meeting with Yukon First Nations bilaterally.
Of course we will be bringing up the issue of gaps in economic opportunity, education, housing and so on, with Minister Prentice, as well as many other pressing issues. Our government remains committed to closing those gaps. We have shown clearly by example in areas of education, through educational reform and the partnership we have with First Nations therein, through economic opportunities and partnerships there, that we intend to pursue these avenues of closing those gaps. We are never going to allow Canada to diminish in any way its responsibilities as the primary government with respect to aboriginal Canadians and all their affairs.
Mr. Mitchell: The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was recently asked if funding to implement the Kelowna accord would be in the upcoming federal budget. He refused to answer the question. Today the Yukon government has put out a news release about the upcoming meetings. Economic development for the north, territorial formula financing, land claims and the Alaska Highway project are topics for discussion during the minister's visit. There is no mention of funding for the Kelowna accord.
First Nation people in the Yukon have good reason to be suspicious of the new Conservative government. After all, Prime Minister Harper voted against the Umbrella Final Agreement when it went through the House of Commons. This is the attitude at the top of the new Conservative government.
Now, the Premier is meeting with the new Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development tomorrow, so I will ask again: will the Premier urge the minister to put the funding in the upcoming federal budget to implement the Kelowna accord?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I think the member opposite is pursuing an avenue here that should be directed at the federal government. The Yukon clearly supports the initiatives from Kelowna, as does every province in the country and our sister territories, but the federal government has been clear: the money has not been booked. Even at the time the Kelowna accord was developed, there was no money booked or budgeted for this in the federal government system, but they did clearly commit, in terms of recognizing the gaps that exist and the need to deal with these gaps.
Frankly, Mr. Speaker, there are no political boundaries in this area. The situation aboriginal Canadians are facing with health care, education, housing, and with safe and affordable drinking water, is deplorable. In a country with this wealth - for that situation to exist - the time has come to change it. That's the message I'll deliver to the federal government, as I have in the past and will continue to do in the future.
Mr. Mitchell: I agree with the Hon. Premier that it is a federal responsibility. The Kelowna accord was the result of 18 months of meetings between the Government of Canada and aboriginal stakeholders. It included funding for education, housing and health care - $5 billion in total.
The Premier attended those meetings and was accompanied by the Grand Chief, who was here in the gallery earlier today, so I know he felt this was an important initiative. Under the new Conservative government, the future of that accord is in doubt. The Premier has a meeting tomorrow with the minister responsible for the accord. He needs to lobby his federal cousins in the Conservative Party to stop stalling on the issue and put the money in the upcoming federal budget.
The Conservative election platform was practically silent on aboriginal people, and the recent throne speech from the Conservatives didn't mention First Nation people either. They have not placed any priority on First Nations in this country.
Will the Premier actively lobby the minister tomorrow and try to get this funding for the Kelowna accord into the new federal budget?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where the member found information that I may be somehow related to federal Conservative members in Ottawa. I highly doubt it, although I have not checked thoroughly my lineage. However, if I do have a cousin in the federal government and I find out about that, I'm going to give them a call and demand that family ties dictate that he support us. And you can take that to the bank, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I am not going to lobby the federal government. I am going to push the federal government, impress upon the federal government, demand from the federal government that they address their areas of responsibility, not only for Yukon First Nations but all aboriginal Canadians.
I am proud to say here on the floor today of our Legislature that this Yukon Party government is living up to its responsibilities even far beyond the boundaries as dictated in the agreements, and we will continue to do so. But we will demand from our federal government that they live up their responsibilities, and it's high time the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development recognized what those responsibilities are.
Question re: Whitehorse Correctional Centre rebuild
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Justice. Early in the mandate of the Yukon Party, a political decision was made not to rebuild the Correctional Centre. The chickens are coming home to roost, Mr. Speaker. For 30 days in 2002, the Yukon Party told Yukoners that together we would do better. For four years, the side opposite has said that we won't replace that worn-out facility, that the previous government's consultation wasn't good enough, that we will do programming, that we need programming. In fact, the minister has said on the floor of this House that there is programming.
We have a corrections consultation report that, among other things, says we need programs and core programs. Now inmates are so upset about conditions, including the lack of programming in the dilapidated jail, they're taking their complaints to the Yukon Human Rights Commission. Their complaints include the removal of programs and limited access to a First Nation counsellor.
Those are the consequences of the Yukon Party's political decisions.
Speaker: Would the member ask the question, please?
Ms. Duncan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker. Is the minister prepared to take responsibility for the political decision that this government has made - no facility, no programming?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I certainly will take responsibility for any decision this government made; however, one decision I sure wouldn't want to take ownership of is to start a job and not complete it. The member opposite was fully in charge for two years, and it was thrown out the window, where construction could have actively taken place. A lot of the responsibility for there not being a new Correctional Centre today lies directly on that member who was the Premier.
Ms. Duncan: The Yukon Party made a very clear, very political decision early in their mandate to stop construction of a new jail. Instead, they spent almost $5 million in four years patching up an old facility - a facility beyond repair. They promised programming and failed to deliver. They engaged in corrections consultation that has yielded the same conclusion that they started out with: build a new facility and provide programming.
The consequences of the government's actions are being felt. Inmates are so upset about conditions and lack of programming at the jail that they are ready to take their complaints to the Human Rights Commission.
Staffing is another issue at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. Corrections consultation has also noted the problems with staffing. The Yukon Party government's response: “Sorry, did we forget -”
Speaker: Would the member ask the question, please?
Ms. Duncan: Certainly, Mr. Speaker. Is the minister prepared to now admit that inmates and staff at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre have not, in fact, together, done better with the Yukon Party?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would have to start by correcting the member opposite. The consultation by this government was far superior to the consultation that was previously done, and they did not yield exactly the same results. A new facility, yes; the rest of it is far more extensive than what the previous consultation recommended.
Mr. Speaker, we do understand there are issues. We understand there were renovations; however, we must also appreciate the fact that renovations are not uncommon to any building, whether it's a correctional facility, educational infrastructure or a government building. Renovations do take place.
As an example of courses that were offered, we had computer fundamentals, GED testing - twice - welding, small engine repair, initial fire attack, GPS mapping and compassing, H2S courses on sour gas, chainsaw safety, flagging, trapping control - Mr. Speaker, there was never a lack of programming in the correctional facility since this government took office. In fact, the correct analysis would be that there was a drastic increase in programming.
Ms. Duncan: The Yukon Party made a political decision to halt construction of a new jail shortly after coming to office. That was a choice they made. Consequences are now being felt. A spokesperson for the inmates described conditions in the jail today as those of a doghouse. Inmates are upset because the building they're in makes it impossible to deliver programs. Guards are upset and have been protesting outside this building over working conditions. That is the legacy of the Yukon Party's short-sighted political decisions.
I'll ask the Yukon Party again, and the minister: the Yukon Party promised inmates and correction workers that, together with the Yukon Party, they would do better. Will the minister admit today that they have in fact the worst record of any government on the correctional facility, programming and staff relations?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I think the member opposite almost sounds a little jealous of what this government has been able to produce when they failed to produce. It is obvious, Mr. Speaker, that there are some inmates who are at odds with what is taking place. We don't agree with people living in a doghouse either. That is why the whole justice reform process took place. This government wants desperately to not have people living in doghouses, so we are working very hard at putting in programs to change that revolving-door syndrome in the correctional facility. If people refer to a place where they are being housed as a “doghouse”, then change your environment - don't go there.
Question re: Yukon Energy Corporation general rate application
Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation/Yukon Energy Corporation. There have been a number of financial changes in these corporations. Yukon Development Corporation has borrowed from Canada the loan of approximately $40 million that was used to purchase the assets of Northern Canada Power Commission for less than $10 million, and the original amount remains in the rate-making base of Yukon Energy Corporation.
The Yukon Utilities Board has allowed an additional $29.04 million into the rate-making base of Yukon Energy Corporation for the Mayo-Dawson transmission line. That's just the beginning. There have been tremendous increases in O&M costs on the Yukon Energy Corporation system. My question to the minister: will Yukoners see a general rate application this year or has the minister instructed the corporation to stand down on a general rate application until after the fall general election?
Hon. Mr. Lang: In answering the Member for Klondike , he is well aware of the issues with Yukon Energy Corporation and Yukon Development Corporation. Understanding the debacle that we found ourselves in when we acquired office three and a half years ago, we certainly are concerned about the rates that people pay in the Yukon , and we will be looking at a GRA.
We have a lot of work to be done on the line itself. As the member opposite understands, the line from Mayo to Dawson was an issue and a very big challenge for this government. That challenge is not finished, Mr. Speaker. There are some legal matters and some outstanding questions about the final cost of that line. We are working very, very hard to get those things resolved.
Yukon Energy Corporation and Yukon Development Corporation is a small corporation. It doesn't have a big staff of people. This has been a burden on the corporation. We are working our way out of it.
As far as the loan is concerned, that was a business decision that was made in-house. Of course those questions will be answered by the Yukon Utilities Board.
Mr. Jenkins: An analysis of YDC/YEC's finances after the Yukon Liberal government's political decision to build the Mayo-Dawson transmission line at any cost and to set up the Energy Solutions Centre as an arm's-length corporation - these are but two of the factors that have resulted in YDC/YEC's ability to justify an electrical rate increase.
Now that the first step has been taken by YEC with $29.4 million recently allowed by the Yukon Utilities Board into the rate base, that alone justifies $2.7 million in allowable additional costs to the ratepayers. Why should the electrical ratepayers in the Yukon be made to pay for bad, uneconomical, political decisions of a government, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I'd like to remind the member opposite that it wasn't this government that put the corporation in the position they found themselves. There were certainly challenges in the corporation, whether it was the Energy Solutions Centre or the Mayo-Dawson line - both of them audited by the Auditor General. At the end of the day, they were proven to be questionable - was it a good decision or a bad decision? I would say it was a bad decision.
I'd also like to remind the member opposite that 93 percent of our domestic customer base is on hydro today. The member is right; the Liberal government of the day was going to build a line from Mayo to Dawson at any cost. Obviously we're still going through the cost.
Mr. Jenkins: If proper controls had been in place over the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation, the calculations I've seen would be that electrical rates would be between 15 to 20 percent lower than what they are today. If political direction to the Development Corporation and the Energy Corporation was accompanied by a cheque from the Government of Yukon, in a similar manner as B.C. Hydro and the B.C. government, rates would be lower still.
My question to the minister: how much of a rate increase has the Yukon Energy Corporation indicated to the minister it will be seeking, and when will a GRA be going forward?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, in addressing the member opposite, the Member for Klondike , we can't address every issue by sending a cheque. What we have to do is make good business decisions. I agree with the Member for Klondike that there have been bad decisions made in the past. But this government was elected, and this government did exactly what it should have done. We approached the challenge and we met the challenge. Mr. Speaker, today we're still in the throes of trying to get a firm figure of what the Mayo-Dawson line, at any cost, is going to cost. We don't have that figure, Mr. Speaker, because the way it was structured - it's a legal nightmare.
Question re: Canada-Yukon affordable housing agreement
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. A little over a year ago, this minister and the Liberal MP announced 89 new units of affordable housing for Whitehorse, Yukon . They said the housing was for those Canadians most in need, for families and for seniors. The construction was going to be an innovative, progressive approach, according to the Member of Parliament, and the minister said it would set a new standard in the north and that it would be the norm in the future.
Can the minister tell the House if the so-called affordable housing units are living up to that new standard and if they will continue to be the norm in the future?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The Yukon Housing Corporation Board of Directors is responsible for approving the program criteria and selecting the projects for funding. I do understand very well, of course, that the member opposite is still struggling with the term “affordable housing.” In April 2005, the board conditionally approved, as an example, $830,000 for 44 home ownership units and 20 rental units with Falcon Ridge Development. The project is well underway, as anyone who wants to drive up there can see. And that $830,000 generated over $23 million of economic activity, almost all of it in the Yukon. So we have more projects coming. So yes, we're very pleased with how it's going.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, it hasn't generated it yet.
Seniors were promised 25 assisted care units out of the affordable housing program, and that fell apart. Oh well, the seniors have another option: the government would subsidize 64 units to the tune of the $830,000 that the minister just mentioned, but a lot of those units haven't materialized. Forty-four were for purchase, 20 were supposed to be rental units. It turns out that it's mostly pre-seniors who are buying the houses and the purchase price mysteriously shot up shortly after the project started.
