1981 Legislative Session: 3rd Session, 32nd Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 1981
[ Page 6271 ]
Terrace schools dispute. Mr. Howard –– 6271
Hon. Mr. Smith –– 6271
Real Estate Amendment Act, 1981 (Bill 23). Hon. Mr. Hyndman
Introduction and first reading –– 6272
An Act to Amend the Capital Commission Act (Bill M205). Mr. Barber
Introduction and first reading –– 6272
Bikeways Development Act (Bill M207). Mr. Barber
Introduction and first reading –– 6272
Ku Klux Klan activities. Mr. Barrett –– 6272
Committee of Supply: Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing estimates. (Hon. Mr.
On vote 149: minister's office –– 6274
Division on an amendment
On vote 151: lands and housing –– 6294
Appendix –– 6295
THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 1981
The House met at 2 p.m.
HON. MR. HYNDMAN: In the gallery this afternoon are two very important people associated with government and real estate. Many would observe that for some years Mr. Dermot Murphy has been a most distinguished secretary of the Real Estate Council of British Columbia, and as many who know him would add, a charming Irishman. With him is Mr. Tim Hammill, recently appointed deputy superintendent of brokers. The public service of British Columbia is fortunate in being able to raid Mr. Hammill from private practice in Ontario. Would members join me in welcoming Mr. Murphy and Mr. Hammill.
MS. SANFORD: We have a very special guest in the gallery today. It's my pleasure to introduce Kate Losinska who is the president of the Civil and Public Services Association of Great Britain, which is the largest union of civil servants in that country. With her is John Fryer, the general secretary of the B.C. Government Employees Union, and two staff representatives from that union: Van Buchanan and Sylvia Porter. Kate Losinska is here as a keynote speaker to the BCGEU convention which begins tomorrow here in Victoria. I hope you'll give her a very warm welcome.
MR. HALL: Visiting Victoria today and in the members' gallery, straight from the examination rooms at the senior secondary school, grades 11 and 12, are my son Griff and my daughter Tracey visiting Victoria for the first time in some years. I hope the House will welcome them.
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. members, Little Red is here today with her friends.
MR. HOWARD: I wonder if I could ask leave of the House to make a statement with respect to the dispute in Terrace between the school board, and the teachers.
TERRACE SCHOOLS DISPUTE
MR. HOWARD: Schools in Terrace have been closed now for a week as a result of a difference between the school board and the Terrace District Teachers' Association. The students are the ones seriously disadvantaged by this dispute, and it is their scholastic attainment and educational aspirations which must be considered paramount. The differences between the school board and the teachers are going to be resolved sometime; that's inevitable. The sooner the dispute is resolved the better it will be for the students. Any protraction of the dispute will also add to the tensions which already exist at all levels in the community. It's crucial, therefore, for this dispute to be settled as quickly and as amicably as possible.
The School Act provides that the Minister of Education has charge of the management of all schools and shall supervise all schools. There are other responsibilities which devolve upon the minister, but he is responsible for management and supervision, which, I submit, must be exercised in the current dispute. An impasse exists at the local level; such being the case the Minister of Education must take his duties and responsibilities seriously enough to take immediate steps to have the dispute resolved. I and many others in Terrace cannot understand why the Minister of Education has failed to take any action which would lead to a resolution of the dispute. His relative aloofness and failure to fulfill his responsibilities under the School Act are only further serving to injure the education of some 4,000 students who are caught in the squeeze.
Just a short while ago the minister, at my urging earlier, assigned his deputy minister and assistant deputy minister to assist in resolving differences between the school board and the teachers in Terrace. The current dispute has arisen because of differences of opinion over the agreement reached as a result of that earlier intervention. The most logical course to pursue is, I submit, to have some additional input by the same people and the same ministry which was instrumental in resolving the differences in the first place. That is not considered appropriate by the Minister of Education. .
He has additional powers under the School Act: he can designate any member of the public service to act on his behalf. It may be that the professional mediation staff of the Minister of Labour (Hon. Mr. Heinrich) could assist. In that regard I have asked the Minister of Labour to offer the services of his staff. The educational well-being of the students is too important to be put to one side because of any minor technical or procedural question. I sincerely hope that the Minister of Labour can be of assistance in the settlement of this dispute, for some third-party neutral involvement is essential.
HON. MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as the member has alluded, we have already intervened in the Terrace dispute. In fact I took the unprecedented step of sending the Deputy Minister of Education and the assistant deputy minister to Terrace three weeks ago. After their meeting there with teachers and the board, a procedure was agreed upon by both sides. Part of that procedure involved transfer appeal hearings for the two principals who had been transferred back to the classroom. Those appeals are taking place now under very liberal terms of reference. Also, the strike was initially averted.
Since that time, a little over a week ago a work stoppage occurred, consisting of about four-fifths of the schools in that district. Schools are still open in Hazelton, Stewart and several other areas, but in Terrace itself and its environs the schools have been closed for over a week.
During this past week my deputy minister has been in touch daily with teachers' representatives and with the school board of Terrace, and has assisted in trying to bring a resolution to this difficulty. It has not been successful yet. There have been problems with the interpretation of conditions and with communication between the two sides. I most sincerely urge — and have urged — the teachers of Terrace to return to the classroom. There is absolutely no reason, either under the act or in common sense, why those schools should be closed. The process that was in place and agreed upon was underway. The appeals are being heard and have not yet been determined. I regret that the teachers have not seen fit to go back to the classroom.
I think it would be a very dangerous precedent for me to intervene personally when there is an illegal job action in school districts in this province, and to do so without regard
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for the prerogatives and the responsibilities of a locally elected school board. I should also advise the House that the school board of Terrace has had meetings with the teachers during the past couple of days, and there were lengthy meetings yesterday. I do not intend to erode the responsibility of local school boards when they are dealing with a matter, and I will not do so.
I urge the teachers to return to the classroom and to put their students first for the last week of school. I would hope that would come about immediately.
Introduction of Bills
REAL ESTATE AMENDMENT ACT, 1981
Hon Mr. Hyndman presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Real Estate Amendment Act, 1981.
Bill 23 introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
MR. BARBER: I ask leave to introduce a bill for the second year in a row: An Act to Amend the Capital Commission Act.
AN ACT TO AMEND
THE CAPITAL COMMISSION ACT
On a motion by Mr. Barber, Bill M205, An Act to Amend the Capital Commission Act, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
MR. BARBER: I ask leave to introduce a bill for the sixth year in a row: the Bikeways Development Act.
BIKEWAYS DEVELOPMENT ACT
MR. BARBER: Mr. Speaker, hoping it will pass this year, I beg to move that the bill be introduced and now read a first time.
MR. BARBER: Mr. Speaker, I move that the bill be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.
KU KLUX KLAN ACTIVITIES
MR. BARRETT: I have a question for the Minister of Labour, as the person responsible for the Human Rights Commission. The Klan is at it again. I want to ask the minister whether or not he has asked the Attorney-General to investigate the carrying of arms by the Klan to see if there is any violation of the Canadian Criminal Code because of the carrying and flaunting of those arms in their public activities.
HON. MR. HEINRICH: Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of discussions between the Attorney-General and me with respect to this matter. This problem was brought to my attention this morning by the press when I was leaving cabinet. I had an opportunity around noon to read the article published in the Province to which I think the hon. Leader of the Opposition is referring.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt of the minister's sincerity, but I think the Klan does. The Klan's spokesman, Mr. Saunders, is quoted in this morning's paper. He "isn't concerned about threats from Labour Minister Jack Heinrich that the Human Rights Code will be toughened to outlaw the Klan. 'We'll just change our name, that's all,' he said." There have been no threats from the Minister of Labour. There hasn't been any action.
When will that minister release the McAlpine report so the people of this province can know what's going on?
HON. MR. HEINRICH: Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate the concern of the member — in fact all members in the House. I would mention that we are concerned. We are also concerned with the complexity of the matter. I want to advise that this matter is being addressed. We are addressing it at this time.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, most of our members have carried this question. I have abstained from getting directly involved, because I had hoped that the minister and the government would come to their senses. Must we now wait for someone to be killed in this bad racist atmosphere because the government is refusing to take the action that is so obvious? When is the Attorney-General going to act on this? When are we going to have some leadership? We have racism in this province, and you've sat and done nothing for two months or more.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, when is that minister going to show some leadership and take some action? Shame!
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Hon. members, the purpose of question period is to ask questions and not to make speeches, regardless of how short.,
HON. MR. HEINRICH: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, this particular problem is being addressed, and it will be addressed this session. I would expect it would be much earlier than the opposition seems to want the public to believe. I repeat this matter will be addressed during this sitting.
MR. BARRETT: This is an item beyond opposition or government. The people of this province expect leadership. I ask the minister again, for what reason does he have to hide that report from the people of British Columbia? Whatever it may contain, the report is a public document and should be released, so that all citizens can deal with it in their own frame of reference. Why are you hiding the report, Mr. Minister?
[ Page 6273 ]
HON. MR. HEINRICH: The report is not being hidden. That report was commissioned to investigate the problem and to allow us as a government to respond the way we should. In addition, the problem to which the Leader of the Opposition refers has been here for some time. I sometimes wonder why it wasn't incorporated in their legislation when introduced.
MR. BARRETT: After some 80 years of history in this province, the Human Rights Code was finally submitted to this House and welcomed by all members. That code is always open to revision by all members. We have had racism as part of the history of this province. It is raising its head again. I ask the minister again, what reason is there in his mind to think the people of British Columbia, as decent people, cannot handle that report on their own, without political blocking by the government? Do you not trust the people of British Columbia to deal with that report? What is being hidden in that report?
HON. MR. HEINRICH: Mr. Speaker, nothing at all is being hidden. I can also advise all members that that report will be released during this session,
MR. LAUK: This is to the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker. On June It the Attorney-General was asked whether Klan members carrying firearms had permits. The Attorney-General replied that long guns don't need permits. We have had similar technical answers from that Attorney-General.
I am putting this question to you, sir, through the Speaker. It is clear from all reports that Klan members are presently carrying firearms — long or short; it's clear from the Klan's intentions that the purpose for carrying such firearms is a purpose dangerous to the public peace, contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada. Has the minister requested or demanded of the Attorney-General that charges be laid?
HON. MR. HEINRICH: Mr. Speaker, that particular question, with respect to the laying of charges, falls within the ambit of the Ministry of Attorney-General, and I'm not responding to that question. But I will tell you that those matters have been the subject of discussion between me and the Attorney-General.
MR. LAUK: Mr. Speaker, I take it that the Minister of Labour has tried to urge on that intransigent Attorney-General the laying of charges, and he has refused to do so.
To the Minister of Labour: a man by the name of Randy Saunders is making public statements — he calls himself the Grand Titan or the Great Titan of the Klan. These statements are taunting law enforcement officials, the administration of justice and this very Legislature.
Has the Minister of Labour decided on a plan of action to protect the lives and property of all British Columbia citizens from the threat of the Klan?
HON. MR. HEINRICH: I thought that I had answered that question earlier. I thought I made it clear that as a government we are most concerned. There are some complexities in addressing the problem. I will tell you that the problem will be addressed during this sitting. I don't really think I can say much more. I'll repeat again that the McAlpine report will be released at approximately the same time.
MR. LEGGATT: I direct this to the Minister of Labour. He's just stated that the problem will be addressed during this particular sitting. I presume he means the session. The problem is that there are people out there in the Klan who are in violation of at least two sections of the Criminal Code and one section of the Firearm Act in the province of British Columbia.
AN HON. MEMBER: Have you got evidence?
MR. SPEAKER: May we have the question?
MR. LEGGATT: Have you consulted with the Attorney-General to determine whether an investigation has now been completed with regard to all the reported violations of law by the Klan? Unless you lay charges, you look like you're on their side. It's time you laid some charges.
HON. MR. HEINRICH: I would only ask if the member has any evidence which he can bring forth. It would certainly be most helpful.
Secondly, with respect to the laying of charges, I would suggest that he direct his question to the Attorney-General. It doesn't fall within the ambit of the Ministry of Labour.
MR. LEGGATT: My question is directed to the Attorney-General. It's now been reported widely that there have been eight Klan meetings, with cross-burnings. Armed men are at these meetings. On the surface, clearly, it's a prima facie violation of the law. Has the Attorney-General completed his investigation? If so, has he decided to lay charges against this dangerous organization for its many violations which are reported daily in the paper?
HON. MR. WILLIAMS: As the member for Coquitlam-Moody well knows, investigations into matters of breaches of criminal law in this country are made by the police forces. I wish to assure him, as I have in the past, that every police force in the province of British Columbia is charged with that very onerous responsibility. In particular, this is the case with respect to persons who may be unlawfully carrying arms or using them for purposes other than those for which they may be lawfully permitted to carry them. These investigations are underway, have been continuing and will continue until such time as the police forces can place before Crown counsel in this province evidence upon which charges can be laid. When such evidence has been placed before them, charges will be laid and the perpetrators will be dealt with in the courts of this land.
Let me also say, however, that while the investigation of such conduct is the special responsibility of the police forces and law enforcement agencies in British Columbia, that does not take away from the citizens in this province the right to come forward when they are possessed of information upon which charges may be based. If any citizen, be he a member of this assembly or not, has such information, then it is the obligation of that person as a citizen of this country to come before the law enforcement agencies and lay that information before them, because such information is a part of the continuing investigation. That is your responsibility as a citizen. It is indeed the responsibility of those people who are in the press in the responsible administration of their part as citizens of this province.
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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Interjections.
[Mr. Speaker rose.]
MR. SPEAKER: I would call on several members of this House, the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk), the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea) and particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Barrett), and remind them that a call for order in this House is still a call for order, and compliance is expected. If compliance is not forthcoming, then of course other remedies must be employed.
[Mr. Speaker resumed his seat.]
MR. LEA: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I know Your Honour can't look everywhere at the same time, but I do find it disconcerting that when members on both sides of the House are yelling at one another — and we were as guilty as anyone — you only noticed our side. I would draw your attention to look both ways.
MR. SPEAKER: The Chair seeks to apply the standing orders as fairly as possible. However, once the Chair has called for order the Chair must then direct his attention to those people who do not comply.
MR. HOWARD: On the same point of order, Mr. Speaker, when Your Honour was on his feet he looked at both sides, and the Attorney-General was one of those involved in conversation while Your Honour was on his feet, and so was the Premier in a lesser way. I only draw that to your attention for future guidance, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, the point is well taken.
Orders of the Day
HON. MR. GARDOM: Mr. Speaker, before calling the business of the day, might I have the attention of the hon. members on both sides of the House and mention to them that the hon. member for North Peace River (Mr. Brummet) has in hand the expression of good wishes of this assembly to His Royal Highness Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer upon their forthcoming marriage. If the members would be kind enough to attend the hon. member today and tomorrow to sign the material, it would be greatly appreciated.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Davidson in the chair.
ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF
LANDS, PARKS AND HOUSING
On vote 149: minister's office, $156,974.
MR. KING: I thought the minister would be on his feet to explain and attempt some rationalization of the very grave discrepancies which my colleague the second member for Victoria (Mr. Hanson) has outlined in terms of the administration of the criteria for lease land in the province of British Columbia. My colleague read a letter from a constituent of mine complaining about the very spectacular increases in lease land costs that they have experienced. They are senior citizens, and just to quote again from one paragraph: "We are both old-age pensioners, and this hits us pretty hard. When we bought this place in 1970 the rent was $170. It went to $300 and now $600, in addition to all the increased taxes, which are now up to $412.97."
I have all kinds of letters here indicating similar problems for people — particularly seniors — who have had recreational lots on Shuswap Lake and various other lakes. This government's policies are forcing those people to remove themselves from those recreational lots. The result is going to be, of course, that people with money will be able to move in and acquire the lakefront leases, because they can afford the punitive increases that this minister is imposing upon them.
He answered my letter on behalf of these constituents, saying that a new formula had been worked out. He's going to rationalize all the different forms of tenure on Crown land. There's going to be a consistent formula applied to the lease costs. That's what the minister said. That's fine with me. That sounded like a pretty good way to deal with it, so that everyone is treated fairly and equitably. I have the minister's letter here, dated February 20, this year. He gives the formula and points out the need to rationalize and bring some equity and consistency to the cost for Crown land leases. Lo and behold, we find that a group of the minister's friends in his own riding have acquired a choice parcel of Crown land within a centre where a park was to be established for the public of the province of British Columbia.
HON. MR. CHABOT: You're crazy.
MR. KING: Mr. Chairman, if I'm crazy, I certainly have a lot of company. The B.C. Forest Service designated the area as park. They object to the cutting out of this piece of property and awarding it to the minister's friends. The Big Bend recreational association in the minister's own riding objects. Are they crazy too? They're your constituents, Mr. Minister. The Golden newspaper — the Gazette, I believe — objects and has written an editorial. Is that newspaper organ and its editorial staff in your own riding crazy too, Mr. Minister? Everybody's out of step but the minister, it would seem. But the most compelling fact is that not only were they awarded this land; they got preferential rates. Four acres and something for $1,800, was it, my friend? That's quite different than this group of senior citizens who have seen their property lease costs escalate 150 percent over the last six years, and quite different than a number of others.
I have a couple of people in the Premier's riding who have written to me. They hold a recreational lease on Shuswap Lake. These are two elderly gentlemen, senior citizens, and their names are Russh Martin and Percy Martin. They point out that the yearly increase in lease costs for their land could have been accepted if it was somewhere around the inflation rate of 7 percent. But no, sir, they've had an increase of 100 percent. I'll quote briefly from the memo they sent to both the Premier and myself: "We wish to make the following points. Our lease rental was increased last year from $150 per annum to $300 per annum, an increase of 100 percent." They're senior citizens, and they don't get a preferential break.
I ask the minister why. What is it that allows certain friends of the minister...? I believe he knows Mr. Cotton
[ Page 6275 ]
and Mr. Genier. They're active in the Social Credit Party in Golden, aren't they? How come they get four acres of choice Crown land at Esplanade Bay on Kinbasket Lake that was designated for park purposes to be used by all the public of the province of British Columbia? It was designated by the Forest Service, by regional directors of the minister's own ministry, and certainly by the public in his own riding. How is it that they got this land pieced out of that park designation? And how is it that they got that chunk of four-point-some acres for $1,800? That's completely inconsistent with the application criteria which the minister has laid down to the senior citizens of this province and others who hold recreational leases around Shuswap Lake. How come the double standard? I want to hear the minister explain.
This minister seems to be stricken with political rigor mortis when it comes to answering for the lack of any initiatives by his own ministry. The minister seems highly active, though, when he's dispensing gravel pits and pieces of Crown land to friends of his. I would think that the old political piranha would be prepared to get up and justify this inconsistency, explain it and try to rationalize it. I look forward very much to hearing that. He shouldn't be so concerned, Mr. Chairman, with getting his estimates and his own paycheque approved by this Legislature that he sits there dumbfounded and fails to respond to these serious charges of political patronage.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Be serious then.
MR. KING: Never mind the laugh; we want some straight answers. We want to be able to tell the people in our tidings who write pathetic letters — these seniors who are pointing out the onerous and spectacular increases they've experienced — we want to be able to persuade them and say: "Look, you're not being discriminated against and shafted simply because you are not political friends of that minister." They're going to ask questions when they see this select group in Golden who have received this fortuitous grant apparently at the behest of the minister's political intervention, which overruled all the local agencies involved — Forests and Lands, Parks and Housing — who had designated it and recommended it as a public park area. So I want the minister to respond, and I want him to respond to the substance of the argument, which is simple and clear: why the inconsistency? Why is there one standard for a group which appears to contain personal friends of the minister and a different yardstick altogether for the senior citizens in my riding? I want to understand that equation, Mr. Chairman.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Well, Mr. Chairman, I've just listened to the usual diatribe of innuendo and smear from the member for Shuswap-Revelstoke. I'm accustomed to hearing that from him. He has a qualification here in the House of suggesting wrongdoing — and he does it very well; he does it in an almost believable fashion.
That second member for Victoria (Mr. Hanson) has come out of his closet at last. First, before he comes into the House to make some wild accusations against the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing, he sneaks up into the press gallery and releases a press release. Hopefully he will smear the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing — oh, what a great move! You're very clever, Mister Second Member for Victoria. Are you ever clever! You seem to know a lot of things, but you're pretty dumb on lots of things.
You accused the minister of intervening on behalf of the Cot and Gen society for obtaining a ten-year lease of approximately four acres of land on McNaughton Lake. In that respect, yes, I'll have to say that I have intervened. These are constituents of mine who have written to me. I intervene on behalf of more people than constituents from my constituency; for the sake of fair play, I will intervene. I have intervened this week alone in the tidings of Skeena, Omineca and Okanagan North, because people felt they had not been dealt with fairly by government, and I intervened on their behalf. It is the same situation with the Cot and Gen application. They had been attempting for over two years to secure a shoreline lease on the Mica pondage. In frustration they came to me — I am their representative, in case you don't know it — and they asked me if I could possibly help them. I said yes, I would.
Now the Cot and Gen society was established on the recommendation of the regional office of my ministry in Cranbrook. They suggested that that society be formed and that that would be a more appropriate vehicle for them, as a group of about 20 people, to lease shoreline land for recreational vehicle use. They suggested it would be more appropriate if it were done through a society, and that's the reason the Cot and Gen society was established.
It goes to show you that the member really makes some accusations without knowing too many of the facts. This morning he called them the Cottage and General Camp Society. Really, that isn't what Cot and Gen means. Cot and Gen is a society that was formed by Mr. Ed Cotton and Mr. Ron Genier, and that's what the "Cot" and the "Gen" stand for — for Cotton and Genier, an abbreviation of these two names. It doesn't stand for Cottage and General Camp Society, as the second member for Victoria suggested.
I want you to know, despite the innuendos suggested by that smear artist over there from Shuswap-Revelstoke, Mr. Chairman, that none of these....
MR. BARBER: On a point of order, the minister's phrase "smear artist" is an offence to every member in the House. I ask the Chairman to require a withdrawal.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Would the minister so withdraw, as the member has found that remark offensive.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I'm rather surprised that the request comes from him, but I'll withdraw.
MR. LEA: On a point of order, I'd like the minister to withdraw his last statement towards the first member for Victoria (Mr. Barber). We know what it meant. It was with obvious inference that he was transferring what he said about the member for Shuswap-Revelstoke to the first member for Victoria. I would like a withdrawal of that.
HON. MR. CHABOT: No, you're twisting them.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. members, in this particular instance another member has felt that there was an imputation. Again, in the tradition of parliamentary rules, would the member withdraw any imputation? Did the member make an imputation? If so, would the member so withdraw.
HON. MR. CHABOT: No, I made no imputation, Mr. Chairman. The point I was trying to make was that I'm
[ Page 6276 ]
surprised that the first member for Victoria was asking me to withdraw when the accusation was not directed towards him but towards another member.
MR. LEA: On the same point of order, Mr. Chairman, you've asked the minister to withdraw. Obviously, there was an inference from what the minister said. He was transferring his remarks from the member for Shuswap-Revelstoke to the first member for Victoria. He can be as cute as he likes. This whole Legislature knows exactly what he was trying to infer or imply. I would ask that in the interests of parliament getting along that the minister, instead of trying to be cute, withdraw.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. members, it is very difficult for the Chair to interpret an intention by a member. Nonetheless, it is the responsibility of the Chair, once having had the point raised, to ask the member who is alleged. If an offence took place in that member's mind, would the member so withdraw any imputation.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Sure, if it bothers the member for Prince Rupert (Mr. Lea), certainly I'll withdraw. I'm really surprised.
I want to respond to some of the allegations made by the member for Shuswap-Revelstoke, suggesting that these were political friends of mine. Ed Cotton and Ron Genier are not members of the Social Credit Party. Those two individuals have never worked on my behalf in any campaign. They also attempt to leave the suggestion that the issuance of shoreline leases is an unusual occurrence in the province of British Columbia. There's nothing unusual about people leasing shoreland in the province. We have a policy in which shoreland is ]eased, in most instances for a 30-year duration — prepaid leases. In this particular instance, the prepaid lease is not for a 30-year period; it's for a 10-year period. We deal with approximately 6,000 recreational leases in the province. There's nothing unusual with this, with the exception that we haven't given these people the same kind of consideration as far as duration of time is concerned as we do to other shoreland leases.
The area is adjacent to a forestry recreational site established by the Ministry of Forests. Essentially, the development of that forestry recreational site....
MS. BROWN: On a point of order, there is a funny gassy smell coming into this room.
MS. BROWN: No, not the minister. Would it be possible to ask that someone check or something because it's beginning to really bother us.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. members, the halls are being worked on with some sort of solvent. I noticed that the staff is using masks to clean that. Nonetheless, hon. members, I will make immediate inquiries to try to ascertain just what is taking place.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Well, Mr. Chairman, I was just saying that the site which these people have is a prepaid lease for a 10-year period. It is adjacent to a forestry recreational site, which was essentially developed by the members of the
Cot and Gen Camp Society. It is essentially occupied, almost in its entirety by the Cot and Gen Society. They spent hundreds of dollars developing the forestry recreational site, plus hundreds of hours. Now they're prepared to abandon their work and dollars so that the general public will have a site by which to reach the Mica pondage. They're prepared to spend their dollars to develop an alternate site. It's not their first choice, but they recognize that even though the area is very remote and not close to the Trans-Canada Highway — as the second member for Victoria (Mr. Hanson), who knows downtown Victoria very well but doesn't know the far reaches of my riding.... The area is not very close. In fact the area is about 35 miles off the Trans-Canada Highway on a gravel road. They're prepared to abandon the other site which they worked so hard to develop, in order for the public to have some place to go.
The member also called the area the McNaughton Reservoir. It was really never known as the McNaughton Reservoir. It was named by a cabinet minister in the NDP government of years gone by, Bob Williams, against the wishes of all the people in the area and the people from Valemont, Revelstoke and Golden. He superimposed the name of McNaughton on this reservoir, and called it McNaughton Lake. As an old anthropologist, the second member for Victoria would have some support for the changing of the name back to Kinbasket Lake, a very historical name that deserves recognition.
One is led to believe from what the second member for Victoria says that there's very limited shoreland on the Mica pondage or on Kinbasket Lake, but there are thousands of miles of shoreland. There are many areas suitable for park development, other than this little site. This little site is one which has been described by the member as a beautiful area. It's quite obvious to me that it has a rugged beauty. It's not a Shuswap Lake, I assure you of that. The area in question is located on a draw-down reservoir. You tend to forget that. The area has draw-down of 200 feet from the site.
Then you and the member for Shuswap-Revelstoke (Mr. King) attempt to make value comparisons of a draw-down reservoir in the Big Bend country with lots on the Shuswap Lake. It's just like comparing apples and oranges. That's almost as stupid as the comparison made yesterday by the member for Esquimalt–Port Renfrew (Mr. Mitchell) of land values at Masset on the Queen Charlotte Islands with those in the Colwood area. That's almost as asinine as the statement made by the member for Esquimalt. I recognize that the Ministry of Forests has recommended the site be an 80-acre provincial park. Certainly they lobbied heavily for this. The responsibility of establishing provincial parks in this province does not rest with the Ministry of Forests; it rests with my ministry. My ministry has not suggested that at this time there be a park established on the north end of the Mica pondage or at Esplanade Bay. Forestry certainly recommended this. Our ministry and officials of my ministry see the need down the road, 10 to 15 years from now, possibly for a provincial park. Whether this is the logical site or not would be the subject of a further investigation. When the need arises this lease will have expired. So the option of considering the Esplanade Bay will be in place. I would suggest that there are other locations more favourable than Esplanade Bay for the establishment of a provincial park when the time comes.
The member questions the lease fee. The lease fee was not one established by the minister. You attempt to leave the inference that the minister said: "Let's just charge them $1, 898." That assessment and that figure were determined by
[ Page 6277 ]
the fact that the area, in question is very remote and has limited access. That area can be reached only for about four months a year, over a road which these people improved when they were improving the former forestry recreational site, and which they've had to improve again in order to gain access to the property they'll be leasing. I want to assure you, Mr. Second Member for Victoria, that the determination of the price was made by professionals in the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing, not by the minister. If you continue to challenge that figure, you in fact are challenging the integrity of those professionals who have determined that value.
MR. HANSON: It is clear that the minister does not appreciate what the issue is. The issue is as follows. The Ministry of Forests, which presently has jurisdiction over this piece of property — it was set aside as an engineering reserve — was cognizant of the fact that the recreational attributes of that area were good. They were willing to turn over the jurisdiction of that piece of property to the parks branch — not today, not tomorrow, but sometime in the future. Was that based on the minister's own assessment off the top of his head? No, it was based on a study by a contractor. Public money was paid for a study, and the recommendations were that that particular site had very positive recreational attributes.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Who said that?
