1982 Legislative Session: 4th Session, 32nd Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
TUESDAY, JULY 6, 1982
[ Page 8589 ]
Fire Services Amendment Act –– 1982 (Bill 63). Hon. Mr. Williams
Introduction and first reading –– 8589
Emergency budget. Mr. Leggatt –– 8589
Timber plant layoffs. Mr. Nicolson –– 8589
Wood-processing plant shutdown. Ms. Brown –– 8590
Closing of Fraser Mills. Mr. Levi –– 8591
Relocation expenses of Douglas Heal. Hon. Mr. Wolfe replies –– 8592
Urban Transit Authority of British Columbia financial statements, March 31, 1982.
Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm –– 8592
Employment Development Act (Bill 26). Second reading. (Hon. Mr. Curtis)
Hon. Mr. Curtis (closes debate) –– 8593
Division –– 8593
Committee of Supply: Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing estimates.
(Hon. Mr. Chabot)
On vote 60: minister's office –– 8593
Hon. Mr. Chabot
British Columbia Place annual report.
Hon. Mr. Rogers –– 8612
Appendix –– 8612
TUESDAY, JULY 6, 1982
The House met at 2 p.m.
MR. STRACHAN: Mr. Speaker, one of the outstanding resource companies in our province is, of course, the British Columbia Resources Investment Corporation. [Laughter.] It's currently creating 500 jobs in the Elk valley. With us in the House today are representatives of their board of directors. I'd like the House to welcome Mr. Gary Duke, Mr. John Montgomery and Mr. Walter Riva.
MR. BARBER: As critic for the official opposition in regard to BCRIC, I would also like to welcome the representatives of this corporation and ask that they not take our laughter personally.
HON. MR. PHILLIPS: Mr. Speaker, as you know, I don't often have the opportunity to introduce representatives from the great and growing South Peace River constituency, one of the great and growing resource areas of this province. With us in the gallery today are His Worship Mayor Bob Trail of the city of Dawson Creek, Mr. Jim Inkster, chairman of the economic development commission of the Peace River–Laird Regional District and Mr. Phil Sykes, president of the Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce. I hope the House will make them welcome.
MR. LEA: I'd like to introduce to the House an endangered species — a working IWA member and his family: my brother Don, his wife Elaine, my nephew D’Arcy and my niece Stacy, visiting us from Grand Forks.
MR. NICOLSON: I'd like the House to join me in giving a welcome to my mother, who is visiting with us today, Mrs. Rose Spotten, and also my sister, Karen Haima.
MR. SEGARTY: I would like to join with my caucus colleagues in welcoming British Columbia Resources Investment Corporation personnel to the House today, and extend them the very best wishes in opening up their new mine that will create 500 jobs immediately in the Elk valley.
Introduction of Bills
FIRE SERVICES AMENDMENT ACT, 1982
Hon. Mr. Williams presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled Fire Services Amendment Act, 1982.
Bill 63 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. LEGGATT: My question is directed to the Minister of Finance. The latest figures show that the number of people on UIC in British Columbia has increased over last year by 171,000. That's more than the total number on UIC a year ago. This gives B.C. the worst unemployment record west of Quebec, and places nearly one in five workers in this province on unemployment insurance. It's our only growth industry. Given this clear indication that the province is in a long-term recession and is dropping into a depression, has the Minister of Finance decided to bring in an emergency budget, a job-creating budget, to put people to work in B.C.?
HON. MR. CURTIS: I don't know if the Hon. member who asks the question was in the House this morning, but we commenced debate on a bill. I won't allude to the bill, except to say that it is one of a number designed....
HON. MR. CURTIS: We have laughter again from the official opposition, from the socialists. A number of pieces of legislation, some of which have been given royal assent, are directed toward job creation and job stimulation in British Columbia. While the unemployed situation must be of concern to everyone in this province — and I in no way ignore or belittle that situation — the fact is that we have more people employed in British Columbia today than at any time in the past.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, since it was an all-encompassing question with respect to a subsequent budget in this fiscal year — and that directs itself to future government policy — I submit that the blame is to be found on that side of the House. We would not be in the difficulties that we are in in Canada today if we had not had an NDP-Liberal coalition in Ottawa.
MR. LEGGATT: My question is again directed to the Minister of Finance. Given the figure which I've just given him of an increase over last year of 171,000 people, how many jobs is this employment standards act that he's so proud of going to create for those 171,000 people on UIC? Give us the number.
HON. MR. CURTIS: You don't even have the name of the bill right.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Questions regarding legislation are out of order.
TIMBER PLANT LAYOFFS
MR. NICOLSON: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Forests. Last week Crestbrook Forest Industries informed BCRIC that they were withdrawing their bid to purchase the B.C. Timber operation in Nelson. The remaining 190 hourly paid employees were immediately given indefinite layoff notices, which brought the total number of layoffs in the plants alone to 390. As there are now an additional 1,500 people claiming unemployment insurance in the Nelson area — up 120 percent over the same period last year — has the minister decided to discuss a rescue plan for the plant operations in Nelson in his expected meeting today with BCRIC management and Mr. Montgomery?
HON. MR. WATERLAND: I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if I could ask the member to tell me what he means by a rescue plan.
[ Page 8590 ]
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Hon. members, the place for debate on this issue perhaps will arise, but question period is not the place.
MR. NICOLSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm asking the minister if he is examining with the officials of BCRIC any one of a number of options that might be open. What is the assessment of the impediments to reopening the plywood plant and the reason for the shutdown of the sawmill which immediately followed the break-off of negotiations? I'm asking the minister if there are any plans to build roads in the area, using some of the local contractors that have been put out of work by the shutdown of logging in the area. I don't want to rehash things that might have been brought up best....