Now we're told that the developer probably won't take up on the rental subsidy scheme because it has a 10-year commitment and because it's really hard to make a profit because of the way the program is structured. So after March 2007…
Speaker: Order. Would the member please ask the question.
Mr. Cardiff: … if the subsidy option -
Speaker: No. Order. Ask the question please.
Mr. Cardiff: I am.
If the rental subsidy option for Falcon Ridge isn't used, will the minister be providing affordable housing for seniors in another location?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I'm still sort of scratching my head here. The member opposite says it hasn't generated it yet. The last time I drove up Hamilton Boulevard , there was a huge amount of construction going on up there. Workers were all over the place; there's massive construction - $23 million. The member opposite has a background in construction. I would hope he understands they're building something up there.
In terms of the extra units, the affordable housing covers a percentage, a number, of those houses. They are still covered under the affordable housing and still sold for the amounts set. Falcon Ridge is also building a number of additional units, and those are not under the affordable housing program. They're free to charge whatever they want for them. The ones that are built under the affordable housing program are meeting those specifications.
Also, in terms of the rental amount, the member opposite has mentioned many times in this House that he feels that's not going to go through. Unfortunately the developers tell us quite a different story and, in fact, our information is that it is going through.
As I say, there are other projects there. If there are funds that are underutilized in one project, there are many other projects where they can be utilized. This is all being very planned and controlled by the Yukon Housing Corporation Board of Directors.
Mr. Cardiff: The minister should get a briefing from the Yukon Housing Corporation officials. That is what he should do. The government loves to talk about seniors and their housing needs, but seniors need less talk and more action from this minister. They need affordable housing and housing that was promised long ago. They certainly aren't going to find it at the athletes village.
There are 60 seniors in Whitehorse and 30 throughout the territory on waiting lists for safe, affordable housing. The minister's programs aren't dealing with that.
What is this minister's plan for affordable housing for seniors that sets a new standard for the north and a norm for the future, as he promised over a year ago?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: There are a number of programs within this, in terms of aging in place, in terms of green mortgages so that they are more effective to heat and operate. For instance, the Falcon Ridge units, under the affordable housing program, are reinforced in such a way that elevators can be put in so people can remain where they are. The so-called “athletes village” is well set up with elevators for access, all doors are wheelchair accessible - they meet all those things. There are a number of different programs available for seniors, for social housing and everything else.
Again, the member opposite is having a great deal of difficulty with the term “affordable housing” and he just doesn't seem to get it. Looking back at notes from the briefing that he had with Yukon Housing Corporation, they note, as well, that he seems to have a real difficulty with what the definition is of affordable housing. It is a federal definition in that program. It's not something we can make up. It is within the terms of that agreement. We either accept that agreement or, as the leader of the official opposition once suggested, we should return it. We are not prepared to return it. We are prepared to use it to the benefit of Yukoners.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Mr. Cathers: 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 in Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 20, First Appropriation Act, 2006-07. We're currently in general debate on Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture. Before we begin, do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We'll take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.
Bill No. 20 - First Appropriation Act, 2006-07- continued
Chair: The Committee will now continue with Bill No. 20, First Appropriation Act, 2006-07. We will continue with Vote No. 54, Department of Tourism and Culture.
Department of Tourism and Culture - continued
Mrs. Peter: I would like to get a few comments on the record in general debate. When I left off a few days back, I talked about how tourism was one of the greatest generators of long-term economic growth in the Yukon for Yukoners. Definitely Yukoners benefit from successful tourist seasons, especially businesses: airlines, cultural centres, heritage sites, museums, the arts community and national parks - to name a few.
Wilderness and ecotourism offer our visitors Yukon experiences that one can only dream of.
First Nations offer a rich, ancient history that can fulfill the curiosity of the very young to people who work in the science fields.
The upcoming Canada Games will also showcase Canada's north, and the world will have a taste of what true northerners are all about. It is a very exciting time for the Yukon and an exciting time in our history. Marketing plays a key role in this area, and marketing in the Yukon has never before been so very important - not only to Canadians and North Americans, but to people around the world.
The department has done an excellent job in this area. The Yukon brand logo has been shown to the rest of the Yukon , and the reception was the other night.
In regard to the Canada Winter Games, how is the minister encouraging all communities in the Yukon to benefit from the Canada Games, and what process is in place to do that?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The member opposite raises some very good points with respect to tourism, and I appreciate her appreciation of the tourism industry, because it is absolutely vital to the economic growth of the territory. Indeed, Yukon has a lot be proud of, and there are tremendous opportunities ahead, one of which the member opposite alluded to earlier - that being the Canada Winter Games coming up next year.
As I have reiterated on the floor of the Legislature before, I seem to recall, primarily our department has been working very closely with the Canada Winter Games Host Society, ensuring the success of the games is felt throughout the communities at large. One of the things that the Department of Tourism and Culture has engaged in directly, particularly with the Yukon Arts Centre, was the Culture Quest program. Culture Quest was initiated by our government, I believe, a couple of years ago. It is a partnership with the Yukon Arts Centre, which administers the program on our behalf. It is just shy of $160,000 each year. Its purpose is to generate interest and activity, particularly in rural Yukon , as well as among First Nation citizens, who will hopefully become engaged with the games and focus more or less on the cultural aspect of the games.
So we're engaging Yukoners within all the communities to participate in the games and enabling those individuals to take on projects that they probably wouldn't necessarily have taken on before. There have been a number of activities that have been engaged, although I don't have a list of the Culture Quest initiatives that we have undertaken in the past. I do know that there have been certain events and initiatives undertaken by the communities of Teslin, for example, Dawson City and so forth. They have been high quality, key culture-related events. By inspiring those particular individuals, we hope to be able to come up with additional programming for the games.
Again, I'll just reiterate for the members opposite that officials particularly within the cultural services branch of the Department of Tourism and Culture have been very much engaged with the host society on a regular basis. They do sit on the particular respective committees that are designated for cultural programs that will be taking place during the games next year. So I think on all fronts we continue to work with our partners and in particular the host society to ensure that all the Yukon receives a net benefit from the games. And, of course, from the tourism perspective, in terms of marketing we are engaged with our two northern territories , Northwest Territories and Nunavut, in a national marketing campaign that will showcase the entire north.
We will showcase tourism, in particular, as a strategic industry, which we're quite excited about. I had an opportunity to speak with some members of the host society at the actual launch of the Yukon tourism brand strategy the other night. They're quite excited about the new brand, “Larger than Life”, and excited to see how we can utilize the brand in our national marketing campaign as part of that ongoing campaign.
By being able to showcase the Yukon and all its attributes and strengths across the territory, every community in the territory will benefit from the added exposure and in raising awareness of what the Yukon is all about and all we have to offer.
Mrs. Peter: I thank the minister for that information.
When we're talking about potential visitors to the Yukon, we hope to have another successful season this summer. Today there's a rise in fuel costs. I'm just wondering how the minister anticipates the high fuel cost will affect the traffic numbers for this summer, whether it be in the price of an airline ticket or in the price of fuel for travellers along the highway.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Over the lunch hour - I don't know if members opposite had an opportunity to tune into CBC - they had an open-line show on what Yukoners were thinking about the new Yukon tourism brand strategy. One of the comments raised was about the rubber-tire traffic and how it may be impacted by the rising fuel cost.
There is no question that it remains a concern to every jurisdiction in North America - worldwide, in fact. It certainly is not just pertinent to the Yukon, but to all jurisdictions in the country. That is why, by working with industry - in particular through our senior marketing committee of the Yukon Tourism Marketing partnership - we continue to look at our marketing campaigns on an ongoing basis to assess the return on investment of each campaign we deliver, to fine-tune those programs to see what is and is not working, to always refresh those programs, always looking at our primary and secondary markets. Over the last number of years, in terms of being able to diversify the market and in terms of rubber-tire traffic, we have made a number of good investments in this particular market.
We've worked closely with industry to dedicate resources in areas that have been identified as priorities. In fact, that being said, some of the priorities identified by our senior marketing committee have been enhancements to our Web site and enhancements to our media relations and our familiarization tours. We have been able to increase resources over the last couple of years in those areas. We have also been able to create the tourism cooperative marketing fund with a half-million new dollars that enables businesses, non-government organizations, municipalities and First Nation governments to access this fund to readily market their services and products.
That could certainly comprise one community in the Yukon marketing to another community in the Yukon; for example, Farrago, or if you have a Dawson City Music Festival, it's showcasing those events. It also enables those individuals to access markets outside of Yukon in Canada and in the international marketplace, et cetera. So it has been a great fund. It has been able to leverage additional dollars because, for every dollar put forward by the private sector or by respective governments or organizations, we have been able to access another dollar through our fund.
Also, for the third year in a row, we are dedicating $350,000 in new resources for the scenic drives campaign. Again, that's a campaign specifically targeted at the rubber-tire traffic market. This has been a campaign that has been really widely received, and it gives us an opportunity to showcase our major highways throughout the Yukon and promote the activities and products along the way.
Part of this campaign is not just marketing cooperative initiatives, but it also incorporates a fair chunk of dollars toward interpretive signage, as well as pullouts along the highway. Again, I just have to say that this has really been a significant boost in our signage budget because, for the first time in many years - for example, in 2005, when we designated the scenic drives campaign to look at the Alaska Highway, to begin with, as a signature scenic drive in the Yukon, we designated just over $150,000 toward interpretive signage.
You will see it all over the Alaska Highway, ranging from the signage in the Signpost Forest in Watson Lake right down to the Continental Divide, Swan Lake, Yukon River bridge, south Klondike Highway junction, MacRae, Takhini Crossing, Canyon Creek, viewpoints along the way, Soldier's Summit, Kluane River, icefield ranges, et cetera.
We were also able to designate an additional $60,000 toward the Klondike Highway , concentrating on pullouts constructed as well as interpretive signage along the way. A little bit of that money will also go toward maintaining those signs and pullouts.
It all adds to building product and awareness of what we have to offer here in the Yukon , particularly along our specific highways. This year we've recently announced we will be producing other scenic drives. I believe it was just last month, March 13, that we launched the Klondike-Kluane loop scenic drive.
We will be putting a significant number of dollars toward signage along the way, including Kluane River, the Kluane Lake lookout, Yukon River view, conglomerate rock, et cetera.
Later on this year we will be working on the Golden Circle route, Silver Trail and the Dempster Highway. We expect to have those specific Web sites up and running later on this year giving potential travellers new and exciting virtual Yukon highways to discover.
We will be designating about $100,000 for new signage for the Golden Circle route, monies toward the Dempster route as well as the Silver Trail. I have to say again that this is really the first time, I believe, in Yukon's history that we have actually boosted the interpretive signage and money designated for pullouts along the way - more than we ever have.
Our department has done a stellar job in terms of providing assistance to our communities in being able to showcase these particular highways and reflecting accurate historical content within the interpretive signage. I've often spoken about developing product along our highways. It's not just about providing good maintenance along our highways - our departments do a good job of that - but it is also providing product along the way so that people will be enticed to spend those extra days, weeks, and so forth - that they are busy, they are entertained, and they have a very good experience along our highways.
We are very pleased to continue with the scenic drives initiative. Again, we will continue with the Web site developments, as well as direct-mail campaigns that will be targeting the United States and Canada and ongoing research working with our respective partners in Canada to develop more product. In addition to that, the Tourism North partnership is, I believe, around $120,000 or $125,000. That is another great partnership that has been years in the making and one that has been able to generate many, many inquiries. In fact, I think last year was a banner year in terms of generating inquiries: 90,000 inquiries, which was the highest level of interest ever expressed by individuals in coming up the Alaska Highway and taking part in the north.
Tourism North is a partnership with Yukon, Alaska , British Columbia and Alberta, I believe it is. British Columbia had bowed out for a couple of years, but they are back at the table and we are very pleased to see their participation in this regard. We also participate in the joint Yukon-Alaska program. Again, I think that is about a $275,000 initiative the Yukon participates in. A lot of inquiries or leads are generated as a result of this program.
By working in partnership with our neighbours in Alaska, we are able to utilize their resources, and vice versa.
