July 1, 1955

SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

The hon. member for Fraser Valley says, "That is right." When we reach the item that particularly interests him he will tells us why that is right. I shall say no more until the items come along in which our group may be particularly interested.

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LIB

Colin Emerson Bennett (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Miss Bennett:

Mr. Chairman, I have only a few remarks of a general nature to make.

I listened to what the hon. member for Macleod has just said with regard to praise of the department and I find myself in the position at the moment where perhaps I can give a little praise to this department. In the last few months I have had the good fortune to have very happy negotiations with the minister and his department concerning a new federal building in the town of Oakville. I must say we have had most cordial discussions and things are moving very nicely now. The allotment has been raised from $100,000 to $400,000, and that would indicate that we can expect and look forward to a very fine building which will be an asset to the municipality.

We hope we shall be able to bring these odds and ends of negotiations, about which the minister knows, to an end and we shall be able to get this building under way at an early date. If one must bespeak an invitation to the opening of the building, I must say right here and now to the minister that I hope that when it is completed and opened he will grant me an invitation to be present.

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LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. Winters:

I extend you an invitation right now.

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LIB

Colin Emerson Bennett (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Miss Bennett:

I look forward to that, and I hope it will be at an early date. I appreciate that the department has many problems

and great responsibilities, because we are growing in a most unprecedented manner in this nation. I know the minister himself, having made a survey in my county of Halton and having gone into the whole question of the federal building and the various matters that pertain to it, will appreciate the extent of the industrial and home building program that is taking place there in the county. Whilst it may sound premature-and I do not think it is premature-I should like the minister to keep in mind that what pertains to my county on lake Ontario pertains to every constituency on the great lakes. We are having the St. Lawrence river widened and we hope, and indeed expect, to see in the near future ocean traffic coming right down into our vicinity and farther on.

I should like to remind the minister that we have there already three very fine harbours, Oakville, Bronte and Burlington. Indeed the department has put considerable money into those harbours to keep them in good condition. We are developing in the county heavy types of industry, but also lighter industries. We have industries that are producing products needed in every part of the world. It seems to me to be a very central area. The department should keep in mind that there should be some development of either one or all of these. We could not ask for all at this stage, but there should be some development of the most important in the south end of the county of Halton, in order that we may have transportation for the movement of products that are being produced in that part of the county.

I would also remind the minister that we have a great concentration of railways and highways. We would like the department to keep that in mind when they are reviewing the situation. When they are setting money aside for the development of ocean harbours, something should be done for that county, which is in the midst of perhaps the greatest concentration of industry in this country.

There is another matter pertaining to welfare. The minister will probably remember that last year there was a very tragic happening at Oakville in which two scouts and their scoutmaster who were out for a sail were drowned in a very sudden storm that came up. All along the beaches in Peel and York and in other counties nearby there is a great new population. People come down there to spend their holidays. There are a great many yachting clubs and sailing clubs there. It would be advisable for the minister to take into consideration some method of coastal protection for these people,

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for the community at large on the beaches and for these yachting clubs that are going out and running competitions of all kinds across the lake. They are there in groups and as individuals. There is no means whatsoever of keeping them informed as to weather and safety conditions. There is no concentrated or co-ordinated effort in any of these harbours for lifesaving or warning, or in any way preserving the lives of these people, other than the municipal or local pojice. As our population grows and uses these harbours and the beaches all along these counties for that purpose, it would be well if the department would enter into some arrangement for the future protection of people taking part in that type of sport and the competitions that are engaged in on the lakes by the boating public.

There is just one more matter I should like to bring to the minister's attention. I may be presuming a little in mentioning it today, because I note there is money set aside for it. It is in connection with the Burlington bridge. I appreciate that has to be dealt with through the province, but I would urge the federal government and the province that this matter be dealt with as quickly as possible. I can say that we have three highways converging on Burlington cut-off. We have the lakeshore highway, the Queen Elizabeth way and the Dundas highway. They carry thousands of vehicles. On any holiday or Sunday evening it is not at all unusual for traffic to be tied up there for two hours waiting to go through the bridge and go across the cut-off. There are a tremendous number of accidents-not large, but small accidents-of every kind.

Not only is it not good for the people themselves; it is not good advertising for our county, and it is not good advertising for any part of the province. Tourists coming in do not like that kind of delay. It looks bad that when coming through Canada they should proceed from Niagara Falls along the Queen Elizabeth or one of the other highways in an hour and then be held up, on any but an ordinary evening, for two or three hours before they get through. I should like to ask the minister, mainly as a safety measure, to prevent these accidents, to give a better impression, to keep traffic moving and to lend a good reputation to Canada as a tourist country and as an efficient country, that that matter be dealt with in co-operation with the province as soon as possible.

