June 27, 1923

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It has been cancelled, yes.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HOPPE AND ISENBERG LEASES
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SUPPLY-TORONTO VIADUCT


On the motion of Hon. W. S. Fielding for the House to go into Committee of Supply.


CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (North Toronto):

At the request of many Toronto organizations, including the mayor and the corporation of the city, I desire to bring before the House this morning and discuss for about ten minutes the case of the city of Toronto and its agreement with the Grand Trunk Railway and its successors and assigns, now the government of Canada, and the Canadian Pacific Railway for the erection of a viaduct across the waterfront in Toronto. The lower end of the city of Toronto on Front street, between Yonge and York, resembles a city or town in Flanders or France, destroyed in the late war by the German government. The city of Toronto placed a contract with the railways before the Railway Commission, and after ten years of effort before that body, the othei day a meeting was held at the City Hall in Toronto, at which meeting the Railway Board washed its hands of the whole agreement, and the matter is now in the hands of the government to decide. The statement of the Chairman of the Board of Railway Commissioners delivered at the City Hall, Toronto, on Thursday the 7th June last, was as follows:

This board has nothing to say as to whether the viaduct scheme will go through or not. It is out of our hands. We went so far as to say in Ottawa in 1921 that we would not interfere. It is now a matter for those concerned to raise the money.

The government is a party to the contract. The parties to the contract were the corporation of the city of Toronto, the Toronto Harbour Commissioners, and the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada;-it is now the Grand Trunk Railway and their successors and assigns, who are now the government. The city of Toronto has been treated in a most unjust and unfair way, not onljr by the present government, but by the preceding governments, in failing to carry out this agreement. The disgraceful conditions in Toronto have made that city waterfront a by-word for more than twenty years. Behind the presidents of the

railways, whose policy has been a compound of evasion and procrastination, is the Railway Commission, the members of which washed their hands of the case, after loudly declaring that final jurisdiction rested with them. The Railway Commission is supposed to enforce the agreement between the municipalities and the railways and they have washed their hands of the affair. A large revenue has been contributed by the city towards the National Railways. The only forum we can go to and ask for the enforcement of this agreement is the parliament of Canada. An agreement is an agreement in law, even if it is made by a municipal corporation and the Grand Trunk. The government can be brought into the Exchequer Court and adjudicated in that way. Matters have been.allowed to drift along till the present time. We have a station there which the Grand Trunk built some ten years ago, and it is now ready to be opened. But that station is an eyesore to everybody coming into the city. It is an up-to-date station, made to fit in with the elevated tracks which were proposed to be constructed. When this agreement was entered into the Harbour Commissioners did not look upon it as "a scrap of paper," but considered it a binding agreement between the railways and the city. They laid their plans before the government for the rebuilding of the harbour at Toronto at a cost of 826,000,000. Now,

820,000,000 of that money have been expended to-day to provide a right of way for this viaduct, and to provide new piers and breakwaters, for the carrying out of the agreement. Why is this document treated as a scrap of paper? Can the railways of this country ride rough-shod over municipalities of Canada in this way, and treat a solemn agreement as a scrap of paper? An agreement is an agreement no matter by whom it is made; and we say that Canada is a party to it, because under the description in the agreement the party of the second part is the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada hereinafter called the railway company and their successors and assigns. They are bound by that agreement. The Grand Trunk is not bankrupt. The sum of $73,000,000 was voted by this government the other night for railways and $26,000,000 in addition was for the purpose of extensions and branch lines. Many of these lines, of course, are not revenue producing, but for many years the branch lines have been producing a revenue. The Grand Trunk made most of its money in Ontario, and if the Grand Trunk had not been made a link in the Canadian National Railways they would have made money. According to the Acworth Report

Supply-Toronto Viaduct

on Railways of 1917 there was taken, out of the old Grand Trunk in Ontario $22,000,000 cash and $122,000,000 credit for the Grand Trunk Pacific, with the result that the Grand Trunk became bankrupt and was not able to carry out its solemn agreement with the Harbour Commission. Now the party of the first part, the city of Toronto, has fulfilled its contract with the government;-and in making these comments this morning I want to have it understood that I am not criticising the present government, because I say that all governments since 1913 have treated this agreement as a mere scrap of paper.