MR. HANSON: The parks branch conducted their own inventory of the McNaughton-Kinbasket reservoir. On the application form from the Cot and Gen Camp Society they refer to it as the McNaughton Reservoir. The members themselves — Mr. Cotton and Mr. Genier — refer to it as the McNaughton Reservoir. If you want to call it Kinbasket, that's fine. But, you know, he's throwing anything in the way to obfuscate. Here we have a minister of the Crown and two separate ministries of government — impartial, acting in the public interest — who do an inventory of the reservoir and say that here is a key, prime recreational area for the public, not for a group of constituents who happen to phone you or know you or complain to you. You have a responsibility that goes beyond the Cot and Gen Camp Society. You have a responsibility to all the people in Golden and to all the people in the area who might like to use that reservoir. Mr. Chairman, that particular piece of property which has been alienated on this lease for this group is in the middle of the park. There's going to be a park around it. There's going to be an 80-acre park with an exclusionary lease right in the middle of it, because the minister directly intervened for whatever reason. We can only imagine what.... The people of his constituency must be scratching their heads and wondering why he would do that.
If you could just draw a mental map of this particular location, it is the closest location to the Trans-Canada Highway link. It is the closest prime recreational site to Golden. Not only were the local ministry officials — the Ministry of Forests' and your own ministry's officials — absolutely struck dumb by your direct intervention, but the citizens' groups and the Big Bend Resource Council.... It's really incredible. You don't seem to appreciate the fact that when you alienate for the direct functioning and servicing of a small group in an area that's supposed to benefit everyone, that's where you fall down.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I want to correct the member. He suggested that the Cot and Gen Camp Society applied for a parcel of land on the McNaughton Reservoir on McNaughton Lake. Yes, that was its name at the time they filed their application; the name has been changed since that time.
MR. BARBER: Oh, come on!
HON. MR. CHABOT: He's suggesting they made an error in their filing. But it's been changed, and thank God for that. It's been changed to conform to the wishes of the people in Valemount, Revelstoke and Golden, which were so arbitrarily set aside by the former socialist government of this province.
The member almost leaves the impression that these 20 people from Golden are really not part of the public, that apparently they are friends of the minister but they're really not part of society; they're not part of the community of Golden. Oh, no, they're not part of the public. What they've done, in fact, is they've moved away from a site which they developed with their money and their equipment, through many hours. It's now been freed up because they are no longer occupying it. They have freed it up so that the additional public from Golden.... And the Trans-Canada Highway is 35 long miles away by gravel road; it's not the closest site on the Mica pondage from the Trans-Canada Highway.
He goes on to leave this inference: "Here we are. We're going to have an 80-acre park. The park is on the horizon. There's going to a little pocket of four acres of shoreland that's going to be interfering with this 80-acre park." I suggested to you.... You weren't listening. You never listen. You always have a closed mind. You're too anxious to issue press releases and then come in here and attempt to justify those press releases that you sneak up into the press gallery. That's what you're so anxious about, and that's why you're talking. Even though I've proven you wrong, you have to try to justify the press release you issued just before you stood up to talk at 11:30 this morning. I'll tell you, there is no intention whatsoever of establishing a park in that particular region, where there is alienation, be it by lease, Crown grant or any other way.
I'm saying to you that we do not establish parks on recommendations of the Ministry of Forests. That parcel of property was not under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Forests. Its title was still under control of the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing. It was deemed appropriate at the time that this land should be leased for a short period of time — for ten years — and when the time came for the need for a park on Kinbasket Lake, 10 to 15 years down the road.... Don't try to leave the impression that there is a need for a park at that end of the lake at this time. There isn't and there won't be for 10 to 15 years. At that time, in evaluating all the sites for which access would be readily available, Esplanade Bay would be one of the sites which would be taken into consideration.
[Mr. Strachan in the chair.]
MR. KING: The minister has admitted that he intervened when he received a complaint from some people that they could not get any redress to their alleged problem or improper treatment by the staff of his ministry and, I presume, the Ministry of Forests. He made a decision granting this acreage to a little community compact group. I don't know who they
[ Page 6278 ]
are. Maybe they're political friends of the minister, and maybe they're not. I don't know. That really is not the issue. The minister can get up and cry crocodile tears about alleged slander and mudraking on this side, but he misses or chooses to ignore the point. The point is that a cabinet minister has no right to take unto himself the power to override regulations and dispense favours, to become a personal court of last resort for the people of the province.
In every other area of government jurisdiction, usually great pains are taken to ensure that any appeal apparatus is at arm's length from government. The reason for that is that the taint of political partisanship should not be evident or a factor in considering any appeal. Historically, governments have recognized that when a politician per se takes unto himself, in the secrecy of the cabinet room or in the secrecy of his office, the authority to override the technical decisions of staff in the public service, it leaves room for inconsistency in decision-making. It leaves room for partisanship in terms of whose appeal is accepted, who receives preferential treatment and who does not.
There can be no harder evidence than the letter my colleague and I read into the record from the Milligans regarding their recreational lease on Shuswap Lake. They are an elderly, senior citizen couple, and he closes the last paragraph of his letter by saying: "We have a cabin on our lease lot. It is strictly for our family to come for their holidays in the summer. This cabin is not winterized — no water." They have to pack it in. "There is an outside toilet. The access road to the lease lot is partly on the deeded lot. Hoping you can help us...." These people had a 100 percent increase in their lease in one year under that minister. I wrote to him and appealed. I said: "I think that's unfair treatment." I want to read a section of the minister's response to drive home and emphasize the inconsistency between the treatment his select group of friends in Golden received and the treatment that senior citizens in my riding and the Premier's riding received. First of all the minister traced the variety of recreational leases that are available, and he said: "We have to get rid of them, and we have to find consistency through one form of lease tenure." I agree with that; that's sound thinking. He closes by saying:
"The variation in rental rates might quite conceivably have reached 300 percent. Such an inequitable situation was completely indefensible and could not be allowed to persist. Recognizing these facts, I instructed the executive of my ministry to develop a new policy designed to eliminate anomalies that I illustrated in the foregoing, and to produce a policy that would be applicable to all these situations and that would have a common and defensible base in line with this thinking and as a result of the new policies now in place."
He didn't say anything to me in this letter or to my constituents about that new policy containing an appeal to the minister in the secrecy of his office so that he might override the policies and strategies his ministry officials had developed. When his regional staff in the Golden area advocated the development of this particular acreage at Esplanade Bay for a public park, the minister held it was unfair and arbitrary, and he overrode them. The point is that you have intervened politically on behalf of constituents in your own riding through an unstated policy that is not available to the rest of the people of the province of British Columbia. That's the issue.
I have nothing against the minister personally; he's kind of a cuddly little fellow. But I don't trust that minister to sit in the secrecy of his cabinet office and pass his political judgment on the merits of a case affecting my constituents. I don't trust anyone on that side of the House to sit in secret chamber and rule on the merits of the case without a full and open public hearing. This is the party that introduced the dirty tricks and phony letters to the people of British Columbia, and the minister now asks us to trust him to preside over some system of secret political appeal.
You can call it mud-slinging if you want, Mr. Minister, but if you are not bright enough to understand the implications of this kind of dangerous political intervention, fraught as it is — no matter who the minister may be — with all the scope imaginable for abuse, patronage and favouritism.... I hope the minister is honest enough not to use that. The point is that systems of appeal set up judiciously and fairly do not provide the scope for that kind of abuse.
The minister should recognize that as the issue, not whether Genier and Cotton are friends of the minister or not. I don't know who they are, and I don't care, but it angers me when I find senior citizens in my riding and other parts of the province who have a different yardstick altogether — one that's outlined by the minister in this letter — applied to their interests, their rental lease fees and their tenure on the land. The minister himself uses the word "consistency" — "to achieve consistency and eliminate anomalies." When the minister intervenes personally and makes a political decision in the secrecy of his office, free from any public input, from any representation by the people of Golden, from any representation by even the ministries involved — and the Ministry of Forests was involved — from any representation by the Big Bend recreational society and indeed free from any representation by members of this Legislature, then he is taking unto himself dangerous powers that should not reside under the political opportunities and proclivities of any minister of the Crown in any jurisdiction in Canada.
That's the issue here, and the minister has been around this House.long enough to understand that. That is what he should respond to. If the minister feels an appeal apparatus is necessary, because there's arbitrary treatment by some technical staff in his ministry or elsewhere, fine, I'd welcome that. But let it be an appeal system that is publicly articulated. Let it be an appeal system that provides for a full and open public hearing, not a secret hearing in the minister's office. And let it be free from political domination. It's as simple as that.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Well, I've heard a lot of buffing and puffing from the member for Shuswap-Revelstoke about the policy of recreational leases, suggesting that there isn't consistency. I want to assure that member that there is consistency in the treatment of recreational leases in the province.
The member fails to understand that there is a difference in valuation of lots between those on Shuswap Lake and those on Kinbasket Lake. He fails to understand that the value is substantially different. He fails to take into consideration the remoteness of Kinbasket Lake versus Shuswap Lake, and the popularity of Shuswap Lake versus Kinbasket Lake. He fails to take into consideration the fact that Kinbasket Lake is a draw-down lake that has very limited use. Shuswap Lake can be used virtually 12 months a year. You can't use Kinbasket Lake for that period of time. He's trying to compare a beautiful lake like Shuswap Lake with a draw-down reservoir such
[ Page 6279 ]
as Kinbasket Lake. He doesn't seem to understand that there's a difference in geography and that there are different values, Consequently, values on Shuswap Lake are substantially higher than they are on Kinbasket Lake at this particular time.
Now, the member leaves the impression that I overrode regulations, which is really a bunch of nonsense. I didn't override any regulations. All I did was probably act as an expediter. There appeared to be a bit of a conflict. The Ministry of Forests felt the area should be a provincial park; the Ministry of Forests does not make decisions on provincial parks. This ministry does. I felt that the application was a reasonable one, and therefore should proceed, despite the fact that forestry suggested it should be a park. We have our conflicts with forestry on other issues and in other regions of the province too.
I want to assure the member that this lease is consistent with our policy of prepaid leases on waterfront since our new policy has been put in place. The only way shoreline land is made available now is by prepaid lease. The only difference here is that we weren't prepared to give these people the same kind of consideration that is given to other people who lease recreational shoreline. While we were prepared to give other people 30 years, with these people we felt ten years was sufficient, so that at a later date we could assess whether that land might be needed for a provincial park.
MR. HANSON: The minister keeps missing the point. In fact, he's twisting the facts around a little bit.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Just yesterday the minister had to withdraw that same remark. I'll ask the second member for Victoria to do the same thing. The Chair finds that unparliamentary. Will the member please withdraw?
MR. HANSON: I withdraw, Mr. Chairman.
In the Golden Star of Wednesday, May 13, we have a statement from a forestry official at the local level, who indicates the history of this particular event. He says:
"Once the dam was built and the engineers moved out, the Forest Service and local industries cleaned up the area and established it as an unofficial park with some of the usual outdoor amenities. Then the ministry asked the Forest Service" — this is this minister's ministry — "and its own parks branch to recommend the best future use for the five-acre site. In response the Forest Service, about a year ago, recommended it be expanded to 80 acres and that it be turned into an outdoor campsite area, picnic area, boat launch, beach and fishing hole."
This particular individual, a man by the name of Gill, points out that the area has been used extensively by the public over the years. He says that "the public would have given it its highest use." Listen to this, Mr. Chairman: "The parks division has indicated that Esplanade Bay was one of the areas under consideration for parks in the region, but it was the key one." These are your regional officials; they're not the Ministry of Forests and they don't run the parks and so on. Your own ministry officials wanted it as a park and indicate that it will be a park all around the Cot and Gen exclusive site.
Listen to this: "The Kootenay Development Association, an intergovernmental body, had also backed the Forest Service parks branch recommendation. However, there's not much more that this regional official can do about the decision at his level." Obviously not, because the minister made the decision. Then there's the point that my colleague for Shuswap-Revelstoke is indicating. I don't think the regional officials had anything against the Cot and Gen Camp Society having a lease, but they wanted it outside of the 80-acre proposed public park. They didn't mind them down the road a bit or up the road a bit. But they're in the centre of what is to be proposed as a public park. The minister even agreed that the public use of that area is going to justify a park sometime down the road. Maybe not today, but it's being set aside. It was set aside by the Forest Service out of the provincial forest for that purpose. It was set aside from the provincial forest by the Parks branch for the same purpose. But you couldn't keep out of it. You had to pick up the phone and phone the regional official and say: "Issue a letter of commitment to these people, and then later on we'll have the legal staff draft up the contract." That's what you do. That's the way you do business.
MR. HANSON: The member for Dewdney (Mr. Mussallem) asked me how I know it. I know it.
You shouldn't operate that way. Your should allow the local people and your local competent staff to plan an integrated way and make recommendations to you. Then you should pick the right recommendations on your own political judgment. But you shouldn't provide little land sandwiches to people for no reason whatsoever that preclude good solid public options later on. That's what you do. You preclude future options that are of benefit in the broad beneficial public interest. That's what distinguishes you from us. You do it on a special ad hoc basis, off the top of your head, and preclude all other possibilities. Go ahead.
HON. MR. CHABOT: The member fails to understand that what took place is consistent with policy. I've indicated to him that at this time there is no need for a provincial park at that site or any other site in the area of Mica pondage. The member fails to understand that this is going to be a recreational vehicle park. There are not going to be any permanent structures established there. The lease is for a 10-year period.
MR. HANSON: Nobody else can go on it.
HON. MR. CHABOT: What kind of nonsense are you talking about. We have over 6,000 recreational leases in this province. Are you going to use the same argument there because we've leased land on lakes throughout British Columbia to 6,000 British Columbians? Nobody can go on it, and we shouldn't be leasing it: is that your argument? What kind of nonsense is this that I'm hearing? What I'm saying to you is that we've issued a lease of four acres of land for ten years, because we don't consider that there is a need for a provincial park there or anywhere else in that vicinity between now and the expiry of that lease. When that lease expires or comes close to expiring, we will be in a position to assess whether there is a need for a small provincial park on Kinbasket Lake at that time. This draw-down reservoir will determine that down the road. In the meantime this lease does not interfere with that future option. That decision will be made at a later date.
[ Page 6280 ]
MR. KING: I'm at the other end of this draw-down reservoir from the minister, and I know a little bit about it. In fact I hunted up there for many years and I'm intimately familiar with the surroundings of Kinbasket Lake.
AN HON. MEMBER: And you missed him.
MR. KING: Yes, I never ran across the minister up there on one of my hunting trips.