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, hon. members. The scope of the question is so general as to take up too much time in question period.
MR. NICOLSON: Well, I'm just trying to answer the minister, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The question is beyond the scope of question period. Perhaps under proper legislation it would be in order.
WOOD-PROCESSING PLANT SHUTDOWN
MS. BROWN: My question is to the same minister: it was announced last week that Koppers' wood processing plant in South Burnaby is to be permanently shut down, resulting in the loss of something in the neighbourhood of 60 additional jobs in Burnaby. The plant was recently purchased by Domtar. My question to the minister is: has he decided to meet with Domtar to discuss ways in which this plant can be kept open?
HON. MR. WATERLAND: No, Mr. Speaker.
MS. BROWN: Supplemental. Mr. Speaker. Given the fact that the Burnaby area had an additional 2,221 people claim unemployment insurance this year, which represents a 181.9 percent increase over the same period last year — in fact, it is more than all of the claimants for last year — my second question to the minister is: has he decided to do anything whatsoever to ensure that this plant is not closed down?
HON. MR. WATERLAND: I am not aware of Koppers' wood plant specifically. I would think that they are probably not a licensee under the Forest Act. The member asks what the government is doing about employment in Burnaby and the greater Vancouver area. I wonder if she has heard about B.C. Place, where there are thousands of people today working on jobs who would otherwise not be working — jobs which the members opposite are against, because they have always been critical of the government's decision to proceed with B.C. Place. I wonder if the member has heard of the ALRT program, which is creating thousands of jobs for people in the Burnaby and lower mainland area?
MR. SPEAKER: May we have order, please?
HON. MR. WATERLAND: I wonder if she has heard of Pier B-C and the thousands of jobs to be created there.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The minister has now gone beyond the scope of the question. Hon. members, when the question says, "Has anything been done?" the question is so broad as really to be out of order. The question having been allowed, then certainly that which falls under the category of anything that has been done must be in order.
On a point of order, the Leader of the Opposition.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, in defining the scope of a question, the answer must be relevant to the scope of the question. When specific plant answers are requested for, is the question not to be confined to that specific plant, under your instructions?
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, hon. members. The member knows the rules.
On a point of order, the Leader of the Opposition.
MR. BARRETT: My point of order is a clarification of your ruling on question period, which certainly means more than just "the member knows the rules." If your assumption was correct, I would not be on my feet. I'm asking for clarification on the question that is exactly specific to a plant in Burnaby, not to any other place. I believe that if the minister were to follow your directions, as you advise me to do with presumption, then I would suggest he confine his answer to that specific question.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, hon. members. Not too many days ago, the Chair gave a very comprehensive analysis of question period. I would recommend to all hon. members a review of that statement, which addresses not only this but many other questions regarding question period.
On a point of order, the Leader of the Opposition.
MR. BARRETT: I am still seeking an answer regarding the definition of an answer of a question by a minister related to the detailed statement you gave to this House. It is my recollection that the answer must be specific to the question as you define, through interjections during the question, that the question must be specific.
MR. SPEAKER: The question, as I recall it, asked: "Has anything been done?" Hon. members, you have placed in the hands of the Speaker the complete responsibility to determine whether or not a question is in order and whether or not an answer is beyond the scope of the question. It is apparent to the Chair that the question should not have been allowed, and I apologize to the House.
On a point of order, the member for Skeena.
MR. HOWARD: What you've said is quite correct, Mr. Speaker: the House has placed in your hands the administration of the rules with respect to questions asked. All the House asks of you is that you do it fairly.
[Mr. Speaker rose.]
MR. SPEAKER: The member has taken the opportunity, under the guise of a point of order, to cast reflection upon the impartiality of the Chair. I would ask the member to withdraw that allegation.
[Mr. Speaker resumed his seat.]
[ Page 8591 ]
MR. HOWARD: Mr. Speaker, if you have come to that conclusion about my casting impartiality on the Chair...
MR. SPEAKER: I ask the member to withdraw.
MR. HOWARD: ...then Your Honour is in error in the assumption that you made.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the hon. member to withdraw any reference to impartiality on the part of the Chair.
MR. KING: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We're dealing with a point of order. I am dealing with the member for Skeena. The member for Skeena will withdraw.
MR. KING: Well, Mr. Speaker, you usually allow a point of order
MR. SPEAKER: Would the member for Shuswap-Revelstoke take his seat.
I now order the member for Skeena to withdraw any charge of impartiality against the Chair.
MR. HOWARD: Mr. Speaker, none were made. But pursuant to what you classify as an order, yes, I will obey it. We're only dealing with unemployed workers.
MR. SPEAKER: That is all we require. Thank you, hon. member.
MS. BROWN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Just to clarify, because the question is in writing, my question was: has the minister decided to do anything to ensure that this plant, meaning the Koppers' wood-processing plant in Burnaby, is not closed?
CLOSING OF FRASER MILLS
MR. LEVI: I have a question for the Minister of Forests. If he listens well, we won't get into a wrangle.
This year unemployment insurance claimants in the Coquitlam region have increased by 3,363 over last year to a total of 5,538 — up 154 percent. One of the largest mills in the province, Fraser Mills, has now completely shut down. Can the minister advise the House whether he has interceded with the management of Crown Zellerbach or received some assurance that Fraser Mills will reopen this summer?
HON. MR. WATERLAND: I assume the members opposite understand that some very difficult market situations now exist in the market areas in which our forest products manufacturing companies sell their products. There are a large number of market shutdowns currently in place in British Columbia; and this is unfortunate. Certainly the member would not expect us to buy the plant, as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, and keep manufacturing lumber which cannot be sold. No, we do not intend to do that. Yes, I have discussed with the management of the company what their plans are. They advise me that as soon as market conditions permit, they will reopen their plant and carry on with the manufacturing process.