Another contract was entered into with the city in connection with the sale of the lot on which the new union station stands. The Grand Trunk purchased a lot in 1905 and agreed to build an up-to-date station, and subsequently became a party to the erection of a viaduct on the waterfront so that the trains might be brought in that way and the city get the benefit of a proper terminal. The viaduct agreement has not been carried out either; like the rest, it has been treated is so much waste paper. It is signed by the four parties to the contract and it provides a penalty of $100 a day during the time of the failure of any of the parties to implement it. That penalty, accumulating from 1913, has now run into hundreds of thousands of dollars which the city could collect if it wanted to take steps in the matter. The city has no desire to institute legal proceedings, but the people of Toronto are absolutely tired of the way this whole question has been ignored. After ten years of waiting they are now impatient, and they are clamouring for proper treatment. When passengers arrive at the station they are treated like a lot of cattle. There are sixteen tracks across the waterfront at Cherry street, and almost as many at York and Bay streets. The level crossings are an eyesore to the city, and after the expenditure of such a large sum as $20,000,000 to prepare the right-of-way for the railway, it is not to be wondered at if the residents of the city of Toronto are now exasperated. Some of the tenants along the waterfront have been simply driven into liquidation through the failure of the parties to this agreement to observe their part of the undertaking. The railways cannot handle the business on these tracks, either in respect of passenger traffic or in the matter of freight. During the Exhibition 165 trains were assembled at the union station in the rush period, and this will given hon. members some idea of the state of congestion there at the present time.

I would point out to the government that after all it is only a short-sighted policy on the part of the National Railways to delay the execution of this contract, for if a proper terminal were provided for the people it would increase the receipts from freight and passenger traffic. The agreement it is estimated will call for an expenditure of $32,000,00, to which the city of Toronto is liable to contribute one-third. That $32,000,000 is made up in the following way: The new

station, including land, represents an expenditure of $9,500,000. That sum has already been spent. For land damages, the sum of $7,500,000 was to be provided; and the amount to be spent on the viaduct construction was fixed at $16,000,000. As I say, the first item of $9,000,000 odd has been spent so that there is only approximately $22,000,000 remaining to be expended, of which the city of Toronto is to provide one-third. And the city is ready and willing to-morrow to put up its share if the Railway Board will proceed with their part of the contract. Now there is no use in the government going around a circle in this matter. The Minister of Railways (Mr. Graham) made some reference the other day to Sir Henry Thornton in connection with this question. Well, I do not think that there is any room for argument, nor has either the Railway Board or Sir Henry Thornton, any option, so far as this contract is concerned. Here is a specific agreement to which we have the seal of the company; and neither Sir Henry Thornton nor the Railway Board can set it aside. A contract is a contract, and all that is required in this case is that parliament shall provide the money which is called for. The representatives of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Harbour Commission, the city of Toronto, and the Grand Trunk have held between twenty and thirty meetings in an endeavour to adjust the dispute. We inquired of the directors of the Grand Trunk what their stand in the matter was, and they informed us that they could do nothing. They said: "You have your contract; get the government to carry it out". Let me inform the House that we will carry out our part of the contract if parliament will provide the money to enable the railways to do their share. There is absolutely no use in vacillating on this question until Sir Henry Thornton comes back. Sir Henry Thornton, in the first place, is not a cure-all for the transportation ills of this country; and in any event the contract should be carried out. Why should the government have to wait for Sir Henry Thornton?