The minister is wrong. I don't think he's giving an accurate picture to my colleague when he says there are so many thousands of acres around Kinbasket Lake, implying that they're all available for public development. That's just not so. The reservoir was not adequately cleared by B.C. Hydro. That's creating a problem in many of the areas in terms of access. Floating debris on the pondage, the draw-down that the minister refers to, has created many steep embankments that are unstable and not appropriate for public development for parks or anything else. So while there is a great deal of acreage, there is just not that much acreage that would be available or appropriate for public use. The minister knows that. But again, that's not the point. The minister is a skilled politician. He is the old political piranha. He's been around a long time and he avoids the central issue very cleverly. He said to me: "Well, there's a big difference between Shuswap Lake and the McNaughton reservoir. Land's valuable." That's not the issue either. In fact, the particular people who were complaining of the unjustified, unconscionable increases on their recreational leases here have to go 50 miles by boat to their property, Certainly that's no closer to the centre of population than areas on Kinbasket Lake. But that's not the issue. The minister tries to divert attention.
The simple issue is, and the minister has admitted it, that he intervened and made a political decision on behalf of this group of people at Golden to acquire this land against the recommendations of not only Forestry but his own regional officials, against the recommendation of the Big Bend Resource Council and — according to the Golden newspaper — against the wishes of the majority of the people in his own riding. He did that in a political way. He reviewed it, and in the privacy and the secrecy of his office, he came to a political decision that overrode the recommendations of his regional staff. The issue is that that kind of political consideration is not available to the rest of the people of the province of British Columbia. It lends itself to abuse, patronage and preferred treatment by that minister or any other who takes unto himself that kind of excessive secret power. That's what's wrong. We don't want to hear about the differences in land evaluation between the Shuswap and the Kinbasket Lakes. I don't care whether it's Timbuctoo. Every citizen in the province of British Columbia is entitled to one standard of justice — that's the issue.
Under the scope of the rules that you've enunciated yourself here today, they can get to the minister and he will make a decision. That leads me, and I'm sure most members of this House, to the inevitable conclusion that that kind of process is rife and rampant, with a propensity for abuse. That's the issue.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, I don't know how frequently I have to explain to that member over there that our policy is consistent as far as recreational land is concerned. Our policy is consistent. I tried to explain that to him, but he apparently won't listen. He suggested first of all that I overrode the wishes of the Big Bend Resource Council. I want him to know that the Big Bend Resource Council has never expressed its views on this application of land lease to me.
MR. HANSON: You caught them by surprise, that's why.
HON. MR. CHABOT: It's been in the works for almost two and a half years.
MR. LAUK: In the back room.
HON. MR. CHABOT: If you call the regional office and the land inspectors in Cranbrook "the back room" I guess you're entitled to that point of view. I would expect a little bit more from a big, city-slicker criminal lawyer like the first member for Vancouver Centre. He says that the Golden Star, which speaks for the people of the community of Golden, were opposed to this lease. He's reflecting upon an editorial which expresses the opinion of one man. That editorial doesn't express the opinion of the residents of Golden — not at all. He is suggesting that I overruled the wishes of my regional staff. That's a bunch of nonsense. I tried to explain that to him. It's not true. What I did, essentially, probably, was to override the wishes of the Ministry of Forests, which wanted to see a park there now. They wanted to refuse the right of these people to enjoy shoreland for a short period of time just as 6,000 other British Columbians have.
MR. HANSON: Mr. Chairman, what I'd like to d now is proceed on a few broader policies that the minister has undertaken, and allow Hansard and history to place the Cot and Gen society in the context of the broader picture. I think a pattern emerges of single use, narrow-mindedness, ad hockery, and political intervention in policy-making and decision-making. It's really hard to believe that this minister is one of the most powerful ministers of government, in the sense that this Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing along with the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland) controls about 90 to 95 percent of the land base of British Columbia. Here in this House we tend to look at things in terms of artificial, manmade structures of ministries, authorities and jurisdictions, but in actual fact the broad base, the economic future of the province and the decent planning for the future rests with this minister and the Minister of Forests. When you look at the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing and you know the record of this minister, it is almost like putting the fox in with the chickens. It's incredible, because he has one view of land, and that is real-estate oriented — it is land as a commodity for development. It is a single-use orientation, and that's the travesty.
The history of our land use in British Columbia, right from James Douglas almost to the present time, was that we looked at our land as a source of a great number of economic, aesthetic and recreational attributes. In the great land base of British Columbia we support our forests, and we all know what percentage of our economy is based on our forestry. We often hear the figure 50 percent. Mr. Chairman, it's much higher than that when you look at the other values: the wildlife values, the tourist values, the recreational and aesthetic values. Probably 70 percent of every dollar in British Columbia comes from our forest land base. This minister embarked upon a series of policy directions early last year that brought this thing to a horrible crunch. Do you know that
[ Page 6281 ]
in a very short period of time he was able to mobilize against himself the broadest-based, most disparate group of people that you could ever believe? Everyone from the Council of Forest Industries and all of the associated woodworkers' unions, to the B.C. Federation of Agriculture, the B.C. Wildlife Federation, the independent truck loggers, the independent foresters, the agrologists, the fish and wildlife clubs, the game clubs, and on and on — you got them all mad at you. Why was that? Do you know why? Because he embarked upon a policy of putting up for auction what he called the agricultural lease-to-purchase program.
HON. MR. CHABOT: You're against farmers.
MR. HANSON: The B.C. Federation of Agriculture didn't want that program. They represent thousands of farmers, and they said no to your stupid program.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I know why. They want a monopoly.
MR. HANSON: Your Premier had to come in and stop you, it was so bad; he had to come and put a moratorium on it in the deferred planning areas.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Nonsense!
MR. HANSON: It is not nonsense; it's absolutely true, and you know it.
The land base of British Columbia is a valuable thing, and we must protect it for future generations. We need Crown land for housing, but we need it in a planned way. It is not easy to make some of these judgments, I know that, because where people want to live and grow food and trees is often the same piece of land. But all land is not created equal, Mr. Chairman. There are lands that are better for agriculture than others, and there are lands that are better for growing trees than others. We have to start looking at the appropriate lands for housing, and we have to make Crown land available for housing — undoubtedly, we agree — but not the way you did it. Because the way you did it, you allowed up to 520 hectares. Most people don't know what a hectare is — but 520 hectares is about 1,300 acres that a person could buy on an auction.
HON. MR. CHABOT: No, it's 1,280.
MR. HANSON: I stand corrected: 1,280 acres. That's a lot of acres. And do you know what all of those organizations objected to? It was because that land was growing trees and was prime recreational land. That land was prime wildlife habitat, so he got everybody mad at him. How many houses would they have on these 1,280 acres? One. That's one house for 1,280 acres. They were supposed to chop the trees down within ten years. So they had prime forest land — a valuable renewable resource for the future of British Columbia. It takes a long time to see a tree grow; it takes 60 to 80 to 100 years, depending on the site, before you've got a marketable tree. But he embarked upon this program: 1,280 acres. Now who can afford that? It was only the very wealthy, Mr. Chairman, and that's why the B.C. Federation of Agriculture said it was a bad scheme and asked the Premier of the province to please stop it.
Many people are starting to understand that the forest land base of the province is in for a big shock in the future. We've cut more trees than we should have over time. The management of our forests was not what it should have been over the long years of Social Credit management in this province. The Socreds didn't just emerge in 1976. They have managed our forests and fisheries and our other resources since 1952. That fall-down effect that we're hearing is a big surprise, that we don't have enough trees to supply our pulpmills and so on. We inherited that legacy from 30 years of Social Credit mismanagement of our resources in this province — the fall-down effect.
I'd like to just touch on a very interesting thing which was carried out by the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing. About a year or so ago a public opinion poll was carried out by the ministry. It canvassed the views of the public regarding the disposal of our heritage, the disposal of this Crown land that is there for us and for future generations. It was surprising what a commonsense approach the public basically has about our Crown land. They public does want access to it, but they want it done in a planned way, phased in and coordinated.
I'd just like to read to you from "Public Attitudes Towards Crown Land in British Columbia." Here are a few summary comments: "The study also determined that the public feels that three basic conditions should be met before individuals are allowed to purchase Crown land. One condition is that the purchaser must be a Canadian citizen." There's a very strong feeling that we don't want absentee owners of our Crown land. We don't want people coming in from other countries, alienating land and just holding it for speculative purposes. In other words, the history of the stewardship of land in our province has been for beneficial purposes. We want people to have it and use it, and their families to enjoy it. We don't want it for speculative purposes.
Another condition was that the land must not be used for speculative purposes.
"The third condition is actually a set of guidelines governing the use of land. Failure to conform to these guidelines would invalidate any sales arrangement between the province and the individual." That has been a long-standing provision in our management of lands: land for beneficial uses. If a person were speculating with it or not using it properly, it would revert to the Crown for someone else to use in a beneficial way.
The study goes on to point out that the public was very concerned about planning.
HON. MR. CHABOT: On a point of order, the member is quoting from a document. I wonder if there is provision for the document to be tabled in the House after he's finished using it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Documents are not tabled in committee, hon. minister. On past occasions when this question has arisen in committee, normally a member who has quoted from a document might give another member an undertaking that the document will be tabled when the House convenes. However, that is all that the Chairman of the committee can say about the particular question that the minister asks.
MR. HANSON: Mr. Chairman, I'm happy to make the following offer to the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing.
[ Page 6282 ]
If you will provide us with the list of lottery grants that were turned down, I will provide you with this particular list.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That is not relevant.
HON. MR. CHABOT: It's blackmail. No guts, eh?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I'm sure the ruling is quite clear.
MR. HANSON: The survey "Public Attitudes Towards Crown Land in British Columbia" goes on. There's a heading, "Planning Issues." It states: "While there is wide support for any initiatives to make Crown land available to the public, the persons interviewed asserted that Crown land should be allocated on the basis of a well-researched land-use plan." It's very firmly established in the public's mind: "Yes, we want Crown land, but we don't want ad hockery; we don't want stupid stuff; we don't want your kind of agricultural lease plan."
"A dominant concern of respondents was that wildlife and environmental considerations should be a central factor in determining what land is offered for sale or lease."
"Employment growth and other economic benefits resulting from the development of Crown land were also priority considerations.... Nevertheless, most respondents favoured the development of a management plan capable of resolving potential land use conflicts on the basis of a thorough review of the costs and benefits of particular uses."
The point I'm making is that yes, the public wants Crown land, but they don't want it at any cost. They also indicate that they don't want all Crown land dumped on the open market at. once. They want their children to have the opportunity to have a small piece of property they can enjoy for recreational or economic purposes or for a residence. That's clearly established in the public mind.
I'd like to go through a couple of the reactions that various segments of our society had to the policy directions of this minister. The first one was a very interesting paper by the Association of British Columbia Professional Foresters. Just to read into the record, here are the responsible organizations in this society who indicated outright opposition to this minister's program. It's a brief to the cabinet of the government of British Columbia submitted by the Association of B.C. Professional Foresters and endorsed by the following: Federation of B.C. Naturalists; British Columbia Wildlife Federation; Canadian Institute of Forestry; Canadian Paper workers Union — are you getting the idea of the diversity and scope of opposition? — the Cariboo Lumber Manufacturers Association; the Council of Forest Industries of British Columbia, a very large influential group; the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association; International Woodworkers of America; Northern Interior Lumber Sector; the Pulp, Paper and Wood Workers of Canada; the Truck Loggers Association; everybody from soup to nuts.
I'd like to read you one of the statements they make in this report. Again, we're getting back to the 1,280 acres available to a British Columbian if he had enough money to afford it, with no guarantee that it would be put into agriculture or that he couldn't take the trees down, flog the timber and move on. That's the kind of program it was — incredible. This is from page 5 of the report: "Auctions of agricultural leases have been held in several interior communities recently without, apparently, cost-benefit analyses...." That flies in the face of that public-opinion survey that was conducted. No cost-benefit analysis was being done on the lands in question. "It seems unwise to us that the existing forests and other values of these lands should be wiped out without any analysis of whether the economic benefits to be derived from clearing the land are greater than those to be gained by leaving the land in timber production." This is a province that relies heavily on its forests and other resource attributes, and not even a cost-benefit analysis was done of those agricultural lands that were put into auction. It's absolutely incredible.
Now I'll go on to another one. This particular report was submitted to the government of British Columbia on May 12, 1981 — fresh, still warm. This report is called "Forest Land for the Future." It's by the Forest Industry Task Force on Forest Land for the Future. I'd like to read into the record the following:
"In light of timber supply deficits forecast by the Ministry of Forests, as well as growing not satisfactorily restocked backlogs and continuing shortfalls in annual seedling production, it would seem that the current alienation of Crown land by the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing is working against the goals and objectives of the government as established in the Forest Act."
Here we have one ministry of government working absolutely contrary to the Minister of Forest (Hon. Mr. Waterland). And the minister shakes his head in agreement. The battle between the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing could not be resolved until the Premier came in and clonked their heads together.
"For example, in the northern interior the agricultural lease program has generated an avalanche of applications for prime-site forest land. Such programs demonstrate at best a wavering commitment to integrated or multiple-use resource management. In the absence of studies on the consequences of earlier land-disposal programs or evidence on the failure rate of developing marginal agricultural land, to proceed with further land withdrawals unnecessarily jeopardizes the forest-based economy."
This is a serious charge, because given the magnitude of our forest-related economy, to have the Forest Industry Task Force say that the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing was in fact jeopardizing the whole economy of British Columbia by embarking upon a program of disposal of prime forest sites is really a shocking and strong statement.
They made the following recommendations on behalf of the forest industry of British Columbia:
"Crown land disposal programs should be suspended pending (a) completion of the Forest Service program to establish and gazette all provincial forests, thereby protecting the vital forest land-base and preserving future land-use options; (b) the development of a comprehensive land-use decision-making framework which evaluates land-allocation proposals based on: (1) the capability of the land; (2) multiple use potential; (3) full assessment of the social and economic costs and benefits of alternative uses; (4) maintaining the stability of forest-dependent communities."
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They go on to emphasize a strategy to integrate multiple use with provincial goals in industrial development and economic and social policy.
This is not bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. This is the forest industry of British Columbia, pleading with the cabinet to which this member belongs, asking for some reason and common sense in the policies he's embarked on undermining the forest industry of the province: single use, alienating multi-use options for ever and a day.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Single use.
MR. HANSON: Yes. Write that down, think about it and study it.
HON. MR. CHABOT: You're against it?
MR. HANSON: I'm for multiple use.
HON. MR. CHABOT: You're against single use?
MR. HANSON: I'm for planning, integrated use and common sense.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Are you against single use?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. The minister will have ample opportunity to reply.
MR. HANSON: When I started my remarks about this so-called — I underline "so called" — agricultural lease program, the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing jeered across the floor: "Are you against farmers?" Here we have the B.C. Federation of Agriculture's statement on this program. I'd like to read it into the record. It's headed: "Farmers Request Crown Land Moratorium."