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LIB

Samuel Rosborough Balcom

Liberal

Mr. Balcom:

Mr. Chairman, I presume that the four members who have spoken, including the hon. member for Halton, were speaking on behalf of their party. Being the first member of the Liberal party to speak, I do not

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want to stand in any false light in saying a few words for Halifax. I am sorry that these estimates did not come up earlier in the session, so that we might perhaps have conscientiously spent our 40 minutes in going into them in more detail.

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?

An hon. Member:

Go right ahead.

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LIB

Samuel Rosborough Balcom

Liberal

Mr. Balcom:

I have some very interesting matters to talk about, and I do not like to take the time of the house today on them. I should like it to be understood that, as some other hon. members have pointed out, time is important to all of us. My birthday is in March and I am prepared to stay here even that long in order to discuss these things. Even though we make some sacrifices I think we owe it to the house to be here, even if the session lasts a whole year.

The hon. member for Victoria, Ontario, intimated that there might be some patronage in awarding tenders. I presume he meant jobs. I would suggest that is something that might be catching in Ontario from politics on a lower level. However, I will say that in Halifax I do not know of any politics that enter into contracts there. If a contract is awarded, it goes to the man with the lowest tender. By way of compliment to the official opposition I would say that there must be some extremely smart Conservatives down there because we have government departments with nothing else but them in it and they are doing, I must say, a reasonable job.

I should now like to commend the minister and his staff-including all his department- for the progressive housing program which has been consistently pursued over the past few years. Legislation and administration have been geared to the changing business picture, particularly as it has affected the building industry. There seems to be little more that the federal government can do to encourage and help our people to build and acquire homes; I refer to those people who can afford to pay for them. Unfortunately, however, we have not yet disposed of the problem of providing homes for the bottom fifth of our population who, by ordinary standards, cannot afford to buy any kind of house. By the bottom fifth I mean those who cannot pay more than $20 to $30 a month rental.

Professor Leonard Marsh of the University of British Columbia, working from the premise that in buying a house, no family should pay more than two times its annual income, came to the conclusion that 20-7 per cent of the population could not afford any kind of house. That was in 1949; and I suggest to you, Mr. Chairman, that that condition still prevails. The fact is that shelter been all too few.

of sorts can be had and at a price, but the way it works out is to set up a situation in which the lowest-paid workers get the poorest value for their money in housing. This problem is more serious in an old city like Halifax, particularly as it has unique problems resulting from its character as a seaport and wartime centre of activity.

The National Housing Act has made provision for a substantial contribution to low-rental housing. In assuming 75 per cent of the cost of construction and any operating deficit, the federal government has assumed the major part of the burden. In addition, important projects have already come into being, such as Shannon Park on the Dartmouth side of the harbour and housing projects for the army in the northern part of the city and developments shared jointly by the city of Halifax and the federal government. The latter, I regret to say, have been all too few.

Much remains to be done, but it is encouraging to know that the present mayor of Halifax, Leonard Kitz, has shown his interest and I think we can expect real progress on this problem in the near future.

While the city has the most extensive blighted areas which should be replaced, very real problems of a similar nature exist in the county and the town of Dartmouth across the harbour. In fact, it is becoming increasingly apparent that a broad approach involving these three-that is Halifax, Dartmouth and the municipality-and the federal authority is required. I would freely admit-and I repeat it; I have said it several times previously-that the initiative must come from the municipality for the funds are in Ottawa waiting for our city to use them. It may not be quite as simple as that but that is practically the situation.

Mr. Chairman, we know that the minister and his most co-operative staff-and I refer now particularly to that of Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation-will take time to assess the slum clearance need in Halifax and will do everything possible to encourage the local authorities to proceed with a progressive program.

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PC

Lewis Elston Cardiff

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Cardiff:

Last year when these estimates were before the committee I drew to the attention of the minister the fact that the post office in the town of Exeter was too small having regard to the amount of mail being handled and the growing number of people every year who are going into that town. I understood then that the minister would send an engineer down there to make an estimate of what it would cost to build an addition to the post office. They have a very good post office building; it is practically new; but the

number of people has grown to such an extent that the accommodation is not nearly sufficient to take care of the general public.

One reason for that situation is the fact that the Centralia airport is situated close to Exeter and many of the personnel at the airport live in Exeter and of course must be taken care of. There would not be too much expense involved in building an addition to the post office. There is plenty of room to do it. There is plenty of ground available on which to put an addition to the post office. As a matter of fact, when I looked through the estimates I thought I would find in there this year an estimate for that addition to the post office, but I do not see any there. I should like to ask the minister whether he has sent his engineer down there and whether he knows anything about the situation. I should like to hear from him if he cares to answer that question.

There was also a certain situation in the town of Hensall. Before the election the department had some ground-bought, I believe, from the C.N.R.-on which to build a post office there. But for some unknown reason, after the election was over-I do not know whether or not it was because of the fact that the election did not turn out to suit them-that project has disappeared. I have not heard anything more about it at all. A new post office is needed there. As far as the government was concerned, they had agreed to build one or at least they had agreed that someone should build one. They were going to rent this property for ten years after it was built. But for some reason, of which I am fairly well aware, it was not built.