Supply-Toronto Viaduct

As I have stated before, there is only one course open to the government, and that is to include in the estimates a sum sufficient to begin the operations necessary under the National Railways' part of the contract. The Canadian Pacific Railway declared the other day that they were ready to carry out their bargain, and the Mayor of the city expressed the same preparedness. We are simply waiting -upon the Grand Trunk and the Grand Trunk Pacific, and we have been waiting thus ever since 1913. The citizens of Toronto are absolutely disgusted at the way this contract has been ignored, and visitors to the city are impressed in any but a favourable way. Besides this, there is considerable damage being caused the business interests of the city through the failure of the government to observe its agreement. Lands on which we could get factories established are lying idle simply because the Grand Trunk will not make a move in this matter. Surely the Harbour Commission and those persons who are interested must have some recourse against the government for the damages they have sustained. They have been out their rentals from this $20,000,000 worth of revenue producing property. They have not been able to get any revenue from it, and are now drawing on capital with the result that deficits are being piled up. The people of Toronto are sustaining damages and cannot get the use of their own property. In England, in Australia and in the United States the railway legislation provides a summary remedy for situations similar to this; any municipality can enforce a contract with the railway corporation in the event of failure on the part of the latter to carry out its terms. But to-day in Canada the railways are altogether supreme. They can go into a municipality, enter into a contract and then ignore it, interfere with trade and commerce, occasion damage and ruin to business, drive people into liquidation, and apparently be immune from the consequences of their actions. That is the condition of affairs as we have it in Toronto at the present time.

In 1913, an act was passed, as Chapter 26, 1 and 2 of George V to consolidate the acts relating to the harbour of Toronto. By this act the docks were to be moved into the bay and new bulkheads and pierheads were to be built. The Minister of Public Works of that day, the Hon. Mr. Rogers, stated that the Harbour Commission would have to start building their works before the government would undertake any expenditures. The Harbour Commission then spent $20,000,000 The government, I may say, has not done so

badly so far as harbour improvement is concerned. But certainly in regard to its contract in connection with the union station it has failed miserably. An order in council was also passed by the government in 1913, providing for the carrying out of these works in the harbour, and that order in council shows that the work was to be completed in the year 1916. It was provided in the main agreement between the railways and the city that the work should begin within one month from the signing of the agreement. Up to date not a spadeful of earth has been turned towards carying out this agreement. The work was to have been finished in 1916, when we were tc have a new union station with elevated tracks across the waterfront. Seven years have elapsed and nothing has been done. It is not a question of law. The agreement has been validated by legislation, and althrough the railway companies appealed the judgment of the Railway Commission, the Privy Council declared it to be binding on all parties.

I regret that at this late stage of the session I have not an opportunity of laying all the facts before hon. members, because this is the only body that can give the people of Toronto the relief which the viaduct agreement provides for. The Grand Trunk Railway Company is a party to the agreement, and in the opinion of eminent counsel who have been consulted, the government of Canada are the successors and assigns of the company. It is no use now to refer us to Sir Henry Thornton and the directors of the Canadian National Railways. We were referred to the Grand Trunk Railway Company by Sir Robert Borden when he was Prime Minister, but repeated interviews with the Grand Trunk directorate and officials extending over a period of ten years did not bring us the slightest satisfaction. The city of Toronto has been treated very unfairly in this matter. Instead of building sundry branch lines for the Canadian National Railways that will not be revenue-producing for some years to come at least, I think the government would have been better advised to carry out this viaduct agreement, for the works covered by it would more than pay fixed charges.