AN HON. MEMBER: It's a do-nothing government.
HON. MR. WATERLAND: This government is doing a great deal to create employment in British Columbia, but strangely enough, everything we do in this province is objected to by the opposition, who yet claim that they are for the working people and the creation of jobs in British Columbia.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The answer certainly went beyond the scope of the question.
MR. LEA: Mr. Speaker, my point of order concerns the rules surrounding question period and answers in question period. The other day in this House you read to us the rules that you as Speaker are required to follow because they're the rules set down by the Legislature itself.
Unless both the opposition and the government feel that they're being dealt with fairly, we will get chaos in this Legislature. Increasingly I feel that we are not being dealt with fairly. When one of our questioners even attempts to put any preamble in, the government starts yelling: "Question, question." In other words, get to the question. and at that time you interrupt our questioner, telling him to get on with the question and to keep within its scope. Over an over again we notice that after the government has answered, going far beyond the scope of what the answer should be, you then chastise them by saying: "Remember, you must keep to the scope of the question in your answer." But it's after they've had their say.
That does not appear to be fair to the opposition. Mr. Speaker, for the sake of this Legislature, it has to appear to be fair, as I said, or it breaks down into chaos. We're concerned. Mr. Speaker, I know you're concerned. So I'm drawing it to your attention that we feel that way, and that democracy cannot afford the opposition to feel that way.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'm calling to order the Leader of the Opposition, who from his chair further suggested that partiality on the part of the Chair was not a feeling but a fact. I must ask the hon. Leader of the Opposition to withdraw.
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, it is my opinion that the Chair has not been fair in question period.
[Mr. Speaker rose.]
MR. SPEAKER: A charge of impartiality against the Chair is out of order. I ask the hon. Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the charge.
[Mr. Speaker resumed his seat.]
MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I did not make a charge. I withdraw — but I don't withdraw my opinion. I have an opinion.
[ Page 8592 ]
MR. LEGGATT: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I noted from the clock that.... The answer to the question from the member for Burnaby went beyond the scope of that question, and it resulted in points of order on both sides of the House. That time was therefore deleted from question period. In view of the fact that it was the minister who violated your question period rules, and therefore inspired an exchange on points of order, it would seem only fair that leave be granted that question period be extended in order that we have a full and reasonable question period, since it was in fact an answer beyond the scope of the question which used up the time.
MR. SPEAKER: Addressing the question of order that has been raised, before I accept any further point of order, the practice of the House has been....
MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, this was on that point.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'll answer this point of order first.
On the member's point of order, the practice in this House has been that whenever the Speaker initiates a matter of order which consumes appreciable time, the Speaker then asks for that time to be restored to question period. However, when those points of order are initiated by either side of the House, then that time is not restored to question period, because it is an expression of the House itself that it wishes to utilize its time in that way. I recommend that we follow that procedure.
MR. COCKE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I can't agree with you less.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.
MR. COCKE: Mr. Speaker, I hope you'll make a ruling on this after giving it some thought. All the government has to do is inspire points of order from the opposition and they can wreck every question period. We lost seven minutes of this question period.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, hon. members. Let's hear this.
MR. COCKE: They were very embarrassed because we were talking about the economy, and Mr. Speaker, they inspired the points of order. I suggest that if that's the case, we need new rules around question period.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. In response to the point of order raised by the hon. member, the decision released in the House a few days ago recommended that points of order which occur in question period.... By the way, the decision suggested that it could hardly be conceived as to how a point of order could arise in question period. Nonetheless, if in question period a point of order did arise, the suggestion was that the raising of the matter should be deferred until after question period.
MS. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, just to jog your memory very gently, the whole proceedings began because the Speaker quite inadvertently thought that my question had to do with "can anything be done about anything?" Through no fault of the Speaker — simply a matter of maybe a slight loss of hearing or whatever.... The question was specifically pertaining to the zeroing in on the one particular plant in Burnaby, and the Speaker made the decision that the minister was correct.
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. This is not a point of order, hon. member
MS. BROWN: Oh, Mr. Speaker, on the point of order raised by my colleague....
MR. SPEAKER: Hon. member, this is not a point of order. The member is now debating and clarifying those matters which have already been concluded.
HON. MR. WOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to answer a question taken on notice.
RELOCATION EXPENSES OF DOUGLAS HEAL
HON. MR. WOLFE: Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday the member for Burnaby North (Mrs. Dailly) asked a couple of questions concerning the payment of moving expenses to Mr. Doug Heal, deputy minister of information programs. The answers to the questions are as follows. The sum of $13,100 was paid to Mr. Heal in March 1981, allowing him to move from Toronto to take up his position in Victoria. This amount was paid after Mr. Heal provided justifiable estimates in accordance with the comptroller-general's instruction number 27-80 relating to relocation expenses for new employees, section 6-16.
The request for relocation assistance was authorized by the Public Service Commission in the usual manner and in accordance with the Public Service Commission's authority under section 6-31 of the comptroller-general's instruction.
The member has intimated, Mr. Speaker, that there was no policy involved in paying such expenses. As a matter of fact, just the reverse is true. It is very clear that guidelines and policy do exist.
I can also assure the member that in the specific case of Mr. Heal's relocation expenses, full documentation was supplied to the comptroller covering the detailed costs involved.
Hon. Mr. Vander Zalm tabled the financial statements of the Urban Transit Authority of British Columbia for the year ended March 31, 1982.
MRS. DAILLY: With your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister if he could table the estimates that allude to Mr. Heal's expenses. He called them estimates; we hope they're vouchers.