"The B.C. Federation of Agriculture today called upon the provincial government to declare moratoriums on two aspects of land-use policy in this province. In a special presentation to cabinet, the 12,000-member federation requested an immediate moratorium on the sale of Crown land under Lands, Parks and Housing Minister Jim Chabot's new agricultural lease policy."
MR. CHAIRMAN: The committee has been reminded many times that a personal reference is unparliamentary. We refer to a minister by his portfolio or to a member by the riding he represents.
MR. HANSON: It continues: "The policy announced in August by the minister was aimed at promoting the provincial government's commitment to greater self-sufficiency in food production by making parcels of arable Crown land available to farmers."
HON. MR. HEWITT: Right on.
MR. HANSON: The Minister of Agriculture says: "Right on." The next sentence in the release on the position of the B.C. Federation of Agriculture, representing 12,000 farmers in British Columbia, is: "But the agricultural delegation that met with cabinet this morning said the first sales of Crown land under the policy have been made at prices which do not reflect agricultural values, and to individuals who do not appear to be primarily concerned with food production." Now that's a very serious charge.
Regarding Crown land being made available for an agricultural lease program, the B.C. Federation of Agriculture says that the prices don't reflect any agricultural values and that individuals who do appear to be primarily concerned are not concerned with food production. So there we have it. Who are these people who are getting these 1,300 acres? You're not making Crown land available to the people who need it and who could really use it.
It goes on. There's editorial after editorial. "Loss of the Forest." "The breadth and depth of concern over the government's release of 15,000 hectares since July of 1980 under its lease-to-purchase program could hardly be greater, judging from the delegations that represent all the major forest industry associations, labour unions, etc."
Was it just the forest industry and forest industry unions that were upset? Here's an article in Commerce B.C., December 1980. There are just a couple of lines here. It says: "The issue is clear. The disposition and use of public land is too important an issue to be left to political expediency and transitory public demands. The land sale program should be severely curtailed — if not stopped altogether — until a coherent long-range land-use strategy is devised by the cabinet." That's a serious charge, you know: no coherent policy, no coherent strategy. Just ad hockery, based on what delivering land to the wealthy?
"Truck Loggers Attack Land Policy." It came to the point where the East Kootenay Wildlife Association, with a large number of other groups, had to ask the Premier of the province to intervene between the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing and the Minister of Forests. Here's a telegram: The Kootenays is a great wildlife area and a great tourist area. It really is. Unfortunately it has poor representation at the moment, but it's a great area. I'm sure that the people of those areas will overcome their present difficulties. The telegram reads:
THE EAST KOOTENAY WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION REQUESTS THAT THE FOLLOWING OCCUR PRIOR TO ANY CROWN LAND BEING ALIENATED FOR AGRICULTURAL REASONS IN THE KOOTENAY REGION: THAT A COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS BE COMPLETED OF THE LAND TO PROVE THAT ALIENATION OF THE LAND FOR AGRICULTURAL REASONS WILL GIVE THE BEST LONG-TERM ECONOMIC RETURN OF THE LAND FOR THE CITIZENS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA.
That's what land management is all about, and that's what it's been about since James Douglas was around. Unfortunately when this minister came on the scene and started to view Crown land strictly as real estate under the Premier's direction, all hell broke loose. Everything started to fall apart.
SHOULD THE ECONOMIC RETURN FOR AGRICULTURE OUTWEIGH THE BENEFITS FROM FORESTRY, GUIDING, HUNTING, FISHING, TRAPPING OR OTHER FORMS OF OUTDOOR RECREATION, PLUS GRAXING AND TOURISM, ETC., OVER A GIVEN PERIOD OF TIME, THEN AGRICULTURAL USE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED THE PRIME USER, GIVEN BOTH GAINS AND LOSSES.
In other words, weigh up the cost benefits in a multiple, integrated, complex, sophisticated way of looking at land, not his way and not that way.
This is to the Premier of the province:
WE THEREFORE ASK THAT A MORATORIUM BE PLACED ON CROWN LAND SALE OR LEASE PURCHASE UNTIL A COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS IS COMPLETED. IT
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IS ESSENTIAL THAT THIS ANALYSIS TAKE PLACE. PLEASE REPLY. C.C. PURDY, EAST KOOTENAY WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION, KIMBERLEY.
The opposition came from every direction. I'll quote some headlines: "Land Sales Plan Called A Disaster," Province, December 18, 1980; "The Big Giveaway," Mike Halleran in the Sun in November of last year; and "Crown Land In B.C. At Fire-Sale Prices." There's no planning, no planning, no planning. Here's another one from a major background paper in the province: "Forestry Professor Urges Immediate Turnabout." This "ridiculous, ill-conceived forest conversion program must be dropped."
[Mr. Davidson in the chair.]
Going back to my introductory remarks, so much of our future and our present economy depends upon rational planned management of our land base. It's under the stewardship of that minister. We've seen a number of examples. I pointed out how in a totally uncoordinated way he intervened in an area that was going to be a park of the future for the people of the Golden area. Before we knew it he intervened and overruled the Agricultural Land Commission when a former political associate of his applied for the land to be taken out as a gravel pit. It was really an incredible thing you did there.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Be careful now.
MR. HANSON: He warns me to be careful. It's a matter of public record what he did. He assisted in the overturning of an Agricultural Land Commission ruling to get land for a gravel pit worth $7 million taken right out of the middle of the agricultural land reserve for a close political associate. Then we have the case at Esplanade Bay. But the broader picture is much more important. This minister embarked upon a policy of trying to dispose of large portions of land, and he called it a so-called agricultural land lease-to-purchase program. It was an abysmal failure opposed by every sector of our society. He actually has hurt the economy of British Columbia through his poor planning, and he even had to be slapped into place by the Premier of the province.
British Columbia is a beautiful place and wonderfully endowed with resources. But our land requires a lot of planning. We have extensive mountain ranges and very little lowland and well-drained floodplain areas, which are the best growing sites for trees and also the easiest sites for development of urban areas for residential sites and so on. Those well-drained, enriched soils are also the lands that are best for the production of our food supply. As limited as it is, with only 5 percent, that is a precious resource that we must protect at all costs. To alienate prime forest lands without a cost-benefit analysis for single-purpose so-called agricultural purposes of dubious economic benefit to the people of the province or even the owners of the land was really a ridiculous and tragic policy embarked upon by this minister.
MR. PASSARELL: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to make a correction from this morning. The member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) stated that Iskut was on Telegraph Creek Road. It's just about 100 miles south on the Stewart-Cassiar Road. Dealing with what the member for Omineca was speaking of, I'd have to state that I agree with what he was talking about concerning the inflated prices on Crown land. In the far north it's often much too high.
One question I would like to direct to the minister — maybe Mr. Johnson could help out on that — is concerning the application of Crown land up in Good Hope Lake. It was stated that there was B.C. Hydro and B.C. Tel to the serviced lots. B.C. Hydro is within 150 miles down in Dease Lake, and B.C. Tel doesn't go up that far; it's CN. Maybe the minister could have that changed so it doesn't mislead anyone who is applying for certain spots of Crown land up north.
Another suggestion to the minister, Mr. Chairman, is that hopefully the minister could find some type of a new lot draw outside of Cassiar, since there is a definite need for many residents in the Cassiar area to receive Crown land. Presently there are two lot draws going on: one up in Good Hope Lake and the other down in Dease Lake this spring. But there is a definite need for the workers who live in Cassiar to have Crown land outside of the town company. Once again, it's all too often that we find Crown land prices that are inflated in isolated areas like Good Hope Lake, Dease Lake or Germansen Landing compared to Crown land across this province. Maybe the minister could state how the prices for Crown land lots, particularly at Good Hope Lake and Dease Lake, are arrived at. It's approximately $5,500 for each one of the lots. Many residents are asking how you arrive at this figure of $5,500, for instance in Good Hope Lake, when there is very little owned land in the area. How do you base that comparison?
Another question I would hope the minister could answer is that on the lease-to-purchase land it says that either party can withdraw from the program within three years. Is that correct?
HON. MR. CHABOT: What's that?
MR. PASSARELL: On the lease-to-purchase, either party can withdraw after three years. Once you put your bid in — the $250 or $750 for the bid — and your bid is accepted, you have three years to take up the Crown land. That's right, Mr. Minister? Okay.
If it states that either party can cancel within three years, what happens if you accept it? You put your $750 in, then you can take the option on schedule A or schedule B either to pay cash or you have a year to pay the remaining money back to the Crown. What happens if you're billed that first year and the Crown doesn't accept your lease? When you pick up a bid, the option on schedule B states, if I'm not mistaken — and the minister or Mr. Johnston could correct me on this.... Do you receive the Crown land?
HON. MR. CHABOT: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman I the member for Atlin constantly refers to people who aren't present, suggesting that they are present. I wish he'd refrain from that.
MR. PASSARELL: Thank you, I'll just direct it to the minister. When you take schedule B on the lease-to-purchase on the bid draw, is it that you have to pay the remaining price of the land back within one year at I percent under prime? Is that correct? Just shake your head one way or the other. It was brought to my attention that if you take schedule B instead of paying cash for the outlay of the Crown land, you have a year to pay it back and that you get it at I percent under or over prime. Maybe the minister could state the reason for that. If it's I percent under, how is that? Does it increase as the prime rate goes up weekly, or is it set at a certain option? When you
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picked up the land, for instance, on June 17 and the prime rate was at 19.04 for the remainder of the year, to purchase back or to pick that up, would it be set at 18.04 or would it constantly go up as the prime rate would go up? That's just a question that I would like the minister to answer, because I've received some correspondence from individuals who've picked up Crown land.
Another suggestion I would hope the minister could look at is that there are a number of native people who are living outside of Good Hope Lake. They've lived in that particular area for approximately 10 or 15 years. They've been squatting on the land. They want to receive title, and they don't know how to go about it. Maybe the minister could state how they can do it. They've written a number of letters, but they've received copies back from the Smithers office that have left them in a dilemma. Maybe the minister could stipulate how people who squat on land for 10 or 15 years go about getting title and what the cost is. Is it similar to picking up Crown land? Do you have to bid on it? This has come about now because B.C. Assessment has come around and started to assess some of the cabins that these individuals are living in. As a further suggestion to the minister, it might be a good idea for the Lands office in Smithers to contact the UNN to see if this problem can be resolved.
I've raised a number of questions with the minister. I would certainly hope that he might be able to shed some light on some of them.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, first of all I'm wondering if the member could answer one question for me. Have you apologized yet to Governor Hammond of Alaska for the misleading statement?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. We're on vote 149.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, the member asked how we determined the price of the parcel of land that he bought at Good Hope Lake. It's determined by comparables. Cost of development of those lots is also taken into consideration. I forget just how many there were at Good Hope Lake — 11 or in that neighbourhood. You were fortunate to have picked up one of those lots — about one acre for about $5,000.
MR. PASSARELL: It was $5,400.
HON. MR. CHABOT: You've put your $750 down, and you have a specified period of time in which you must build a habitable dwelling on your parcel of land.
HON. MR. HEWITT: He bought one?
HON. MR. CHABOT: Yes, he bought one. He was in the lottery draw.
HON. MR. HEWITT: Are you playing favourites with the opposition? Is he a friend of yours?
HON. MR. CHABOT: They're inconsistent. It seems to be all right if an NDPer gets some land; but if somebody happens to live in Columbia River, it seems to be wrong. The member for Atlin got some Crown land. I suppose I'll be hearing from the anthropologist, the second member for Victoria (Mr. Hanson), what his views are about the member for Atlin, a member of this House, getting Crown land at Good Hope Lake.
HON. MR. HEWITT: How many other people wanted that lot?
HON. MR. CHABOT: I wonder how many other people wanted that lot, but the member got it.
There's a specified period of time within which you must develop a habitable dwelling on the lot before you can get title. You've asked some technical questions on interest rates. I know that our interest floats and is adjusted quarterly. If you write me a letter, I'd be glad to answer those technical questions on the terms and conditions of the Crown land that you've acquired up at Good Hope Lake.
You asked a question about trespassers who have illegally occupied Crown land for some considerable period of time and now are seeking title, wanting to legalize the illegal occupation of those lands. I suggest that wherever it is possible the Crown will convenience these people in legalizing their property. However, there are circumstances in which, in the public interest, a trespass should not be legalized. I would think that in most instances in your constituency those who have sought title should not experience too many problems in securing title.
If there are any delays.... Of course it would involve an inspection of the land in question by an inspector from Smithers, a long way away. I guess they go up only periodically, so that could cause some delay. But if there is undue delay in receiving title — and I think in most instances title would be granted to these trespassers — I would suggest that you write to the minister. The minister will be ready and willing to intervene on behalf of your constituents in Atlin.
MR. PASSARELL: The minister was a bit mistaken concerning the Crown land I secured up in Good Hope Lake. The minister should be aware of when bid draws are, since he's the minister. Just to set the record straight, there were 20 lots up on a bid system in Good Hope Lake on September 15, 1980. At that time I felt that it would not be of particular value for me to apply for Crown land in a bid system, because of my position. So I waited the customary six months and then went in and picked up the Crown land for cash. It was only one lot that was picked up out of the 20 drawn September 15, 1980, in Good Hope Lake. The 19 remaining lots that were on a cash-come basis. So for the minister to state any improper motives on my part would be....
HON. MR. HEWITT: Special treatment.
MR. PASSARELL: The Minister of Agriculture says: "Special treatment." There was none whatsoever, Mr. Chairman. It may be that the member who is speaking from his chair now — the Minister of Agriculture and Food — is able, because of his financial capabilities, to go out and buy 50 or 60 hundred thousand dollar lots in this province. There are some people in this party and this province, Mr. Minister of Agriculture, who need Crown land. I think that's the whole situation, and what we're discussing today.
MR. PASSARELL: Mr. Chairman, could you bring the Minister of Agriculture to order?
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The position is that there are a lot of young couples who cannot go out and afford land in this province. Some of the inflated rates for picking up Crown land that the ministry has brought upon residents of the north should be changed. Individuals living in rural and northern areas across this province should be able to secure Crown land at reasonable prices they can afford. Members from the south, like the Minister of Agriculture and Food, who lives just outside Vancouver — in Penticton; that's the lower mainland — and who shouts from his seat, should be aware that many individuals who live up in the north, young couples and old, should have the right to pick up Crown land at a reasonable price, whether it's in the Kootenays, Omineca or Boundary-Similkameen. And residents of Atlin should too.
The minister is talking about my picking up some Crown land. Well, we're going to build our first home and use this government's program of first-home mortgages. Is that still in existence, where you can pick this up cheap — you can pick up mortgages at reasonable rates — or was that exhausted within a day or two of its inception? Whatever the case is, my picking up a Crown grant in Good Hope Lake did not disallow anyone else who wanted to pick it up. I guess, since the time I picked up my land approximately two months ago.... I'll stand corrected, but I don't believe there has been another individual who picked up the Crown land. But that's nickel-and-diming it. I think we have more important things in this House to discuss than personal attacks on individuals in this Legislature.
