April 11, 1927

REPORTS AND PAPERS


Agreement respecting the natural resources of Alberta; correspondence respecting the natural sources of Manitoba-Hon. Mr. Rinfret.


REPORT OF COMMITTEE


Eighth report of the select standing committee on 'banking and commerce-Mr. Sanderson (for Mr. Hay).


PEACE RIVER RAILWAY OUTLET

OBJECTION TO MOTION TO CONCUR IN REPORT OF RAILWAY COMMITTEE

UFA

William Irvine

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (Wetaskiwin):

moved:

That the eleventh report of the select standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lilies be now concurred in.

Topic:   PEACE RIVER RAILWAY OUTLET
Subtopic:   OBJECTION TO MOTION TO CONCUR IN REPORT OF RAILWAY COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Is it the pleasure of the

House to adopt t'he motion?

Topic:   PEACE RIVER RAILWAY OUTLET
Subtopic:   OBJECTION TO MOTION TO CONCUR IN REPORT OF RAILWAY COMMITTEE
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

Topic:   PEACE RIVER RAILWAY OUTLET
Subtopic:   OBJECTION TO MOTION TO CONCUR IN REPORT OF RAILWAY COMMITTEE
Permalink
UFA

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. D. M. KENNEDY (Peace River):

I rise for the purpose of opposing the adoption of this report. The report, which will be found on page 2138 of Hansard of April 8th last, reads as follows:

The select standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines beg leave to present the_ following as its eleventh report.

Your committee has considered the following resolution referred to it:

That, in the opinion of this House, the time has arrived for the commencement forthwith, and the completion in the near future of a direct railway outlet from the Peace River country to the Pacific coast.

Your committee, having heard evidence on the subject matter of the resolution from the premiers of Alberta and British Columbia and from engineers who have investigated this project, and others, is of opinion that building a western outlet from the Peace River area is feasible from an engineering standpoint.

_ The weight of evidence before your committee indicates that, on economic grounds, such construction should not be commenced forthwith, as set forth in the resolution referred to your committee.

Your committee is of opinion that much greater traffic development is necessary in the area to make the building of such outlet economically sound.

Your committee is further of opinion that potentialities of that area are such as to warrant a continuous study of its development.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

It is not my intention to take up very much of the time of the House in connection with this matter, especially in view of the fact that so many hon. members-nearly ail of them in fact-have been working so hard and for such long hours during the last ten

Peace River Railway

days in order to finish the business of the session. But I cannot allow the report as it has been presented to go unchallenged, because I cannot agree that' it correctly interprets the evidence that was adduced before the committee. I am in general agreement with regard to the paragraph which states that a western outlet from the Peace river area is feasible from an engineering standpoint, although certain evidence was brought out before the committee in this connection that ought to be called to the attention of the House, because it affects to some extent the additional clauses in the report. The engineers commenced their report with these two paragraphs :

The undersigned were instructed to outline tile engineering and economic features of the various proposed [DOT] railway routes for a western outlet of the Peace river country to the Pacific coast.

A map showing the location of the various routes, giving distances, gradients, and other physical features would be of very little use, unless information as to costs of construction and comparable costs of operation were also given. We therefore have embraced in this report an economic study of the various routes considered.

We have a definite comparison of three routes any of which might be built to serve the Peace river country with an outlet to the Pacific coast. After having listened to the evidence, I claim that the engineers never made an engineering study outlining the engineering features of the various routes proposed. The first route that was examined and reported upon in the report is the Obed route. The survey in connection with this route is complete and it was in charge of Mr. Hill of the Canadian National Railways. Mr. Hill's official title is exploration and locating engineer of the Canadian National Railways. With regard to this route we have the following evidence by Mr. Hill:

Q. Who did the work in these routes?-A. We had regular surveying parties run over them. On the Obed route we have a complete survey from one end to the other.

Q. A complete survey?-A. A complete triline survey.

Q. Not a reconnaissance?-A. Not a reconnaissance, but an instrumental survey.

Q. In that case, Mr. Hill, you are in a position to speak definitely when yt>u say that the new construction will be 204 miles from Aggie to Sturgeon lake and down to Obed?-A. Within a reasonable percentage.

Q. How much allowance is there for variation-either less or more?-A. We would not . want any more than-it would be within 10 percent, and probably within five per cent.