More importantly, it gives us more access to quite a large database of people who have expressed an interest in coming to the Yukon or have seriously indicated that they are planning to come north.
New investments in product development - this was recognized as a part of industry about three years ago. In product development, we came through with a new position - the product development officer in the Department of Tourism and Culture. That individual has been tasked with the responsibility of working with our respective tourism stakeholders around the Yukon to look at providing tourism essentials, workshops, product packaging and pricing - capitalizing on some niche products, whether that be health and wellness, motorcycles - Ride Yukon, for example. That was a great event that took place last year and is due to take place again this year. I believe that will be in the month of June. We very much look forward to having them back here in town.
By being able to assist our communities and help to diversify the number of products we have to offer, that is a really good thing. It helps us to realize our strengths.
The development of the Yukon tourism brand strategy - some may say that a logo and a tagline are not going to be all that is going to entice more people to come to the Yukon, but I think when we incorporate the brand strategy in all our marketing campaigns so it is a very comprehensive approach to marketing in the Yukon, and by working and building upon relationships with respective orders and levels of government and non-government organizations, we will be able recognize the strength of the Yukon brand - “Larger than Life”.
We are quite confident that the new brand will instil a freshness to the Yukon and enable the department and, more importantly, industry to use their resources and leverage their resources further to market the Yukon in a consistent and comprehensive manner. We're really pleased and proud to have taken the direction and lead from the senior marketing committee.
As I mentioned before, this budget reflects the second million dollars the Yukon government is contributing toward a national marketing campaign and our very first time working with our two northern territories to produce a comprehensive campaign that will be showcased to the rest of the country. I'm very excited about the launch of the campaign and, more importantly, seeing the benefits after the games - leading up to and during the games, of course, but more importantly after.
One only has to look at the successes we have been able to reap from events such as Expo '86 held in Vancouver. Albeit it was held a few miles away from the Yukon, we have certainly been able to recognize a rise in visitation as a result of those events.
In terms of investments to other stakeholders and the Yukon Convention Bureau, we have increased dollars to the Yukon Convention Bureau to support tourism initiatives and, in particular, to target the test events coming to the Yukon as a result of the Canada Winter Games in order for us to facilitate bids and to provide support during those events leading up to the games.
So that has also assisted a long way.
When the member opposite referred to air access, one only has to look at Air North and their tremendous efforts over the last number of years in being able to showcase the Yukon as not only a very accessible destination but also a very affordable destination. Through promotional campaigns, such as the gateway cities campaign, we have been able to target gateway cities of Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary as holding potential getaway visitors to Yukon . This program alone has been able to stimulate over $1 million in direct visitor spending to the Yukon each year, and it is a great program.
In addition to that, of course, Air North has had the opportunity to provide its own campaigns, such as the spring and fall getaway gateway promotions, which have brought hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of individuals from our gateway cities to spend two or three days in the Yukon in what has been deemed our shoulder seasons. So that has been an added boost to the Yukon. I know that communities such as Dawson City and Watson Lake are looking to capitalize on visitors coming to the City of Whitehorse, flying in and going to the respective communities.
Of course, we also continue to place investments in our arts and cultural industries, and museums are another product added to the tourism industry base. Through our stay-another-day campaign, we have been able to target visitors travelling through the Yukon to spend those extra days in the Yukon.
I think, when you add it all up, we have been working very closely with industry. We have been very successful in our initiatives to date. One only has to compare us to other jurisdictions in the country. While U.S. visitation has felt a dramatic decline for a whole host of reasons - not just fuel prices - we have been able to actually see an increase of visitors from the United States. That is not to say that we take that market for granted, because we certainly don't. They are a very important market to us. According to our 2004 visitor exit survey, they make up about 77 percent of our visitors.
They are very important to us, and we always try to come up with more creative ways of being able to slow our visitors down on our highways and make the Yukon and all our communities the destination of choice.
That is just a brief overview of some of the initiatives we have been undertaking.
Mrs. Peter: I thank the minister for that information. That is a lot of information about this department.
I mentioned before how important this department is, because tourism is the second largest key economic driver in the Yukon and it puts a huge responsibility on this department to attract those visitors to the Yukon, whether from across Canada, North America, or throughout the world. Not only is the high cost of fuel a factor in this upcoming season, but there is also the cross-border challenges that we face in Canada and in the Yukon, into Alaska.
We have experienced what the fire season cost this industry a couple of years ago. I'm hoping we never see another season like that. If we look around the Yukon today, we don't have that much snow and it looks like it may be a dry season. That must be a huge concern to a lot of the people who are offering services in this industry.
There are a lot of concerns out there right now in this area. The minister was talking about the scenic drive and stay-another-day initiative - the gateway to the Yukon . Those are great initiatives and hopefully we attract a lot of visitors to the Yukon.
The money that's going to be spent in signage and placing information along our highways throughout the Yukon is very important.
We've heard this question asked many times in this House by the Member for Kluane, and it's in regard to the information kiosk in Kluane. I just wondered if the minister could give us an update. Has there been any progress made with the information kiosk in Kluane?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Chair, I finally remember all those lines of questions from the Member for Kluane, and I'm really pleased to take the opportunity to report progress on that. Although I don't have the information right here at my fingertips, as I seem to recall, the Member for Kluane was looking for some assistance in being able to showcase the Kluane region at a kiosk in Tok, Alaska. He was referring to efforts made by the Klondike Visitors Association, for example, who have been able - thanks to their very creative ways and resources - to showcase their region, the Klondike.
I recall receiving a letter from the Member for Kluane. The letter made reference to speaking to the Haines Convention and Visitors Bureau of Haines, Alaska . He also made reference to the Mayor of Haines , Alaska, et cetera. We responded to the Member for Kluane - and I could probably provide the member opposite with copies of that correspondence. We did offer to provide some assistance toward the purchase. I will have to get back to the member opposite, but we did provide some assistance by way of the purchase, I believe, of some audiovisual equipment to be able to help showcase that particular region in the Tok visitor bureau, and that we would be able to do that provided that there was a partnership with Haines, Alaska, and perhaps even looking for a partnership with Haines Junction, et cetera.
Unfortunately, the Member for Kluane never did respond. He never followed up with the Department of Tourism and that was probably about a year or a year and a half ago. That offer is still on the table. He just hasn't responded, and I'd be happy to provide the member opposite with those copies of correspondence - provided that is fine with the Member for Kluane that is.
In terms of problems associated with forest fires, whether it be SARS, for example, the war in Iraq, et cetera, the tourism industry certainly has been struck with its share of challenges over the last number of years - with, of course, 9/11 being the very largest one. There has been Hurricane Katrina and so forth.
The tourism industry has been able to show its resilience through and through, time and time again. I think, through the very hard work and efforts of industry, we have been able to further diversify the market by concentrating on not only the rubber-tire market but the fly-drive market, which has expanded by leaps and bounds over the last number of years. I think that it has probably nearly doubled or superseded that amount over the last number of years, and you see an expansion of the number of businesses in the Yukon capitalizing on the fly-drive market.
Wilderness tourism is another exciting industry that has certainly seen a great number of successes, but of course it's not without its challenges, and we just have to look at the federal regulations surrounding river rafting or the Marine Liability Act and the regulations that go along with that - external loads again. These are all issues that we continue to work on with the Wilderness Tourism Association of Yukon in order to find solutions. We continue to lobby the federal government and the respective ministers at that level to find practical solutions for the north and solutions that will work for the Yukon in particular, because in many aspects we're very different from southern jurisdictions; therefore, we feel those differences should be reflected in policies made by the federal government in Ottawa.
In terms of border crossings, we continue to register our concerns on a federal basis regarding the proposed passport initiative - the western hemisphere travel initiative - that is to take full effect as of January 1, 2008. There has been so much movement on this issue that we get updates every day. There are probably two new stories a day on where we're at with this initiative. It is changing, although the unfortunate news is that it seems the U.S. administration is failing to recognize the detrimental impact it could have on the tourism industry, not just on the Canadian side but also the U.S. side of the border.
We continue to apply pressure with our national counterparts for a postponement of the initiative and to have consistent application of the rules and regulations, as well as to give us enough lead time so that whatever is proposed is affordable - whatever secure ID is affordable - for both Canadians and U.S. citizens, and that it be accessible and we have enough lead time to communicate it to our visiting travellers coming to Canada. We continue to register our concerns and continue to monitor progress or lack of progress.
Mrs. Peter: The border-crossing issue is only approximately eight months away, and that is very little time to prepare travellers. That issue has been outstanding now for the past year. There are a lot of reports in the media from both sides of the border about how much of an impact this is going to have on both our countries. Not only that, it includes our families. I know that many of our First Nation communities in the Yukon have relatives who live across the border. Especially those who live close to the border in Beaver Creek have daily crossings, and it is going to be a real concern for them. The sooner that we help to alleviate that problem, the sooner we can look forward to better relationships with people who are across the borders.
I was happy to hear the minister say the Dempster Highway is going to receive some extra signage and extra benefits this upcoming year. I didn't hear specifically if that was this summer or this fall. Can the minister please give me more information on that initiative?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Chair, I will have to get back to the member opposite on the signage. I believe that it is $35,000 for the Dempster route this year. Again, we are looking at the junction of the Dempster Highway, Black City, Chapman Lake , Arctic Circle kiosk, Rock River and, of course, at the border as well - doing some work on the kiosk. Those are just a few things we are going to be working on this year, as well as getting the Web site up and going - focusing on the Dempster Highway .
The Dempster Highway has always been a strategic corridor for the Yukon. We were very pleased to assist the Klondike Visitors Association and others with the marketing of the 25th anniversary the Dempster Highway celebrated - I believe it was a couple of years ago - and it was a tremendous celebration that received quite a lot of fanfare from the media. I know that there was quite a boost in familiarization tours and media relations looking to the Dempster Highway over that time.
Also, in commemoration of the Dempster Highway celebration, a brochure was produced among the respective First Nations - Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and Na Cho Nyäk Dun were all involved in the production of a new brochure specifically targeting the Dempster Highway and the corridor and focusing on traditional names for various landscapes along the corridor.
It's an excellent brochure. I'd be happy to provide the members opposite with copies of those. That recently was just produced and sent out, so that is another product for people travelling the Dempster Highway.
Mrs. Peter: When we promote areas such as the Dempster Highway - and I've mentioned this a few times in the House before - when we talk about tourism and promoting our wilderness places and promoting First Nations culture, it's very sensitive and there are fine lines that we have to be aware of.
The Tombstone Park is being promoted with tours with Holland America. I'm just wondering if the minister could tell me: what protection did they have in place in regard to the environment and what kind of dialogue did they have with the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in or those First Nations that may be involved in that initiative?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Tombstone Territorial Park is truly a gem in the Yukon. It has been highlighted as a very important destination in the Yukon . Holland America, for example, has been operating tours in partnership with others in the park over the last couple of years. I think the first year was 2005. For this coming year, I know their catalogues promoting the cruise and cruise tours provide much coverage of the Tombstone Territorial Park.
Tourism and Culture has been working with Holland America . We've been working with the Department of Environment and Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation on the development of trips to the Tombstone interpretive centre, as well as guided hikes in and around the proposed Tombstone Park.
I know there have been ongoing discussions, particularly among Department of Environment officials, Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation officials and individuals hired by Holland America toward the development of further interpretive guided tours through the park.
I know that a lot of work was being done on an agreement between the First Nation and Holland America. I don't know what the status is of that agreement. There have been a lot of negotiations going on over that agreement and I would be very hesitant to even speak to the details - not that I know of the details - because it is between the First Nation and Holland America. We did provide some dollars through our department's product development shop. As I understand, nearly $25,000 was provided last year to the Yukon College, the Dawson City campus, in partnership with Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in to offer a 10-week training course for heritage interpreters in Dawson City for the Tombstone Park product.
Again, I believe a number of individuals went through that program and a number of them were consequently hired by Holland America . It was certainly a good initiative that went through last year.
I also know that Holland America and Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in are very much involved in the future design of the Tombstone interpretive centre that is being proposed through the Department of Environment. We think there is tremendous potential for this kind of product. Really, the lead on this product is Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in, through its final agreement and the obligations that go along with that agreement, and Holland America.