MR. NICOLSON: I think the request is as a point of order. When a minister refers to documents and quotes figures, it is then his duty to table the documents in the House.
[ Page 8593 ]
MR. SPEAKER: I believe the member is quite aware of the rules concerning tabling.
MR. BARRETT: On a point of order, knowing the rules of tabling, can the Speaker inform the House how this rule applies to the minister's having quoted from a document without tabling the document?
MR. SPEAKER: If the document is quoted directly in the House, tabling is required. That tabling is at the discretion of the minister. He accepts his responsibility as an honourable member of this House. Therefore, as all the members know, the Chair cannot decide from this vantage point whether or not the document was quoted from.
MR. BARRETT: The point is that this issue was raised earlier in this session and you ruled that if the document was quoted from, the document is to be tabled. The minister quoted a figure from the document in part of his answer and is obliged by the rules — and at least by accountability to the public of British Columbia who paid this bill — to table the expense listing in this House.
MR. SPEAKER: We will accept a statement from the minister as to whether the document was quoted from, or whether it was referred to.
HON. MR. WOLFE: I was not quoting from the document.
MR. LEA: On a point of order, I have to back up the minister. He was not quoting from the document. I've seen the vouchers and there is no documentation.
MR. SPEAKER: That's not a point of order.
Orders of the Day
HON. MR. GARDOM: Adjourned debate on second reading of Bill 26.
EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT ACT
HON. MR. CURTIS: I made a number of remarks at the outset this morning, and then my colleague, the Minister of Human Resources (Mrs. McCarthy) spoke at length with respect to the thrusts contained in Bill 26. I think most of the points were pretty well covered.
There is one point I would like to make in closing. Among the many points made by the hon. member for Comox (Ms. Sanford), I want to correct an impression that she left with the House. It was an opinion that she expressed. I accept it as an opinion, but it is an incorrect opinion. In reference to the so-called tax-free bonds, the statute for which was given royal assent some time ago, the member's inference — and I paraphrase her remarks, since I don't have Hansard from this morning readily available — was that the government of British Columbia did not seek federal approval for that initiative. I wouldn't want this House to be left with that impression. That is not correct. We certainly, much earlier on, indicated that we were anxious to proceed with this. Contrary to a claim made by another NDP member in another House, Mr. Nelson Riis, very early contact was made with Ottawa. This is about the first opportunity that I have had to correct his statement as well — suggesting that while we've been speaking about it here, we had not officially contacted Ottawa. I feel it is important that I assure the member for Comox — and I assure this House also, and the people of B.C. — that with respect to the other side of this initiative, we sought, hoped for, and notwithstanding the negative comments which have come from Ottawa, we still hope for federal approval of that initiative which was taken by the government of British Columbia.
There will be other points, Mr. Speaker, which can of course be raised in committee. I therefore move second reading of Bill 26.
Motion approved unanimously on a division.
Division ordered to be recorded in the Journals of the House.
Bill 26, Employment Development Act, read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole House for consideration at the next sitting of the House after today.
The House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Davidson in the chair.
ESTIMATES: MINISTRY OF
LANDS, PARKS AND HOUSING
On vote 60: minister's office, $187,000.
HON. MR. CHABOT: It's always a pleasure for me to stand in my place and answer for the activities of the minister, officials and other people of the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing during the previous fiscal year, as well as to identify some of the programs and initiatives that are being pursued by this little ministry of government on behalf of the people of this province.
Mr. Chairman, these estimates reflect very careful scrutiny of all the ministry's spending to ensure maximum effect for every tax dollar we spend. They also reflect the period of restraint which the government has imposed in view of the state of the provincial, national and international economies. Within these constraints, the estimates have addressed the issues and problems which confront the citizens of the province, and the need to press on with programs to help resolve these problems.
Affordable housing remains a prime concern of British Columbians in practically all walks of life. While all provincial governments attempt to deal with the situation, the high-interest-rate monetary policies of the federal government continue to plague the marketplace. These monetary policies make it more expensive for the builder to build and more difficult for the potential buyer to buy. In the face of these difficulties, the need for continued growth in the housing stock of British Columbia remains high, as our relatively strong economy and our amenities will, over the long term, continue to attract other Canadians.
Despite the gloom and doom we'read, there are some encouraging signs in the housing market. There was a record high of production housing units in British Columbia in 1981 — 41,585 units in all — which is the highest ever. At no other time has it been that high in production — and all produced
[ Page 8594 ]
by the private sector. Housing prices have dropped dramatically from their peak a year ago. The average home price in Vancouver dropped from $181,000 to $127,000, a reduction of 30 percent. The federal grants for new homes and first home buyers are welcome. They follow a precedent established by British Columbia. They should be made permanent to provide some degree of stability to the people and the industry in this province. Newly constructed townhouses are available for sale at prices as low as $54,900 in the Fraser Valley at this time. British Columbians remain the best-housed people in the world, with 63 percent being homeowners, 40 percent of whom are free of mortgage debt. There are signs in the rental market that vacancy rates are edging their way upwards, providing renters with a wider choice of housing.
All of these factors taken together provide an indication that the affordability problem has diminished. Indeed, for first-home buyers now is the time to buy in some instances. They also bear out the conviction of this government that the housing industry responds to the needs of society, and can do so faster and cheaper than pouring public funds into questionable housing projects.
