Mr. Chairman, since this item deals with the appropriation for dredging I would like to make a very brief reference to a condition which exists in my constituency. It is with respect to the water level of lake Winnipegosis. I would like to refer to the amount of money the government is spending each year on dredging this lake. I am advised by the department that they have spent approximately $47,000 a year during the last seven years, which gives a total amount in excess of $310,000.
I would suggest to the minister that he could save his department a considerable sum of money over the next few years by the construction of a dam on the West Waterhen river to maintain the water level of the lake. At the present time it is just impossible for the dredge crew to clear channels fast enough to serve the industries on the lake. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like to place on the record a letter I have received from the Winnipegosis chamber of commerce outlining the drastic situation which has developed:
The Winnipegosis chamber of commerce wishes to place before you the drastic situation the village of Winnipegosis and the surrounding areas are confronted with due to the low level of lake Winnipegosis. The residents of Winnipegosis are dependent on income coming from four sources, namely, lumber, fish, cattle and tourist. All four are in one way or another dependant on the water level of lake Winnipegosis.
In the past years an income of approximately $150,000 was obtained from lumbering alone. All the lumber was transported on the lake to the town of Winnipegosis. Due to a terrific drop in water level this will soon be an impossibility. Second, the value of fish caught in lake Winnipegosis reached $956,023 in 1961. This catch is going down and to our understanding this industry will soon discontinue, mainly caused by low water level. Cattle ranchers from Salt Point are dependant on the lake for transportation of their beef to Winnipegosis. They hope that some dredging would soon be done in order to be able to load and ship their cattle. When the water had been higher, dredging was not necessary. In other places cattle cannot reach the waterline due to long stretches of muck into which they sink while trying to get a drink. In the winter, because of low level, the water freezes to the bottom, and once again ranchers are faced with a problem. To overcome this, we know of ranchers paying high prices to welldiggers but cannot reach water on land.
Let us now turn to the tourist trade. Angling on lake Winnipegosis will soon be a thing of the past. Many fishing and hunting lodges are not accessible any more by boats. When you come to the lakeshore, all you can see are stretches of muck with some ducks beyond that. This will soon affect the duck population about which we are concerned, especially the redheads which make lake Winnipegosis their best breeding grounds...
We must state once again that we are faced with a critical situation which, to our understanding and belief, can be corrected by a dam on the West Waterhen river.
Hoping that you will give our plea your utmost consideration and give us some assurance that our problem will soon be corrected.
Since Dauphin is the only place in Manitoba declared a designated area, the construction of the dam would give employment to a great number of people this winter. To indicate the responsibility of the federal government in the matter, the Minister of Labour has interpreted a "designated area" as follows, and I will just quote in part from an answer he gave to a question by the hon. member for Churchill:
This area will also qualify in connection with the supplementary federal government winter construction program, which applies to designated development areas and designated areas of high winter unemployment.
If the government are serious with regard to creating employment in a designated area, then I suggest that the construction of such a dam on the Waterhen river this winter, besides giving employment to a great number of people living in the area would help to maintain, as pointed out in the letter, the fishing industry, the lumbering industry, the cattle industry and it would help to conserve our wildlife, as well as the important tourist industry.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would ask the minister to give this matter his most serious consideration with a view to getting the project under way in the very near future. [Translation]
Topic: DEPARTMENT OE PUBLIC WORKS