Mrs. Peter: In regard to tourism strategies for the Yukon, are there any agreements with First Nation governments throughout the Yukon on strategies in regard to tourism? I believe last session, in the last sitting of the legislative session, the minister referred to dialogue that was happening between the Yukon territorial government and Vuntut Gwitchin, and if there is any progress to report, I would like to hear about that.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: When we were in Old Crow last fall during our community consultations, there were some discussions surrounding the regional tourism planning, and our department continues to be an important partner in the development - or I should say, working in partnership with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation on the development of the north Yukon plan. I understand we are working on some revisions to the draft as we speak, and I understand that a draft document will probably be made available for the community's further review sometime later this month or into the month of May. I'm always hesitant in designating time frames because those don't work out for a number of reasons.
Again, tourism planning is being coordinated with the north Yukon land use planning, as well as the Old Crow Flats special management area planning, et cetera. That is a major initiative on which our department is working directly with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the development corporation to see its completion and implementation.
With respect to other initiatives, I had a good discussion with one of the members of Yukon First Nations Tourism Association the other evening. There is a new executive director and a new board of directors. They are very excited with the possibilities that lie ahead and the new direction they would like to take with the association. We're really pleased to hear that and I look forward to sitting down with the board in the very near future. I have put that invitation forward.
Mr. Mitchell: Before I ask some questions of the minister, I'll just preface my questions by noting that I know how much the minister enjoys this portfolio and I understand why because, for the first 25 years or so of my private sector background, I was in business in areas that were dependent upon standing on two legs: mining and tourism - not unlike how we are here, where these are the two strong legs we have in our economy. Tourism, of course, being the renewable one, is very important and will no doubt play an important part in the future.
I know the minister has a long background in tourism and shares that appreciation for it. The good work done by her department is something we also appreciate.
The minister, in speaking to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin a few minutes ago, referred to today's noon-hour phone-in program regarding the new branding strategy. I was only able to listen to a few minutes of it; I didn't listen to the entire hour. There seemed to be some mixed reviews about the new brand but I'm going to reserve my judgement and defer to the experts, who I know did extensive research and market testing. I don't think that I necessarily have the expertise to comment one way or the other. The proof will be in the pudding. We look forward to seeing it succeed.
However, I would ask one question about it - not about the logo or branding itself, but rather the timing of the launch. I wonder if it would not have perhaps been more productive to launch the new branding strategy in early or mid-fall so that the private sector could have had the lead time to implement the new brand and the materials for the upcoming tourist season. I know that sometimes events like timing are not totally under our control, but it's just one question I would have.
Because the minister referenced the phone-in show, one other thing I heard was one caller suggesting we might benefit from better signage on the Alaska Highway promoting features and things that can be seen downtown. I think the caller mentioned the SS Klondike and the fish ladder, and perhaps some other items. I don't know if the minister was able to listen to the whole show or if the minister thought there might be some merit in that.
I am going to let the minister respond a bit about the branding strategy. I know she will probably have a lot she will want to say so, rather than lumping a whole bunch of questions together, I will let her respond to that and then we will carry forward.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The comments made by residents on the CBC open-line show were very interesting, and I, like the member opposite, will just defer to the experts. We did take the lead from the senior marketing committee of the Yukon tourism brand strategy. They made the development of a Yukon tourism brand strategy a priority - actually the number one priority over the last year.
We did find funding, and we have been working extremely closely with the senior marketing committee in coming up with the research, the sound, hard research facts, that led us to this actual brand at the end of the day. I know the senior marketing committee is quite confident that it's going to work; it's going to do well. But I have to say that, as has been relayed by a member of the senior marketing committee and others over the last couple of days, the success of the brand will only be as a result of how much support is garnered in the communities, and that is how much the community wishes to grasp the brand and deliver its brand in its full implementation. Because it's one thing for the Department of Tourism and Culture to go out and exercise the brand, promote the brand consistently in all our marketing campaigns, but if we don't have the wide, comprehensive coverage that we have available through industry, municipal governments, First Nation governments and so forth - I guess we're not realizing the full potential of the brand if we're only executing it to a limited degree.
I certainly believe that we are going in the right direction and I support the senior marketing committee 100 percent in coming up with a new brand. It is timely. Speaking of timeliness, when the senior marketing committee identified the development of a brand, we worked with them to the best possible extent, and they wanted to see a brand come out immediately. I have to say that, in 10 months, we have actually made great strides working with the committee in coming up with the final product in a relatively short period of time, although there has been much work done over previous years as well - so, working on building that information and coming up with new information, updating it and coming up with a brand.
I certainly appreciate the member opposite's comments. It would have been nice to have this out earlier. The very fact that we have it out right now will help prepare our businesses and organizations for next year's season. It will take some time. In the meantime, we will be working to the best of our efforts in updating signage along the highway to reflect the new brand, “Larger than Life” - replacing “Canada's True North” - along the highway, as well as getting new banners up, which we hope to do within the next month or month and a half, in time for this upcoming visitor season.
There are some things that will immediately be taking place. There is no question that it takes time to fully execute the full awareness of the brand.
In terms of the Whitehorse resident's comments on signage, I think the individual had some very legitimate points - there is no question about that. In fact, that is one of the reasons our previous government made the decision to move the visitor information centre from up on the highway to downtown, so we could lure people to go downtown.
We have been making great strides in revitalizing the downtown core in partnership and in lead with the Main Street Society, the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and so forth. But I think when it comes to signs within the City of Whitehorse , that really is for the City of Whitehorse to lead. However, I know that officials in our Tourism and Culture department have had some discussions in the past with the City of Whitehorse and Parks Canada on how we can make signs better, and we'll continue to make those efforts, because there is always room for improvement; there's no question there.
Mr. Mitchell: I do thank the minister for her answer. Again, I was at the launch two nights ago and there was certainly a lot of enthusiasm from the industry partners in the room, and I do respect that. So my question was really only, you know, recognizing that a lot of the private sector partners will have “Canada's True North” in their publications and their advertising this year, but our signs and banners will reflect the new brand. As the minister said, there might be some confusion.
This isn't so much a question but just a suggestion from some of the comments I've heard: I think it would be good if the department could continue to help educate people on the difference between a brand and a logo because I think a lot of the comments I've heard are really just referring to a logo as opposed to the concept of the branding.
I do have some questions regarding what, if anything, the minister feels can be done by the department to address the two-tiered concerns. I know that my colleague from Vuntut Gwitchin also raised some of these questions about rising fuel costs and the effect that that may have on the rubber-tire traffic and also on the cross-border documentation issues between the U.S. and Canada, largely - really, it's not “between” so much as that the United States seems to be intent on implementing a new program requiring either a passport or a special identification card for Americans. It has been unclear to date whether there would be some recognized, acceptable card as opposed to a passport for Canadians - but in terms of the coming season, how much of a challenge this may be, and particularly the season after because the full implementation is, I think, at the end of the year - and whether the department is going to look at any forms of initiatives of advertising, marketing to actually address those specific issues.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Chair, this has been an issue I have been following for quite some time and, as I mentioned to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin earlier, it has been changing by the minute it seems. There seem to be routine updates twice a day with respect to the movement on this issue. The confusion continues, and that has really been my main concern all along - our government's primary concern is the confusion that has been created and is continuing to be created as a result of this proposed new passport initiative. That's what I have deemed it - of course it is called the western hemisphere travel initiative. The very fact is that the timelines are confusing, because what many people don't recognize is that within the next several months we are going to have the first requirement kick in - that being December 31, 2006. People entering or re-entering the United States by air or sea will be required to have some kind of secure identification, and we're not sure what that is yet, although we know that probably a passport with some form of biometrics will suffice. The following year - December 31, 2007 - all travellers, whether they enter via land, sea or air, will require a passport or secure travel document.
Of course, more recently, there has been discussion among the officials in Homeland Security with the U.S. administration, looking at the possibility of developing or implementing a pass card. It looks to me like the pass card would be more affordable. They say it would be more accessible; I don't know. I don't know how they plan to deliver that. As I understand, your average passport cost in the United States is just under $100 - I think it's $97 - and this pass card would cost about $50. So, it's half the price, which is good news for U.S. residents.
The things that has me and my colleagues concerned is that there was a poll held recently, I think it was a Zogby poll done in the United States. They had some high percentages reported among U.S. residents. I don't have that in front of me. The poll said that there would be relatively few people in the United States who would even entertain looking at obtaining such a card. Even though it is more affordable, we are looking at one additional form of identification, which is not only a nuisance, but we are not even sure when or how it is going to be made available and communicated. We have heard by the end of the year. It would, I guess, present travellers with a year out to get these new cards.
From our perspective, our concerns remain that, one, this is a new form of identification. It will not be made available to Canadians, so you've got an inconsistent approach to the identification. Even if we stuck to the passports, it becomes cost prohibitive for a family of four even here in Canada to go down to Skagway, for example, or Haines, Alaska, for the day - as many of us do - you're looking at a substantial impact. You're looking at just shy of $200 for a family of four, which adds up and certainly may, because getting a passport is somewhat of a nuisance - not to mention the costs associated with getting a passport - we feel that there is substantial evidence that it will impact our border crossings.
I know that the other Canadian jurisdictions are just as concerned as we are. I know that Alaska is concerned. They share our concerns as well. We continue to raise the fact that we need to have something that is accessible, something that is affordable - we need to have enough time out to be able to effectively communicate this to our travelling public, because right now there seems to be a lot of confusion. In fact, I think there is some confusion with the federal minister right now, who is responsible for emergency preparedness. It was reported today that he seems to think that beyond 2008, Canadians won't need any other document, that they will be able to get across the border with a birth certificate or a driver's licence. That's a new one. I don't think that is to be the case, because I've heard that the U.S. administration is holding very firm to its requirements.
It is a testament to the amount of confusion that is being created in the marketplace. When there is confusion and uncertainty, people will perhaps be less apt to go through those extra hoops, and they just won't come.
Again, here in the Yukon , we rely quite heavily on the American public. As I mentioned, well over 70 percent of our visitors come from the United States, so this is certainly a great concern to us. I have met and raised these concerns with the previous federal minister responsible for emergency preparedness - that was Anne McLellan. I had an opportunity to meet with her in Seattle last July, when I made our concerns known. The other concern was whether or not First Nation citizens would be exempt from these new requirements, as they have traditionally not been required to carry such documentation. We have yet to hear clarification from our own federal government.
I have raised this with the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations and with the Association of Yukon Communities. In fact, we have been able to have a pretty good dialogue over the last number of months, in terms of progress that they are hearing, and what we are hearing - being able to dialogue and share information.
We also met with the commissioner responsible for trade and economic development for the State of Alaska last fall during my visit to Anchorage, and we had a good discussion.
On top of all that, we have been dialoguing through our department officials with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada on what they have come up with. They have created what has been known as a passport coalition, which is a coalition of numerous tourism-related organizations, businesses, chambers of commerce, representing both Canada and the United States, as a vehicle or mechanism for applying pressure for these changes.
The consistent approach is that we need more time. We would very much like to see this initiative postponed until we have a better handle on what is being done, not to mention looking at other alternatives - perhaps a form of existing ID instead of creating a new piece of ID.
Through the leadership of industry and others, we continue to apply pressure.
I also wrote to my federal counterpart, the minister responsible for industry, soon after the election in January, asking for a meeting of tourism ministers to talk about issues such as this. It really is a national issue and we think that coming together and coming up with collaborative ways to address and apply more pressure to the administration is better.
Unfortunately, we haven't had a meeting of tourism ministers in just about three years, which is really a crying shame. I look at all the other portfolios, and we're able to meet on an annual basis and work on issues of common concern. Unfortunately, we haven't had that opportunity because of one excuse after another, I have to say. It has been really a disappointment, to say the least.
I haven't heard from the new federal minister, but we will continue to apply pressure. Soon after I had written a letter, I received letters from the minister responsible for Ontario tourism, and the department in Alberta as well, asking for the same meeting. I think that this is just one of a number of national, related issues where we all share concerns that we need to work on together.
We also have the Canadian Tourism Commission, which we continue to work with. We are tapping into their expertise and their dollars to look into the amount of research in terms of U.S. visitation and how we can collectively improve our marketing. That is another reason to get the respective ministries together in the same room. It would be great to do that, but we haven't had that opportunity yet. Needless to say, we will continue to try.
