Mr. Robert McCleave (Halifax-East Hants) moved:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the advisability of declaring as rapidly as feasible a 90-10 formula of cost-sharing with the Atlantic provinces, of the highways program formerly carried on with those provinces by the Atlantic Development Board, and of joining with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the Fundy Trail project, and of joining with Nova Scotia in building a crossing across the Shubenacadie River.
He said: The resolution that I have presented for debate today is similar to one that was debated approximately 14 months ago. However, because it deals with an important matter, the development of Atlantic transportation, I do not hesitate to bring it forward again and, until the objectives of the motion are attained, I will be inclined to bring this matter forward on future occasions.
The most important thing that I can do as a federal representative for the East Hants part of my constituency is obtain some form of crossing, either causeway or bridge, across the Shubenacadie River. I shall devote most of my speech to giving reasons for my support of a Shubenacadie River crossing. I understand that other
Foreign Takeovers Review Act hon. members have dealt with or will deal with the missing links of the Fundy Trail in New Brunswick.
The Shubenacadie River crossing is a dream entertained for more than 40 years by a group of citizens. A committee is actively promoting this idea, its chairman being one G. McLellan who lives in East Hants. The crossing concept is supported by the maritime provinces Chamber of Commerce, the municipalities of East Hants, West Hants and Colchester, the towns of Truro and Ste-wiacke, the Tourist Council of Central Nova Scotia, the Annapolis Valley affiliated boards of trade, the Truro Industrial Commission, the Fundy Vacation Trail committee of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It is supported by the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, as well as by other bodies. This idea finds general political support in the area. Perhaps of more appeal to the government is the support given by the East Hants Liberal Association.
The crossing may be either a causeway or bridge. The causeway has some advantages in that it would create a vast inland lake which could be used for recreational purposes and provide a water supply for several important towns. The disadvantages of the causeway would be the effect that it, would have on wildlife. After I made my speech in the House on this subject some 14 months ago, I received half a dozen letters from various wildlife groups who said that the causeway would play hob with wildlife along the Shubenacadie River. On the other hand, building the causeway would enable land to be reclaimed for agriculture. So, those two factors must be weighed. I am not particularly taking sides on this issue at present. I am merely arguing in support of a crossing.
There are several advantages to a Shubenacadie River crossing. First, the crossing would fill in one of several unfinished links in the Fundy vacation trail. The Fundy vacation trail would be a natural railway for tourists, most of whom, as we say in the Maritimes, come from the Boston States. They enter southern New Brunswick and travel to Digby or Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, most of their trip being within sight of the Bay of Fundy. Second, truck traffic into and out of the Annapolis Valley, which is increasing, would have a shorter route in that it could cut across that part of northern Nova Scotia by Truro, and go up to New Brunswick, if that were desired. Third, there would be important advantages for agriculture, both in East Hants and in the Annapolis Valley.
Some day, Sir, Fundy tidal power will be developed, and the Shubenacadie River crossing will enable tremendous savings to be made in the transportation of materials used in the development of Fundy tidal dams. So, there will be savings of millions of dollars in transportation alone for that massive development, if and when it comes about.
I have just given the fourth reason. Fifth, personal amenities would be increased. The crossing would increase the ability of the young people of East Hants to travel to and from schools at Truro and go home for the evening without needing to travel 30 or 40 additional miles, as at present, in order to obtain their education. Shoppers would derive the same advantage, and a more adequate provision of health services would be an additional, important factor to be considered.
May 29, 1972
In the submission made some years ago, the then chairman of the Shubenacadie River crossing committee, G. H. MacDuffie, made this point:
In this same area there is one of the highest infant mortality rates in Nova Scotia chiefly because more easily accessible medical and hospital services are not available.
The proposed crossing would put these people 30 miles or more or a good part of an hour, closer to the medical, dental, clinical, ambulance and hospital services which now make a 60-mile round trip.
Mr. MacDuffie and others made that submission to the Nova Scotia cabinet. I ought to say that the natural capital of East Hants really is not Halifax but, rather, the town of Truro.
The sixth point in favour of the Shubenacadie River crossing is that great savings would be realized in transportation. The Margeson Study of 1964 indicated savings over a 20-year period of 24.25 million travelled miles and 546,000 man or woman hours. Putting it another way, if you allowed 10 cents per mile for driving, which is a low figure in today's circumstances, the savings would be greater than $3 million. Those figures, of course, are out of date; if brought up to date, the savings would be considerably larger than those I have mentioned.
When the Standing Committee on Transport and Communications visited Nova Scotia some years ago and studied Atlantic transport needs, I arranged for the Shubenacadie River crossing committee to ask Mr. MacDuffie to make an appearance before my colleagues on that committee. The committee met with representatives of the Shubenacadie River committee. Subsequently, when the committee wrote its report for the House of Commons, it said as follows:
It is further recommended that the government should consider the advisability of instituting a five-year program of federal assistance to highways in the Atlantic provinces, $30 million to be the maximum federal contribution in any one year. This program should be financed on a 90-10 basis.