There are a number of questions we have directed to the minister. The minister got up on a fictitious point of order, or something, talking about the Governor of Alaska. I certainly hope that the minister has more on his mind than discussing individuals in this House. We have problems with Crown land. Individuals across this province living in rural and northern areas need to receive Crown land so they can build homes and bring a benefit to the economy of British Columbia.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, in response, I didn't get up on a point of order while he was speaking. I got up in response to the questions he'd put to me a little earlier. As I was trying to respond to his questions, what was going through my mind was whether he had responded to the false allegation he had made about the Governor of the state of Alaska — and whether he had apologized, because he did upset the Governor of the state of Alaska.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please, hon. member. I must ask the minister to confine his remarks to vote 149. His remarks are not relative to the present estimate.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, I'll respond to the other question put to me by the member. The member wants to know whether he personally — and it seems to me that I'm dealing with all these personal problems today — would be entitled to a second mortgage under my ministry's housing program. You're not only entitled to the $5,000 second mortgage, Mr. Member. Because you have a child, you would also be eligible for the $2,500 first-family home grant. It's one of the two; you can't have both. The two conditions are that you have to have resided in British Columbia for two years and you have to be a Canadian citizen.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: I do have a few questions for the minister. The minister ended his response discussing the second mortgage and the first homeowner's grant. I'll go on record as saying that they're good programs. I support them. Because of inflationary rates and other factors in the province and country today, I would strongly suggest that those figures be increased. I would suggest $10,000 for the first mortgage at this rate, and $5,000 for the first homeowner's grant, under the guidelines you've established. It's something to think about, Mr. Minister.
If we can afford to subsidize Teck and Denison by billions of dollars on the northeast coal deal, then surely we can afford to help.... We have young people in the province today, particularly young, married people, who are attempting to own their first home. The fact is that on the average wage paid in this province today, people can't afford to buy a lot — never mind build a home on that lot.
That brings me to the point I want to make immediately with the minister. That is the availability of Crown land. I'm very familiar.... I read the press releases, the various journals that come out of the minister's office, the advertisements in all the papers in the riding and all the rest of it. I know that the minister is making land available to some extent. One of the problems the minister doesn't seem to recognize, in terms of the lease-to-purchase and lot draws for Crown land in some of these areas, is that the people who need that land so they can get started in building a home are not getting it. The people who are getting that property — the recreation property on Powell Lake for example, or various parcels of five-acre lots in various parts of our riding that I'm sure you're familiar with, are people with money. You know the process: 90 percent of actual value and all this stuff,
The point I'm trying to make here is that in most cases the people who really need the property are not getting it. That does really bother me quite a bit. I know of many instances where people who don't need the property at all are purchasing it for speculation only.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Those are two separate topics. We'll get to recreation land in a minute.
The people who need the property are not getting it. A policy should be devised so people in lower-income brackets.... The young people, particularly, will never under the present system.... This government and that minister — in spite of what he's been telling us for several years — have failed to develop a housing policy for British Columbia. That policy could have been enunciated in this Legislature under these estimates. This government has failed to meet the housing crisis in British Columbia today, as well as what I call the land crisis, for many people. Waterfront lots in my riding that were selling for as high as $30,000 a year or two ago, are now selling for $100,000 and $125,000. The minister is very much aware of this.
While I have the floor, I want to point out to the minister and Legislature some of the people who do get a lot of Crown land. They're called the CPR. The CPR seems to have no trouble getting Crown land from the minister.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Swap.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Yes, you're right, Mr. Minister. There was a land swap with the CPR and Pacific Logging
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where you alienated, under your ministry and through an act under your jurisdiction, 5,000 acres of timbered, partly waterfront land which you gave to the CPR without any type of assessment being carried out. The Minister of Forests told me, in this Legislature, that it was under your jurisdiction that this so-called land swap took place.
I know what you're going to say. You're going to say: "We have this much land, we've got this and that, bleat, blab and bloop." I've heard all that stuff. What you didn't say is that the land you traded for does not nearly come up to the value of the land that you gave to the CPR. So you can see that the CPR has no problem getting Crown land full of timber, gravel pits and waterfront in this province. The three pieces of property you swapped that land for with the Pacific Logging division of the CPR that had potential value as parks could have been obtained by this government in different ways if it wanted to. There are other ways of doing things. I've made an issue of this matter before in the House, and I don't intend to go through the whole litany again. But I just wanted it on record under this minister's estimates that this is the minister under whose responsibility that transaction took place. I know the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland) was the prime mover. He's just as guilty as you are, if not more so, along with the Premier and the rest of your cohorts over there.
I have another item for the minister: Hardy Island. Does that ring a bell, Mr. Minister? Hardy Island is an archaeological site just off Nelson Island, with Indian artifacts dating back about 10,000 years, according to archaeologists and my colleague over here. I asked you to intervene and you said: "No. What's the point of sewing a few old...." These artifacts — the carvings, the gravesite and the whole thing — are irreplaceable and part of our heritage, particularly part of the heritage of the Indian people in this province. You could have cooperated. PV Services, who own the island with clear title and are presently logging the island, were willing to cooperate. Your colleague the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Wolfe) was willing to cooperate. The only one who wouldn't cooperate was you, Mr. Minister. You never cooperate.
I think those types of sites are too valuable to be left under the jurisdiction of ministries like yours. In all fairness, I do want to say that the Provincial Secretary has made a commitment to me in writing that they will preserve at least portions of that very valuable archaeological site. He understands that his colleague the Minister of Lands is not prepared to assist and discuss either a land swap or coming up with funds or anything else. The Provincial Secretary is willing to assist. I'm pleased to say that they're working on the project at this very moment, attempting to save at least a portion of that very valuable site and part of our heritage.
You don't have to answer that. You and I have been through this before, Mr. Minister. I know your answer by heart, but you might want to get it back on the record.
Last but not least, I wonder if the minister could bring us up to date on the situation in regards to a proposed provincial park on Okeover Inlet. I'd be very interested in the minister's answer. With that, I'll take my place and anxiously await the minister's reply.
HON. MR. CHABOT: First of all, I'd like to respond to some of the questions put to me by the member for Mackenzie, in which he talks about residential lard and people .speculating in Crown residential land. I suggest to you, Mr. Member, that there is no way in which you can completely eliminate speculation. You can put in place as many safeguards as you possibly can, but you can never completely eliminate speculation. We've done that in making Crown land available for residential development in the province. The guidelines are such that in most instances an individual, who can acquire this Crown land at 10 percent less than market price, must build a habitable dwelling on the site within a two-year period and occupy it for one year.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: I know all of those things, Jimmy.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I'm just telling you that you can't completely eliminate the speculative aspect of land. We've taken as many measures as we possibly can without segregating our society and without somebody having to give us a statement of his earnings in the previous year. We think that if you're a British Columbian in need of land, you should have the right as an individual — don't start suggesting real estate — to acquire land to build a home on and to live in British Columbia.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: I agree, but the people who really need it are not getting it. That's the point.
HON. MR. CHABOT: The member suggests that maybe we should have an income test. I don't know, Mr. Member from Mackenzie, where you want to draw the line. Should an individual who earns more than $10,000 be denied the right of acquiring Crown land, or should it be $15,000, or should every British Columbian who makes his contribution to society in this province have an equal chance? Your point of view obviously differs from mine in that respect.
You talk about our first-home grant, family first-home grant and our mortgages. Last year alone with the first-home grant, family first-home grant and second mortgages we helped in excess of 14,000. Outright grants for first-time home buyers were in excess of $21 million. You suggested that there's a need for an escalation. That's worthy of consideration. There's also a need for review of the kind of upper limit we place on what the home value can be to which the grant will apply, and that's under review as well.
The member for Mackenzie talks about land exchange with CPR, Pacific Logging and the province. I want to assure that member that any land exchanges that take place between the province or any group within the province are subject to appraisal. There's no difference between this land exchange and any other land exchange. Appraisals take place in every instance.
You've mentioned that the acquisition of Hardy Island is being looked after by another ministry of government, probably through the right ministry now. I indicated that there was no urgent need for the expenditure of — if I remember correctly — $1.5 million. I forget the specific figure involvement. We didn't have the money. We had higher priority areas as far as provincial park development was concerned on Hardy Island. I'm glad to hear that the Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. Wolfe), under the heritage conservation branch, is having a look at preserving those artifacts.
At the moment there's nothing new on Okeover Park. I've had some correspondence of late from the regional district. They seem to be a little confused by a letter I've written them. I think I read in the Powell River Crier — or some name like that — that they're writing to me for an interpretation of my last letter. We've been listening to the wishes of the people in
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the area. There's no doubt about that. However, I have people in my ministry who are very determined to establish a nice little provincial park at Okeover Inlet that really doesn't interfere with mariculture or anything else but does provide the opportunity for people to have an overnight camping facility — just a little one. They've certainly pressured me, but we've listened, as we generally do, — to the wishes of the people in your area.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Just to clarify two points very quickly, first of all I'm pleased to see the minister has at last identified the reason why contamination and pollution of a very valuable mariculture area is not required in that particular location. The regional district has come up with five alternate sites for a park in that area. I'm pleased to see the minister finally understands this. The point I wish to clarify so it's on the record is that I have in my possession a copy of the agreement between Pacific Logging of CPR and the government of British Columbia, dated November 5, 1980. If the minister would take the time to examine article 2, section 2-02 he will see that this whole transaction and agreement was signed with the CPR without any appraisal whatsoever of the worth of that 5,000 acres of Crown land. I just wanted that point on the record, Mr. Chairman. The statement I make is absolutely true and correct as identified in this agreement with the provincial government.
MS. SANFORD: Since speaking this morning I've been waiting patiently for answers to the questions I raised with respect to Buckley Bay. I hope the minister has made a record of those questions so he will be able to get up and answer them this afternoon. Do you want them again?
HON. MR. CHABOT: No.
MS. SANFORD: On May 29, a letter was sent asking for the Baynes Sound committee to be involved in the final review procedure. Will the minister grant them that right? That's question number one: the right to be involved in the final review procedure, which was given to them some time ago. They were promised that they would be involved. Number two: where is the mariculture study at this point, as it was announced a year ago? Have you found them now?
HON. MR. CHABOT: Buckley Bay is the spot where M&B want to develop a dryland sort for bundled logs. It's an old, abandoned coal-loading site next to the slip for the ferry that goes across to Denman Island.
First of all, I'm rather surprised. The member talks for only one part of her constituents, only one group. There are opposing groups, as far as this bundled log dryland sort is concerned. You talk for the people on Denman Island and Hornby Island, but you forget to talk for those on this side — on Vancouver Island. I've received a petition from at least 300 people who say they want that dryland sort.
AN HON. MEMBER: Table it.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I'd be glad to table it. I don't have it here. I'm not quoting from it, as you did. I hope you'll have the respect to table those documents you were reading from when we go back into the House.
MR. KING: Where do you think you are now?
HON. MR. CHABOT: We're in committee, Mr. Member for Shuswap-Revelstoke, in case you didn't know.
However, there are 300 people out there who have petitioned me and who say: "We need this dryland sort. We don't really believe that it will interfere with mariculture. We need the jobs. We need jobs!" Are you against that? Are you against those 300 people who say they want jobs?
I've had meetings with the director of marine biology, who really didn't identify any interference from this dryland sort, based on the most sensitive environmental guidelines ever set down for log dumps in the history of this province. Those will be used at Buckley Bay. All kinds of precautions will be taken. The director of marine biology did not suggest that there would be any adverse affect on the mariculture in Buckley Bay. You can come up with all kinds of alternate recommendations for the transportation of logs at this time, but I want to assure you that we've given approval in principle, provisional upon M&B putting together an acceptable development plan — acceptable to the Ministry of Environment and this ministry. Essentially we've told that opposing group from Denman Island that they would have an opportunity to review the plan. They have an opportunity to give input to MacMillan Bloedel about their plan. Once the plan is finally in place, I'm ready and willing to allow them to review the plan and make suggestions — not suggestions that destroy the approval in principle to proceed, but suggestions that could possibly improve the environment of the area. If they have some suggestions I'd be glad to hear from them.
You talked about the study on mariculture. I'm afraid you'll have to ask that question of the Minister of Environment (Hon. Mr. Rogers), because the study comes under his ministry.
MS. SANFORD: I mentioned this morning that the minister refused to take the problem of the log dump and the environmental consequences seriously. That certainly has been borne out again this afternoon.
How many times have we been assured by a Social Credit government that there would be no harmful effects on the environment from this or that project? In the constituency of Comox we have had ample examples of what happens when we hear the promises made by a Social Credit government regarding the environment and projects. Buttle Lake is in the constituency of Comox; Western Mines is part of Comox constituency; Utah Mines was part of the constituency of Comox until they changed the boundaries before the last election. We know what's happened in all those areas. We had the same assurances then as we're getting now from this minister with respect to projects, and the fact that they won't have any harmful effect on the environment. It makes no sense not to consider the alternatives proposed by people who are knowledgeable, who do the work and who examine the alternatives that would be acceptable environmentally and in their social impact.
The minister talked about jobs. The only thing they are doing is moving jobs from one part of my constituency to the other. There are virtually no new jobs in this project. There is already a log-dump site available in the constituency of Comox — Mac-Blo's.
For him to try to tell me that I'm not concerned about jobs or that I'm concerned about only one issue here.... I'm attempting to look at the social as well as the environmental impact of this. I refuse to accept the assurances of any Social Credit minister with respect to the protection of the environment, particularly in projects like this.
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[Mr. Strachan in the chair.]
HON. MR. CHABOT: The member can huff and puff all she wants. She can talk about Western Mines and Utah Mines and issues that far predate me. The decision probably wasn't made by my ministry but by another ministry. I'm suggesting to you that you are attempting to create fear of the dangers of this. I've been given assurances by marine biologists that this....
MS. SANFORD: We've been assured before.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Well, you have to take the best professional advice you possibly can. I've been assured by marine biologists that there'll be no impact on mariculture in that area. Based on the best of advice, the project has been approved.
MR. PASSARELL: We'd like to discuss the last aspect of the minister's estimates; that is, parks. The B.C. provincial park system now encompasses approximately 5 percent of the land base in the province. Many groups are asking for a 1 percent addition to the 5 percent to make parks 6 percent of the land mass in British Columbia. This is one of the positions put forward by the Federation of B.C. Naturalists. Why? We find that additional parks would to a certain extent provide wildlife protection, as well as additional recreational opportunities for the increased population growth in the province. I would certainly hope that the minister could take to heart the positive suggestions concerning the 1 percent increase in the size of provincial parks.