The border-crossing issue remains a pretty big concern to all of us. I know that the Minister of Economic Development, as vice-president of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region, has always been very engaged with his respective counterparts from the other states, provinces and territories in applying pressure to the U.S. administration, and we are making known our concerns with respect to this initiative. It is just a matter of hearing word - again it certainly is an item that we are concerned about. Just the fact that we don't know is adding to the confusion in the marketplace. Through TIAC, the Canadian association and our respective counterparts, we will do our utmost to educate people about what we know, but that seems to be changing every day, making it hard to communicate effectively to the travelling public without knowing what you are supposed to communicate.
Mr. Mitchell: Thanks to the minister for quite a detailed elaboration of the steps that have been taken to date. I would expect that, based on the recent meetings in Mexico between Prime Minister Harper and President Bush and President Fox, President Bush seemed to be standing firm at that point on the fact that the law was passed, and it would be implemented. I think Minister MacKay had more optimistic thoughts more recently than that. I would have to think that the buck stops there, so to speak, and it would be President Bush who would have to be convinced otherwise.
There was the second part of the question about whether the department was trying to develop any plans regarding how to address the apprehension that might exist down south about fuel costs, but I'll let the minister get back to that later.
The minister mentioned in her earlier remarks about the gateway cities program. I have to ask whether there is any thought to try to do something to encourage stronger air ties with the State of Alaska. I know that the Premier has often talked about the natural partnership with our close neighbours, and obviously he has worked quite closely with the governor on a number of issues.
I recognize that air travel is the private sector, but the minister has often referenced efforts that have been made in dealing with the private sector having to do with visitation from Europe as well as domestic travel. I think this would be in that same realm. Along with some of our fellow MLAs earlier this winter, I attended the exchange in Juneau , so I know that we have no air link. We had to charter a plane to go, and yet these two capital cities are some 90 air miles apart, but it's a great deal of driving and taking ferries to get there any other way.
Certainly, with the amount of visitation that occurs in Alaska - and for that matter Alaskans desiring to visit - we don't have very good links between Juneau and Anchorage and Fairbanks other than by road. So in the interests of time, I will lump that in with a question on any other potential new air links or air services - whether it be WestJet or additional expansion of Condor - that the minister may be able to report the department has been working on. If she could respond to the airlines as one, then we'll perhaps save some time.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Air access is so critical to the growth of the tourism industry - to the growth of any industry, for that matter - and we are very blessed to have both Air North and Air Canada here in the Yukon with jet service to our gateway cities.
I'll speak to the gateway cities program: we are able to engage Air North, in particular, with respect to some very creative ways of marketing the Yukon. Last summer we were able to build upon the partnerships we built the year before with some active radio stations through promotional contests and promotional events held in the gateway cities and surrounding areas as another way of raising awareness - for example, through large billboards along the major corridors between the gateway cities, and so forth. They have worked very well; it has contributed to a lot of extra spending in the Yukon as a result of that particular airline's efforts over the years. They're doing really great things, just by being able to build partnerships with local companies - the Yukon Brewing Company or the Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters, to name just a few.
In terms of access to Alaska, I'm very much aware of the limited access we have to the Alaskan market. There's no question about it. It's something we continue to engage in with our air companies here in the Yukon on a regular basis.
I know that this was raised as a concern in the City of Dawson last fall when Air North reduced its service to Fairbanks . It is a business decision at the end of the day, and our department is there to assist communities such as Dawson , to help build product and do promotion. I think initiatives such as the tourism cooperative marketing fund provide individuals, businesses, organizations, municipalities and First Nation governments an opportunity to access dollars to help promote their events or businesses in their areas.
By pulling those resources, as well as building on our product development, building on our niche products - again, with conventions, meetings, et cetera - we are able to help build those links and, in turn, build more confidence in the market, which will help sustain some additional air service to the respective areas. We are very much aware and we continue to dialogue with our air companies on how we can improve access to our markets, including Alaska.
We also have a great partnership with the Alaska Travel Industry Association, as I mentioned, through the Tourism North partnership, as well as the joint Yukon-Alaska partnership. These are all ways of being able to share information with Alaska and get some lead information on how we can generate more activity to our respective areas and how we can build more products that will make us much more attractive than the other guys.
In terms of Condor, they will soon be starting up their service this year. I don't have the exact dates here, but it's early May until the first part of October, so they are extending their service. We're very pleased. Again, the circumstances are very similar. This has been a great time of growth. I have to say that, compared to when we had three different international airlines coming to serve the European market to Whitehorse, we actually have more capacity now. This particular company has been able to double its service or the number of seats over the last number of years.
Yukon continues to be a great source of strength in terms of its market. We're really pleased to assist them in terms of looking at marketing cooperative initiatives similar to what we do with Air Canada Germany and Thomas Cook, et cetera.
We need to strengthen the delivery of product in our respective areas. It's almost like a chicken and egg situation, as I was explaining to a couple of individuals the other night. You need product on the ground to attract people to come; people want to come but they need something to do here. It's a matter of expanding that product and building upon our strength today. I believe we are certainly doing that.
In terms of WestJet and other companies, I haven't spoken with WestJet or companies such as that. It's really important to note that we don't flood the market with too many seats, because that is exactly what has happened in the past and we have ended up with some pretty limited air access in the territory. I think it's not to say that airlines aren't welcome to the Yukon - of course they are. It has to be a business-case decision on their behalf. But the very fact is that Air North and Air Canada have been serving Yukon to a pretty good degree in providing affordable service and accessible service. I think they're doing a pretty stellar job right now.
In terms of cooperative marketing initiatives, we continue to partner with Air North in this regard, and they're doing a great job. I just spoke earlier of the gateway getaway packages that they've been able to provide in spring and fall, and how I think it was last spring, about a year ago, that they brought 600 different people to the Yukon during that spread of time. That was a significant boost to local hoteliers and bed and breakfasts here in town. Again, that's a way of expanding our busy season and being able to sustain businesses.
So again, it's really critical that we work with our existing airlines to reap the successes of these particular airlines and, of course, to continue to look toward future opportunities for growth, which the department always is.
Mr. Mitchell: I thank the minister. My questions were never meant to imply that we didn't have good service from our existing carriers, because having lived up in the north for 35 years, I very much appreciate the service we get from Air North and the continued service that we get from Air Canada and its predecessors, Canadian and CP Air, and so forth, that have sort of been swallowed up.
I have some questions regarding the arts and heritage village, and I am wondering if the minister can provide an update. It's a line item of $1 in the capital budget, which, as we know, is really a bookmark. I know that the minister issued a news release just a couple of days ago thanking the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and Artspace North for their leadership in the preparation of the initial vision. I have certainly read the report and I know there are some - I don't know if “controversy” is the right word, but there are some differences of opinion on exactly what should go forward. However, when I read the news release, it seemed to imply that perhaps the government was stepping back and saying they were going to wait a little further and see how this sorts itself out.
I would first ask if the minister supports the concept of an arts and heritage village - whether it's just a question of the scale or particular design, but the concept is supported - or what is being proposed and what is the cost? I know in that initial proposal, phase 1 was something in the order of $20 million to implement. I also know that the arts community and the tourism-dependent community and the downtown business people do want to see something go forward.
Can the minister update us on timing and what she envisions might happen, who would occupy the space and, most importantly, where the revenue would come from?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: The arts and heritage village is an exciting concept. I think that we are all of the opinion that when you add arts and culture, heritage, to any place, you're going to see life, you're going to bring life to an area. The whole development of the Whitehorse waterfront has been a very exciting initiative and one in which our government has taken great pride and we have been very actively involved with a number of initiatives along the waterfront. I will get to those in a minute.
The concept of an arts and heritage village - yes, we're very supportive of that concept. That's exactly why we have a line item, albeit there is nothing attached to it. But it is a book mark, and it shows that our commitment is to see a village on the waterfront. What that looks like, I don't know. That is exactly the impetus for the news release that we issued a couple of days ago, I think it was.
We received their design plan earlier this year, and we had a briefing from Artspace North and the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce at that time, and we had an opportunity to review the report. We also had an opportunity to hear some of the feedback coming from the general public. As the member opposite mentioned, a lot of different views have come forward with respect to what an arts and heritage village would look like or should look like or shouldn't look like.
So that is really the impetus for announcing that we are moving forward with the initiative, but we do need that time to engage the public further. So that is really key - that we are moving forward with the concept of an arts and heritage village. We just don't know what that's going to look like at the end of the day.
The actual development plan that was put forward by the Artspace North and the Chamber of Commerce is an initial vision. I don't know what that end vision will look like, and that's why we're going out for a consultation with the public, with the end goal of coming up with options for the public to review further.
As I said, we've waited so many years to have an opportunity to develop our waterfront. I stick to my word when I say it's essential that any future development on the waterfront reflects the visions and aspirations of Yukoners. I stay true to those words. It's critical, because we've been talking about the development of the waterfront for many years. This is really a great opportunity for us to do it right.
I see it as a great opportunity. It's exciting - the very fact that we have something to start with, and to take it out for further public review and input is a good thing. We only stand to benefit. I just say that there are a lot of other exciting initiatives going on as well.
We have Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the development of their cultural centre on the waterfront. That's a very important initiative to them and one we have contributed dollars and support to over the years.
The expansion of the MacBride Museum is a really exciting initiative and one that that community has been asking for as early as the 1980s. We're contributing $500,000 toward that initiative and MacBride, in turn, will be using those dollars to help leverage other dollars from the federal government's cultural spaces program, which is one program available to them.
We have also been able, through the Department of Highways and Public Works, to fund the trolley extension to Spook Creek. Again, that was another compelling vision put forth by Miles Canyon Historical Railway Society, and by bringing more flow of traffic from the Chilkoot Centre to the downtown core, it has become a great attraction here in the City of Whitehorse - one that continues to grab steam. In terms of the trolley, which is currently being housed in the roundhouse, we have spent over $600,000 for the relocation of the roundhouse and its refurbishment. It is a beautiful building. There is more work to be done, but it really is a signature piece along the waterfront, and we look forward to seeing its completion.
We've also spent significant amounts of money on the fire hall - I believe through the community development fund - the City of Whitehorse subscribed to that fund, and I think they received almost half a million dollars toward the refurbishment, or the restoration, of the fire hall - another heritage building along the waterfront. It is serving a great use - the Canada Games Host Society - albeit not all of them, but some of them are in there. It's receiving great use, and we would like to see further use of that facility over the next number of years.
I would also be very remiss if I didn't mention the Canada strategic infrastructure funding that we committed to providing for further development of the waterfront - a $9.5 million contribution from the Yukon government. In turn that will help leverage an additional $9.5 million from the federal government, which is fantastic, and we are seeing some of the benefits of that funding as we speak.
It's going toward remediation of soil, lighting and extension of our streets, et cetera. There are a number of infrastructure-related projects identified for the waterfront, so it is really great to see that there is a lot happening on the waterfront. In turn, we're also supporting our arts and cultural communities, which will benefit the entire Yukon economy with initiatives such as the Longest Days Street Fair. Last year was the first year - or perhaps, actually, as the leader of the official opposition says, it ran a few years back, but this was really the first of its days back, and the Artspace North will be launching the second annual Longest Days Street Fair very shortly. It, in turn, has helped benefit the entire City of Whitehorse and Yukon by providing programming on Main Street . I understand that they hope to extend that programming beyond Main Street to incorporate other components of the city.
They do a fantastic job, and we are so very proud. We should be very proud of all the performers - all the artists we have here in the Yukon. Per capita, we are really blessed to have so much talent here in the territory. Events such as the Longest Days Street Fair give the arts community one more venue for being able to showcase all their talents and, in turn, leaving more dollars in the cash registers and benefiting the Yukon.
In terms of arts and culture, just recently the Minister of Education announced $540,000 funding in government support for the accredited visual arts program to be offered by the Dawson City Arts Society, right in the heart of the Klondike . This has been a very exciting initiative that has been underway for many years. We have contributed great sums of dollars toward not only the restoration of the old liquor store, which will be a central component of the programming for the school of visual arts - as I mentioned earlier, there is the $500,000 in government support to get the program off the ground and leverage other dollars so we can see the success of the program.