I should like the minister to look into that situation also. We need a post office there, regardless of the fact that perhaps the man they wanted was not elected. That consideration does not change the situation any. As far as I am concerned, I am the representative there; and if the people there want a post office and need one, I think it is up to the government to build one. I would ask the minister to look into that situation and to find out why that building was not completed or was not started. I would ask him to find out some of the reasons why we have not one there now, because we should have had one there by this time.

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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Nicholson:

I am pleased to note that in the chamber this afternoon the holiday spirit seems to prevail, and I trust my remarks will be in keeping with Canada's anniversary. I am happy to note that this year the minister is providing for three public buildings in my riding. Saskatchewan

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is celebrating its golden jubilee anniversary this year, and I should like to say that this is the first time in this 50-year period that the member for Mackenzie has ever been able to rise in parliament and express appreciation to a minister of public works for appropriating funds for public buildings. During that period of time the Parthenon in the field of architecture has been the country elevator.

While the amounts provided for new buildings in Mackenzie will not permit the erection of such public buildings as we have in the capital city, our people appreciate the fact that $75,000 is being appropriated for three public buildings at Carrot River, Kel-vington and Porcupine Plain. I note that the total for the province is $2,565,000; and while $75,000 is a very small drop in the bucket, it is a start. I hope the minister will see that the department does not wait another 50 years before deciding to spend further funds on public buildings.

I am very glad this appropriation has been made, and I want to assure the minister I do not intend to ask for any credit. I think the buildings are being started in recognition of the fact that there are people living in those areas who are entitled to have some federal public buildings. I am very glad that during the period I am in parliament the people of the area are not being discriminated against because they happen to have a member of parliament who is not a supporter of the government.

I know the minister receives invitations to go to Vancouver, Halifax, Toronto and Winnipeg to open public buildings. I do not suppose he has ever been invited to places as small as Carrot River, Kelvington or Porcupine Plain. I hope he will accept an invitation now to be in my constituency to open the first of these three public buildings to be completed. I can assure him on behalf of the people of whichever area he happens to visit that he will be accorded a very warm welcome and the best of western hospitality.

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LIB

Jean-Thomas Richard

Liberal

Mr. Richard (Ottawa East):

Mr. Chairman, I want to say a few words. I shall start as others have by thanking the minister and his very efficient officials for their co-operation in the dealings I have had with them, both with regard to conditions of work of employees and also with regard to works undertaken in this district.

I shall say very little in connection with employees. We may come to that later. But I should like to say that the minister is to be congratulated on reorganizing many branches of the department. I think it will

Supply-Public Works take a little time for the effects of the reorganization to be felt, but already we know that the conditions of work of people employed by the department in this area are much better. Something could be said, of course, about small details. I think the staff is too small and that too much overtime work is done by employees, but I am sure the minister and his officials will have time for these problems at a later date.

As to the undertakings in this district, they are very large indeed, and the people of Ottawa are of course very happy with the progress of the different buildings under construction. I do not feel too happy that in my own riding in the eastern part of Ottawa, which I have always considered a very beautiful part of the city, the minister and his officials have not seen fit to make plans for any specific buildings, although the area lends itself just as admirably to such construction as some of the pasture land parts of the city and areas on the west side.

I should like to direct the attention of the minister and his officials once again to the Sussex street property facing the river, which belongs to the government, and also to the site designated as the site for the city hall. Apparently the city wishes to refuse that site, but if it is good enough for the government to suggest its use for a city hall it should be good enough for the erection of a government building. I am sure if I keep on asking for the same thing every year I shall be at least as successful as some of the people on the other side of the house who obtain post offices in their ridings.

There is one other type of project which should be brought to the attention of the house. I am thinking now of projects which require the co-operation of the province, the city and the federal district commission. I have only one reproach to make to the minister in this connection. I feel that his publicity department is not too good when it comes to giving a true picture of the part played by the Department of Public Works and the government of Canada in all these projects such as the Chaudiere bridge, other bridges being built in different parts of the city and the new Queensway highway, the land for which is being supplied in great part by the government of Canada through the Department of Public Works. I believe the department should give the public better and more detailed information as to its share in all undertakings in the city to which it contributes, because there is a feeling in many quarters that the only contributors are the taxpayers of the city, the federal district commission and sometimes the province of Ontario. A large share comes from the Department of Public Works.

Finally, to make my remarks brief, let me reiterate my demand for the immediate study of a bridge across the Ottawa river. Surely now that the government has planted the printing bureau across the river and has many other projects in view for the other side of the river, we should take the initiative in bringing about the construction of a sorely needed bridge across the Ottawa river in the eastern part of the city. The interprovincial bridge is not sufficient for a small town. It does not handle anything like the traffic it could if it were of a proper size. I hope the minister and his officials have plans in mind to start a bridge across the Ottawa river in the eastern part of the city.