In regard to the provincial park system and ecological reserves, there is another proposal to increase the present system b y 0.5 percent in the next decade, by 199 1. The B.C. ecological reserve program has been established with less than 0.1 percent of the B.C. land base and reserve in the first ten years of existence, from 1971 to 1981.
One thing that has to be taken into consideration is that new parks are expensive. If we're able to take out 4,400,000 or 40,000 or 4,000 hectares of land across this province, someone has to pay for it. When it comes to picking up new provincial parks in this province, it's the taxpayers who pay. As a positive recommendation to the minister, it might be worthwhile to take I percent of the total sales tax on sporting goods items such as fishing lures, ammunition and recreation equipment that's sold in this province, and put these revenues into trust for future generations to buy parks.
On some specific issues to do with parks, Bowen Island has received quite a bit of attention in the last few days. Why? One of the particular reasons is that it's close to Vancouver and the Vancouver population that could use that park if it came into the B.C. parks system, which I would endorse. The second one is Windy Bay–Dodge Point on Queen Charlotte Island. To not have to roll around in the mud and make personal attacks on the minister, I'd like just to deal with the facts concerning Windy Point and leave the personal assassinations to the minister.
Specifically on Windy Bay–Dodge Point, one of the reasons why this has received quite a lot of interest from the residents up north is the special timber growth that's in the area — some of the last stands of this particular timber that's in the area. The major interest in the area is the spawning of the salmon that come out of this particular park and the adverse effect logging has had on the streams in the area.
Hopefully, with the 14,000 people from across the province who signed the petition asking that there would be a Windy Bay–Dodge Point provincial park set up in the area.... I would hope the minister would look seriously at the issue, since it's a serious issue to the residents up there.
Of particular interest is a letter to the editor on May 22, 1981 — "Wilderness Love Letter" — which deals, although I won't read it, with Windy Bay–Dodge Point.
HON. MR. CHABOT: George?
MR. PASSARELL: Yes, you read it. It was a particularly good letter to the editor.
Another issue is the Valhalla park. I hope the member for Nelson-Creston (Mr. Nicolson) will speak about this particular park in his constituency.
The fourth park I'd like to discuss is the sacrifice of the Laird Hot Springs if the proposed Laird Dam goes through; that would flood the Laird Hot Springs. I would like the minister to look into that.
Moving quickly, the last park I'd like to discuss on my very short list is Robson Bight. The Minister of Environment made some very positive statements concerning proposals coming through on Robson Bight. Hopefully the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing will give this House further information concerning what proposals the government has for this special area on the Island, which has its own special ecosystem, with the whales.
A new issue is park fees. This year camping fees are remaining in the $3 to $5 range, which is encouraging. One of the issues is that more parks are now charging $5 than $3, which I think is a change from last year. But still, it's reasonable for individuals to visit our provincial parks for $5. Hopefully there will be no more price increases that could affect the residents of this province.
Another issue is marine parks. There have been some good changes in order to serve this aspect of recreation. I would hope the minister would continue to put funding into marine parks. There's also a need to follow a program that was set up by the federal government on heritage rivers. Hopefully the minister would look at the aspect of turning the Stikine River into a heritage river and marine park, because of its special nature.
Another issue is the systematic logging of provincial parks — in some regards, Garibaldi Park — and the need to protect our present system from having too much logging done to it, causing an adverse affect.
One of the last issues I'd like to discuss is the park youth crews. We see in the minister's estimates that last year there was S1,085,445 allocated to this special and rewarding system for young people in this province. This year it states zero in the budget. Nothing is put toward it under that estimate. We all know the value of youth crew programs for the young people in this province, helping them in summer employment. Cutting back from over S I million to not a penny this year will cause an adverse reaction for many young people who have to depend on this program for summer employment. I would hope that the minister has some type of new program to pick up this slack, and that he states in this House why the program was cut from over $1 million to nothing in the budget this year. It's an excellent program for summer employment for young people in this province. It helps them out if they're out of high school the next year, or to pick up a little bit of cash over the summer months to help out, as well
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as providing employment and doing a worthwhile service in our provincial parks by helping to maintain a high-level standard.
Those are a number of questions that I raised to the minister, and I would hope that he has some positive responses to them.
MR. GABELMANN: I have a few very brief comments this afternoon on a couple of constituency issues. First of all, Robson Bight.
MR. GABELMANN: The minister does intend to respond to that.
I just want to tell the minister what my position is concerning Robson Bight, because there have been a number of proposals. There's the proposal for the ecological reserve, and there is also a proposal put forward for a park on the lower reaches of the Tsitika River, which would include some of the mountaintop areas and down from there in that area. I want the minister to know that I have some very serious concerns about the development of a park in the Robson Bight area. I suspect that if we were to bring people — and I said this in the Environment ministry estimates — in there in large numbers, we may do as much harm to the whales as the log dump would do. I just want to say to the minister that in considering proposals for a park in that area, I hope the thing is treated very carefully and that some discussions are held with local people about it, and perhaps with the MLA. It might not be the best thing for that particular area.
But I think the ecological reserve is essential and must go ahead. It must include enough of the Tsitika River and enough of the watershed to make sure that the Robson Bight area itself is not changed so significantly that the whales no longer feel comfortable in that area. That's an important element for the ecological reserves branch people to consider. I hope the proposal — which I'm sure the government is going to accept — to create an ecological reserve in that area will be sufficient to protect the whale habitat there.
The second and final issue that I want to talk to the minister about is Cape Scott Park and the San Jo Beach at the southern end of Cape Scott Park. I'm not sure that the, minister's been there, hiked that trail or gone to that beach, and that creates a bit of a disadvantage in talking about it. What we're talking about here is the fact that we have a wilderness park — Cape Scott Park — which at its southern end has a beautiful beach, accessible by both canoe and foot. It's less than an hour's hike — it's half an hour's hike now — and it's 20 minutes by canoe at high tide. It's a beach that is just about at its maximum use now with that kind of access. When I camped there a summer ago it was full. That was when it had even less publicity than it's had recently. It was full in terms of how much it could take in terms of the size of the beach, It's popular because it's accessible.
You have proposals from your staff to put a road through to develop a headquarters site for Cape Scott Park in the southern part, halfway between the Western Forest Industries property and the beach itself. I think it makes sense to have the park headquarters in the park. But to have it so close to the beach and to put the road and the parking lot for the people who hike all the way up to Cape Scott itself so close to the beach would destroy the beach itself, residents in the area feel. And it would lose the kind of quality it has by being a beach accessible only by foot or by water. That's an important element in that kind of park.
Despite the fact there has been some debate in North Island about it, and there have been some differing opinions.... I know the minister knows the community of Port Alice voted in favour of it. The regional district has once again dealt with the issue and has once again reaffirmed that they don't want that park proposal developed in that way. The regional board member for the area, a fellow from Holberg, is at the present time developing a plan based on the apparent wishes of the majority of the people in the whole area up there, as to how the parks branch can, in fact, redesign its headquarters, its parking lot and its campsite proposal in a way which won't affect the beach itself.
My appeal to the minister is: don't build that road close to the beach. In fact, you could acquire — I think probably more cheaply — a few acres from Western Forest Industries right on the park boundary, where they have already logged right along the San Jo River itself, and use that as the parking lot. It's already made into a parking lot, and you could develop a few campsites there right on the park boundary and put your headquarters in that same spot. You would serve the requirements the park branch has without destroying the beach itself by putting a road into it. If you put a road into it, you'll get those guys with four-wheel drive vehicles onto that beach and destroy whatever qualities it has now. So that's a very sincere appeal from me on behalf the people of North Island.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, I'll just respond briefly to the member. He talks about the proposed road toward Cape Scott Park. I have received a fair amount of correspondence, mostly against the proposed road and parking lot. If the member for Skeena (Mr. Howard) doesn't speak too long when he gets up, maybe when the session is over I'll be able to go up to Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove and do a little fishing for a couple of days, and maybe I'll have the opportunity to look at this particular problem out there.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I hope you're not going to classify that as intervention, just because I'm going to look at a particular issue. If I felt that the feelings were strong one way in the community and I were to intervene against the officials of my ministry, who would rather have a road than hike, maybe you people would frown on my intervention. But I want to assure you that that intervention would be in the public interest and abiding with the wishes of those people in that area.
Robson Bight. I appreciate the comments of the member for North Island on this issue. It's one which was put to the cabinet by a group while we were in his riding several months ago, and we took immediate steps when we got back to Victoria to put a three-year moratorium over the site. I appreciate the concerns that you've expressed about heavy traffic in a park and the impact it might have. Next week the Environment and Land Use Committee will be examining a variety of options associated with Robson Bight. I appreciate the member for Atlin's (Mr. Passarell's) comments about Robson Bight as well.
I just want to respond very quickly to the questions put to me by the member for Atlin. He talked about an objective of increasing the land that is committed to parks. I have some
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difficulty with the recommendations that flow over here. One of the members suggested we have multi-use and the others are advocating single use of land, so there isn't too much cohesion and uniformity across the way when it comes to suggestions flowing across the House. Anyway, he's suggesting that maybe within the next few years we should increase our land mass from 5 to 6 percent as a percentage committed to parks. We now have 357 parks in the province covering 4,359,985 hectares, which is a substantial amount of land. I suggest to you that percentages and acreages are irrelevant as far as parkland is concerned. Hopefully, the decisions for additional parklands would be made on the basis of park values for the lands that are examined, and not by land mass.
Ecological reserves again is another issue that will be determined on quality — whether the area is worthy of being set aside as an ecological reserve — and not on the amount of land that should be set aside as ecological reserve. I don't think that makes much sense. I'm glad to see that the member now suggests that the petition they had presented in the House for advocating Windy Bay ecological reserve was signed by 14,000 residents of British Columbia rather than 14,000 residents of the Queen Charlotte Islands, when there are only 5,500 people on those islands.
Now the next one is park fees. He is very grateful that we haven't changed them. Certainly some have moved from $3 to $5. The fee that is charged in campgrounds operated by my ministry is determined by the amount of development that exists within that park. I want to reiterate, of course, that senior citizens in British Columbia don't pay overnight camping fees. Along with the member for Atlin I regret that it was necessary this year to abandon the youth crew program, which was a good program. I guess because of budgetary restrictions it was necessary that this be cancelled for this year. It will be reviewed again next year.
MR. MITCHELL: I'd like to bring one proposal to the minister's attention. Before I do, I would like to thank him. He came through on two of the proposals that I brought up last year in his estimates. One was the French Beach camping site. I won't give any secrets out among this cabinet, but of all the affairs I have attended as the MLA for the area, I will have to give the minister credit for being the first minister who recognized me as being there and allowed me to share the platform with him.
Last year I brought up the need for the province to go ahead and take over or purchase or negotiate with the federal government for the CNR right-of-way which has been abandoned. Every so often, I see by headlines that there is great progress being made. We're starting negotiations. It is on that particular subject that I would like to suggest a proposal for his consideration: A possible use of the CNR right-of-way that starts in Saanich and goes through Victoria out into the Western Community, into Sooke and up-Island. I believe the minister has had recommendations or presentations about this proposal.
One of group that I feet has a large part in the economic input of this area — and I'm happy that the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Hon. Mr. Hewitt) and the Minister of Tourism (Hon. Mrs. Jordan) are both in the House at this time — is the horse community. This community of recreational horse-riders is a growing part of the community. You get out into the Western Community or Saanich or up-Island.... There are very few backyards and farms without a horse or pony. The impact that this community has on the economics of the feed and the veterinarians, and — also on the tourist part of the community and the various horse shows they provide.... Tourists are coming in from all parts of British Columbia and the United States to participate in the various shows in the Western Community, the greater Victoria area and the Duncan area.
I would like to see the minister give serious consideration to developing a series of horse trails that would connect up Saanich and Victoria along the CNR line, to hook up into the many abandoned logging roads both in the Highland area, the Malahat area and the Sooke hills. This plan for a development of recreational corridors is needed in the greater Victoria area. I know all of us as elected people — especially the government position — are always under attack to preserve some mountain or some particular piece of land because it is needed for recreation. When people want to develop land they own there is always a hue and cry that it is needed for something else. I feel that a lot of this land is needed, but some also has to be made available — the beautiful sights, the look-out points and the lakes within that particular area. This is why I feel that if the parks branch, in cooperation with the outdoor clubs, horse groups and other recreational groups, could plan a series of recreational corridors to open up the areas that surround the greater Victoria area, they could get into the main beauty spots and the rest of the land could go to what it's needed for — either development or forestry. But it is necessary for people to get into this area.
Again, from a policeman's point of view, and a person who is worried about hospital costs — because there are so many younger kids riding horses on the highways and there is a heavy increase in traffic out of Victoria — the danger increases each year. Horses are frightened because of cars and traffic, and children are injured. We have children from the Western Community who are permanently paralyzed because of riding on the roads. I feel that if there was a program of getting the horse community off the main highways and developing a network of roads and parking areas for trailers and cars so they could park and take their riding classes off the main highways, it would not only save a family the anguish of an injured child but it would save millions of dollars of hospital costs that the community now is forced to bear, and the cost to ICBC of damaged cars. I feel that this section of the community has invested a lot of money and time in this industry. I think of the figures that I know the Minister of Agriculture has in his ministry. The impact that they have on the development of the feed industry and the vet industry is quite enormous.
One of the things that has impressed me — and I'm not a part of the horse community — is that it is a family-oriented recreation. In the majority of cases, I realize, the male member of the family does a lot of the work and has the greatest responsibility, but you do find fathers and mothers and children participating in this. It's a part of the recreational facet of our community that a lot of us tend to overlook.
When the minister is making plans for developing recreational corridors in these areas — along with the proposal of the first member for Victoria (Mr. Barber) for developing bike trails.... This is a need in the greater Victoria area. Because of the traffic, the development of homes and the cluttering of the roads, we must get — for the protection of hospitals and people — a lot of these people away from the road, into an area they will enjoy. Also that will give access to a lot of other land to hikers and other people who are not financially mortgaged to the hilt — they don't own a horse — but are out for recreation.
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I think recreational corridors, in combination with horse trails, are definitely a need in the greater Victoria community. If the minister is interested in looking at a series of films.... This is not a new proposal. In some of the cities south of the border, and in many parts of Europe, it is an accepted part of recreation. I make this proposal to the minister. I hope we have as much luck with that as we had with getting French Beach in in such a short period of time. When they are studying the acquisition of the CNR, I hope they look at it as a part of that development.