I'm convinced that individual initiative provides the solutions to housing problems. The government's role is to foster a climate in which that initiative can thrive. By doing so we can ensure that there will be an adequate supply and variety of housing options to suit the public's needs and choices. This philosophy has served British Columbians well in the past, and I'm sure will serve British Columbians well into the future. Sixty-three percent of households in the province are housed in single-family dwellings. Forty percent of homeowners have no mortgage. This philosophy has ensured that British Columbians are among the best-housed people, not only in any province of this country but in the world. It is the goal of this government to maximize opportunities for home ownership, as well as ensuring that there is sufficient rental housing available. I know that interest rates are a serious problem to those who must renew mortgages. The federal Canada mortgage renewal plan provides some relief here. This is an area appropriate to the federal level, as the cause lies in the excessive federal deficit that we're all forced to finance.
Of special concern to the government is meeting the needs of those with special housing requirements, such as seniors and the disabled. I'm happy to be able to report that last year, in the International Year of the Disabled, the province was able to provide 200 housing units for the disabled.
MS. BROWN: Shame!
HON. MR. CHABOT: The member for Burnaby-Edmonds says: "Shame!" I want her to know that that's four times the number of units produced in any single year in the history of this province, including those years in which the socialists were government. So shame on the socialists who were government here from 1972 to 1975 and never produced more than 40 to 50 housing units for the disabled in this province. We produced between four and five times more housing units annually than did the socialists in those terrible years between 1972 and 1975.
Our housing programs reflect these goals, and many British Columbians have been able to benefit from these programs we've initiated. Last year 11,000 people received the first-home grant to help them buy their first home. Almost 1,400 home-buyers last year took advantage of the B.C. second mortgage to move into home ownership. We doubled the mortgage just last November to $10,000 at a preferred rate of interest. There has been a sharp increase in applications. I expect this mortgage to play a significant part in home-purchase activity during the coming fiscal year.
The increase in rental conversion loans to $25,000 per unit is bringing increased demand for this program, which will result in increasing the rental housing stock at a modest cost. When the NDP were government during those terrible years between 1972 and 1975, they did absolutely nothing to encourage the conversion of commercial and industrial property to affordable rental accommodation in this province. I'm sure that renters will, in turn, benefit from the modestly priced conversion units. To provide more impetus for the use of this program, new guidelines are being developed to provide acceptable standards for converting commercial and industrial buildings into rental units.
My ministry has approved a record number of senior citizens' housing projects. To date, 17,450 units in 390 projects have been completed and are occupied by senior citizens. Another 1,469 units in 38 projects across the province are underway at this very time. The goal of the government is to ensure that there is a three- to five-year supply of serviced land available for housing in each community throughout the province. Making suitable Crown land available for residential development and assisting local government to develop and service land is an essential part of achieving that goal.
Under the residential land development program, for instance, 11 agreements with municipalities for land and funding were approved in 1981-82 to a total value of $18 million. These developments are expected to yield 586 lots, 26 of them for multi-family projects. Similarly, the rural residential development program and the land-servicing program are aimed at developing land for residential purposes.
A new initiative to ease the transition into home ownership was announced with the lease-to-purchase program. A first-home buyer now has the option to lease a serviced lot, with an option to buy it after the home has been built and occupied for one year. By first leasing the land, the buyer only needs financing to build the home. Nearly 3,000 lots will be available during 1982 under the lease-to-purchase program. This represents one in six of all single-family lots supplied annually.
Mobile homes, with the protection afforded by the ministry's mobile-home registry, have become over the past few years an affordable and popular alternative to conventional housing. Through the accelerated mobile home development program, my ministry, in conjunction with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, has offered funds at preferred interest rates to local governments to develop mobile-home lots. So far, three agreements have been approved, totalling $3.1 million, which will provide an additional 154 sites. An additional four agreements, for a total of 670 lots, are being processed. Six other communities are considering mobile home lot development.
I'm pleased to see the great interest taken by members of the opposition in what's happening regarding housing in this province. Out of a total of 26 on that side of the House, there are two vacant stares from two members across the way. Only two of 26 members are sufficiently interested to be in this House to hear the speech associated with housing. They mouth a lot of platitudes about housing, but when it comes
[ Page 8595 ]
time to understand the programs in order to inform the people of British Columbia and help them to have more affordable housing, to occupy rental accommodation and have their own homes, they're somewhere else. It's coffee time in British Columbia; it's coffee time for the opposition. It's 3:10 in Victoria, and most members of the opposition are out having a cup of coffee. That's more important than being in this House, fulfilling the role for which they're well paid. Those people are paid $42,000 a year to sit here and debate the issues of concern to the people of British Columbia, but 24 of them are down in the coffee shop right now. The people of this province have a right to know that only two members of the opposition are in the House at this time, when we're discussing such a critical issue as housing.
Residential use of Crown land is only one part of the broad issue of Crown land use in the province. My ministry has been spearheading the development of a framework for coordinating land-use planning. Reconciling the variety of demands on a fixed land base will continue to be the major issue of the eighties for the lands division of my ministry. Social benefits will need to be weighed against economic benefits, and both must be balanced in consideration of the environment. Care must be taken not to overcommit our land resources. We are responding to the questions of the development of strategic land-use plans aimed at coordinating resource planning.
Where specific land uses are the subject of differing views, decisions have been deferred until complete plans have been reviewed and adopted. Planning for 35 of the deferred areas was started last year and is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. A Crown land plan for the Prince George area has already been adopted by cabinet, resolving land-use problems that have plagued the area for over 15 years. The Clinton Crown land plan is almost ready for adoption.
When completed, these plans will provide a strong basis for planned disposition of Crown land in all areas of the province. This process will make the acquisition of Crown land by individuals more efficient and less frustrating, than the previous application process. A major review of the pricing policy of Crown land is currently being conducted by the lands division, which will consolidate the accumulated revisions of previous policy.