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PC

John Borden Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (York West):

Mr. Chairman, I have no invitations for the minister, no congratulations and no condemnation. Therefore I think I can start with a clean sheet. Specifically, I think what I want to talk about can properly be dealt with on the first item. I only wish to speak about two points, both having to do with new construction. With an aggressive minister who is an engineer I think we should be able to expect at this stage that his department will give a lead to Canadian architecture in its fight to establish a distinctive Canadian trend. I think in this respect we should lead, not follow, and I cannot help thinking that many of the public buildings which are built today would serve better as blockhouses guarding the approaches to the downtown areas of our major cities.

I think there is a trend in Canadian architecture to which the department might give serious consideration and study. It may be that the department is already looking into these things. As a matter of fact the sketches in the newspapers of the new postal building for Adelaide street in Toronto would appear to indicate that we are making an effort to get away from the heavy type of construction which is the trade-mark of things built by the government and things built by the chartered banks.

I should like, as a matter of fact, to refer shortly to an article written by Mr. John C. Parkin, who I think is one of the leading architectural designers in Canada today. He is a partner in one of the largest architectural firms, a firm which has won many of the top awards in architecture. I think we can pay attention to what he says. In an article which he wrote in the last issue of Saturday Night, June 25, he said:

I think we can safely say that that battle between modem and traditional architecture, which has been under way ever since Frank Lloyd Wright doffed his pork-pie hat to the American public, has swung undisputedly in favour of modem. Canadians,-

I like the next few words.

-conservative by habit and by inclination, have fallen victims to the present trend. Granted, there are mopping-up skirmishes here and there; nonetheless, we have evidence in every field of the construction industry that the Canadian people like the ornament-free, glass-walled, efficient-looking (and efficient-acting) buildings of modem achitecture.

Qualitatively, however, the battle for good, modern architecture is only beginning; let us not worry too much about being Canadian for its own sake, but let us direct our efforts, rather, towards improving the quality of our work.

I think there are two aspects of this question of the modern trend in architecture. Certainly there is a problem of fitting public buildings into our new and modern style communities. I notice that in a short paragraph on the next page of this article reference is made to a large modern community under construction in the metropolitan area of Toronto. The majority of its buildings are modern, some uncompromisingly so. One corporation and their architects chose to construct in the heart of this otherwise modern community a neo-Georgian building, an incongruous anachronism. I believe this is a problem the department must face, and must face now.

It seems to me there is no necessity for carrying from one end of this country to the other the massive stone type of construction we see evidenced in public buildings. We can probably make an exception of the type of architecture which should be preserved in this capital city, even preserved to the extent of maintaining the historical parts of it in the form in which they already are, notwithstanding the fact that we may have to modernize in many other respects. I said there was a twofold purpose in this. First of all there is the necessity for seeing that the buildings we construct, no matter where, are in conformity with the new trend in Canadian architecture. Some men, such as the one I have quoted, are in the forefront in seeing that in Canada today we shall have a distinctive type of building which is modern in all respects.

The second point deals with the question of costs. I have only had a short experience here in connection with the construction costs of public buildings. As a matter of fact the Minister of Finance gave me a very short lesson, when he said it costs a great deal more to build here than in other parts of Canada. But I do not see why we should not expect the Department of Public Works to maintain the same levels, the same costcutting procedures, that are maintained throughout industry today. You cannot expect to construct the type of building we have had as cheaply as you can with the 50433-352

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new methods of construction which entail such things as the new lift slab method of erecting flooring on the steel skeleton; methods of curtain wall construction, with their new and proven insulating features; uses of fibre glass, plastic and glass.

There is no doubt about it; these methods will bring down the costs of many of these buildings. We must face the fact that with our expanding population, an increasing number of buildings will be required. When you inquire about costs and find that in some instances we have paid up to $22.50 per square foot for a building, then I must agree with the observation previously made by the hon. member for St. Paul's that we certainly are using a surplus of ornamentation on a lot of these buildings.

I am sure the clean-cut modern lines that can be achieved will give the same effect of stability, which I am sure is one of the qualities the minister wants to retain in connection with government buildings. I believe the same effect of stability can be retained and the costs can be definitely reduced. I think the style of architecture which can be produced will definitely fit in with the style in the areas in which the buildings are being constructed. X would say that as a final result, and probably a very important result, we will give a lead to those young Canadians who are building new and distinctive styles of architecture.

If I may go one step further, I do not know whom the minister may have on his list as qualified architects to draft the plans for buildings that are going to be erected in this country, but I would strongly suggest that a real effort be made to see that the newer men coming along are given an opportunity to contribute something of a lasting nature through his department.

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LIB

Edward Blake Huffman

Liberal

Mr. Huffman:

I should like to commend the minister and his departmental officials on the money they are spending on projects throughout this country, because I feel it adds materially to the gross national product of our country. I should like to refer to one illustration of that in my own area. This project was started by the predecessor of the present minister, and was completed by the present minister. I refer to a fisherman's wharf at Wheatley. Since this wharf has been completed I have noticed that the revenue in this area has trebled, and therefore any money expended on projects of this nature is really a benefit to Canada as a whole.

