June 20, 1947

IND
LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. FOURNIER (Hull):

I think I should. In April, 1942, authority of council was secured to accept the offer of the British Columbia Bridge and Dredging Company Limited to carry out the work of removing Ripple Rock on a cost plus, variable fee basis, the estimated cost supplied by the company at the time being $322,340. The depth to be left after dredging was thirty feet below low water level. The work included the construction of a rock filled dam across the adjacent passage between Maude island and Quadra island, which portion of the work was satisfactorily completed.

The drill barge for the work was designed, tested in model form, and construction put underway.

In the meantime, in October, 1942, inquiry was made on behalf of the United States as to the additional cost of increasing the grade depth to be left after dredging, the additional depth being 3-8 feet. It was during the war that these things took place. The contractors supplied this with their estimate of the cost, including the completed rock dam across Maude island passage, of $473,894, in addition to a fee of $35,000. This was approved by P.C. 2609 of April 1, 1943. The contractors estimated the time required at fifteen months. The barge was outfitted and brought to the site in May, 1943, and moored by cables from the barge winches to heavy concrete anchors dropped in deep water, but it was not until the 15th July that drilling of the rock from the barge commenced.

In October, 1943, it was decided to discontinue operations as the original method appeared to be a failure. Further studies of the problem were made and various discussions were held on the subject by the Canadian and United States authorities.

In October, 1944, authority of council was obtained to accept an offer from the British Columbia Bridge and Dredging Company to make a test for removal of the rock by means of two overhead lines. The test was put under way, but the cost was greater than anticipated and operations were discontinued for a time. The trial was resumed, however, in August, 1945, and continued until the end of September, 1945, at which time the work was suspended as the drill barge required repairs and as unfavourable tidal conditions for further work would ensue for some months.

The contractors were requested to furnish an estimate of cost for completing operations, which they gave at $750,000 with a time for completion of twenty-two months.

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As a result of the test referred to above which was carried through to September 29, 1945, some 139 holes had been drilled for a combined length of 714-1 feet, of which ninety-three holes of a combined length of 529 feet had been successfully blasted. The length of the individual hole which can be drilled-that is, between five and six feet- indicates that the problems of removing the rock which had been blasted and of drilling and blasting further holes in order to reach the necessary final agreed depths still remain to be solved.

The contractors were asked to name the sum within which they would guarantee complete removal of the rock to the desired grade. Although in their reply they stated "we are definitely of the opinion that the test as carried out has proven entirely successful and we are convinced that the work should be further proceeded with", they would not give any such guarantee.

The contractors were asked to reconsider their previous estimate of $750,000 and to say if they would undertake to complete the work on a basis of such revised estimate, the performance to be guaranteed by a satisfactory bond under which any cost in excess of the estimate would be shared fifty-fifty by the bonding company and the government. They furnished a revised estimate in the amount of $1.844,428.00, plus a fee of $90,000 and stated that, having approached several reliable bonding companies, they were advised that the bonding companies were not interestedi in writing such a bond. One company agreed to supply a completion bond for any amount, provided that the government would make the necessary payment in cash to be held as security, such security to be the total amount of the bond desired, with the contract to be continued on a cost plus, fixed fee basis.

This department felt hat in the light of three years experience in operating on the project, the contractors should, if they were as confident as they expressed themselves to be that the work could be completed by the methods they proposed, be prepared to submit a firm offer, and. that the suggestion that the excess cost, be shared fifty-fifty was as fair and reasonable as possible under the circumstances.

The whole situation was placed before the committee of the war cabinet. This information was contained in a report we were making to the Department of External Affairs with respect to the whole matter. It was decided at the time that we would, discontinue action until further developments in research in connection with the employment of new enegry methods were made.

When I was out on the coast last fall I do not know how many people called to see me concerning the removal of Ripple Rock. With what they published in the press they nearly had me having bad dreams when I was travelling by boat from Vancouver to Prince Rupert. I speak from memory, but I think the article was headed1, "Sleep well, Mr. Fournier." I passed1 by Ripple Rock about three in the morning, and perhaps they did not think to wake me so I could look at it.

1 spoke to the people there but no one would make a firm bid. I have not the file here but, after I came back to Ottawa, some company wrote in stating that they would handle this work on; a no cure, no pay basis. That is a rather general principle on which to base a contract.

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PC

Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MERRITT:

It is a rather advantageous one.

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LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. FOURNIER (Hull):

It all depends

upon the definition given to the word "cure". It did not turn out that way. They wanted to undertake the work and we asked them certain questions concerning the organization of their company and the experience they had in this kind of work. We found that they had no experience. I understand that this was a shipping company established some years ago. Even when we made inquiries to them, they took a long time to reply.