Q. And would you say the same thing for the capital investment?-A. Yes.

The point that I am making is, that, according to the evidence submitted by Mr. Hill who

was in charge of the Obed route survey, there is a complete survey of that route. One would think that in order to make a proper comparison of this route with any other it would be necessary to have the same kind of a survey, but we find that that is not the case. The next route referred to is the Monkman pass route. We have the following evidence given by Mr. Hill at page 16 of the report of the committee on railways and canals with regard to the Monkman pass route:

Q. Is this a final survey or a reconnaissance or a trial survey?-A. This is a reconnaissance.

Q. What is the difference between reconnaissance, trial and a complete survey; will you kindly explain that? What do you do in the case of a trial survey, for instance?-A. Well, a trial line is generally an instrumental survey; it is an accurate survey.

Q. A trial survey is accurate?-A. Yes.

Q. What is a reconnaissance survey?-A. Well, they just trust the man that goes over it.

Q. He goes out with a pack on his back, is that it?-A. Well, they have different forms of transportation.

Q. Is a reconnaissance survey a question, of making a trip there to see if it is at all likely a railway can be built?-A. Yes.

Q. A trial survey is a survey that actually gives you the level?-A. Actually gives you the levels and the relative positions.

Q. What is tins Monkman pass survey? Is it a trial survey?-A. A reconnaissance.

Q. When we come to the question of costs and grades how re liable are these figures in connection with the Monkman pass as given in this report?-A. Jusc an engineer's guess, that is all.

So they make a comparison between one route, the Obed route, where there is a complete survey, and another route, the Monk-man pass route, Where we have an engineer's guess. The third route that was dealt with was the Peace River pass route. The gentleman who was in charge of this survey, such as it was, was Mr. W. A. James, assistant chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who gave this evidence before the committee on railways and canals:

Q. You are the C.P.R. engineer who signed the report?-A. Yes, sir.

Q. Were you over the route from Spirit river right west through to Hudson Hope and from Berwyn west of Hudson Hope on the north side of the pass, and then through to Stewart?-A. On the north side of the pass I left Port George and went up to Summit lake and down the Crooked river, the Pack river and the Parsnip, down the Peace river to Peace River Crossing and then northwest from Peace River Crossing, which is a station on the Peace river, and then back to Peace river and to Carcajou point. I drove west from there and down paralleling the Peace river about 20 miles as far as Fort Vermilion, then I came up the Peace river from Fort Vermilion to Peace River Crossing again. I was over two months on that trip.

221.4

Peace River Railway

Q. You were actually over the route, were you?-A. Yes, sir.

Q. And the actual location of the railroad that is called Stewart to Prince Rupert and Vancouver via Peace pass?-A. I went by the Peace pass but I did not follow what you would call the actual route; I was on the river.

Q. We have no trial survey of this route, have we?-A. No, sir.

Mr. James made most of his exploration of this route from the Peace river which is in a valley 800 feet below the level of the territory to be served by the railway. As a matter of fact in the evidence he admits that as regards about 200 miles of the line that is projected on the map west to Stewart on the Portland canal, he was not over that route at all. We have what purports to be a serious comparison of the economic and engineering features of three routes, as regards one of which there is a complete survey and as regards the other two, we have simply engineers' guesses. The engineers claim to have made an engineering study and an economic study of these routes, but how can one claim to have made an economic study on the basis of an engineering study of that kind? This is the first time that I have ever known that a guess could be called a study. The two things are entirely different, and for that reason I am in complete disagreement with that paragraph of the report which reads:

The weight of evidence before your committee indicates that, on economic grounds, such construction should not be commenced forthwith, as set forth in the resolution referred to your committee.

As a matter of fact the resolution did not set forth that construction should be commenced forthwith. The wording of the motion is "commencement forthwith." Commencement does not necessarily mean actual construction of railway mileage, although I think as I go along I can show that even that will be justified.

In connection with this whole question there has been constant confusion as between the relation of the outlet and the branch line mileage. The Minister of Railways (Mr. Dunning), in his speech on this question in the House of Commons, made this statement as reported on page 256 of Hansard of February 14, 1927, and I am in entire agreement with this part of his speech in which he refers to the need of 'branch lines:

[DOT]-but I think my bon. friend will also agree with we when I say that the problem is not in the main one of branch line construction to serve settlers now farming there. Only a relatively limited number of the farmers are now long distance from existing lines of transportation, and the problem is really one of providing a more economical way to the markets

of the world for those situated within reasonable distance of those existing lines of transportation. I want to qualify that by saying that, as the engineers' report demonstrates, there is undoubtedly need for some further branch line construction on the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia system in order to enable the country to fully develop, in order to assist in its settlement and encourage immigrants, but in the main the problem is one of providing a more economical outlet to the people already there and within a reasonable distance of the existing lines of railway.