Having done that in one area, Mr. Chairman, I find there is another area in my district that has a problem comparable to that of the fishermen at Wheatley. I should like to refer to the people who engage in fishing

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at Erieau. Just recently a lease has been granted to a company to ship grain by water. This lease was formerly held by the fisher-folk from the railway company in that area. Since they have lost their leases to this transit company the fishermen will now have to be located somewhere else. I would recommend to the minister and his officials that the same type of work be done for these men who operate this fishing fleet as was done at another point along the lake. I am sure if that is done the revenue at this point will increase to the same extent as in the other place.

Some people say they have nothing to thank the minister and his department for. Our district has a number of things. 1 know that at the present time the department is seeking a site for a post office at Wheatley and an addition to the post office at Tilbury. Work has been done at Mitchells Bay. I am certain that when the time comes for an extension of the work that has just been completed there, the department will look favourably upon the request for further additional dockage space.

May I at this time compliment the minister on the very fine way in which the district offices look after the work within our district. I know every time any request has been directed to them, if it came within their jurisdiction they have been most willing to co-operate. I have been able from time to time to bring delegations who felt they wanted to meet the minister, the deputy minister and his officials. On all occasions the minister and the officials have met these people, and it has tended toward excellent public relations. I am certain that will continue as long as this minister holds the portfolio he is occupying at the present time. I am not seeking an invitation to anything in particular, but I do wish to extend an invitation to the minister to come to Chatham where ground has been broken for the new public building. On behalf of the mayor, his officials and the citizens as a whole, I should like to extend an invitation to the minister to be present at the laying of the cornerstone at his convenience.

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LIB
LIB

Edward Blake Huffman

Liberal

Mr. Huffman:

I was interested in hearing the remarks of the hon. member for York West in regard to helping the younger architects of this country. The building that is being erected in Chatham is along the lines suggested by the hon. member. I am quite certain that if he wishes to see a building of the kind he has mentioned, if he will come to Chatham within a year he will see a building of excellent architectural construction.

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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Bryce:

Mr. Chairman, I have one or two items I wish to draw to the attention of the minister. With your permission, I shall deal with them all at the same time so I shall not have to rise on the different items as they are called. First I wish to mention the breakwater at Gimli. This is an old story, because I must have brought it up five or six times about five years ago. The department built a breakwater there because they realized they were obliged to fix it up. The breakwater has been washed away. I have a letter from the town of Gimli. They tell me they have not the money to replace it. I should like the minister's officials or his engineers to examine it and see what can be done about it, because it is washed away. It has broken down, and it was up only four years. There must have been something quite faulty about it. It should last longer than four years.

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LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. Winiers:

There was supposed to be fill behind it, put there by the municipality. The fill was never put there. That is why the breakwater washed away.

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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Bryce:

I think the fill washed away, too. I was there early in the spring and it was not acting as a breakwater at all. I should like the minister to look into it. You get the same story right along the whole of the lake. I have a letter from Sandy Hook, which says that flood water even from Saskatchewan is draining into lake Winnipeg, and they need some more protection there. The letter says:

We put one stone breakwater in four years ago, but last fall the big storm we had then washed it out. Now the lake is higher yet and any storm will do considerable damage.

These people make their livelihood from the summer resorts. When your engineer is out that way he could have a look at it. Then there is Winnipeg Beach, which is in bad shape. They really have it bad there. I have a resolution from the town of Winnipeg Beach which I should like to read into the record so the minister will see it and do something about it. It reads as follows:

Whereas due to excessive rainfall during the past five years, the present level of lake Winnipeg is , six feet above normal; and

Whereas this is causing severe erosion to the shoreline at Winnipeg Beach, is washing the beach away and is endangering numerous cottages on the lake front; and

Whereas it has been reported that a proposal has been submitted to the federal government by the Manitoba government to have the Fairford river-lake St. Martin-Dauphin river channel enlarged in order to drain more water into lake Winnipeg from lake Manitoba; and-

I think this comes under P.F.R.A., but I want to read it anyway.

Whereas it has also been reported that no specific proposal has been submitted to the federal government to have work done on the Nelson river, in order to enable it to carry more water northward from lake Winnipeg; and

Whereas unless remedial work is carried out on the Nelson river, the level of lake Winnipeg will be even greater if the Dauphin river channel is enlarged;

Now therefore be it resolved that the council of the town of Winnipeg Beach request the Manitoba government to submit a definite proposal to the federal government to have the necessary work done to improve the Nelson river outlet; and

Be it further resolved that the council of the town of Winnipeg Beach go on record as being opposed to the Dauphin river channel being enlarged unless similar remedial work is undertaken at the Nelson river.

I am sure the minister can understand what they are afraid of; that is, more water coming in and less going out.

