Mr. Guay (St. Boniface):
This is all I have at the present time, but I will make some comments when the hon. member speaks. I have noticed on occasion that he cannot even read his.
The Ministry of Transport provided 75 per cent of the cost of a $500,000 study which examined in detail a number of alternative transportation plans, each with its own railway relocation scheme. This effort was an excellent example of tri-level co-operation in which the federal government, the government of Manitoba, the city of Winnipeg and both railways worked together in a spirit of mutual co-operation.
Winnipeg is but one example of many cities in Canada where railway relocations may be the best answer to deal with situations where the railway lines have been in place for perhaps 100 years and are now a serious impediment to desirable urban development or redevelopment. Canada is also fortunate in that many of our cities are well endowed with excellently situated rail rights of way which, if made
Relocation of Railway Lines
available for rapid transit use, would greatly contribute to the solution of urban transportation problems.
This legislation provides that the CTC may order existing rail lines to be freed of other rail traffic so that they can be used for rapid transit. Today one of the greatest difficulties in moving forward with intermediate capacity transit systems using modern streetcars, reserved lane bus systems, or perhaps some of the new technology systems currently under development, is the problem of acquiring the necessary corridors of land in which to operate such urban transit systems. Without the availability of railway rights of way often the only recourse is the expropriation of very expensive strips of land, including much valuable residential and other developed real estate. I need not remind the members of the House how difficult it is these days, and how wrong from a social justice point of view, to expropriate people's homes. I personally feel that this legislation fits perfectly the kind of legislation which will facilitate increased tri-level co-operation in many urban matters where action is so urgently needed.
The thrust of this bill is consistent with the direction the government is taking with regard to the whole field of a renaissance in the railway mode. We are not only looking at the need for greater and more effective use of passenger rail services in Canada, but we are also fully aware of the need to implement this policy in concert with many urban needs.
There are a number of other railway issues in Canada today. Many of these are social issues rather than economic ones relating to railway operations. Often from a social benefit or an export benefit point of view railway operations, which in themselves may not be economic, are none the less viable operations.
So far my remarks have dealt with the urban transit and urban development aspects of this legislation. I should like for the next few minutes to point out that this bill also contains valuable new provisions in the matter of public protection and convenience at railway crossings which are embodied in Parts II and III of this legislation. These are concerned with special grants for separations and modernization of the railway grade crossing fund.
The provisions relating to grade crossings and grade separations follow recommendations by the Railway Transport Committee of the Canadian Transport Commission to increase the limits of federal assistance for railway grade separation projects. Such expansion is intended to bring grant provisions into line with the increased costs being experienced in the construction of overpasses and subways. The cost of providing safe railway crossings and grade separations has climbed over the years. Such installations, especially in large centres, have become extremely costly. The bill provides increased federal assistance either through provisions in the railway grade crossing fund, which are continued in Part III of the bill, or through new provisions for special grants for separations, which are contained in Part II. The proposed new federal assistance covers level crossing protection work, reconstruction of, or improvement to, existing grade separations, and construction of new grade separations.
April 25, 1974
Relocation of Railway Lines
The proposed new levels of federal assistance in Part III are as follows. First, level crossing protection work, 80 per cent of the cost of which may be paid from the grade crossing fund up to a new limit of $1 million for new construction. The existing limit is $500,000. Second, construction of, or improvement to, existing grade separations, 50 per cent of the cost of which may be paid from the grade crossing fund, up to a new ceiling of $625,000. The existing limit is $250,000.
Part II of the act provides special grants for very expensive grade separations and for new separations required by highway traffic rerouting schemes. For the very expensive grade separations there is an escalation scale of grants; for example, a grant of over $2 million for a new separation costing $3 million and a grant of about $1.3 million for reconstruction of a grade separation costing $3 million. New grade separations required by highway traffic rerouting schemes which are required to cross a railway line by means of a grade separation will qualify for special grants equal to 50 per cent of the construction costs.
This new railway relocation and crossing legislation deserves the support of this House. Its provisions have been carefully considered. It holds out major benefits in the reshaping of urban neighbourhoods. It pays renewed attention to the issue of public safety at railway and highway crossings and it will greatly extend the federal government's ability to assist in improving the urban environment in our nation.
Subtopic: RAILWAY RELOCATION AND CROSSING ACT