That is the formula I set out in my notice of motion. I continue:
The provinces would be required to submit plans for a defined network of all-weather highways, chosen for their effect on competition among transportation modes in the Atlantic provinces, and for their contribution toward the economic development of the Atlantic provinces.
That part of the report of the Standing Committee on Transport and Communication, drawn up on June 17, 1969, is found at page 39 of issue No. 28 of the proceedings of the committee for that year.
It may also be interesting to put on record part of the document drawn up by Atlantic premiers in March, 1969, dealing with the basic elements of the Atlantic provinces transportation policy. Three new premiers have taken the places of those three who helped to draw up this report. As I understand it, Atlantic transportation is generally dealt with by the Maritimes Transport Commission, in Moncton. Furthermore, the views that were then expressed would undoubtedly be the views of the present governments of the four Atlantic provinces.
After saying there should be a detailed assessment of the network needs of the individual provinces, the premiers proposed, as shown at pages 17 and 18 of The Basic
Elements of an Atlantic Provinces Transportation Policy of March, 1969, that:
The length of this program should be ten years with the first five years fixed and the balance renegotiated and reconsidered prior to the conclusion of the first five years. The federal share of total costs, including acquisition of right of way, should be 90 per cent for the first five years. Prior to the end of ten years, a further program should be negotiated, if needed.
That is found at pages 17 and 18 of the report to which I have referred. There is no doubt that the federal government has made substantial payments toward Atlantic transportation. This was first done through the Atlantic Development Board and, laterally, through special agreements with the different provinces. As the Minister of Transport (Mr. Jamieson) said in the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 14 this year, and I quote:
At the peak of this program-
That is the road construction program in the Atlantic provinces.
-this support was at the level of about $571 million a year.-
Last year new agreements were negotiated with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland totalling $60 million. Over the past seven years, therefore, federal support for Atlantic Province Highways has averaged about $45 million a year, or over the period some $315 million, with many projects being funded entirely by the federal government.
I do not quarrel with the amounts that have been spent on what I think are very basic, essential services for my part of Atlantic Canada. What I suggest is that it be on a formula basis so that the provinces will know that it will be done on a 90/10 basis and they can then proceed to develop their plans on a somewhat different basis from the one now used.
In pursuing the goal of the Shubenacadie River crossing, I have considered the alternative methods by which it could be achieved. At one time I thought that the Department of Regional Economic Expansion could play a role in helping to provide the crossing, but I gather that the department is now concentrating its efforts on growth centres. Therefore, it seems that this role might be minimal and the important role will be shared between the province of Nova Scotia and the federal Department of Transport. This is the way I have developed my strategy in trying to do the best I can to keep this matter in the limelight and to ensure that eventually the federal and provincial governments have a serious discussion about providing that link across the Shubenacadie River.
Before the Department of Regional Economic Expansion concentrated on growth centres and while the Atlantic Development Board was still alive and well, I had a discussion with some of its economists about the formula that might be applied to justify a Shubenacadie River crossing. The board then used a 7 per cent economic funding of a project such as the river crossing. It estimated that the benefit figure should be between $280,000 and $350,000 per year. They looked at the Margeson report, which I mentioned earlier, that dealt with the transportation benefits. They felt that the economic benefit of the Margeson report would have been somewhere around $117,000 a year. They estimated that the agricultural marketing benefit would be around $24,000 a year.
May 29, 1972
These figures, particularly the second, seem to be ridiculously low. However, I quarrel with them because in the fluxion of time those figures should be substantially increased. In any event, that is the reason the Shubenaca-die River crossing has been considered to be a marginal matter and why there is no crossing over the Shubenaca-die in the Maitland area.
In concluding my argument on this point, I would like to say that I do not care much for the figures involved or for the economic considerations that can be set down on paper in black and white. I have a hunch. The reason is that at one time East Hants was one of the great parts, not only of Nova Scotia, but of North America. The shores of the Shubenacadie River rang with the hammers of those building some of the greatest ships of all time. In fact, the largest four masted vessel, the W. D. Lawrence, was built in the Maitland yard. If you go to that area today, where the largest of all vessels of this type was built, you will find a peaceful meadow by the side of the Shubenacadie River. I believe in historical ups and downs of areas. They can have their periods of difficulties and then come back.
I suggest, and this is going to be a large part of any political arguments I ever make for the rest of my time in politics, by building a Shubenacadie River crossing, both the provincial and federal governments would not only be doing a vast service to that particular part of my constituency, but they would get a return many times over. Anyone who would go there and look at the prosperity which would flow from this project would feel they had taken a wise and statesman-like step.
Sub-subtopic: REQUEST FOR FEDERAL PARTICIPATION IN CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM IN ATLANTIC PROVINCES