I did not ask that this item be held over in order that I might make comments upon it. I asked rather that it should stand over in order that I might ask the minister to explain, in not too elaborate detail, the administration of the lumber resources of some of these national parks, and what the government is doing to prevent flood damage arising from streams running out of these parks. In order to let the committee and the minister understand my problem, let me say this:
When the three prairie provinces became provinces, forty-one years ago, in 1905, their resources were retained by the dominion government. In 1930, I think it was, the resources were returned to the provinces, and for the last sixteen years have been under provincial jurisdiction. In the province of Manitoba one section of these resources, the land area now called the Riding Mountain national park, was turned over to the administration of the dominion government for the purpose of making it a national park. The resources, including this park, are now owned by the province. But this park is completely turned over for administrative purposes to the dominion, on an undertaking by the dominion that it would establish there and maintain a national park. I suppose it is from ten to thirty miles wide and perhaps 100 miles or more long: these are not the exact boundaries but approximately. This park is an elevated section of the province in the western central part of southern Manitoba. The ground is undulating and covered with trees. Because of its elevation, it is subject to late
spring and, early fall frosts. This combination of conditions prompted the government to make it first into a forest reserve and now into a national park.
The people adjoining the area are interested in two things, among others. They are interested in getting some of the surplus lumber from the park for purposes of build-and construction and bridge construction and so on. I want to ask the minister what the government's policy-perhaps his policy is the same for the other parks-is with respect to making the lumber in that park available, because now the people adjoining the area find it difficult to get lumber at all, and if they can get it from the park, and if they can get it in rather larger quantities than before, a good community service will have been rendered. _ _
The other point I want to ask the minister about is this. Because of the large extent of that area, and because it is elevated, perhaps about twice as high above sea level as the ordinary farm lands of Manitoba, and because during the last half century some of the trees have been removed and the beavers have nearly all been destroyed-beavers which built dams that held back the streams-the result now is that in the spring the waters rush down the streams rapidly, carrying silt and filling up the ditches in the farming communities below and causing serious flood damage. The farmers in the municipalities just out from the foothills of these mountains have not only had that added burden put upon them; but, as a result of these floods, their crops have in some years been partly and in other years largely destroyed. It is possible the minister may have outlined his policy on these matters when I was not here, and I do not want him to take up time in repeating what he may have already said with respect to the preservation of timber and making it available to the people adjoining the reserves. But I should like to know what the government is doing to avoid the recurring damage year after year from these mountain streams which rush down carrying silt and filling the ditches which the people have gone to great expense to dig, thus delaying the time of seeding and often damaging and sometimes destroying the growing crops.
To bring the matter more specifically to the minister's attention, here is a typical request from a municipality with reference to lumber. I quote:
Owing to the scarcity of lumber it is impossible to repair municipal bridges as well as necessary repairs to other buildings, therefore we request that the amount of lumber allowed on timber limits in the Riding Mountain national park be increased and also that the area where cutting is permitted be enlarged.
Supply-Lands and Parks
That is a specific request, and1 the minister can say whether he can grant it or not, whether his policy will permit larger amounts of lumber to each permittee, or whether he can extend the area where lumber is being cut. This is typical of the problems of the farmers and the requests from those out on the farm land below the mountains. This is the area where their crops, for forty years to my knowledge, have been frequently damaged because of surplus water running from this elevated section of country. I quote again from one of these representations from municipalities with respect to flood damage:
Our main trouble is the drainage maintenance. As you know, spring thaw and heavy June rains rush down from Riding Mountain carrying silt and depositing it on the low land, filling ditches, which means we have to be continually dredging. The cost is more than the municipality can bear.
From those two brief statements and from other requests, I think the minister will see what it is that I should like him to tell us- what his policy is with respect to making more lumber in that area available to farmers in the adjoining communities, and what the government is doing to lessen the damage that is done every spring by these flood waters rushing down and damaging crops.
The leader of the opposition has asked me two questions, one with regard to the permits for cutting timber. The practice in the Riding Mountain park is this. A survey was made by officers of all timber in the park, and that survey shows what was old and what was new, what could be cut and what should be left. That survey is in the' hands of the superintendent of the park; all permits that are issued are issued only for that portion of the forest which can be cut, and it is given to those in the immediate neighbourhood. When the hon. member speaks of preserving the parks, one of the greatest means of preservation is, of course, the timber in it, and therefore it is strictly looked after to see that the park is not denuded of that which makes it so beautiful in itself. Permits are given to those in the surrounding areas who are able to go and get their lumber. That is the policy of the department.
With regard to the flow and control of water from Riding Mountain, the hon. member for Dauphin has also been communicating with me, interested through the municipalities adjoining, who are suffering in consequence. It has been the subject of investigation by the engineers of the department, and the province of Manitoba is extremely interested also, with the result that the premier of that province, Mr. Garson, communicated with me,
indicating what was happening and expressing the hope that something might be done as a joint effort between ourselves and the province. I had a letter from Mr. Garson on July 5, in which he makes this statement:
My suggestion would be that the P.F.R.A. be requested to proceed with the construction of the proposed reservoirs and experimental check dams in accordance with the recommendations contained in the report of December 13, 1945; that your department provide the necessary dumping grounds as recommended in the report (which lands may subsequently be included within the boundaries of the Riding Mountain park); and that the province, in conjunction with interested municipalities, undertake the work of rehabilitating existing ditches as well as providing such additional ditches as may be required to carry the face water from the dumping grounds to a proper outlet. If you agree with the general suggestions contained in the preceding paragraph, I would further suggest that an early joint dominion-provincial survey be undertaken at the earliest possible date.
We had our officers in before this matter had been brought up by t.he hon. member for Dauphin or the leader of the opposition and they were making a survey, but on receipt of Premier Garson's letter we have now sent an officer with instructions to make a survey of the park and to advise as to what should be done to remedy the condition now existing. He will get in contact with the officials of the province of Manitoba, and together they may make recommendations for alleviating and controlling the waters that are flowing down and damaging surrounding farm property. That, report, I hope, we shall receive very soon. I wish to have it clearly understood that I am just as anxious to have that done as the hon. member for Dauphin or the leader of the opposition. I hope I shall have the report shortly and, in conjunction with the province, have something done to rectify what is certainly a grave difficulty in the way of farming around that country.
From what the minister has said, apparently it is the policy of the department to develop the forestry resources of that park to the maximum extent and allow cutting each year of only an amount equal to the' annual increment,
I have asked a specific question for the present year. They are short of lumber, and they ask the question. I am not pressing the minister to state other than his policy. I want only an answer. A certain amount of lumber is allowed on the permits. Can that amount be increased beyond what it has been, or can the area to be cut over this year be made larger?
With respect to flood control plans, what the minister says is that they are investigating in cooperation with the provincial government authorities. From that I take it that the government has no plans now for lessening the damage from floods coming off these mountains.
It is sixteen years-no, less than that-since the dominion government took over this park. All I want to know is what are the facts. The minister says they are studying the question, but they have no plans at the moment for lessening the flood damage.
So far as I am concerned this is the first time that any complaint has ever been made of the water flow of the Riding mountain, The matter has been investigated under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, and, as I say, we are now sending our engineers there in order that they may consult with the province. The hon. gentleman asks if there are any plans. There are no plans until we know what the engineers will suggest or advise should be done. When we receive that we shall act accordingly.