May 28, 1948 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)


Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative


I endorse everything that has been said by the hon. member for Fraser Valley. I saw the Fraser river on Tuesday of this week. It was then four to six feet below the level of the C.P.R. main line, just around Agassiz, a little bit east of where the hon. member comes from. I was told that the previous day it had been below the level of the telegraph poles alongside the railway, and when I was there it was about a foot and a half up the telegraph poles; so you can see the rate at which the river has been rising.
Although my own constituency is not at the moment suffering from major floods, it has rivers which have washed out bridges on highways and railways, but no comparable area to that which has been inundated in the Fraser valley. Although that is true, I support entirely what the hon. member for Fraser Valley said. I agree that it is now a national emergency which must have the consideration and co-operation of the federal government and of all federal departments, although the greatest emergency exists in the hon. member's area and in the area from which the hon. member for Kootenay West comes. I understand he is now out there to see what he can do to help. It is a situation which threatens the whole of the province.

I am intimately acquainted with the rivers of the Fraser river system, the lower end of which flows through the hon. member's riding, but the tributaries of which, many of them, rise in and flow through my own riding. I think we are required to consider two aspects of the matter: first, what we can do to deal with the present condition, which has caused deaths and damage and threatens further damages and possibly further deaths of men and women and of course of all kinds of livestock; second, we must consider how we can prevent such occurrences in the future.
I do not agree with the Minister of Public Works when he says that at the moment there is no way in which the federal government is directly interested in the matter. The Department of Fisheries certainly does not take that view. They go around blowing up dams on our rivers when those who know the situation tell them that if they do so, thereby allowing rapid spring run-offs, they may aggravate the danger of floods. They say they have the power, and they blew out a dam at the end of Adams lake, despite strenuous objections from local people who knew the situation. I am not going to say that that alone actually caused the floods this year, but those who understand these problems tell me that it contributed to them, and that what should be done is to control the run-off where it is most easily controllable-that is, at the source of the trouble, the outlets of our lakes where they become rivers and where you could put a dam which, by raising the level of the water, in the lakes only, from four to six feet, would store a tremendous body of water and also catch the run-off from the mountains. It is at these places that you can control the runoff and prevent such floods as we are now having. That is the proper way to tackle this problem. That is one way which has been urged for some years now.
The federal government has been urged to co-operate with the provincial authorities in making surveys and putting in such installations. In the United States they put in projects covering waterpower, water for irrigation, power for industry and also for irrigation, and projects which will control floods and prevent soil erosion and damage to farms from sudden spring floods. It is that approach we must make to the problem in Canada, and which we have urged on the government for at least two years that I know of in connection with the Prairie Farm Assistance Act.

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