The outlet and the branch lines are not two separate and distinct matters at all; they are simply two parts of the same problem Everybody will agree that that part of the outlet that would best serve the Peace river country in the way of branch line mileage would be the proper portion to build first, and I may say that it is because of the indefinite nature of the engineer's report that I would have to waive my pressure for the immediate commencement of construction of an outlet at the present time, because I do not believe that even an engineering st-udy of the outlet question has 'been made, to say nothing of the economic study, which must be based upon a proper engineering study.

We all know that that country is being served at the present time by the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia railway. We all know that the branch line mileage that will properly serve the country as it is settled to-day and connect with the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia railway, will not fit in properly with an outlet to the Pacific coast. Mr. Czowski admitted that in his evidence, and I think everybody will agree that a branch line system constructed with oqe outlet will not necessarily, and will not likely, fit in with another outlet. I do not wish to take time quoting from the documents in support of that, because I think it is generally agreed. What I ask at the present time is that a real study be made of the Monkman, the Peace, and the Pine passes, and that a definite policy be laid down with regard to the permanent development of the Peace river country and an outlet to the Pacific coast. Then we can lay down the branch line mileage that is necessary to serye the Peace river country as it exists today, or will exist in the near future, in such a way that our branch line mileage will fit in properly and economically with that Pacific coast outlet when it is built, but I submit that it is absolutely impossible for the government of the province of Alberta or of British Columbia or the Dominion government intelligently to lay down a system of branch lines that will be of the proper ceonomic

Peace River Railway

advantages to the Peace river country and the Dominion unless that policy is laid down with a full knowledge of where the Peace river outlet is going to be.

We all know the problem that has arisen in this Dominion because of the duplication of railways. We have an example of that west of Edmonton, where about 200 miles of track was torn up because duplication rendered one track absolutely useless. We want to avoid that thing in connection with the development of the Peace river country, and as a matter of fact the engineer's report shows that it can be avoided, because the estimate which they have worked out in connection with the various routes is based on the branch line mileage serving a country with about 6,000 acres of economic land in the Peace river country tributary to each line of railway, as compared with some 5,200 acres in the rest of the prairie provinces. I am anxious that we should study the question in the light of our past experience, in the light not only of our past mistakes but of our past successes, so that we may evolve a railway policy for the development of that country that will be best not only for its immediate future but for its ultimate future as well.

With regard to the contention that it is economically unsound to build an outlet at the present time, I have this to say: The engineer's report seems to lay down the principle, by inference at least, that until such time as the necessary tonnage is available to justify the route from its commencement, it is economically unsound to build. I know of no railway in the Dominion of Canada that has been built on that basis. I think it was stated years ago when the building of the Canadian Pacific railway was under discussion, that it would not pay for the axle grease used in running the trains across the prairies. Neither is the feasibility of the Hudson Bay railway being tested by that principle. I am quite sure that it was not the principle on which the feasibility of the Grand Trunk Pacific or the Canadian Northern was decided, nor is it the principle underlying the branch line program of the Canadian National Railways that was presented to parliament this year, because the roads are there referred to as development and colonization lines.

What I want, Mr. Speaker, and what I think is in the best interests of the country, is to complete the survey of these routes and have a policy determined upon so that we shall know where to build our branch lines, and let me say that once we have built a mile of branch line that fits in with a policy for a permanent outlet we can be said to have 32649-140

Topic:   PEACE RIVER RAILWAY OUTLET
Subtopic:   OBJECTION TO MOTION TO CONCUR IN REPORT OF RAILWAY COMMITTEE
Permalink

REVISED


commenced construction of the Peace river outlet. In that sense I say that the time is ripe for the commencement of that outlet, for we need at least 100 miles of branch lines in that country. It is the last clause in the committee's report to which I particularly object, reading: Your committee is further of opinion that potentialities of that area are such as to warrant a continuous study of its development. The previous clause reads: Your committee is of opinion that much greater traffic development is necessary in the area to make the building of such outlet economically sound. Now if the last clause of the committee's report is adopted by the House of Commons and the government, it will simply mean that we do not mean to do anything, because it obligates the House of Commons and the government to do more than every member of parliament is already obligated to do with regard to every problem facing the Dominion of Canada. A continuous study of the development of the Peace river country is an obligation upon all the members of this House without any report being submitted to us from the committee on railways and canals, just as a continuous study of the problems and development of the maritime provinces or of Ontario or Quebec is the duty of all members of this House, whether from the west or elsewhere. That is all that clause obligates the House and the government to do, and I submit that either a mistake was made in drafting this report, or else the report is an attempt to shelve this Peace river question. With regard to tonnage, it was pointed out in the committee, I think, that the engineer's estimate was that in the years 1919 to 1923 we had moving out of the Peace river country about 48,000 tons of grain on the average each year. Then they set down the immediate traffic that would go to the Pacific at 35,000 tons. The evidence of Premier Brownlee based on grain shipments up to I think March 31st of this year, shows that about 130,000 tons has gone out of the Peace river country in the last crop year, from an area of only 270,000 acres of land, and we have about 2,000,000 acres of land of the very same type in the Peace river country in the area served by railways or that can be easily served by branch railways. Again 50,000 tons of grain produced oni the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia railway in the years 1919 to 1923 about 150,000 revenue tons of other traffic and yet the engineers state in their


