July 1, 1955

LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. Winters:

Well, Mr. Chairman, we have covered much ground since we started discussion of this general item earlier this afternoon. There have been so many questions posed and so many topics covered that I am sure hon. members of the committee would not expect me to deal with them in detail at this time. However, if they wish to have me particularize on the various specific

items later I shall be happy to do so. At the moment I feel I should confine myself to the statements of a more general nature made here today, and deal with one or two major assertions as well as one rather serious allegation that I thought was made.

At the outset I should like to commend the hon. member for Victoria, Ontario, upon his elevation to the important post of official critic of the estimates of the Department of Public Works. I wish him well in his task, and I can assure him we will always be pleased to have constructive criticism as it applies to this department. Notwithstanding the presentation he made, we had a great many other hon. members from the same party, ending up with the usual worth-while contribution made by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra.

I wish to thank all hon. members who have taken part in this discussion so far, especially those who were good enough to say nice things about the department. More particularly I wish to thank those who were kind enough to invite me to attend particular functions in their constituencies. My only hope in that regard is that I will be able to accept them before too long.

The hon. member for Victoria asked some questions about the trans-Canada highway, as did the hon. member for Comox-Alberni. I shall be pleased to deal with that in a few moments. First of all I should like to mention the property on Wellington street, referred to by the hon. member for Eglinton. I am sorry he is not in the house at the present time. He made an assertion that I thought was not quite in keeping with his usual fair approach to these problems, when he said the deal was negotiated by Mr. Duncan MacTavish, Q.C., who is at the same time president of the national Liberal federation. The latter statement is quite correct, and I am very pleased it is correct, but it is not a fact that he negotiated this deal. To my knowledge he did not appear in the deal at any time. I had no dealings with him with respect to this acquisition, and I have been told by officials of the department that they had no dealings with him in these negotiations. I am sure the hon. member would not wish to allow the impression he created this afternoon to stand.

The fact of the matter is that this property to which he referred, known as the Orme, Brock and Norlite property on Wellington street, was purchased some time ago by the previous owners as part of an estate. It included other properties. Subsequently the then owners decided to erect a building on the site which did not harmonize with the plans of the national capital planning board.

After due consideration the government decided to expropriate the property to protect that plan. The owners had no desire to sell the property. As a matter of fact, after we took expropriation action they endeavoured to recover the property from us, but the negotiations had then reached such a stage that after further discussion we mutually thought it would be in the best interests of the public at the time to have this property publicly owned.

Since the previous owners acquired the property they effected substantial improvements to it in the form of new elevators, a new front on the building and other general improvements of a costly nature. They had complete plans and specifications for the new building they intended to erect on the site, and of course we had to pay those expenses, as we had to assume certain other legal expenses and administrative costs, all of which were connected with the building.

The owners asked us at the outset in excess of $1,600,000 for the property. We did not accept that, but we invited independent appraisers, John Pitt of Montreal, and Appraisers Limited from Montreal, to evaluate the property and give us their figures. They did so. The figure submitted by John Pitt of Montreal was $1,462,863.74. The figure submitted by Appraisers Limited, Montreal, was $1,249,713.32. We ultimately settled for $1,328,849. I am convinced that the deal was in the public interest; that the public will lose no money on it, and that it will contribute greatly to the further development of the national capital plan.

The other project that I should like to mention is the one raised in the first instance by the hon. member for Digby-Annapolis-Kings and subsequently referred to by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra, namely the harbour development at Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. That port was designated as the eastern terminal of the ferry that was built to run between North Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Port aux Basques. The development of the harbour was undertaken by the Department of Transport and the Canadian National Railways. The Department of Transport requested the Department of Public Works to act as its agent and do the dredging, and that was done.

The Carson is a larger boat than the one that has been operating, and when the marine officials of the Canadian National Railways studied the situation preparatory to the inaugural run of the boat they concluded that the harbour was rather exposed. It was always exposed. Nothing we did to it made it more or less exposed than it was before.

There were then a series of meetings, some of which I attended. It was decided that 50433-354

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further harbour protection was needed. It is not routine in the amount of money required, but it is a normal thing to protect harbours to the extent that harbour protection is needed.

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PC
LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. Winters:

The final decision on the nature and extent of the harbour works has not been determined, but the Department of Public Works has suggested at least one breakwater at the entrance of the harbour, and perhaps there will have to be some additional structure there. But that does not result from anything that has been done to the harbour, as has been suggested here. It is just an added precaution to make sure the harbour is safe under all conditions of weather, as those hon. members who are so familiar with seafaring well know.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell:

The minister differs with Mr. Baldwin of the Department of Transport.

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LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. Winters:

I do not believe there is any difference between Mr. Baldwin and me on that. Mr. Baldwin attended the meetings I did, and as far as I can see there was a meeting of minds both in respect of what it meant and in respect of what must be done to make the harbour safe.

I did wish to say a few words about the trans-Canada highway, but it is ten o'clock, and if it is the desire-

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CCF
LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

I understand the minister has unanimous consent to finish his statement.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Ten o'clock.

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PC
LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. Winters:

Since considerable interest has been shown in this highly important project, I thought I should report that the nine provinces participating with the federal govern' ment under the terms of agreements pursuant to the Trans-Canada Highway Act have to date committed a total of $190,001,601 to the construction of the highway. Of this amount the federal government is committed to half, or $95,000,800. Claims have been submitted and paid in the amount of $65,944,648 to the various provinces, as follows:

Newfoundland $ 5,478,732

Prince Edward Island 1,530,178

Nova Scotia 75,699

New Brunswick 2,553,559

Ontario 20,637,935

Manitoba 5,654,639

Saskatchewan 7,101,842

Alberta 8,402,583

British Columbia 14,509,494

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To date 1,481 miles have been graded and 1,075 miles paved lor a total of 1,346 equivalent miles constructed. The length of the trans-Canada highway, excluding the province of Quebec, is 4,580 miles. Accordingly, about 30 per cent of the route has been completed to trans-Canada highway standards.