It's a great partnership between Yukon College , Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in and Dawson City Arts Society. That's something we're really proud to have supported and look forward to its actual launch, which will be another year when everything is lined up and in place. It's a very exciting initiative.
I also mentioned earlier that we're pleased to provide ongoing support to the Yukon Arts Centre. A year ago I announced an increase to its core operating fund to $650,000. That was an increase of $150,000. In turn, the Yukon Arts Centre has been able to help facilitate more programming in all our respective communities. Arts Underground is an initiative that has been an incredible attribute for the City of Whitehorse, has brought more life to the downtown core. It has given a larger venue for the arts community to showcase its wares.
We have also provided a venue for Yukon Archives to partner with other organizations like MacBride Museum, providing events during the evening hours, providing another venue, and raising the awareness of what talent we have here in the territory.
This year we are pleased to be able to provide just shy of $200,000 of new funding for improvements to the Yukon Arts Centre in preparation for the Canada Winter Games next year. As members opposite know, the Yukon Arts Centre will be a very integral, principal venue for cultural programming for the games. They are very much in need of some improvements, some paint, some new carpet, and so forth, so we are pleased to be able to come through with those dollars as well.
As I mentioned earlier, we are again providing dollars toward the new Culture Quest initiative, which has been very well received by the communities over the years, and it has proven to be very successful. I would very remiss if I didn't speak of our heritage community. We have been very supportive of the heritage community over the years. Just within this budget here, we are allocating to the tune of just over $1.5 million toward our heritage community - our museums and our First Nation cultural centres alone. That is inclusive of new money for the MacBride Museum with $500,000 for its expansion, and the $220,000 program that we initiated a couple of years ago for support for First Nation cultural heritage centres - the first time ever - as well as building on a new fund for museums and cultural centres to draw upon as well.
That is $200,000 that we announced earlier - about a month ago, I believe it was. Again, that will go toward a number of different attributes, which leads me to the next area, which was the adoption of the museum strategy.
I have so much to say, Mr. Chair, I just don't know when to stop. So I'm going to keep going because I have so much more to say.
The museum strategy, which has been years in the making - and we're very pleased to see its final completion - calls for the creation of an advisory panel to oversee the implementation of the strategy. So we are working with the heritage community as we speak to come up with a panel that represents our heritage community, inclusive of cultural heritage centres, our interpretive centres, our communities, our museums and so forth. The first task or priority of the advisory panel will be to oversee the terms of this new funding of $200,000 - whether that should go toward artifact exhibit existence or a small capital acquisition, and so forth.
So there are some very exciting things in terms of heritage. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the new heritage training fund that our Minister of Education had initiated a couple of years back. As members opposite know, we have a cultural industries training fund, and we're pleased to come forward with a heritage training fund, again, in helping to build capacity.
And that brings me to the First Nation training corps, something that we have actually increased. We doubled funding. That's housed within the Public Service Commission. I know we're not on that debate yet, but it certainly assists First Nations to take advantage of training opportunities, being able to work with other orders of government here in the Yukon in helping to build capacity - of which many of those positions, I might add, have been dedicated to heritage.
When we talk about heritage, one of the first things we did in the heritage community was to add a number of museums to the museums funding program. These institutions did not receive any funding, but they do now. That's inclusive of Binet House in Mayo, the Miles Canyon Historical Railway Society here in Whitehorse , the Campbell Regional Interpretive Centre in Faro, as well as the Northern Lights Centre in Watson Lake. They now also receive funding and are very appreciative. It just helps build upon their ability to showcase their product to the rest of the community.
That's just a brief overview of some of our commitment to the arts and cultural sector.
Mr. Mitchell: I appreciate that the minister has a great deal of information at her fingertips, so to speak, but there are some questions we would like to ask. In deference to other members who I know want to ask questions, I'll try to ask them two by two so we can move through this a little more quickly. If we can be succinct with our questions and answers, perhaps there will be an opportunity for the minister to tell some of the other MLAs about some of the good things her department is no doubt doing.
In that very thorough answer about the arts and heritage village, I don't think I actually ever heard a time frame. I heard the minister talk about getting it right. I agree with the minister that there is only one chance to get it right. I can also agree with the minister that we have been waiting for a very long time to see the waterfront developed, but I would hope that we would not need to wait for an equally long period of time to study it at this point. Without wanting to be too chippy, this is general debate, not Question Period, but we've seen examples of a lot of areas that have been studied and continue to be studied - from the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, to schools and education - and we don't seem to get to the results. I am hoping that the minister, when she next stands, can give us a bit of a time frame as to what is the period of time she envisions going forward to study the proposals on the waterfront before moving forward to implement them. Perhaps she can just note that question. It's a pretty straightforward, short answer.
I am wondering if the number of visitors has been up or down over the past year. Do we have numbers from the 2005 season? Perhaps the minister can send those over, if she has them. I would like to ask about the $2 million that was proposed on the pan-territorial marketing campaign for the 2007 Canada Winter Games. Being pan-territorial, it was in conjunction with the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The minister made reference to the $1 million in the budget. I know there was money last fall in the supplementary. I am wondering if the minister can tell us how much money has come in from the sister territories. Have we actually received any money from them? If so, how much? What will the money be spent on?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: With respect to the timing of the arts and heritage village, as I mentioned earlier, we just put out a news release in the last couple of days outlining the next steps for this initiative. I think we are planning to engage the proponents of the report - the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and Artspace North - to come up with the process for further public engagement here in the city. We anticipate watching that process, and then we will hold a series of public sessions. That may include public meetings or perhaps having a type of open house where individuals may feel more comfortable coming forward on a one-on-one basis. It may be a combination of both or others - that's something that we are looking at right now. I should also add that we will be working with an independent consultant to conduct these sessions, so that will probably be going out for tender in the not-so-distant future. At the completion of those sessions, we will be able to put together some options - and then take those options back to the public for further review.
So the time frame - I'm a little hesitant to say exactly when. In fact, I know that we've had these discussions before, just recently with the Main Street Society, Artspace North and so forth about time frames, setting time frames and just ensuring that we do a good job at what we're doing here.
The next question had to do with the number of visitors from 2005, and I guess there are a couple of things here. I think I mentioned this last fall, or maybe I didn't. But we have just overall statistics from the visitor information centres, and that would be from May 1 to September 30. We had I guess it was 235,752 visitors who signed in at our six Yukon government visitor information centres, and that would be an increase of three percent over the same period last year.
We did see an increase of visitors from the United States. We also saw an increase of foreign visitors. In fact, the U.S. visitors reached 128,000 in 2005, an increase of eight percent over the last summer. The Canadian visit reached 65,551, and we received 41,295 foreign visits during the summer. So again, that is an increase of about three percent from the same period last year.
In terms of the border-crossing statistics - and I just want to go back to the visitor information centre statistics - that is the same format that we've been using consistently over the last 20 years, I think. It's basically on a voluntary basis. The staff at each of the centres encourage guests to sign the guest book, but not everyone does for a whole host of reasons.
It is the same, consistent measure that we have been using for many years. The border-crossing statistics from January through December of 2005: in total we have 324,284 travellers who visited the Yukon, and that was just up about 2.7 percent, so kind of consistent with what the information centre stats were telling us. That's compared to the same period last year.
That's it in a nutshell in terms of visitation. This year we look forward to bigger and better statistics, of course.
The Canada Winter Games marketing campaign - the member opposite raised a question about our contribution. Housed within this budget, we have $1 million and, as the member opposite referred to, we had issued a million dollars last fall as well. In terms of other commitments from the respective territories, I can just say, “Stay tuned.” We hope to be making some announcement very soon, but the member is very correct - this is a pan-northern approach. It is a national marketing campaign, so we are partners in all senses of the word, in terms of partnering with Northwest Territories and Nunavut .
Chair: It has reached 4:30 p.m. , our normal time for an afternoon recess. Do members wish a recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We'll take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with Bill No. 20, First Appropriation Act, 2006-07, Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture.
Mr. Mitchell: I am wondering if the minister could provide some answers to me regarding the possibility of funding for the 2008 World Weightlifting Championships under the decade of sports and culture line. I know there is a line item for “the decade of sports and culture,” and I know the government had sent a letter of support to the bid committee when they bid to host the 2008 World Weightlifting Championships. But I'm not aware whether there are any actual funds available for them and, if not, why not? Does the government support this undertaking?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Chair, we are very supportive of the Junior World Weightlifting Championships, and we have been working with them - primarily through the Department of Community Services, as well as the Department of Economic Development. I know that there have been a number of gatherings of the minds with respect to the planning of this event. As I understand where things are at right now - and I could be wrong, there could be a further update - there was a letter that went out from the Minister of Community Services to the host society asking them to continue to work with the Department of Economic Development on formalizing their business plan for the event. As I understand it, the department has funding that the host society can access to engage a consultant or a firm to complete the business plan. Once that has been completed, the plan will be a very helpful tool in assisting the organization toward organizing a successful event. I think there are a number of things moving forward with respect to this, and we continue to work with the host society to this end.
Mr. Mitchell: I thank the minister for that response but, from meetings I had awhile back with a member of the host society, I think time is somewhat of the essence. So, I'm wondering - there are always two questions - the first is, what is the department doing? And the second is, what is the timeline?
Does the minister have some information regarding when they may have made the decision as to how much funding would be available and if any of that funding would be included in the $200,000 line item for the decade of sports and culture, or is that money already budgeted for elsewhere and would it require a supplementary budget item to provide funding?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I think the important element here, and what we have been working with the society on, is to complete the business plan. As I understand, there are a certain number of questions that need to be answered surrounding the business plan. Assistance has been offered via the Department of Economic Development to engage a consultant or a firm to complete the business plan and help answer some of those questions so we can drill down on the exact funding that will be required to host the games. I know they have come forward with a request for funding but, prior to decisions moving forward in that regard, there are a number of questions that need to be answered and also a number of areas that need to be addressed. We are working through the Department of Economic Development to complete this business plan for the event, and we will move forward.
With respect to the member opposite's questions about the decade of sports and culture, as I outlined before, we have $147,000 dedicated for the partnership with the Yukon Arts Centre to implement the Culture Quest program that has been in effect for the last couple of years.
The remainder of that funding has gone toward - and will continue to go toward - the Yukon Convention Bureau to assist them in providing support for the test events, as I seem to recall, in putting forward the bids and helping them successfully host the events. So I think the key thing is to come up with the actual number required for hosting the World Junior Weightlifting Championships. Again, we need to carry out this work with the Department of Economic Development. I believe that work is taking place. I think the Minister of Economic Development or perhaps the Minister of Community Services could shed a better light on that as well.
I think the Minister of Community Services has taken the opportunity to raise this at the national level, so we're getting an indication of support at the national level as well. I think we are working toward the end goal from a number of fronts.
Mr. Mitchell: So I guess what I am hearing is that there isn't actually any money in this budget for this at this time, but it's another pledge of an unknown amount of support in the future. I am beginning to be a little concerned about the number of areas such as the arts and heritage village and the 2008 World Weightlifting Championships, as well as areas in other portfolios, where there is an indication that there is support, but we actually don't have any real commitment of funding. So we're not really sure how much funding will be the responsibility of the future government.
I'm wondering if the minister could answer a question regarding the $150,000 item that was in the budget speech supporting Yukon Quest media coverage and winter tourism marketing. I'm wondering if the minister could explain exactly what this money is going to be used for in terms of specific media coverage.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Going back to the member opposite's comments pertaining to the arts and heritage village, as well as the Junior World Weightlifting Championships, I have to take this opportunity. We are often criticized for not doing the appropriate planning or enough consultation. We need to do the necessary planning for the arts and heritage village. On one hand, the member opposite was making a comment with respect to the village not happening fast enough, and now it may be up to another government to come up with funding. That may be so; I don't know what their commitment would be toward an arts and heritage village, but it has come forward to our government, and it's an exciting vision and something we want to take a good look at.
With respect to the Yukon Quest and the marketing agreement we've had in place for probably about four or five years - it has been in place for a number of years - I don't think the contribution agreement has changed all that much, if at all. Money is forwarded to the Yukon Quest, and we're really proud of our ongoing support. The international sled dog race is a great event and does raise awareness about Yukon and, in particular, winter tourism in the Yukon, not to mention other winter-related activities.
