June 6, 1929 (16th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Alan Webster Neill



Mr. Chairman, the member
for Skeena does not tell the house that the hydrographic survey boat has been operating off the Queen Charlotte islands for years and years, to the neglect of the interests lower down the coast, and if the boat has been transferred to Vancouver Island such transfer was long overdue. I am glad to hear that a new hydrographic survey boat is being provided for in the supplementary estimates, and I do hope that it will be in addition to the Lillooet and not to replace it. That perhaps in some way explains why this vote is smaller than it was last year. It was small enough then, and I am sorry to see it reduced. The members from eastern Canada do not appreciate how urgent is the need for this survey work. I recall a year or two ago that Sir Henry Drayton suggested the cutting down of this vote. That is very easy for an eastern man to say, for such survey work has been carried on in eastern waters for a hundred years, but we on the Pacific coast are only now waking up to the absolute necessity of these hydrographic surveys.
This house will perhaps be interested to know that in many places still our seamen are operating by the aid of charts made by Captain Vancouver when the western Pacific was first discovered, so to speak. Vancouver's charts have proved to be very good so far as they go, but he only did his work at wide intervals. Now, there is a peculiarity in the Pacific coast waters that does not obtain elsewhere to the same extent; that is, there are large numbers of what is known as pinnacle rocks. A pinnacle rock is a small narrow rock which may be only a few yards wide, but it has a point on it that will rip the bottom of a boat just like a knife will cut into cheese. Any general survey is totally inadequate to detect those rocks. To establish their location it is necessary to sweep from point to point. This involves a far more expensive survey than any provided by the old charts made by Captain Vancouver.
I agree with a great deal of what my hon. friend from Skeena has said with regard to the growing necessity of this work, but I am talking now more in the interests of my own district. On the west coast of Vancouver island in the last three years there have been established fishery reduction plants costing between $5,000,000 and $6,000,000, and bringing an enormous return to the general public in the shape of fish meal and fish oil.

It has made a new trade of very great and valuable importance. Necessarily these plants are located in new and untried, so to speak, locations, in remote inlets. Now, the fish oil and fish meal must be taken away as soon as available. A small boat is of no use on that exposed coast. These reduction plants need boats fitted up with tank equipment. They go into one of these uncharted channels and sometimes strike an uncharted rock. The underwriting companies will not allow boats to go into these places on account of the waters being uncharted. That is the necessity, the growing necessity of the work in which this steamer Lillooet is now engaged. To give you some idea of the general benefit of that work I might mention a specific instance. Here is a vote for $495,000. This seems a large sum and there is apparently no return. But the return, though indirect is very great. I know of one place where there was a cannery and the owner chartered a boat to come and take a few thousand cases of salmon. The master, a Norwegian, looked at his chart, saw that the place was not properly charted according to the old chart, and he refused to come in. The result was that it cost the canner a thousand dollars to have I he salmon taken by lighter to a spot where it was considered safe for the steamer to load. A few months after that I got the government to send the Lillooet to chart the place, and at the cost of a few hundred dollars a very valuable service was rendered. That one undertaking alone more than justified the expenditures over a period of months in connection with the Lillooet. I have not a list before me showing the actual work done from year to year by this hydrographic survey, but I can give an idea of the development that is taking place along that line on the west coast. I might quote half a dozen figures showing the increase in the aids to navigation which have been provided in the last eight years. In' 19211 there were eight lighted buoys; to-day there are twenty-four. In 1921 there were one hundred and fifty-two unlighted buoys; to-day there are two hundred and three. In 1921 there were eighty-three lighted beacons; to-day there are one hundred and twenty-four. In 1921 there were thirty-three fog alarms, of which twenty were of the diaphone type-very expensive; to-day, instead of thirty-three, there are forty, twenty-four being diaphones. This gives a vague but significant idea of the development that has taken place in these few years. This work naturally requires a good deal of money to provide expert mechanics, and supplies have to be taken by steamer. : This is taken care of

Supply-Marine and Fisheries
in part by the vote for lighthouse tenders. I am merely trying to convey to the house some idea of the development that has taken place in the last few years, and there is not the slightest suggestion that the Marine department has been too quick to realize our needs; because getting money out of that department is like getting blood out of a stone. There is not much danger of their indulging in waste and extravagance. If they spend a nickle, you may rest assured that they should have spent a dollar. I wish to give them credit if credit is coming to them in that regard, for no man could be more careful of the public purse than the minister of this department. So that if he has put his hand into the treasury to that extent the committee may be assured that it was more than needed. We did particularly need this extra new boat and I am more than pleased to see an estimate to provide for it. I hope it is the intention of the department to keep the Lillooet on as well as the bigger boat, which can do the heavier outside work, the Lillooet being available for necessary operations in more inland waters. I trust the minister will assure me that the Lillooet will be kept in commission as well.

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