MR. NICOLSON: The lead-off speaker for the official opposition, the member for Atlin (Mr. Passarell), while speaking in terms of parks touched upon a subject which I hope this minister will reconsider. That is the cancellation of the student program within the Parks ministry. I don't make a big thing of jogging, like the Premier, or going out and having my picture taken, taking up tennis or whatever. One might say that I do walk around — or run around, or something. Kokanee Creek Park, which has been the home of one of the many student programs for the past several years.... In the course of this I see these empty and abandoned buildings. I think it is a great shame that in a world in which it is more and more difficult to find a way of starting young people with the proper attitude toward the work ethic, we have taken away one of these measures.
When I was a student, say between my latter high-school years and entering into university, because of an inequity which existed at that time, being male I was fortunate enough to have several different job opportunities — even in grades 10, 11 and 12 in high school, and going into university. But there weren't the same opportunities for females who wanted to enter the workforce. Today there is a little bit more equity, but a lot more people in the labour market, particularly in this youth group, have no previous work experience. It is on the topic when I say that even this morning I noticed a highway crew — and of course it was a co-educational highway crew. For that very reason, it's obviously a little more possible for women, but less possible for men. Taking young people as a group it is less possible today to get a good start on getting a work record.
The first work record for a great number of people over the past few years has been employment in that park youth program which provided employment not for university students so much as for young high school students going out and seeking that first summer employment. Look at the work that they did. They brought those parks up to a standard. They cleared new trails and did very meaningful, useful work. They restored bridges that had broken down. They removed windfalls. They took that wood, cut it, stacked it, and converted it into campsites for the campers who come and visit our province and leave tourist dollars here. This is meaningful and dignified employment, and by cancelling this particular program the ministry has taken away the opportunity for some young people to get a good first start toward selfemployment — a feeling of self-worth and of making a contribution and receiving their rewards. Those are the present norms in our society. I think that the less than $2 million that was invested in the past was money well invested in the youth of our province, the future of our province and the most valuable resource in our province. I'm at a loss to understand why the ministry has cancelled such a program. I also notice buildings that will be unused this year. The buildings were constructed to house these students, who also had a chance to get to another part of this province to learn a little bit more about this province in which we live. Students from Vancouver Island, Vancouver and other parts of the province could come up to the Kootenays and, similarly, some of the local students would travel to other parts of the province — an exchange, a growth experience, an educational experience. I ask the minister: why did you cut back on that particular program?
HON. MR. CHABOT: I support the program as much as the member for Nelson-Creston. I recommended the program to Treasury Board. It wasn't because I didn't want the program; it was because of budgetary restraints that the program was slashed.
MR. NICOLSON: As the minister well knows, a member of this side of the House cannot get up and propose an increase; only cabinet ministers can move increases which would be a impost upon the revenues of Her Majesty. But being a cabinet minister, the minister could get up, and I can assure the minister that he would get support. He'd get his own vote, he'd get support over here and support in the back benches. Will the minister get up and move that amendment to increase this amount in the budget?
HON. MR. CHABOT: They'd accuse me of jiggery pokery with my estimates if I were to do that. If I were to make an announcement now, they would say: "Why are we debating these estimates when you're ready and willing to add $1 million, $1.5 million or $2 million?" I'm sure you'd call that jiggery-pokery. It's too late for this year as far as that program is concerned, but we'll give it every consideration next year.
MR. NICOLSON: Well, I hope the minister fights a little bit harder next year. It's a dumb decision that you allowed Treasury Board to make. It's a dumb decision that will help to contribute to your demise; so even from bad a little good must flow, I suppose. The sacrifice being made by these young students might not be in vain if it helps to be the straw that breaks and brings down this government.
The other matter that I'd like to bring up is this minister's attitude toward parks. I hope that the minister will fight harder toward establishment of a Valhalla park than he has fought to retain this park program. This is an area that is so blessed as to be situated on an almost unspoiled lake, in an area rising thousands of feet where there are minimal mineral values. It has hardly even been staked in the past for mineral claims. It has limited forest resources but excellent rock climbing areas, glaciers and fishing, high alpine lakes, a partially developed system of trails and the potential to provide the economic generator to revitalize the Slocan Valley, situated midway between Highways I and 3 and midway between the potential market areas of Vancouver and Calgary. I would hope that the minister would fight very hard for that.
I don't have great faith that this minister will fight hard for such things as parks. Last year I brought up the matter of a very small park at Taghum. I explained to the minister the long and sad story of the government signing an agreement with the people who turned over that piece of land to them with the understanding that it would be dedicated for park purposes. They had an agreement with the government. I brought that agreement to the minister's attention after the
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government — perhaps just through the bureaucrats and not with the minister's knowledge — had agreed to allow that land to be used as an incinerator site for the city of Nelson. Even after that was brought to his attention it was necessary for this matter to be brought to the ombudsman before it could be resolved. I know that that order-in-council was passed only a couple of weeks ago. I know that there will probably be an official opening of that particular parksite in the fall, but this is a matter which I brought to the minister's attention. It involved the Minister of Parks and the Minister of Highways. I should have thought that with that very sad tale.... It was documented in the ombudsman's report, and prior to the ombudsman's report it was pretty well documented in Hansard by previous speeches of mine, which I will not repeat.
I would have hoped that the minister could have done his own image, his government and the people of Nelson-Creston a favour by acting more expeditiously, rather than being shamed into it by the ombudsman. It should never have come to that. You had the information, and you didn't act upon it.
MR. HOWARD: I have just a few brief comments, Mr. Chairman. I'm sure the minister is looking forward with anticipation to the next moment or two when his estimates will probably be concluded. That's what I'm advised is the situation.
I just want a brief moment or two to discuss Lakelse Hot Springs. July 1 — just about a week from now — will be the second anniversary of the acquisition of Lakelse Hot Springs by the government. I understand that was the formal day of receiving Lakelse Hot Springs from the previous owner. Two years later it is still in the same condition: locked up, closed, a bar across the gate, in a state of disrepair and deterioration.
MR. LEA: Why?
MR. HOWARD: I don't know.
The minister has spent some money — $50,000 — employing a consulting firm. Perhaps the minister or the cabinet so worded the terms of reference to that consulting firm that it could only come to one conclusion, namely looking at the potential of Lakelse Hot Springs as a hotel-recreational complex, rather than looking at it for its multi-purpose potential. That's what I want to advance to the minister, as I've advanced on other occasions and as other people in the area have advanced: you must not look upon the development of Lakelse Hot Springs simply for a highly expensive, posh resort-type hotel geared simply to tourism and recreational purposes. You've got to look upon Lakelse Hot Springs as having the potential, as we've argued locally, for greenhouse tomato production. It's quite amenable to it, as is done in other countries. You've got to look at it as the potential for an arboretum and for horticultural purposes; that potential exists there as well. Look upon it as a potential training ground in conjunction with North West College and the like. There are many other uses to which the hot springs could be put than simply a hotel and a hot springs.
That's what I'm advancing to the minister again. And we'll do it again and again and again, until some response comes from the government in the direction which is being advanced now by me and virtually by everybody in the area. The minister is standing up right now to agree with me. I want to thank him very much in advance for saying that's what he's going to do.
HON. MR. CHABOT: First of all I'd like to respond very briefly to the member for Nelson-Creston (Mr. Nicolson). We're actively studying the possibility of establishing a park in the Valhallas. The matter is under active study now with public participation. I want to say that I'm as anxious as you are to see something happen there and to have a decision, because if I've received one letter on that issue, I've received over a thousand, all advocating a park.
AN HON. MEMBER: Table them.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I'll table them. But I haven't quoted from one. If I was to read from one of those letters, I'd willingly, as the rules call for, table the letter, and I'd table it forthwith. I hope that the second member for Victoria (Mr. Hanson), when he's called upon when we go back into the House, will table those documents he was quoting and reading from.
After the public input the recommendations will eventually flow back to the Environment and Land Use Committee, who in turn will make a decision. Hopefully it's not too far away.
In response to Lakelse Hot Springs, I too regret that it's taken so long for this development to take place. We've had the TIDSA study. It's taken some time. We're now in the process of setting up terms of reference for a proposal call. I'm sure we will take into consideration — I hope the member's listening — the suggestions he has made. When we have the terms of reference on the proposal call finally developed, your recommendations will be taken into consideration. We originally offered the site to the regional district for $1. However, they turned us down. Based on that, we're moving — not as fast as I'd like to see us move, but we're moving. That facility will be a credit to the northwestern part of British Columbia once the development is in place.
MR. GABELMANN: Throughout the estimate debates this year, we've been trying to point out to the government where they have been padding the books, where they have been taxing the public unnecessarily — it applies in this vote too — where they have been spending money, and where they have been allocating money to save so they can spend it in their election year. Throughout these estimates, as in this vote, we have been pointing out where programs that are required have been cut out, such as the youth crew's million dollars.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. members, please, the member for North Island has the floor. I wonder if he could be accorded the courtesy of silence.
MR. GABELMANN: We've been pointing out where programs have been cut back, and where they should have been increased. We don't have the capacity, within the rules, to move that amounts be increased. I wish we did, because I think we would reinstate, for example, the million dollars for the youth crew. We can't move those kinds of motions. We can only make speeches about them. What we can do is trim some of the fat that does exist throughout this set of estimates. There's even some in this ministry. I might say that there's not as much in this ministry as there is in most of the others, but there is still some. There's enough in here to bring back at
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least about half of the youth crew program. In that respect, as we go through the votes, I want to suggest a few trimmings of fat.
The first one is that I would move that vote 149 be reduced by the amount of $3,500. That $3,500 is travel expense and office expense beyond last year's, and we think you can do without that in this year of restraint.
[Mr. Davidson in the chair.]
Amendment negatived on the following division:
YEAS — 22
NAYS — 28
An hon. member requested that leave be asked to record the division in the Journals of the House.
MR. LAUK: On a point of order. Mr. Chairman, the Clerk made a mistake. The Minister of Municipal Affairs (Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm) did not vote; he did not stand on the division.
HON. MR. HEWITT: Mr. Chairman, I heard the name Wallace when the opposition names were read, and I just want to point that out to the Clerk.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. members, the Chair is unaware of the situation as reported to it. It has no alternative, in the absence of anything else, than to....
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, correction: the vote for was 21 and not 22.
AN HON. MEMBER: What about the votes against?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. members, if a member does not stand for a vote, the vote cannot be recorded. Yet the standing orders are very clear that a member in the House must vote. The Chair is in a difficult position. Hon. members, a member who is in the House must have a vote recorded. Those are our standing orders. Has the Minister of Municipal Affairs anything to add?
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Chairman, I had a very broad fellow standing ahead of me, and when I got up, perhaps I didn't get up high enough, and he blocked the vision for the first member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Lauk).
MR. LAUK: I don't know why the minister is quibbling that way. If he's going to vote, tell him to vote. But he didn't stand up, whether there was anybody in front of him or not.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The member has indicated how he wishes to have his vote recorded. I would remind all members that when a division is being taken members undertake the responsibility which they must have under our standing orders.
Vote 149 approved.
Vote 150: administration, $3,957,179 — approved.
On vote 151: lands and housing, $40,415,673.
MR. HANSON: Mr. Chairman, the B.C. Housing Management Commission is under this particular vote. Within the mandate of the B.C. Housing Management Commission is the Glenshiel Hotel in Victoria. I wish to ask the minister if there are sufficient funds made available in this vote for the full restoration of the Glenshiel Hotel?
HON. MR. CHABOT: The answer is no.
MR. HANSON: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to bring to the attention of the minister that there are 40 vacant suites there occupied by senior citizens who would like very much to live in comfortable accommodation with paint and drywall on the walls. Would you be a decent landlord and make the appropriate funds available?
HON. MR. CHABOT: We'll take it under consideration. Funds would come from the Crown Land Fund.
Vote 151 approved.
On vote 152: parks and outdoor recreation, $26,452,233.
HON. MR. GARDOM: Mr. Chairman, I move the committee rise, report great resolutions and ask leave to sit again.
MR. LAUK: Mr. Chairman, under standing orders I move that the member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) be now heard.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We already have a motion before the committee which must be dealt with in precedence. The motion is that the committee rise, report resolutions and ask leave to sit again.
The House resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.
MR. HANSON: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to table documents I used in committee that came from the ministry's own newsletter. The minister doesn't have a subscription, apparently.
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MR. SPEAKER: Hon. member, would you please allow us to resolve the matters regarding the report from committee, and I'll be right back to you.
The committee, having reported resolutions, was granted leave to sit again.
Divisions in committee ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
MR. SPEAKER: Shall leave be granted for the tabling of the documents?
Mr. Hanson tabled documents.
HON. MR. VANDER ZALM: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to withdraw notice of amendment to Bill 20 standing under my name on the order paper. I have a substitute amendment which has been tabled.
Leave not granted.
Hon. Mr. Gardom moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 6 p.m.
54 Mr. Passarell asked the Hon. the Minister of Environment the following questions:
1. How much was spent by the Ministry of Environment on hiring and staffing helicopters to shoot wolves in British Columbia in 1978-79 and 1979-80?
2. How many wolves were killed in each of these fiscal years?
3. In view of the cost does the Ministry consider the program a success?
4. Does the Ministry now consider compound 1080 a humane method of controlling wolf numbers?
The Hon. C.S. Rogers replied as follows:
" 1. Allocated, $128,260 (1978-79) and $85,000 (1979-80) ; spent, $63,485 (1978-79) (includes pilot) and $64,436.95 (1979-80) (includes pilot); Ministry staff time, approximately 300 man-hours (1978-79) (included in regular wages) and approximately 250 man-hours (1979-80) (included in regular wages).
"2. Helicopter shooting, 38 (1978-79) and 58 (1979-80); shooting on ground, 6 (1978-79) and 12 (1979-80); poison baits, 116 (1978-79) (prior to moratorium, December 1978); totals, 150 (1978-79) and 60 (1979-80).
"3. No. It was primarily an interim measure to prevent excessive livestock losses in the absence of more effective control methods. Helicopter shooting was effective only on a local basis where the prompt reporting of wolf attacks on livestock, favourable snow, weather, cover and other conditions permitted the quick removal of animals involved in the attack. The method is not practical throughout most of the Province because of unfavourable local conditions and during the summer season when most wolf related stock losses occur.
"4. Based on medical evidence and the testimony of people accidentally poisoned by 1080 in other countries, it can be concluded that the animals affected experience a very low level of physical and behavioral stress. Visible symptoms of an initially excited behaviour cannot be related to pains. 1080 baits are applied only in reactive control to remove individual problem wolves or packs, and are not used for controlling population levels of wolves in livestock management areas.
"Ministry contact: Dr. Frank S. Tompa, Carnivore Management. Phone: 387-5921."