Land-use issues also have a major impact on our parks systems. Use of the parks is increasing. With more than 16 million visits last year and more than 17 million expected in the coming year, there is pressure to create more parks. But other demands on the same land often create conflict. Should the land be used for the recreational benefit of all British Columbians, should it contribute to the economic welfare of the province, or can it do both? Such choices are always difficult and will continue to confront us.
It is in this spirit of stewardship that my ministry created 17 new parks and one recreation area last year, covering an area of 34,200 hectares. That's a substantial jump from 1980, when only five parks and two recreation areas were created on 1,500 hectares. Negotiations are continuing on final purchases of land for the long-awaited Pacific Rim National Park. Work continues on the historical redevelopment of Barkerville in the central interior. When complete, Barkerville will be a showpiece of our park system and a fitting memorial to the history of British Columbia. In the coming year the parks division will undertake a maintenance program to improve roads and upgrade the physical plant in 25 separate projects at a cost of $2.3 million. An additional $650,000 will fund new facilities.
The foregoing outlines the major concerns and initiatives of the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing. I believe our budget strikes a proper balance between the need for restraint in government spending and the need for continued planning and assistance programs, particularly in the area of housing. More than a third of the ministry's vote goes directly into grants and subsidies. Added to that are, of course, grants funded by the Provincial Home Acquisition Fund and funding for land development through the Crown Land Fund. These two funds contribute more than $140 million toward government assistance to housing.
Mr. Chairman, with these few words I look forward to a very enlightened debate on the administrative responsibilities I have in government by members of the opposition, who now seem to be streaming back into the House. We now have four out of 26, instead of the two who were here to listen to my speech associated with my administrative responsibilities.
MR. HANSON: Mr. Chairman. It was interesting to listen to the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing devote most of his time to the question of housing, in which his ministry plays the most passive of roles.
Just by way of background, a few years ago there was a reorganization in the government and they created a ministry of leftovers, which is Lands, Parks and Housing. Not that lands is not an important arm; in fact, it's the most crucial of areas. But the Social Credit government, because they believe that the people of the province of British Columbia should be subjected in their housing needs to the vagaries of the marketplace, sold off the housing corporation that the NDP government had acquired. They didn't believe that the government had a role — and there are many speeches in this House on that question. So here the minister stands today and spends most of his time in the introduction of his estimates talking about housing, attempting to take some credit for the fact that there is housing being developed that no one else can afford because of high costs and high interest rates and so on. In just a passing reference he said: "Oh, by the way, I'm also responsible, in cooperation with my colleague the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland), for the administration of the Crown lands of this province." Ninety-five percent of the entire province is Crown land, and this is the area where this minister has been the most unmitigated failure.
When I stood here roughly a year ago to debate the estimates of the minister, at that time he'd mobilized the most incredible coalition of people against him — incredible bedfellows. He had mad at him the Federation of British Columbia Naturalists, the British Columbia Wildlife Federation, the Canadian Institute of Forestry, the Canadian Paperworkers Union, the Cariboo Lumber Manufacturers Association, the Council of Forest Industries of British Columbia, the Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association, the IWA, the Northern Interior Lumber Sector, the Pulp, Paper and Wood Workers of Canada and the Truck Loggers Association. They were angry with him because he had planned to sell off vast tracts of the Crown land of this province for the purpose of ranchettes and small estates for extremely wealthy individuals in the interior of the province. After this coalition mobilized their forces, he backed off and they moved into a much more reasonable process, which is still taking place, to sell core lands to ranchers in the interior.
[ Page 8596 ]
Those organizations whose names I read indicated how they feel Crown land should be managed for the people of the province. They referred to the Forest Act plan for the use of the forest and range resources of the Crown. The production of timber and forage, the harvesting of timber, the grazing of livestock, the realization of fisheries, wildlife, water, outdoor recreation and other natural resource values are coordinated and integrated in consultation and cooperation with other ministries and agencies of the Crown and the private sector. It's a total failure.
I want to indicate to you a couple of specific examples. The minister mentioned the sale of Crown land for agricultural purposes in Prince George. This was a plan that took about two years to develop, whereby a certain area of Prince George north of the Cottonwood River was assigned for agricultural purposes. This land had timber on it. A series of auctions were planned and scheduled and this particular area — 65,000 hectares of land — was set aside for agricultural purposes. There's very little agricultural land available in that area. All of the coordinated planning indicated that these 65,000 hectares should be set aside for agriculture.
In his brilliance, this minister sets up an auction procedure whereby the legitimate ranching and cattlemen's community....
HON. MR. CHABOT: You're a one-issue member.
MR. HANSON: I've got a stack here, Mr. Minister. He thinks it's only one issue, but his mismanagement flows through all the issues. You'll be able to see the imprint of the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing on all of these dogs' breakfasts, whether they're in Prince George, Athalmer, the Kamloops area or wherever.
The objective of this plan in Prince George was to bring this land in a planned way over to agricultural production. They set up the auction procedure so the logging companies and operators couldn't resist the cheap timber on the land. If they had to go on the market to try to acquire timberland, the market for timber would be about $8 to $9 a cubic metre of wood. There was so much timber on this land that the people who came to the first auction paid $124,000 for a parcel of land that had $300,000 worth of timber on it. They could scalp the timber off it and walk away from the land. Can you imagine! The minister thinks this is funny. I think it's a travesty.