There is another matter to which I would like tc refer. I spoke to the minister about it. I do not know whether he has been able to trace it down. On lake Winnipeg we have the Bradbury, which is a public works boat, and we have two dredges. The men who work on these dredges and the men who work on the Bradbury are entitled to $1.54 a day for food. On the Bradbury everybody is happy because they spend the $1.54 a day or $47 a month that is allowed to each man, while on the dredges some particular person buys the food. They do not necessarily spend the $47 that is allowed. I am sure everybody on the dredges is getting a sufficient wage and does not need to make 10 per cent on some other person's food. I want the minister to look into that and see that everybody working for the public works department is fed on the same basis. The people on the Bradbury are happy; the people on the dredges are not happy, at least some of them are not.

Before I was defeated in the 1953 election the sum of $25,000 appeared in the estimates of the Department of Public Works for a new post office at Selkirk. I know that no post office has been built, but I do not know where the $25,000 went. I have spoken to the Postmaster General, and he assures me that if any place needs a post office it is Selkirk. They are up against it for room and the congestion is terrific, especially in the busy season. I appeal to the minister to get some money back into the estimates so we can get a post office, and then I will be in the enviable position of some of my colleagues and able to extend to him an invitation from the town of Selkirk to come and open the new post office.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Mr. Chairman, what I wish to bring to the attention of the committee is not the need for something in the way of a building, but the need for greater care on the part of the department in the acquisition of properties. I intend to refer to a transaction which occurred right here in Ottawa in which it seems to me a price without warrant has been paid for a property acquired by the crown in comparatively recent times.

I go back to a situation which existed two or three years ago, when a firm in Ottawa known as Wittington Investments Limited acquired three properties on Isabella, Albert and Wellington streets from Norlite Realty Limited. The price paid for the three properties as shown by documents of record in the registry office was $967,500.

The Isabella street property was then sold by Wittington Investments Limited to an apparently related company, Wittington Realty and Construction Limited, under a deed dated May 1, 1954, and registered on July 22, 1954. The consideration for the sale of that property as shown by documents of record in the registry office was $204,268.61.

The second property on Albert street was also sold at that time, likewise to Wittington Realty and Construction Limited. The deed of the property was dated the same day, and it was registered on the same day as the deed for the Isabella street property. The consideration for the sale of that property as shown by documents of record in the registry office was $137,501.98.

We now arrive at the position where the third property, the Wellington street property, would be carried by Wittington Investments Limited at a net price of $625,730. The crown proceeded to acquire the property on .Wellington street. It served notice of expropriation, which notice was registered on March 26, 1954. Subsequently the compensation was arrived at, presumably by agreement, and conveyance was made and release given by the recipient of the compensation, namely Wittington Investments Limited. The consideration passing for this property as shown in documents of record in the registry office was $1,396,000. In other words, a property which had cost Wittington Investments Limited the net sum of $625,730 in 1952 was disposed of by that company to the crown in the fall of 1954 for $1,396,000. On the turnover Wittington Investments Limited realized an appreciation of capital or profit, whichever you like to call it, of $770,270 in a period of just two years.

On the face of it that kind of transaction calls for investigation and explanation. Here is a property which in the course of two years,

Supply-Public Works so far as the price paid by Wittington Investments Limited and the price realized by it on expropriation are concerned, has more than doubled in value. On the face of it there is something there that calls for investigation. Attention should be drawn to the fact that this was an expropriation, but apparently the compensation was determined by agreement.

I understand that in a case of that kind the practice of the department is to secure independent valuations from persons who are not only competent in their field but who can give sound advice and who should have no interest whatever in the transaction-I go further and say who should have no vestige of interest in the transaction.

I should like to know what independent valuations were obtained by the department which guided them in the paying of this enormous price, a price which I am informed on competent advice is not only grossly excessive but could not be defended under any circumstances. What were the valuations? What valuators supported this enormous price which was paid for this property by the crown?

My information-I trust that when the minister speaks he will give the committee full information-as far as it goes is that the appraisal was made by Mr. E. S. Sherwood.

I am told also that Mr. Sherwood is the manager of a building now in the course of construction by the same company, Wittington Investments Limited. I think the department will have to have some other source of independent advice to give any colour of justification to the payment of this exorbitant price for this property.

I am quite certain that the people of this country expect on the part of the government a sound businesslike approach to problems of this kind. When the crown finds it necessary to acquire property it should seek a property suitable for its purposes and by means which will guarantee the public as far as possible against being charged an exorbitant price. It is my understanding that the reason we have the procedure laid down in the Expropriation Act for the determination of compensation where the crown expropriates property is that the compensation to be paid shall be arrived at on proper grounds and after all relevant and proper testimony has been obtained.

This is not to exclude agreements where agreements can be entered into by the department in settlement of the compensation where it is obvious the department is obtaining a good price, thus saving the expense of litigation in the course of expropriation. But it is quite evident that was not the case here.