I would like now to contemplate the project from another point of view, on the assumption that we are aiming at highway facilities for motoring across Canada in reasonable comfort on paved highways. In some provinces a considerable portion of the route was already paved when the trans-Canada highway agreement was signed. While most of that part of the highway is not up to trans-Canada standards, I think it would not be entirely realistic to expect the provincial governments concerned to rebuild it as long as it has substantial useful life remaining.

In Nova Scotia, for example, there is a paved highway across the entire province from North Sydney to the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border at Aulac. It is true that the route chosen for the trans-Canada highway is not completely paved, but at the same time it is possible for a motorist to traverse the entire province by alternative routes on paved highway of reasonably good standards. The route chosen for the trans-Canada highway is 310 miles in length, and of this 264 miles are already paved.

I used Nova Scotia as an example because this is one province that has not done a great deal of work on the route of the trans-Canada highway for the reasons I have mentioned. The government there has been concentrating on new and more adequate bridges along the route.

Across Canada there are 1,899 miles, or 40 per cent of the route of the trans-Canada highway, that are not paved. It is on these portions and on gaps where there is no grade at all that we have been endeavouring to encourage the various provincial governments to concentrate. Broken down by provinces, these mileages where there is no paving are:

Newfoundland

610 milesPrince Edward Island

25 milesNova Scotia

46 milesNew Brunswick

24 milesOntario

646 milesManitoba

88 milesSaskatchewan

131 milesAlberta

72 milesNational parks

44 milesBritish Columbia

213 miles

In the three western provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and in Prince Edward Island, there is a possibility that the route will be fully completed to trans-Canada

highway standards by the date of the termination of the agreement; that is, December 9, 1956. In British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, completion by the designated date does not seem possible. In New Brunswick the situation is comparable to that in Nova Scotia, to the extent that there is now a paved route across the province and the problem is largely one of rebuilding to the higher standards specified in the trans-Canada highway agreement.

Newfoundland has a special problem. There was little paved highway along the trans-Canada route at the start of the agreement. In fact there was no road of any kind along much of the route. The immediate problem there has been to build a grade for a good road across the island. This work has gone forward quite well having regard to all circumstances. At present there are two gaps on the route of the highway which constitute an obstacle to continuous travel across Newfoundland. They are between Clarenville and Gander, 83 miles, and between St. George's and the Steel Mountain road, 43 miles. Work is now in progress on these sections and I hope that by the end of next year a grade will be completed along the entire route and some paving under way.

In British Columbia the major unfinished section of the highway is along the route known as the Big Bend between Revelstoke and Golden. The British Columbia government has not pressed forward here as fast as we would like because of the fear that a dam if built at Mica creek would drown out a substantial part of the highway. We assured them at the outset that there would be adequate compensation in that event. Some progress is now being made.

In the meantime our engineers have explored an alternative route through Rogers pass which, if feasible, would save some 100 miles of road. A preliminary examination indicated to us that such a route was worth considering, but the British Columbia engineers, who are of course close to the situation and responsible both for the selection of the route and the maintenance of the highway, had other views. Just recently we received a request from the British Columbia government to participate with them in the cost of a survey of the Rogers pass route, and we have agreed. I am hopeful that the pace of the work along the route of the trans-Canada highway in British Columbia can be accelerated.

In Ontario the gap that imposes a barrier in the way of vehicular traffic along the route of the trans-Canada highway across the province is a section between Marathon and Chapleau,

a distance of 185 miles. Recently I have had conferences with the premier of Ontario as well as the minister of highways and his officials, with a view to having work on this section of the route accelerated. I have just received a letter dated June 29 from the minister of highways of the province of Ontario indicating that during this present season they propose to undertake approximately 30 miles of grading and 12 miles of clearing in that area, and that next year the work will consist of 47-2 miles of grading, 49 miles of clearing, and the construction of four structures. The minister says in his letter that they hope they will be able to make speedier progress on this part of the trans-Canada highway.

Once these outstanding gaps in Ontario and Newfoundland are closed there will be a good grade permitting relatively comfortable travel along the route of the trans-Canada highway from one end of Canada to the other.

There is just one other point I should like to refer to, and that is the remark of the hon. member for Notre Dame de Grace with reference to a trip I made last year to Europe. He had other things to say about me and the department, but they can be dealt with at a later date. He referred to a question he had asked reading as follows:

Between January 1, 1954 and January 31, 1955, how many trips, paid for in whole or in part by the public treasury and/or using transport supplied by the public service or national defence department, were made by ministers of the crown to points other than in Canada.

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There were other incidental questions. I did make a trip to Europe last year but I did not travel by a means which I interpreted to be covered by this question. I went in both directions by steamship, and moreover I was deputizing for the Minister of Trade and Commerce. Whatever expenses I incurred were borne by the Department of Trade and Commerce. After due reflection we decided in the department, with my concurrence, that this question did not apply to me and therefore we did not make a return. At that time I did not think I was disregarding the wishes of parliament, and I hope hon. members still will not think I had any such intention.

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PC
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An hon. Member:

Ten o'clock.

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LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. Winters:

Perhaps I could deal with that on the specific item and we could pass the general item now.

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PC
?

An hon. Member:

Ten o'clock.

Progress reported.

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

On Monday we shall take the defence production bill and the motion to go into supply.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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It being seven minutes after ten o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. 50433-354i



Monday, July 4, 1955


July 1, 1955