Topic:   SUPPLY-TORONTO VIADUCT
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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. C. HOCKEN (West Toronto):

Mr. Speaker, I shall support the statements of my hon. friend from North Toronto (Mr. Church) very briefly by informing the House of some particulars regarding this proposed work. For thirty years the city of Toronto endeavoured to protect its citizens crossing the waterfront, and when we reached 1913 interest in the question was revived and it was pressed upon

Supply-Toronto Viaduct

the railway companies very strongly. The city submitted a plan for the elimination of the waterfront level crossings at a cost of about half that involved in the present plan. But the latter plan was the work of the engineers of the railway companies. They said to the city council: "Your plan is not complete. Here is a larger and better and more comprehensive plan." Some of us thought at the time that the railway companies were hopeful that the increased cost involved by the adoption of this plan would frighten the city council and prompt its rejection. I was a member of the council that year and I recall the circumstances very clearly. When the engineers of the railway companies submitted a plan which straightened out the line from the station to Cherry street at double the cost they said: " Any other plan is insufficient and we will accept nothing but the plan which we are now submitting to you." .

Topic:   SUPPLY-TORONTO VIADUCT
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

From the station east to Cherry street?

Topic:   SUPPLY-TORONTO VIADUCT
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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

Yes, a matter of a couple of miles. The straightening of that line involves the removal of millions of dollars' worth of buildings. But the city council said: "Yes, we will accept your plan and fit it into our harbour plan. It will increase the cost of our harbour, but it is a good plan and we want to make a complete job of the whole thing." I want to impress upon the House, Mr. Speaker, that the city of Toronto has acted as fairly, as generously and as honourably as any municipality *could act.

The city has been forced to agitate for this viaduct in order to save the lives of its citizens. The crossings on the esplanade are really death traps, lives have been lost there on occasions, and it is a wonder to me that more fatal accidents have not occurred. We have opposite, across the bay, a beautiful park of 1,500 acres. On holidays as many as 100,000 of our citizens cross at Bay street, and they have to pass over ten railway tracks with cars shunting up and down all the time. This crossing is right at the throat of the coach yard of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and every Canadian Pacific train running out *of Toronto comes over that crossing to the yard and back again to the station. Consequently there is more traffic at Bay street than at any other two crossings in the whole city. All through the summer tens of thousands of people use the Bay street crossing, and the only protection afforded them is by means of gates.

I should like the House to consider the urgent necessity for this work. One of the leading papers of the Dominion, the Toronto

Globe, has during the past few months been constantly bringing this subject before its readers. I suppose we have perhaps one of the finest railway stations in the whole Dominion, but it stands there like a monument, with not a track near it, and with no preparations being made for running trains into it. Only the office portion of the building is being used. In the meantime over half a million people, possessing a beautiful modern station, are compelled to use perhaps the most inefficient railway structure to be found on the whole North American continent.

Topic:   SUPPLY-TORONTO VIADUCT
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CON
LIB
CON

Murray MacLaren

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacLAREN:

There is one exception

-the minister has mentioned it.

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LIB
CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

I rather take issue with

my hon. friend there, because although a very small and inadequate station may be bad enough in a city of the size of St. John, in a city of half a million it is a good deal worse. Everyone who goes out of the union station must cross from two to five tracks, according to the track where his train is standing. This is bad enough for Toronto people who know the dangers to be guarded against, but for strangers it is a much more serious matter.

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LIB
CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

Well, if only drunken men were killed on these crossings we would have fewer casualties. But any person is liable to meet with an accident at the old station. We are forced to use it by reason of the refusal of the railway companies to carry out their agreement. Now, that agreement was not forced upon them, it was the outcome of their own proposition. I am not going to curse the former government, bt cause this happened in the middle of 1913, and during the war we could hardly expect the necessary expenditure to be made. But I think the time is come when something should be done, w'hen at least a start should be made in carrying this work to completion. It is going to take several years to construct, and during this time we will have to suffer more or less inconvenience, but we shall be willing to put up with this in the sure and certain hope of ultimately having relief. We have spent

820,000,000, and I presume before we are through wTe will spend another 810,000,000, on our harbour, and we hope that from the construction of that harbour our water borne traffic will largely increase. But every ton of freight that comes in by water now has to