The mere fact that the price paid by the department for this property was double- yes, more than double-the cost of this property to the owner just two years before is enough, on the face of it, to condemn the price paid.

Far be it from me to introduce personal considerations, but the fact is that the gentleman who, I am told, conducted the legal affairs of the company which received this handsome premium on this investment was Mr. Duncan MacTavish, the president of the national Liberal federation of Canada. The fact that he holds that office is no disqualification of Mr. MacTavish-and I speak of a man who is, I am sure, a personal friend of many in this chamber-in carrying on his legal practice and acting for clients even in relations with the crown. But it was an additional reason on the part of the department for exercising the greatest care in a transaction of this kind that no suspicion should attach to it.

When we have, on the face of it, the fact that the price paid is double what the property cost the company just two years before, it seems to me that we have here patent facts which should have put the minister, or at least those of his officials who were in charge of this matter, on their guard and should have called for the exercise of much more vigilance in the public interest than has evidently been exercised in this case. If it were at an earlier stage of the session that we had learned of these matters, this is the sort of transaction that would call for inquiry before the public accounts committee.

At this stage of the session I raise the matter here on the estimates of the minister and say that even though the transaction appears now to be completed-evidently there is nothing, so far as I am aware, that can be undertaken now by way of undoing this transaction-nevertheless I put the house upon notice that the department, in negotiating with a company represented by the president of the national Liberal federation of Canada, has paid for this property, evidently willingly paid for it, more than twice the cost of the property to the owner just twc years before. I believe the house will wanl to know from the minister what were the independent valuations upon which the minister proceeded in paying a price that is on the face of it, palpably exorbitant.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Mclvor:

Mr. Chairman, I shall only take about a minute. Last year when these estimates were before the committee I made a request that dredging, of which a gooc

deal takes place at the lakehead, be commenced earlier at Fort William. I should like to express appreciation because dredging started early in the spring, and that has helped employment very much in Fort William. I would repeat my request and ask that the dredging commence just as soon as possible. I know they have to have the report of the engineer on the sounding, but the dredging has to be done and I should like to see it commence as early in spring as possible.

I have nothing but commendation for the district engineers and their staff who are doing an outstanding job and co-operating thoroughly. As far as the minister himself is concerned, I have learned to have a great appreciation for the wise man who comes from the east. Since the time he first came here and swung his tennis racquet and walloped an outstanding tennis player of Canada, I have appreciated the work of the minister and that of his staff, and the courtesy of his deputy and engineers.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

Mr. Chairman, I am sorry I cannot invite the minister to the opening of any public building in my constituency. But if some of the intimations I have received from him are justified, I can at least invite him to a fishing party when he completes the building of some wharves that I hope are forthcoming. We can sit on the end of the wharf and perhaps catch some tommy codfish.

I would suggest to him, however, that if we are going to keep that appointment and are starting from here, it will be advisable for him first to get the clocks fixed in this building. Otherwise, if he goes by one clock and I by another, one of us will get there too soon and the other too late. The clocks over the elevator entrances all show different times, and the chimes in the tower are erratic. Sometimes they strike the quarter hour at the half hour, the half hour on the quarter hour and the hour on either one. It reminds me of the ditty of the old Irishman's clock. How did it go? "When the hands are at nine the clock strikes seven and then I know it is a quarter to eleven." That is something the same as we have with the clocks at the moment. I hope the minister, with his engineering background and experience, will take care to see that at least when we do get out of here we shall get out on time. Otherwise we may not get out of here at all.

I did not rise to discuss the matter of keeping time. That seems relatively unimportant just now. I want to explore for a moment a matter of administration on which, frankly, I am not too clear in my own mind. I thought if it were not explored at this time rather than when the question is raised again,

Supply-Public Works

we might be told, "You should have done that when the estimates of the Department of Public Works were before you." The situation is that apparently somewhere between the Department of Public Works and the Department of Transport a fiasco of major dimensions has been created. We have the situation, according to the press, where the long awaited ferry which was constructed to ply between North Sydney and Port aux Basques now cannot use the harbour of Port aux Basques because of dredging there which has made the harbour too rough for use.

I know the Department of Transport does some dredging of its own. I remember that last year the Minister of Transport gave the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra quite a lecture when he suggested that his officers and engineers were more competent than those of any other department of government, and that they were the best qualified to do this work. It may be that the Department of Transport has done a great deal of this dredging. However, I notice in the report of the Department of Public Works that for the year ending 1954 dredging was done at Port aux Basques by contract. It refers to two areas in that harbour and gives the amount removed as over 6,800 yards drilled and blasted. In the year 1953 I find also in the report of the Department of Public Works that 15,225 yards were taken out of the harbour of Port aux Basques. I am not sure of the technical language, but it looks to me as though all of that had been drilled and blasted as well, but in that I might be mistaken.