Dollars are flowed through to the Yukon Quest, and those dollars are to be targeted primarily toward marketing-related expenditures.
With respect to the plan for 2006-07, I really don't have an actual analysis or a list of all the marketing projects that they're targeting for the 2006-07 year, but it is to go toward marketing activities.
Mr. Mitchell: Now, since the minister had some comments to make about my earlier questions, I think if the minister required clarification of what I was saying, I'll make it clearer. The concern is that we see things that are $1 line items in the budget, which indicates that the government of the day supports something, but in some cases, like with the arts and heritage village, the initial proposal from the proponents from the Chamber of Commerce and Artspace North was the possibility of a project costing as much as $20 million.
So, clearly, we don't know where, between $1 and $20 million we might land up, and yet if the government is indicating through news releases and through responses in this Legislature that there is a commitment, then I think it's legitimate for members on the opposition side to say, “We're not certain just how much is” - I don't know if “unfunded” is the appropriate term - “unknown funding commitments.” There may be an expectation out there, within the community, because the comments by the proponents indicate that they believe that they have the support of the government. So it's simply our responsibility to ask what we can expect that support to entail, what the dollar amount might be, and when it might occur. I don't think that's meant to be confrontational; rather it's doing our job.
I could ask a number of other questions, but considering that the afternoon is getting late and there are other members who want to ask questions, perhaps I will ask one more and then allow other members to ask questions.
Can the minister provide us with an update on our marketing contractors around the world? I know we have various contracts in place. I'm not certain who is representing us in Europe or in England. Do we have any representation in Asia ? How much are these contracts? When do they run out? How much are we paying these people?
I'll let the minister answer that, and then I'll try to allow some time for the Member for Mayo-Tatchun. I know he has a series of questions he would like to ask.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: With respect to the overseas tourism marketing contractors, we have in the past had a general sales agent, as we have coined them - one in the U.K. and one in Germany. The contract for the delivery of the contract in the U.K. was a five-year standing offer agreement, which ended last August.
I have to put this on record that for the very first time we put this out to invitational tender. It wasn't rolled over, and it wasn't sole sourced - it was put out for invitational tender. It was initiated last spring and, as I understand it, there was only one applicant who submitted the appropriate documents. There was a review committee comprised of industry members who determined that the applicant hadn't achieved the technical threshold and the price envelope.
Since that time, there has been a decision made by the department and industry to not renew that particular SOA. I should say that work may continue, perhaps on a project-specific basis. From here on out, the department will be continuing with this work that was primarily held by a contractor for the UK.
With respect to the other contract - I don't have the exact time that contract ran out. For the very first time, we put that out to tender and Bergold Promotions was successful in winning a three-year SOA, to provide basic services in German-speaking Europe, including initiating discussions and activities with tour and wholesale operators on product development, public promotions, media relations, and third-party marketing opportunities of interest to the Yukon. That particular SOA will end the end of March 2007.
That is perhaps an update for the overseas marketing contracts that are taking place. Hopefully, that will answer the member opposite's question.
Mr. Fairclough: I do have a few questions in this department, and I missed the first part of the minister's opening remarks and some of the questions from the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, and I apologize for that. I don't know if I could have paid attention to it anyway, because the answers are really long. So the challenge for the minister is to shorten up her answers, and that's what I would like to see and this could move very quickly.
I had a number of my constituents raise concerns about the tourism season. I've asked the minister this question before about the rubber-tire traffic. I know that a lot of the businesses along the highway are concerned with the amount of traffic that we've been getting. I've asked the question before to the minister. She said to me that there has been an increase in rubber-tire traffic on the highway. So I asked one of the businesses how business was that's off the highway. He said, “It's down, and it's down quite a bit.” This was last year. I told him I was under the impression that traffic was up. So he said, “Okay, let's just sit here and watch the traffic go by, or come at a time when the traffic is heavier, either in the morning or at night.” And he was right. This is a business that does get both rubber-tire traffic and traffic off the Yukon River. He certainly was getting the traffic off the Yukon River, but very few tourists were stopping at his business. What he was relying on was local business. I'm not talking about community local, but local from other communities - Yukoners driving through Carmacks.
I've talked to other businesses along the way - for example, in Braeburn. That will definitely be another issue. The question was asked of the minister about the price of fuel going up and the effect it may have on our tourist season. I've noticed in the budget that there was some decrease - not very much - in regard to the stay-another-day program. Some people would like to see some of the tourists stay another half-hour in their community and spend some money and support the businesses that have been there for a long time. That's not really happening, particularly in a community like Carmacks. We see a lot of the traffic going through.
The minister did say she would like to see, and would support and would like to find ways of getting tourists to stay in the communities, whether that means developing more attractions in the communities or other things. We haven't seen very much of that over the last three and a half years.
In brief, could the minister reassure the businesses along the highway that we will, and the department is, working on attracting the tourists along the highway?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I can certainly appreciate the sentiments expressed by the member opposite. As I mentioned, Yukon is certainly not without challenges. We, like every other jurisdiction in the country and North America - our tourism industries are changing all the time. The demographics are changing and the trends are changing.
I'm really pleased to say, though, that industry has shown its resilience. I think that with the efforts, thanks to officials in our Department of Tourism and Culture, coupled with the efforts of the private sector industry at large, we've been able to show that resilience and we've been able to further diversify the market.
I referred to a number of different initiatives that we have undertaken over the last number of years and, again, we continue to work toward that end. The launch of the tourism brand strategy - again, it's not simply just incorporating a logo and a tag line. It's incorporating the “feel” - the same consistent approach in all our marketing campaigns. In turn, I think it will really help to make our marketing campaigns go further because we'll be marketing comprehensively under one umbrella.
That's the implementation part of the strategy, and it is the first comprehensive strategy of its kind ever in Yukon to be developed. I thank the senior marketing committee for their leadership and their efforts in coming up with the tourism brand, which we have launched in the last little while.
We do have $200,000 earmarked for further implementation, so we are ensuring that it is fully incorporated in all our marketing campaigns and that we also have products such as banners to ensure the consistent feel of the brand throughout the Yukon . As I mentioned earlier, we have been following industry's leads, and we've been using our dollars, I guess you could say, more wisely and more effectively and taking direction from industry. They provide us with the recommendations, and we have been following through - recommendations such as increased investments, media relations, Web site enhancements and familiarization tours.
I think that any time we can have photojournalists come over, or a journalist come over, to write about the Yukon, that's dollars in all our pockets, because that is essentially free advertising. There is a fee attached, but it certainly is not the cost of what we would have had to pay if we went directly through that media outlet.
I think that enhanced investments in these areas serve to raise awareness about the Yukon , and it results in more individuals wanting to visit the Yukon.
We created the tourism cooperative marketing fund. Again, we took the lead from industry. They identified the need for some funding assistance for businesses, even respective First Nation governments, municipal governments, tourism organizations and so forth, and by being able to put forward funds, businesses are able to tap into this particular fund. If they want to pool their resources, work with other respective partners - just take Carmacks, for example. If they wanted to get together with Village of Carmacks or Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation, and if they wanted to advertise or host an event and wanted to advertise that to the rest of the Yukon or even outside of the Yukon, to the rest of the country or elsewhere, that's what this fund is all about. It provides those dollars. In turn, for every dollar put forward by industry, we will match that. There is also a portion of that fund, $150,000, that is administered through the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon to go toward costs associated with attending trade shows - again, putting the individual in the driver's seat and being able to promote his or her product. It has been a really good tool. Word continues to get out about this fund, and, again, any assistance you can provide in sharing the information about this particular fund - or we would be happy to send packages of information to the constituents of the Member for Mayo-Tatchun, as well.
I also make references to the scenic drives campaign. That is a campaign that we instigated a couple of years ago, specifically to target the rubber-tire traffic, and it is a campaign worth $350,000. It was a direct-mail marketing program that was supported by contests and materials. From that initial seed money, we were able to build the Web site engine and the scenic drive itself. An important component of that Web site development and information has been close consultations with First Nations along the highway corridor, municipal governments, tourism organizations and so forth to help build the product along the way. It has been fairly well received.
The first year we concentrated our efforts along the Alaska Highway. It is the anchor highway for the Yukon , and I mentioned a significant number of dollars went to building interpretive signage along the highway, even to constructing new pullouts or improving existing pullouts.
In 2006-07, I mentioned that we will be completing and launching the Golden Circle , the Silver Trail, Dempster Highway scenic drives and so forth. We will be continuing with the marketing campaign, building on the Web sites and building on the interpretive signage.
I mentioned earlier the launch of the Klondike-Kluane loop that we announced earlier this year. It certainly includes dollars for interpretive signage and includes money for the further marketing of that particular highway as well. I'm just looking for a copy of the signage on that highway. I don't have that at my fingertips.
But as for the other respective area in the member opposite's riding, we have the Silver Trail. We have targeted for them a number of different improvements. And I should mention that all the interpretive signage has gone back to interpretation plans, signage plans that were developed over the years and were slowly being implemented. Certainly now we're able to fast-track these initiatives because of funding being made available.
For example, Stewart Crossing will be able to have three new panels ready for installation to replace the old exhibit. I should also mention that we're pleased to again help support the Stewart Crossing-Silver Trail kiosk, which is very well received. I know the Silver Trail Tourism Association and the Keno City Community Club are very appreciative the kiosk is to be up and running once again. They do a great service for individuals living along the Silver Trail.
Through the Department of Environment, there was a wildlife viewing site established at Devil's Elbow along the Silver Trail. We have actually been partnering with Environment and will be looking at developing a series of interpretive panels, the hiking trail and a viewing deck. These are all good things, in terms of building product.
I could go on further about this: Minto bridge, Mount Haldane, Elsa rest area, et cetera - some of these things have been in the works for a few years and some are new initiatives. There's the Wind River trail along the Silver Trail, with new signage slated for the site this year, and so forth. There are a number of initiatives ongoing, such as the scenic drives campaign, complimented by a Tourism North partnership, where we have the opportunity to collaborate with our partners from Alberta, Alaska , B.C. in promoting rubber-tire traffic along the Alaska Highway and coming up north.
There is the joint Yukon-Alaska program, which continues to be bigger and better every year. We're generating more leads. In terms of diversifying the economy, we look to the fly-drive market. I referred to that earlier - individuals flying to Whitehorse as their base and then picking up a motorhome or camper and touring, and those individuals certainly spend a lot of money in the Yukon and tend to spend a lot more time in the Yukon than others.
So that's another great market - again, targeting meetings, conventions, incentive travel. And the Yukon Convention Bureau is doing a great job leveraging the dollars we provide them to go out there and get events for the Yukon . That industry is up and rising as well.
So I would also be remiss if I didn't mention again the $2-million contribution that we are providing toward the national marketing campaign. That's a pretty substantial investment. Coupled with investments coming forward from our other two northern territories, it will be even bigger and better. We're very confident that, as a result of the Canada Winter Games, we will be able to see some increased traffic occurring from the games - so leading up to and during and after the games, particularly when this national marketing campaign will be running through the country. These are various initiatives that we are pursuing and will continue to pursue, as well as our contributions to our respective tourism associations who do a great job working on Yukoners' behalf, looking at their specific tourism sectors.
So I think that, yes, we have challenges, but I think a lot of good work is taking place. Again, building product - I just referred to the member opposite's constituency of Mayo-Tatchun, and I think of our new investments of dollars to the two cultural centres in the member opposite's constituency - great investments. It helps build product and build growth in those particular areas. Those are certainly two stellar attractions in that particular area.
There has been increased funding for the Keno City Mining Museum and new funding for Keno City . For the first time ever, our government was able to come through with money for the Binet House.
We were the first government to do that. These are all very good investments in products, and they are very good attractions that help to build awareness of the area, which benefits the entire Yukon.
Mr. Fairclough: I am sure the minister had a few more she could have added to that. I would appreciate it if the minister could give me that in writing - the number of things the department is doing throughout the Mayo-Tatchun riding. I know the list could go on, but it would be good information for me to take to my constituents.
The other thing I wanted to mention was that the Campbell Highway wasn't included in the scenic tours.
I think I asked the question before about the type of people who were coming into the territory, and I believe the minister said - and maybe I read it somewhere else - that the age of our visitors is a lot younger than what we've seen in the past. We don't have the attractions here in the territory, perhaps, that they would like to see. I know the minister mentioned the tourism brand, and hopefully that is going to be attractive to these younger travellers.