I indicated earlier that last year an incredible coalition had mobilized against him, and finally they'd backed him into the wall and he had to change his policy. Here are some of the groups that oppose this agricultural Crown land disposal system that he's got going up in the Prince George area. The minister feels that all these people have no legitimate concerns: the Prince George Cattlemen's Association, the Cottonwood Grazing Association, the Giscome Livestock Association, the Cluculz Lake Livestock Association, the Punchaw Cattlemen's Association, the Fort Fraser Livestock Association, the Prince George Farmers Institute, and the Nechako Valley Regional Cattlemen's Association. These are people who have traditionally supported that party and are now opposed to the policies because they can see how bankrupt they are. There is no multi-use concept in that minister's mind with respect to Crown land whatsoever.
He says that I'm a single-issue critic. I'm single issue in the sense that I want Crown land planning in a coordinated way that allows a variety of options for the people of the province. That minister sees Crown land as real estate. He sees it as single-use and single-purpose, and that is it.
HON. MR. CHABOT: You're against the private ownership of land.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Tell the truth.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order, could you have the member for MacKenzie (Mr. Lockstead) withdraw the statement he just made. He suggested that I should tell the truth. I'll have an opportunity after my point of order to clarify what I'm stating about the NDP being against the private ownership of land, but at the moment I want him to withdraw the inference that I'm not telling the truth.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Unfortunately the Chair did not hear the specific remark by the member. However, the minister felt that the remark was made. If it was implying any improper motive, I would ask the member for Mackenzie to make a withdrawal in the parliamentary tradition.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: I only wish to correct a statement, Mr. Chairman. The minister keeps interjecting across this floor that this party is against the private ownership of land. Everybody in this province knows that's a bunch of hogwash, a bunch of garbage and totally untrue. I have nothing to withdraw. He's wrong. Why doesn't he tell the truth for a change? He's not used to it, that's why.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Hon. member, if a remark was made to which another hon. member takes offence, it would greatly assist if the member would withdraw that imputation towards another hon. member.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: If the minister's feelings have been hurt by telling the truth from this side of the House, I withdraw my remark.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, hon. member. On a point of order, the member for Shuswap-Revelstoke.
MR. KING: My point of order, Mr. Chairman, is that the minister called precisely the same remarks, "tell the truth," across the floor when my colleague the second member for Victoria (Mr. Hanson) was speaking. I distinctly heard the minister say "tell the truth." If the minister takes objection, he should set an example and withdraw as well.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. member, the point by the member for Shuswap-Revelstoke is certainly well made. Possibly at this time it would be most appropriate for the Chair to rule that the expression "tell the truth" is one that has the connotation of an improper motive. I say to all hon. members, in keeping with our parliamentary traditions before us, that one of the remarks that we consider unparliamentary could certainly be that particular remark. Inasmuch as the member for Shuswap-Revelstoke has raised the issue to the Chair, as did the minister, I would ask the minister if he would withdraw the remark as well.
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HON. MR. CHABOT: If I made that remark, I certainly withdraw it. If I made it today, I withdraw it; if I made it yesterday, I withdraw it, and if I made it last week, I withdraw it as well.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, hon. members. That should put that particular matter to rest.
MR. HANSON: I think we're going to see more of that minister interrupting, because he doesn't want us to launch any attack that will outline the glaring shortcomings of his administration. Over the last while when this issue has been raised, he tends to try to interrupt and interject. He's trying to get us away from doing our business on behalf of the public.
The issue is so clearly documented — the mismanagement and the maladministration in terms of Crown land. Getting back to that Prince George situation, any sensible minister would look at the timber values on that land and make a conceptual separation. The timber values should be auctioned separately, and the agricultural land should be dealt with in a separate auction for farmers who shouldn't have to compete with logging companies to get agricultural land. It's as simple as that. There are two ways you can do it. I think the Prince George cattlemen were very responsible when they said: "Look, all the money over and above the stumpage should be set in a trust fund and used for the development of the agricultural land." It would benefit the entire community. If that's too radical for you, have an auction for the timber and one for the agricultural land. That's not too far out, is it? Is that too bizarre? We want you to sit down with those people and come up with a decision to have two auctions — one for the timber and one for the agricultural land. That's the NDP's position on that issue.
[Mr. Strachan in the chair.]
I talked about that coalition that mobilized a year ago. Now there's another coalition. All of these livestock and ranching groups in the Prince George area, every fish and wildlife club in the province, the Outdoor Recreational Council, the B.C. Wildlife Federation, the IWA, the pulp and paper unions and everybody else are mad as a hatter at that minister. What has he done? He's touched another area. He said that we're going to start to modify the practice in the form of the grazing leases. He's saying that in the past the lessee had certain rights on the Crown grazing lands of the province, but there was confusion because the Wildlife Act granted to hunters and fishermen and other recreationists in the province the right to go on these vast tracts of land in the province. Now that's been clarified by the Land Act and the Trespass Act, and the provisions of the Wildlife Act no longer apply to Crown lands under lease. That's a major departure in practice. There may have been some legal technicality that was never enforced on the books way back when, but in terms of the actual practice and multiple-use of the Crown lands of this province, that is a major departure, and it rests entirely on the head of that minister.
Many people in this province still don't realize the implications of this change. The major ranches in the province of British Columbia have the use of Crown grazing land adjacent to their operations for forage at specified periods of the year. They have the lease for the entire year, but the actual use of that land is during a relatively limited period. In the past, the hunters, the fishermen, the birdwatchers, the photographers and the cross-country skiers who could act responsibly on that land could use it. What's happened is that this minister has entered into an agreement on a new lease form that gives the large ranches in the interior, with a clarified opinion from the Ministry of Attorney-General that the Wildlife Act has no provisions that grant them access.... If you live in Kamloops, in Merritt, in the Bulkley Valley, and there's a Crown grazing lease adjacent to the highway stretching up to the timbered lands, and the rancher chooses to post that land and say, "No access, goodbye, take your fishing rod and go away," he is perfectly entitled to do that. That is not the way we should be dealing with Crown lands in this province.