EDITION


Peace River Railway



economic study that only grain traffic is going to be considered in connection with this Peace river outlet. They seem to rule out altogether the development that would take place in the Peace river country as a result of the construction of additional branch line mileage and the ultimate completion of the outlet itself. I submit that the committee has not given proper consideration to the engineering and economic features, and that the House is not justified in adopting its report. This question is of great importance to Peace river. The report says that all we are going to do in the immediate future is to study and watch the development of the country. I am glad the Prime Minister is in his seat, because he was not present when I spoke on this question before. I do not think we can say that the Prime Minister's statement cannot mean anything in view of the findings of the engineers, or the recommendations of the president of the Canadian National Railways. I am going to read again the statement made by the Prime Minister at Edmonton, and I hope that if he votes against the amendment which I propose to move, and for the report of the committee, he will at least tell the House, and especially the people of Peace River and Edmonton, what this statement meant. This statement appears in the Edmonton Bulletin of 11th October, 1924-I think it should be 12th October-and is headed: King pledges self to Peace river cause. Then there is a heading: Premier promises outlet to Pacific. Then sub-headings as follows: Just as soon as humanly possible. Railway will be built, declares Prime Minister at mass meeting here. Government has but minority in Commons, says times now are different and everybody must have a little patience, but Liberal party is not falling down on any of its pledges. The quotation reads: "It is the policy of the government of which I have the honour to be the head to introduce a vigorous policy of immigration which will people the vast areas of undeveloped country in the great west" declared the Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King, Premier of. Canada, when addressing a mass meeting of citizens in the First Presbyterian church last night. The future prosperity of this country is bound up in the development of its great natural resources, and to develop these resources it is necessary to have a large increase in the population of Canada. There is to the north of this city a great tract of land that is crying out for development. The Peace river country is amongst the richest in Canada, but before the proper development of that country can take place an outlet to the Pacific coast is an absolute necessity. I pledge myself that as soon as it is humanly possible the great Peace river country will be given that measure of railway relief that will bring to the pioneers of that country the outlet they have been so long denied, and will open up the country for prospective settlers. "I must however, sound the same note to you here as I did to the citizens of Saskatoon." I suppose that is in connection with the Hudson Bay railway. "The times that we are passing through are very difficult, and I would ask you to have a little patience, and in as short a time as possible, a railway outlet will be provided for the Peace River and northern Alberta districts that will open up an era of prosperity for that country which will not be equalled by any other province in Canada." In view of the Prime Minister's promise, in view of the needs for additional branch line settlement, some of the settlements being twenty, thirty and sixty miles from' the railway, where there has been settlement for sixty years, and in view of the fact that branch line mileage cannot be constructed economically and properly unless we know where the Peace river outlet is going to be, and because I believe that such branch lines should be laid down as a part of the outlet, I am opposed to the adoption of this report and I therefore move the following amendment: That the said report be not now concurred in but that the same be referred back to the select standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines with instructions that they have power to amend it by striking out the three following paragraphs: "The weight of evidence before your committee indicates that, on economic grounds, much construction should not be commenced forthwith, as set forth in the resolution referred to your committee. Your committee is of opinion that much greater traffic development is necessary in the area to make the building of such outlet economically sound. Your committee is further of opinion that potentialities of that area are such as to warrant a continuous study of its development." And substituting the following three paragraphs therefor: "The evidence shows that there are four possible outlets but that a complete survey has been made of two only. "Your committee is of the opinion that a complete survey should be undertaken of the Peace pass. Pine pass, and Monkman pass and that on completion of this survey a definite policy of railway development for the Peace river country should be decided upon. "Your committee further believes that the potentialities of the Peace river district justify the commencement of a permanent outlet as soon as the best route is definitely ascertained."


LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I understood my hon.

friend t'o make a change in the wording of his motion.

Questions

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
UFA

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. KENNEDY:

Yes, after the words

" Peace pass " I have inserted the words "Pine pass," so as to make it read "Peace pass, Pine pass and Monkman pass."

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Just before the amendment is proceeded with I desire to ask His Honour the Speaker whether the motion is in order. No notice has been given.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I intended to inform the

mover of the motion that it was out of order because no notice has been given under rule 40, and if the motion is out of order the amendment is also out of order.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
UFA

April 11, 1927