Hon. H. A. STEWART (Minister of Public W'orks):
The hon. member has from time to time corresponded with the Department of Public Works regarding this matter and we have received telegrams from New Westminster and those interested in the situation he has described. Careful consideration has been given to these representations and the
facts, as I recall them from the file, are these. These dykes were built many years ago, and long before the Public Works department made any construction or in any way undertook to control and direct the flow of the Fraser river. They were constructed by the municipalities interested, operating through a dyke commission with, I believe, powers of local assessment against the land's benefit and possibly with provincial assistance. The matter has been referred to the engineering department and they assure me that nothing that has been done by the Department of Public Works in the Fraser river has in any way contributed to the erosion that is now taking place. The responsibility appears to be provincial and municipal, and the Public Works department, while sympathetic. interested and anxious to discharge all obligations that can possibly rest upon the dominion government, feel nevertheless that they are in no way responsible for conditions as they now prevail. This house can well understand that the dominion government cannot undertake to protect private property against erosion, and the only obligation that does rest upon the dominion government is where any works have been undertaken that have been the cause of or that may have contributed to the erosion; and our engineers are very positive that nothing that has been done by the dominion government has in any way aggravated the situation or contributed to the conditions that now exist. Under these circumstances I submit to my hon. friend and to this house that the matter is one for provincial and municipal action and not for action by this government.