Mr. Taylor moved
that the Bill be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it gives me the greatest of pleasure to move third reading of Bill C-205, an Act to protect heritage railway stations. Amended in a legislative committee, this Bill
Heritage Railway Stations
was presented to the House on July 15 by the chairperson of that committee, the Hon. Member for Leeds-Grenville (Mrs. Cossitt).
The significance of railways in shaping our nation's destiny cannot be denied. Railways brought Canada into existence and, in large part, they have defined our fundamental character. Because of Canada's size, geographical diversity, dependence on trade and the twin needs of settlement and political identity, transportation has been of vital importance to us. It is above all railway transportation which has been the very backbone of our nation. It is the railway station that remains the most cherished of the tangible reminders of what Canada's railways have meant to Canada and her people.
These stations were points of departure and arrival for thousands of families as they travelled on odysseys of settlement across our enormous country. They saw the farewells of tens of thousands of Canadian troops who went off to fight in four wars, and they were the first thing that those who returned saw when they came back home. Railway stations have been the scenes of millions of journeys undertaken by Canadians from all walks of life, and they figure in the memories of millions of Canadians. So the distress of Canadians when these stations are destroyed is completely understandable. We will be a poorer nation if our railway stations are lost.
Railways were our "national dream", and the heritage of our railways is the heritage of that dream. It has often been said that a nation will be judged by what it consciously chooses to preserve. Therefore, should not Canada strive to save examples of the very buildings that speak so eloquently to the role of the railway in the birth and the growth of this country, our heritage railway stations?
The answer is undeniably yes. But we must move quickly. Our stock of heritage railway stations is rapidly diminishing, and if nothing is done soon there may be nothing left to preserve. That is the purpose of the Bill currently before us, to provide a mechanism whereby the preservation of Canada's heritage railway stations may be assured.
This Bill would forbid a railway company from destroying or in any way altering a heritage railway station or its heritage features unless authorized by the Governor in Council. Failure to seek authorization would result in a fine.
What is a heritage railway station? This Bill defines a heritage railway station as a railway station designated as such; that is to say, a railway station that has been designated a heritage railway station on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
August 25, 1988
Heritage Railway Stations
Here may 1 say that the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada is most interested in this Bill. The board has often expressed concern that our railway stations are disappearing. While this Bill, when passed, will add new responsibilities to those which it has had traditionally, the board has indicated that it is pleased to have a role to play in the identification and preservation of Canada's heritage railway stations. The board will move quickly to establish criteria to identify potential heritage railway stations so that it may deal with applications for designation in an effective and timely manner.
Now, if 1 may, I would like to say a special word of thanks to those who have made special contributions to Bill C-205, the Bill before us today. First, the former Hon. Member for Parkdale-High Park, Mr. Flis, first introduced the Bill in 1984. There are the Members of this House who, during the course of debate on this Bill, spoke so movingly of the need to preserve heritage railway stations, those stations that are so close to the hearts of so many Canadians.
Beyond that, I would like to thank the chairperson of the legislative committee, the Hon. Member for Leeds-Grenville (Mrs. Cossitt) and the members of her committee, for the thoughtful and expeditious manner in which they dealt with this extremely important matter. I believe that the amendments resulting from committee consideration of Bill C-205 have strengthened the Bill in that they have addressed a number of technical difficulties, provided for clarification and will ensure ease of implementation of the Bill.
1 also want to say a special thank you to the Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Transport (Mr. Thacker) and to the Hon. Member for Regina West (Mr. Benjamin). The Hon. Member for Regina West worked so hard for this Bill that sometimes I wondered if it was not his Bill, he was so enthusiastic about it. I thank him for that enthusiasm and that hard work. I would also like to thank the Heritage Canada Foundation, the very life of which depends on heritage. The Foundation has done a tremendous job in supporting this Bill.
I would like to thank CP Rail, CN and VIA for appearing as witnesses, as did the Heritage Canada Foundation, before the committee and the Ministers of the Environment (Mr. McMillan) and of Transport (Mr. Bouchard) for giving so freely of the time of their departmental officials at committee stage.
The time for rhetoric is over. We must now take that final step and pass Bill C-205, an Act to protect heritage railway stations. If we fail to do so, a vitally important aspect of our national heritage and indeed of our national consciousness, our heritage railway stations, will remain prey to the vagaries of corporate decision-makers and will have at best an insecure future, or at worst, no future at all. If we fail to act and these buildings, be they humble structures in tiny hamlets or grand architectural monuments in urban centres, are lost, we will
have robbed future generations of what is rightfully their legacy.
Heritage railway stations must be preserved unimpaired for future generations, and 1 would urge the Members of this House unanimously to express their support for the Bill before us and to pass it from this House without further ado. Moreover, I would like to ask the Members of the Senate, for their part, to deal with Bill C-205 in an expeditious manner in order that the preservation of this nation's heritage railway stations may be assured.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to thank all Hon. Members for their support. I now move third reading of Bill C-205, an Act to protect heritage railway stations.
Topic: PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-BILLS
Subtopic: HERITAGE RAILWAY STATION PROTECTION ACT