It finally came back to the old system of cost plus. I do not think any hon. member who has been out there and knows the situation would advise the government to undertake this work at the present time without being sure that the amount involved was known to the House of Commons. We have spent some $890,000 on the project up to date, and I would feel ill at ease to spend more of the people's money without some assurance that the work could be done.

Four different schemes have been, suggested to blast away the rock and remove it and to date we have tried three of them. One was to anchor a barge from which drilling operations could be carried on, but it was found that even with the heaviest anchors the barge could not be kept in position so that drilling could be carried on. The drills broke after going in a few inches and we had to discontinue that system. Then they spoke of tunneling under the rock, but the geologists advised that that could not be done because of faults in the rock. Another system suggested was to drop a caisson on the rock, empty it and then drill. However we have no guarantee that that can be done. If we cannot keep a barge in position to do the drilling

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we are not too sure that we could bring a cement caisson down there and drop it in the exact position where the work could be done.

There was one method which we thought would be successful. That was to string cables from shore to shore to hold a barge in place. That was the last scheme tried and on which we spent the remainder, of the 1890,000, but it met with little success. Holes were drilled and the rock was blasted, but they were unable to remove the blasted rock and it is still there. They could not drill more than five or six feet at a time and we wanted to go down to a depth of 33 feet. That would have taken between five and six operations of blasting and clearing away the debris. Somebody has suggested that an atomic bomb or atomic energy should be employed, but that is at the study stage only.

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IND
LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. FOURNIER (Hull):

I understand that this British Columbia dredging company is well known out there. I think if you met the people who undertook this work before they would not speak as they did five years ago. That is the impression I got when I was on the coast. It would take a brave man to undertake this job and say he will do it at such and such a price. In the department we feel that we cannot spend money endlessly on the project without any guarantee that it will be completed successfully.

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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GREEN:

It would not take many

wrecks to cost as much as doing the work.

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LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. FOURNIER (Hull):

I admit that. Some engineers say that it is not as dangerous as other people think, but I recall that there was a wreck there.

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PC
LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. FOURNIER (Hull):

It was a Mines and Resources hydrographic survey boat. On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of boats have been travelling past there for years. The department is studying the effect of the changed currents which were brought about through the closing of Canoe Pass, which work was done under the past contract. The changing of these currents and improved aids have assisted navigation to some extent, and we are awaiting the reaction of the navigators before proceeding with any further attempts at removal.

In all, thirteen schemes have been submitted, most of which are modifications of the schemes that were submitted at the time

public tenders were called for the removal of the rock. All these schemes depend upon the use of present forms of energy. It is considered advisable to await any further action pending the development of new forms of energy that are at present in a research stage.

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PC

Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MERRITT:

The minister has suggested that perhaps there is not a firm offer and he talks about spending public money. I did not refer to the earlier history of this rock and the attempts to remove it. My question referred only to the Malahat Shipping Company Limited and their offer to remove Ripple Rock on a no-cure, no-pay basis. On October 23, 1946, they wrote to the minister making the following offer:

We, the Malahat Shipping Company (4934) Limited, a registered contracting company under the Companies Act, under provincial charter No. 18982, undertake to remove the surface of the obstruction known as Ripple Rock, situate in Seymour Narrows, Discovery Passage, between Maud island and Vancouver island, B.C., to a depth of 34 feet low water, spring tides, for a distance of 250 feet by 170 feet, to provide all equipment 'and labour for the said operation, guarantee not to obstruct the free passage of vessels using the channel (with the possible exception of a short period of time whilst fitting overhead wire cables), for the sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars (Mr 500,000) on a "no cure, no pay" basis.

I cannot imagine a more definite offer. No offer could more completely relieve the treasury of any expense in the event of failure. The method proposed is slightly different from any previous one used, in that there will be no barge used. It is proposed to use overhead cables to set up a platform over the rock with anchors and steel elevated piers sunk into the rock itself, the drilling to take place from this platform, which would, of course, not be subject to the tidal forces.

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LIB

James Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):

How are you going to anchor these steel columns?

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PC

Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MERRITT:

I do not need to be helped; thank you very much.

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LIB

James Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):

If you were an engineer you would know they would have to anchor them. That is what is wrong with the entire plan.

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PC

Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MERRITT:

I am not aware that the hon. member for Vancouver North is an engineering expert as well as an expert in a lot of other matters.

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LIB

James Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):

I know something about mining and I know you would have to drill holes. If the hon. member sticks to the legal profession I think he would do a little better.

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PC

Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MERRITT:

Apparently the hon. gentleman who is making these gratuitous interruptions is not interested in having Ripple Rock removed.

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LIB

James Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):

I am very much interested in something practical.

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PC

Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MERRITT:

I would have thought that he would consider it important enough at least to permit this discussion to continue without trying to embarrass someone else.

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LIB

James Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):

We are all interested in that, but we are also interested in saving the taxpayers' money.

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June 20, 1947