Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
I lay on the table the report of the British Columbia-Yukon-Alaska Highway commission, together with the evidence.
I have a statement of the main features of the report. It might be of interest to the house to have that statement on record. If it is agreeable I ask that it be placed on Hansard. It simply sets forth the main features of the report.
Report of British Columbia-Yukon-Alaska Highway Commission (Canada)
This commission was appointed by order in council of December 22, 1938. It was instructed to inquire into the engineering, economic, financial and other aspects of a proposed highway to connect the Pacific Northwest of the United States with Alaska by way of British Columbia and the Yukon.
This project had been under consideration by various official and unofficial bodies in Canada and the United States for some twelve
Alaska Highimy Commission
years or more, and reports had been made by a United States commission in 1933 and by a Canadian interdepartmental committee in 1938. This latter report was not published. In 1938 representations were made to the Canadian government by the government of the United States with regard to the desirability of providing for the construction of such a highway, and the Canadian government was informed that the president of the United States had appointed a commission of five members ''to cooperate and communicate directly with any similar agency which may be appointed in the dominion of Canada in a study for the survey, location and construction of a highway to connect the Pacific northwest part of continental United States with British Columbia and the Yukon Territory in the Dominion of Canada and the Territory of Alaska."
In the spirit of these instructions to the United States commission by the president, the Canadian commission which also consisted of five members, was instructed by the Canadian government "To meet for the purpose of discussion and exchange of information with the United States commission appointed for that purpose."
The Canadian commission, which consists of the Hon. Charles Stewart, Major General Thomas L. Tremblay, Mr. J. M. Wardle of the Department of Mines and Resources, Mr. Arthur Dixon of the Department of Public Works of British Columbia and Mr. J. W. Spencer of Victoria, with Mr. Stewart as chairman, held a series of public meetings in British Columbia and the Yukon in the summer of 1939, and, under its direction, reconnaissance surveys were carried out by the dominion and provincial engineers, both by air and on the ground.
The substance of these hearings and surveys was communicated to the government in a preliminary report in April, 1940. The commission at that time felt that further ground work by engineers would be necessary before it would be in a position to give a reasoned opinion on the respective merits of different routes that had been proposed for a highway. These additional surveys were carried out in the summer of 1940, and when the reports of the engineers had been received the commission proceeded to consider and digest all the available information. It also, in accordance with the instructions of the order in council, held meetings from time to time with the members of the United States commission, and discussed with them various problems arising out of their respective investigations.
The commission, having completed its investigation and deliberations, prepared for the information of the government of Canada the very comprehensive report which has now been tabled. This report, after surveying the results of previous inquiries, and summarizing the evidence obtained at the public hearings, describes in detail the various routes investigated by the commission, and analyses the information collected on the natural resources of the regions traversed by various proposed routes, the character of the country, its climate, snowfall, and so forth.
The commission has embodied in its report a great deal of relevant data, including estimates of costs. The commission itself reports that either of the two main routes investigated, known as the "A" and "B" routes, is practicable from an engineering point of view. It is understood that the United States commission concurs in this conclusion.
These routes, the former nearer the sea and the latter nearer the mountains, are shown on the map accompanying the commission's report. The "A" route runs roughly from the vicinity of Fort St. James, in northern British Columbia, and by way of Atlin. near the British Columbia-Yukon border to Whitehorse, and from there to the Alaskan boundary. The "B" route from Prince George extends north through what is known as the Rocky Mountain Trench to Liard River and down the valley of the Pelly to the Yukon and from there to Dawson and the Alaskan boundary. The commission, after balancing the advantages and disadvantages of each route, concludes that the "B" route would best fulfil the purposes of the proposed highway.
In its consideration of the proposed highway the commission has assumed that the existing roads of British Columbia from the international boundary north to Prince George and Fort St. James would form part of the highway whatever route might be adopted, and confines its consideration of these existing roads to an estimate of the cost of bringing them up to the suggested standard of the highway.
The commission finds that the length of the highway from Vancouver to the Alaskan boundary would vary from about 1,700 miles to about 1,900 miles according to the route adopted.
The commission estimates the cost of a highway completed to the required standard, but exclusive of paving, at from $25,000,000 to $30,000,000, but as these figures are based upon reconnaissance surveys they are only approximate. The "B" route would be somewhat shorter than the "A" route and would cost less both to construct and to maintain.
The commission expresses its appreciation of the cordial cooperation of the government of British Columbia in placing all relevant maps and engineering data at its disposal and in authorizing at considerable expense additional field surveys by its engineers.
Subtopic: TABLING OF REPORT ON PROPOSED HIGHWAY BETWEEN UNITED STATES PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND ALASKA VIA BRITISH COLUMBIA AND THE YUKON