It is apparent that during the years 1953 and 1954 the Department of Public Works has been doing extensive dredging in the harbour of Port aux Basques. Whether the Department of Transport was also carrying on dredging is something I do not know. I should hardly think it likely that both departments would be carrying on at the same time, but when you see the net result you would not be surprised at anything. You could not get a sillier situation than this government, between the various departments, spending on piers, dredging and ship construction an amount which according to the Halifax Chronicle-Herald is going to run to about $25 million, and when it is all done the ship has no place to go.

I know the Department of Public Works is not responsible for anything in connection with the ship, but what a ridiculous position some department is in. They built a ship for my constituency or one part of my constituency, to run from Yarmouth to Maine, and they forgot to put the engines in, so it could not run. In this case they built the ship

Supply-Public Works and put the engines in it, but now they have no place for the ship to go. It is a situation as to which I am sure the Minister of Public Works will give some explanation to this committee concerning the responsibility of his department.

In short, as I read it, what has happened is that the harbour of Port aux Basques in earlier days was protected by reefs and islands. In other words there were natural breakwaters there which gave the harbour substantial protection. But in preparing for this particular ship, the William Carson, to enter and leave that harbour freely, a great deal of blasting was done and a new channel was created; and in connection with that operation these natural reefs were blown out. Apparently no one ever thought that one of the functions of the reefs was to keep tidal waves from rolling in. Apparently someone was surprised. It was only a month or two ago they found out.

I notice that the hon. member for Cape Breton North and Victoria put on the order paper early in May a question asking when this ship was going to start operations, and the Minister of Transport replied that no definite plan had been made in that regard at that moment. I can now easily understand why no definite plans were made at the moment; it was because they did not know where they were going to send it. In any event, they blasted out reefs; they blasted out islands, and now they find they cannot tie up the ship in the harbour. They built extremely expensive piers. There are side elevators. The three-inch clearance or three-inch rise and fall is all you can get against these elevators.

I am speaking now of something that is reported in the press. Now with the water surging back and forth in the harbour, it will rise far more than the three inches and therefore you cannot use the elevators. Therefore you cannot unload the ship. Therefore you have a painted ship not on a painted ocean but on an extremely rough ocean. The other day the Minister of Transport said, not in the house but in an interview to press men:

It Is proposed to carry out further work in the nature of a breakwater-

Having blown the breakwater out, you are now going to put it back, Mr. Chairman.

-in order to provide safer facilities for ships coming into the harbour-not only the William Carson, but all ships.

I would say in passing that I think all ships, including the one in which John Cabot -I almost said John Cabot Pickersgill- discovered Newfoundland, were able to lie in the harbour of Port aux Basques

(Mr. Nowlan.]

safely without experiencing rough water until these barriers were blown out. The Minister of Transport has been considering whether they are going to rebuild the reefs which apparently, as I take from the minister's look across the way, the department of the Minister of Public Works blew up, or whether they are going to spend another $1 million putting in artificial breakwaters.

In any event, as I said, I think the substantial part of this fiasco is perhaps with another department, but I at least want to know which department did it, so when the minister replies this afternoon I hope he will tell us. From a smile and a nod a few minutes ago I gathered that he would do so. I hope he will tell the committee whether his department did all this work, how long they have been doing it, how much they have spent in doing it, why they did it, and whether they did it on the instructions of the Department of Transport.

I notice that Mr. Baldwin, the deputy minister of transport, in his statement to the press says the Department of Transport must take the responsibility for this; but he also says that the technicians-whoever they may be-of the Department of Public Works were consulted and advised. It is a problem, as I said, on which we should have some more definite information than so far has been made available. How men and engineers who knew the sea and know something of those waters could play with firecrackers and blast these reefs and islands out in the way they did, without realizing what would happen afterwards, is something which I think is beyond the comprehension of most people. Certainly it is beyond the comprehension of the government member from the constituency of Burin-Burgeo who in an interview with the press, as reported in the Halifax Herald of Monday of this week, said he had been warning the government of this for five years.

He said:

A lot of Newfoundland seamen did too, but when we went to the C.N.R., they didn't seem worried because the government wasn't worried, and when we went to the government, the government wasn't worried because the C.N.R. wasn't worried. The project was not thought out well and I have my doubts whether what they have in mind now will be a remedy. It would be better to have two small boats rather than one big ship that is going to find it hard to get around the harbour, he said.

If there is any merit in the suggestion I know the Minister of Public Works, who is the minister from Nova Scotia, always wants to improve provincial facilities. I would suggest to him that he now take that big ferry which he cannot use and put it on the run

between Saint John and Digby so we can have a car ferry and bring the C.P.R. into Nova Scotia, or he can put it on the run from Digby to Saint John to Boston and we can enhance the passenger and tourist business and further to supplement the Yarmouth to Bar Harbor ferry. I think that would be better than to have this boat drop out of circulation for the two or three years it may take until they get this artificial breakwater built; and when they get that built it may not be any good anyway. However, that is the part of the matter which I wanted to explore delicately at the moment, and we shall listen with interest to the explanation by the minister later on.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
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July 1, 1955