Mr. Chairman, before the proceedings of the committee were interrupted a moment ago I had endeavoured to outline the serious situation that exists in the western part of Nova Scotia and the need for correcting it. As the case in point I was dealing with the ferry service to maximize the tourist
March 25, 1968
industry of the area, and indeed of the whole of the province of Nova Scotia, of Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, because Yarmouth is the point of entry from the United States to the maritime province so far as the ferries are concerned.
The ferry is inadequate at the present time. A year ago I raised with the minister of transport the matter of supplementary summer ferry service. Nothing whatever has been done about it. As I have mentioned, during the past summer potential tourists were turned away because of inadequate service across from New England-Bar Harbor specifically-to Yarmouth. Last summer was a relatively poor summer for Nova Scotia. Our normal increase in tourism did not occur. On the contrary, according to many accounts, it slipped backward due, some say, to the attractions at Expo and the fact that the overflow which we were going to get never occurred, apparently because by the time the people got through at La Ronde they did not have enough money to go to Nova Scotia. I do not know about that, but in any event we had a poor tourist season.
It is hoped-and it is very much needed -that there will be a large increase in tourism. I understand there is a possibility, which perhaps did not exist last summer, of obtaining a supplementary ship to run between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth. I brought this matter up with the minister.
We are due shortly to have a recess. It is necessary to have time in which to make preparations and arrangements for something of this nature. So before I go back to western Nova Scotia, to the complaints of disappointment and despair, I should like to know whether something is going to be done about this.
Speaking of the longer term situation, I should like to refer to the matter of the second New England ferry, so called, that would go from some point "X" in the United States to some point "Y" in Nova Scotia. That seems to have gone into a sort of suspended animation, although everybody in Nova Scotia, particularly western Nova Scotia, would like to know what if anything is being done in that regard. That is my sea issue. I have another, the air issue.
Yarmouth is an airport of entry from the United States. Some five years ago one of the runways at this airport was improved so that it would be able to handle up to date planes. However, the cross runway was not improved
and therefore there was no effectual improvement, in so far as modernizing the facilities for the type of equipment that could come in there is concerned. I have learned now that there is a proposal to rebuild or improve the air terminal building. That indeed is putting the cart before the horse. I think perhaps we could make do somehow or other with the terminal building, but airplanes cannot be landed on a terminal building; there must be a cross runway.
I think it would have been far more sensible to have planned the fundamental thing, the two airstrips, rather than the lace on the drawers, the terminal building. These are matters of fundamental importance. The way tourism is being fomented in that area it is becoming possible for people from New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington and Boston to come down for week ends and leave their families there during the summer. This could provide a tremendous source of revenue. These people could buy old abandoned farms and build modern summer homes, provided the heads of the families could fly back and forth from their work on week ends. Their families could stay for the summer. That is the significance of the development of proper air services into Yarmouth.
[DOT] (10:10 p.m.)
I recognize that there is a big investment at the present Yarmouth airport location, and I do not suggest for one moment that it be changed. However, there should be a supplementary emergency airport. Time and again there is thick, heavy and low-lying overcast at the Yarmouth airport. Sometimes only 15 miles inland there is good landing weather. I am not referring to a large fancy airport, but rather just a place where planes could land. Customs facilities could easily be set up at such a location.
There is a site about 15 or 20 miles inland which would be ideal for this purpose. These are the kinds of things which should be done in an area of fragile economy. People down in Nova Scotia read about the huge deficits and the amounts being spent on national arts centres and other things. They are not against this, but they feel their economic situation should be considered in the scheme of things. Some modest investment of the type I have suggested would make all the difference to western Nova Scotia. Perhaps it could then be something other than an abandoned corner of that province.
March 25, 1968