*1446

Supply-Toronto Viaduct

cross these eight or ten or twelve tracks at Yonge street, Church street, Bay street or some other street. That is a serious handicap against the development of water borne traffic that ought to be removed; there ought to be free access for the freight traffic as well as for the passenger traffic to the pier heads in our city. During the summer months the volume of passenger traffic out of Toronto to the St. Lawrence, to the Niagara, to Hamilton to Port Dalhousie and Grimsby is enormous, to say nothing of that which goes to the Island every day. A number of people approximating 25 per cent of the whole population of the city crosses these tracks every day. It is a condition that I do not think exists anywhere else on the North American continent, and it is one which the government really ought to take some steps to alleviate. I know the Minister of Railways is familiar with the situation there, and I do hope he will persuade his colleagues to put an appropriation in the estimates this session. It is not too late yet; we can bring down another list of supplementary estimates. That would give my hon friend the Postmaster General (Mr. Murphy) a chance, because I am told there is nothing for his department in the present estimates.

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LIB
CON
IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (South York):

May I, on behalf of Toronto, express the sympathy of that city with the hon. member for Quebec County (Mr. Lavigueur) and the city of Quebec, of which he was at one time mayor, in having their grievances presented to this House. Toronto will help in any way it can to get justice done to Quebec. But the question really before the House and the one to which I must direct myself concerns the city of Toronto, and for just a few minutes I propose to deal with that-probably from my own point of view, but certainly from some knowledge of the situation.

Now what is the situation at Toronto? It is this: It is a city on the waterfront and every approach to it by means of rails except the old Great Western line-now Grand Trunk; Canadian National-is on the lake level. Every other railroad comes into Toronto on the high level of the plain immediately surrounding the city, and the elevation of all these roads before they enter Toronto is quite two or three hundred feet above the level of the lake. In the old days the Grand Trunk was only able to approach the city on the level, but was not in a position to bridge the rivers, and therefore it took the easier way of building on the lower level. Now, the problem is this: An agreement was made, and

Supply-Toronto Viaduct

the city of Toronto is calling for the carrying out of that agreement by the companies. In the meantime there is an immediate relief for the situation. In what does the relief consist? First of all, the use of the new union station immediately. To do that you must take all the through traffic, and especially that of freight, from the front of the city by the crosstown line that now exists on the upper level, and remove a part of the existing difficulty, and to try and reduce the obstructions and inconveniences as they now exist to the public. Now, by building a cut-off line of four miles on the right of way of the Canadian Pacific from Leaside-and the National Railways now own one-half of all that double track right of way-from North Toronto Station on to Leaside-and then directly east from Lea-side to a junction with the Canadian National railway tracks in Scarboro and to a second junction with the Grand Trunk at Scarboro junction all that freight traffic can be taken off the Esplanade to the north, and the only cars left on the front will be the passenger trains and the local freight traffic that must be handled on the lake level. Those four miles of double track can be built immediately at an expenditure of not more than $500,000, including one temporary lumber viaduct across the Don in addition to the two now existing, the high level bridge on the west Don and the high level bridge on the east Don. All that work can be done in four months. When that is completed all the through traffic which now encumbers the front of Toronto will be taken off the esplanade and across the city to the north. In that way thousands and thousands of dollars in the consumption of coal alone by the railways can be saved. Because here is what takes place now. Every train coming into and going out of Toronto, with the exception of the Hamilton trains must be lifted up two to three hundred feet in order to get over the rise whether westerly to Guelph, the rise by the old Northern to the north, or the rise on the Grand Trunk and Canadian Pacific to the north east by way of Agincourt and Scarboro in the east. But between these two heavy grades which exist to-day to the north and east of Toronto, and which are totally unnecessary, the cut-off line to which I have referred, including a temporary viaduct over the Don, can be built at a cost of less than S500,000. There will be immediate relief given and the new union station can come into use within three months. That is the practical proposition I wish to outline. I am not abandoning in an5T way the claims of Toronto to the carrying out of the esplanade agreement but you get an entirely new view point of the situation if you carry

