Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to make an announcement at this time regarding the establishment of the green belt around the city of Ottawa. The government has now decided to recommend to parliament the necessary measures to make it possible for the crown to acquire ownership of what is known as the green belt around the nation's capital, so as to do what is possible to ensure that the development of the capital area over the long-term future will be in accordance with the national importance and significance of this city. To achieve these ends will require suitable general powers in a bill to establish the national capital commission, as well as to set up the authority over a period of several years for the crown to lend money to the commission to be invested in the purchase of the requisite lands for the purpose.
This project, as the house knows, was considered by a joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons two years ago and approved by that committee, with the suggestion that the possibility of achieving this purpose by the use of provincial legislation should be further explored. The government has reached the conclusion that only the acquisition of the land by the crown under the authority of parliament offers any assured hope of achieving this important long-term objective which we believe the committee had in mind.
It has been suggested that the legislature of Ontario might pass legislation to establish this green belt, which would have the effect of taking from private owners of the lands, particularly within the confines of the green belt, the values they could get by developing it for purposes inconsistent with the restrictions necessary to achieve the purposes and aims of setting up the green belt. Such legislation might well give rise to valid arguments that the owners had a legitimate claim for compensation from the province of Ontario because of the effects on them of action taken to accomplish this national purpose. Such problems do not arise under the plan which the government proposes to
place before parliament, under which the crown will buy the property and lease it subject to the restrictions necessary tc accomplish the purpose.
The details concerning the areas to be included in the green belt, the limitations of the use to which lands therein may be put, will be worked out for the approval of the government by the federal district commission after consultation with the local authorities concerned. Broadly speaking, the area and uses will be those placed before the joint committee in 1956. Some modifications will be desirable which have regard to the developments which have occurred since that time. The government wishes to be sure that local views as to the precise details shall be taken into account.
I should like to emphasize that this is a long-term project undertaken in the national interest. It is not a short-term one nor one that has been undertaken at the request of the local municipalities. Experience has shown that unless effectual control is exercised, cities tend to sprawl out into suburbs, resulting in what is called ribbon development, in a manner that is quite contrary to and inconsistent with the long-term planning that is necessary and essential if the capital of Canada is to be preserved and developed so that it will be a capital city of which this generation and succeeding generations can and will be proud.
By investing a reasonable sum now to acquire title to the lands on the boundaries of the city the people of Canada, through parliament, can be assured of that control which is necessary before further developments take place which may indeed result in action being taken too late. During the early years after the land is acquired the rents received for it may not be as much as the interest on the funds borrowed to purchase the lands in question, but the government is confident that over the long-term period the investment will be found to be worth while financially, as well as being necessary to achieve the important purpose which we and the people of Canada as a whole, I believe, have in mind and desire.
I would suggest that the details concerning this matter can best be discussed when the national capital bill is before the house, which I hope will be at a very early date.
1382 HOUSE OF
St. Lawrence Seaway-Tolls Mr. G. J. Mcllrailh (Ottawa West): Mr. Speaker, I am sure the house will welcome the statement made by the Prime Minister. I know that those who have taken an immediate and direct interest in this problem will be very pleased with the action now being taken. This matter has been receiving attention for some considerable time. To see the realization of the green belt in concrete form is something that will, I am sure, meet with the approval of all who are concerned with the problem.
I should like to ask one question by way of clarification. I take it from the statement that it is intended that this matter be dealt with in the new bill replacing the Federal District Commission Act and not as a separate piece of legislation. Is that right?
Subtopic: STATEMENT ON ACQUISITIONS OF LANDS TO ESTABLISH GREEN BELT