I have one quick question in regard to the passport program. Is that dead or is that still ongoing - where you had to go to every community, for example, you had to go to the Keno City Mining Museum, to get a stamp, and so on - is that still happening?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Yes, the passport program is alive and well. It has been a great initiative in terms of attracting people to all kinds of different areas in the Yukon. I know in the constituency of the member opposite - I just look at places like the Binet House and the Keno City Mining Museum. I remember before those places were even on the passport program - they've marked a notable improvement in visitation as a result of the passport program. It is still operational, and there is still the contest for Yukon gold. There is still the program where contestants receive posters that were derived from our heritage community, I believe. So in partnership with our heritage community, we continue to operate the passport program.
Mr. Fairclough: I thank the minister for the support to the interpretive centre in Carmacks and the Big Jonathan Heritage Centre in Pelly Crossing. One of the things that is always talked about in Mayo in regard to tourism is why the community was there, how it is there, and so on. As many people know, that was the busy spot in the Yukon before the gold rush in Dawson City. What the community wants is its boat back, so if the minister could hook a chain onto the SS Keno and drag it back to the community, they would love it. But it is not going to happen, obviously.
If you go through the Binet House, you'll see the history to that. It's incredible how, for example, they used dog packs to pack silver a long way to the boats.
I think I asked the minister before about marketing the Yukon and whether or not we were targeting certain tourists. I used the example of Nunavut and how they spent a lot of money on marketing just in one city, and that was New York . They did a lot of marketing. The fear they had was that they wouldn't have enough accommodations for the tourists who showed an interest in going into their country.
Is the department targeting and marketing the Yukon in one city or several cities? I know we do it in Frankfurt, Germany. We have people coming over from there, but this was important to Nunavut because it was tours coming to their community in the wintertime. I'd just like to hear what the minister has to say about that.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Each of us has our own idea of how to market the Yukon. I don't think there's any lack of ideas for marketing the Yukon. I have my own too, but I leave that up to the experts in the department.
The Department of Tourism and Culture has a very good working rapport with industry. I've alluded to the senior marketing committee of the Yukon Tourism Marketing Partnership. The individuals who sit on the committee have a lot of marketing expertise, and their purpose is to provide advice and recommendations to the Department of Tourism and Culture for follow-up. They oversee how our marketing programs work or, if they're not working, what needs to be fine tuned and what else needs to be done. They have been very instrumental in providing advice and direction on how we can spend our marketing dollars in the best way possible. It's a very efficient use of dollars and we appreciate their expertise and their advice.
The reason I mentioned these individuals is because they are the ones who actually work with the Department of Tourism and Culture tourism branch and oversee the development of the tourism strategy, which is reported on an annual basis. It goes for three years.
We also have annual product development strategy, and this report actually itemizes what our primary markets are, what our secondary markets are, and so forth.
That's based upon the research and expertise that we have at our fingertips on what we know has worked for us and what hasn't worked for us. So I'd be very pleased to provide members opposite with copies of those particular documents. They outline all the different segments that we do market to on an annual basis. It goes into the rubber-tire market, it goes into the fly-drive market; it goes into the wilderness tourism market; and it actually sets goals for us, one by one. So we do have some benchmarks with which to measure our success or lack of success, and that gives us an opportunity to fine tune these initiatives over and over.
I call these the report cards on tourism marketing. They provide me with a great degree of comfort as to what is working and what isn't working and how we can improve some of these programs we have in place. Again, it refers to winter tourism, the activities, meetings, conventions, the incentive travel market and so forth. I would be very pleased to provide the members opposite with copies of those documents if they so wish.
Mr. Fairclough: I also asked the minister if she could provide some of the details that she laid out about what the department is doing with respect to tourism and culture in my riding. She listed a number of things, and I would just like it to be complete. I don't need to hear it now, so if the minister can do that, I would appreciate it.
In the past, I did mention the importance of trying to attract tourists to the community of Mayo, on the Silver Trail, and the minister has identified a couple of things that might do that. One of the things - and I asked the minister about this before - is to lobby the highways department to make some improvements. We've had some - for example, the Silver Trail Inn. I mentioned that in this House, and the work was done to put in a culvert. This was a safety issue more than anything else, but people were turning around at that point and not going past the Silver Trail Inn, up to Keno.
The other one had to do with doing some maintenance about this time of the year on the Signpost Road, because a lot of people who go up to Keno go up to that road.
Some of the residents in Keno are pretty creative. They need backing to try to get some of their projects off the ground. The community has talked about putting up a restaurant-type business, designed like an underground shaft. It was quite impressive to see the drawings they have already done up. It was all done with Plexiglas, and you can see the different shafts and the different type of equipment they use underground. I'm sure they have a lot of those kicking in and around Keno.
That's something the minister could perhaps look at and talk to the community about when making her trips around the territory.
I do think, though, that the department could be doing more to help communities. The minister said that, for example, the village and the First Nation in Carmacks could get together and identify events that could take place that may attract some people there to stay for a little bit. There are not that many businesses there, but they can all use more business.
One of them that I mentioned in this House before was an annual event of having the Tlingit trade, for example, right where it used to be in Carmacks. That could go so far as opening up trails, but it could be an annual event where the Tlingit people could sit down with the Northern Tutchone people and just go through - even if it's a day or a weekend event - their trades as they did in the past. That's something that's a little bit different. If the minister recalls with the exit surveys that have been done in the past, many of the people have written that they wanted to see more First Nation content in travelling through the territory. By getting rid of the magic and the mystery, I thought perhaps some other First Nation content could have been included in that or could have replaced that.
That's something the department could be looking at. I know that the minister says she leaves it up to the experts when it comes to marketing, and so on, but it wouldn't hurt if the minister would take some of these suggestions forward.
I have gone through the budget and there is money in there for heritage, and so on. There is not a lot of it. I've mentioned before that I think the department could do well attracting people here by having more places for them to go - exactly what the minister said. I mentioned one in the past, and I'll mention it again. It is in regard to restoring some of the buildings and grounds in and around Yukon Crossing - not very far off the highway. It could be on both sides of the river. That's another destination where people travelling through the communities could stay. There are a lot of them. One example that is very visible as we drive on the Klondike Highway is the roadhouse at Montague. Some work was put into it; a number of years ago they took out some rotten logs on the top and bottom, and all we have is the wall. There are no windows. There are a couple trees growing higher than the walls that are there. I know the department, through the heritage branch and Archives, has a lot of detail about this area. That is one building that could be completed and finished off. That is another suggestion for the minister. I was hoping to see it reflected in this budget, but perhaps I wasn't heard at the time.
Pelly and Nisutlin must have had a louder voice and got the money directed to the community somehow for artificial ice.
Maybe the minister could respond to that.
The other thing that I was disappointed in was the amount of money that has been put aside for archaeological work. I think it is the same amount of money, but I think we have two archaeologists here in the territory who work for the government and who have worked with the communities in the past. They are always stretched, so they cannot always focus on one area and try to complete it. They are always bouncing from one area to another in the territory. That work should be completed in many key areas around the territory - just do the work - and sometimes development gets in the way.
I'll give you an example of one area. In Carmacks, at the mouth of the Nordenskiold River - which is the trade and settlement area of the Northern Tutchone people and the trade area with the Tlingit people - it was disturbed by the building of the road. Many have sifted through the piles of volcanic ash and dirt that have been pushed off to the side to find archaeological sites. There is also a graveyard built right close to the river. It is very well known that there are a lot of artifacts under that ground - not very far under - but instead of disturbing it there was gravel put over it, and it was left the way it is. How often do we get an opportunity to ensure that we dig up some of the past for display and recordings of the past history for our future generations?
So those are a couple. I would like the minister to respond to the question about the heritage buildings, because I think there is a lot out there that could be done.
The other thing in regard to heritage buildings - I know that there are a number of buildings on private property that will soon disappear because the owners aren't willing to put the money into them to restore them for tourists to look at or to preserve history. I was wondering if the minister could respond to that, whether there is any help for some of the private sector where these heritage buildings are on private land?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I don't know where to start. There were a lot of questions, so it will probably take me a little bit of time to go through all of them. In terms of assistance, if there is an interest in a community, our Department of Tourism and Culture will have officials come out to the community and talk to an organization or local government or First Nation government to talk about programs that we do have in place. As well as partnering with the Department of Economic Development, there are a number of different programs administered through the Department of Economic Development - strategic industries, for example.
There are a lot of different programs, and it's just a matter of being able to see how to access these programs. And, certainly, we are there to provide any assistance we can, whether it's putting a regional plan in place through the Department of Economic Development, recognizing strategic industries of growth in that area, or determining a blueprint for identifying successes.
I just put on the record that our department is really very open and willing to assist any community at any time. But, with that said, we do endeavour to travel to every community in the Yukon during our annual community consultations. I think I was at 16 of the 20 community meetings that were held last fall. I wasn't at every one of them, but I was at most of them, and I had a great time visiting the Silver Trail region that the member opposite was asking about.
We had a very good meeting with representatives of Keno City Community Club, the Silver Trail Tourism Association, the Village of Mayo and the Na Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation. There were a lot of different items put forward - signage being one of them and, again, providing ongoing assistance for the Silver Trail tourism kiosk, which we were able to do again this year.
Like the member opposite said, it's about responding to some of these priorities and helping to build product. I'll just reiterate for the member opposite's information that, for the first time, we have put forward funding for the Binet House. It is a superb attraction, and they do a great job providing guidance to visitors. They administer the passport program in their area and also help to provide assistance to visitors wanting to go further along the Silver Trail to Keno City and so forth.
They do a really good job. For the first time, our government has come forward with new funding for the two cultural centres - one in Carmacks and the other in Pelly Crossing. We're really pleased to put forward funds in a new program such as the $220,000 we allocated a couple of years ago.
In terms of providing assistance to those respective centres, it helps them to do other things they wouldn't necessarily have been able to do without that funding.
The member opposite referred to heritage buildings. I would really be remiss if I didn't mention the Mabel McIntyre House. There was an application put forward by the Village of Mayo to designate that as the first territorial historic site in the Yukon, pursuant to the Historic Resources Act.
I remember going there for the designation ceremony. It was a really proud moment in that community. Since then, they have received funding directly through the Tourism and Culture department as well as through the community development fund for stabilization and restoration work associated with that building.
There are also efforts put forward by the respective First Nations to look at designating other buildings in the area, and we are working with them. The member opposite may be aware of that.
So I think that through funds such as the community development fund, as well as the heritage properties assistance contributions program, we have actually doubled that funding in the last two years from where it was three years ago. So our government has doubled funding for that heritage properties assistance fund. That is a fund that is made available to private individuals who would like to designate their personal property as a historic site, and they would like to receive some dollars to help restore their property.
In fact, we have been placing advertisements in the papers as part of the historic places initiative, as well as part of the existing historic heritage programs that we have in place.
That has been a really good fund and has helped a number of businesses throughout the years - Bombay Peggy's is one recipient that comes to mind. I can't think of others, but there are many others. They have done a great job with funds being made available.
Also, through the historic places initiative, there is just under $300,000 funding in this year's budget again. Part of this is receiving dollars through the heritage properties assistance contribution program, as well as receiving funding through the federal government's fund - I think that is the commercial heritage properties incentive fund; that's a mouthful - where private individuals and commercial owners are able to access funds, as well, as long as they comply with the standards and guidelines that are prescribed through the historic places initiative. That is administered through Canadian Heritage, I understand.
We do have those guidelines in our office. There are a couple different venues for private individuals or commercial property owners to access, if they so wish.
We would be pleased to make that available for the member opposite if he were interested in that.
We also have a number of programs administrated through the cultural services branch pertaining to archaeological site work and heritage restoration. I'd be happy to outline them but, seeing the time, I move that we report progress.
Chair: It has been moved by Ms. Taylor that we report progress.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Cathers: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: Mr. Cathers has moved 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. Rouble: Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 20, entitled First Appropriation Act, 2006-07, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Cathers: 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.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: The House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 5:57 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 20, 2006 :
Crime Prevention and Victim Services Trust Fund 2004/2005 Annual Report (Edzerza)