out the improvements I have outlined and take away this traffic on the front to the north. The fact is that the grade out of Toronto by the old Grand .Trunk at Scarboro is a one per cent grade; it is one of the worst grades in Canada. The Canadian Pacific Company grade to Wexford is another one of one per cent. But between the two lines there can be obtained, and has been surveyed, a grade of one-half of one per cent which was discovered some years ago. The improved line on that improved grade can be built and put into operation for less than half a million dollars and the new station can come into use immediately. Later a permanent viaduct may have to be built and other things done. When you come to deal with the esplanade there will be immense claims for damages. This matter has got to be settled and settled immediately. The government and the railways are parties to it and an immediate settlement must be brought about. In the meantime all the trains can come in and go out in accordance with the plan which I have indicated. Trains to the west will go out on the esplanade where the grades have been separated. The trains that have to go east will proceed by way of Parkdale and Davenport to North Toronto, which is the proper place for a great new station for the city.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

What is to become of the harbour?

Mr. MACLEAN (York) The harbour will be improved by this scheme. There will be an open front and everybody will be able to get to it by overhead bridges. In the meantime the best route-the best route for handling passenger traffic; one that is convenient to the street car system and the radials, that shortens the distance in the mileage, and reduces the cost of operating the railways-is by way of north Toronto. The saving in mileage alone for passengers coming into Toronto from every quarter by making the station at North Toronto will be immense. Then there will be the saving to the railways by the avoidance of the grades to which I have referred, the worst grades in Canada. Those grades can be avoided by taking the traffic to the north. If the scheme I have outlined is carried out relief will be afforded to the city of Toronto almost immediately. The Minister of Railways knows about these facts, also the engineers of the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National Railway. In a word what I suggest is this that the new station which is one of the finest in the country, be put into use immediately; that the trains going west go along the front where there is now a com-

Supply-T or onto Viaduct

plete suppression of grades, and that all east bound trains, go round by way of Parkdale and North Toronto, where there are no level crossings to be overcome.

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CON
IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York):

No it will not.

My proposition will improve the harbour by taking a great deal of traffic off the front. It will also improve property in that part of the city. But it gives a real service and real use to the new union station. It will afford a much better point of distribution for the passenger traffic, not only the people who live in Toronto, but those who come to that city, if they can enter the city from the north rather than the south. At North Toronto, Parkdale, or West Toronto Junction or Davenport, there could be a better distribution of the traffic immediately throughout the city than exists to-day, I say that the agreement must be earned out and the esplanade situation relieved. What I suggest should be done this summer and it could be done at an expenditure of less than half a million. It would furnish relief in the southern portion of the city and a better entrance to the city could be secured. All the traffic that now encumbers the waterfront can be taken away, the distance can be shortened and economies can be effected. Toronto would then have a new front. Toronto is no longer the city of the old days on the waterfront, but it is becoming a great and growing city to the north end and west, because one of its developments now is to the north. The development cannot be to the south. The harbour would be much improved, if the approach to it were improved by taking away all freight and passenger trains. I hope we will have a declaration from the minister, on behalf of the government, that not only are they prepared to carry out the agreement which the railways and people have made and to which the government is a party, but that they will undertake to afford immediate relief in the direction I mentioned, and if they do that they will have made a beginning in the settlement of the Toronto harbour problem. It will take years to build the viaduct, and it will involve millions of dollars in damages, how large the damage will be I do not know. I cannot say who will find the money. I make the prediction that the moment claims for damages come to be adjusted, the claims will run up into twenty, thirty or forty millions. Everybody is waiting for an opportunity to present a claim for damages, and they have a right to put them in. There is a real and immediate solution of the problem, without

interfering in any way with the claims of the city for the carrying out of the agreement.

At one o'clock the House took recess.

The House resumed at three o'clock.

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June 27, 1923