HON. MR. CHABOT: On a point of order, I think these are very important discussions we're having here, and there's no quorum in the House.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The point is well taken, I call for a quorum.
MR. HANSON: There's been considerable confusion about this issue because the minister has consistently said that there has been no change over the previous arrangement. In fact, there's a change in the practice. Let me read to you out of the new lease document. There's a management plan for these Crown grazing lands, and let me read to you what it says: "...to manage and use the Crown grazing leased land in a diligent manner in accordance with the principles of good husbandry and solely for the purposes of harvesting forage and grazing of livestock in compliance with the management plan." That is a single-purpose use of Crown land for the principles of good husbandry, of livestock and harvesting forage in the grazing of livestock.
What the B.C. Federation of Wildlife and the Outdoor Recreation Council are concerned about is that much of this land is critical winter habitat for elk, mule deer and sheep. It's used by other wildlife. It should be coordinated for the management of the wildlife resources on those lands, not just livestock. Livestock and wildlife can be compatible if they're properly managed. What we have is a single-purpose orientation of this minister with respect to the administration of Crown lands.
Another section of the document indicates that the lessor is under no obligation to provide access to the land or to maintain or improve existing access roads.
The Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing wrote letters to thousands of people concerned with this issue in the interior of this province. He indicated what the strict legal underpinnings of this lease arrangement are. He indicated that a lease in the legal sense grants the right of, and I quote from his letter: "...exclusive possession to the leaseholder for the specific period of time" — the specific period of time is 21 years with an evergreen clause of 10 years for renewal — "and any condition or provision in the lease document permitting unrestricted public access would interfere with this right, thus nullifying the validity of the lease. For similar reasons it is this ministry's position" — and this is extremely important — "that the Wildlife Act provisions of access cannot apply to Crown lands alienated by lease." Some 650,000 acres of Crown grazing land under lease is no longer accessible under the provisions of the Wildlife Act. That is totally unacceptable, Mr. Chairman.
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HON. MR. HEWITT: Why?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I'll ask the Minister of Agriculture and Food to please come to order.
MR. HANSON: The minister asks me why that situation is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to take public lands, Crown land, which can be used by a number of users in a responsible way under a coordinated management plan — people interested in wildlife attributes, esthetic attributes, recreational attributes.... You take 650,000 acres and grant sovereignty to one specific purpose: single use, growing cows.
AN HON. MEMBER: Can they go through the land?
HON. MR. HEWITT: Sure they can. You know they can.
MR. HANSON: You're not giving access to others. The interjections of the Minister of Agriculture are interesting, because he was a co-signer of the document granting this privilege.
We're in consultation with the ranching community, and we've indicated to them very clearly that we have no objection whatsoever to the 21-year lease, provided that proper stewardship is exercised over that land, as it is in almost all instances. We have no complaint whatsoever about their access to forage on that land for their purposes. We have no objection whatsoever to the longer tenure of the lease which allows them to go to the bank and raise money for their own purposes; we have no objection to that at all. We're also extremely sympathetic with their concerns with respect to the public who are uneducated in their responsibilities in using Crown grazing land, in closing fences, and people who leave litter or start fires irresponsibly or even damage the cattle themselves. We have no complaint there; we're totally sympathetic with those problems, and we feel that they can be dealt with adequately in consultation with the ranching community and with proper education of the public.
You don't administer the Crown lands of this province on a single-use basis; you do not establish policy with respect to those lands because some irresponsible person shoots a cow or leaves garbage on a Crown grazing lease. That's not the way you administer public lands. But the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing entered gleefully into this agreement because basically it is consistent with his notion of public lands; that is, they really should be held by one individual only. In other words, the private ownership of Crown land is the only way land should exist. He's opposed to the notion of Crown land; he has said it consistently in the past. So now we've got a lease agreement that says the 650,000 acres of Crown grazing lease will be for the sole purpose of growing grass and growing cows. We can grow grass and cows on those lands and we can also have access to the wildlife and other attributes. It can be done if you believe in coordinated management, but you don't.
So I say, Mr. Chairman, that this minister is an unmitigated disaster. He was an unmitigated disaster last year when he tried the wholesale sale of Crown lands in this province. This year he has come in with his Crown grazing lease program, which has mobilized all of the fish and wildlife clubs, all of the naturalist clubs, the B.C. Federation of Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation Council — all of these organizations. Many of the ranching organizations are also opposed to this. They feel that the public pressure will build to such a point on the edge of those Crown grazing leases that in the long run it will be detrimental to their point of view. Many ranchers have the perspective that you have gone so far overboard in granting that sovereignty that they will be the losers, because you people will be out of office — the minister will be drawing his pension on the railroad and relaxing in Athalmer. In the meantime, subsequent generations of this province are not going to be able to enjoy the public lands which the public has paid for.
The Minister of Agriculture, earlier, asked why we objected to it. The public pays for the maintenance of that land. The public pays for the conservation officers, the biologists, the fencing programs, winter feeding programs in conjunction with the federal government, etc. Tax dollars have gone into the maintenance of those lands for public purposes. But this government, because they don't believe in Crown land.... They only believe in real estate. Real estate is their only objective, to move that into private hands; this is just a transitional stage. It is a major departure in the way we administer our lands.
The letters come in from everywhere. The Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing, the Minister of Forests (Hon. Mr. Waterland), and the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Hewitt) sat down with the cattlemen's organization and said: "Okay, we see you have problems. We'll enter into this arrangement." They left the Minister of Environment (Hon. Mr. Rogers) out entirely. He now writes letters to constituents and people all over this province saying he will make representation to the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing to try to give them access so that they can put their hook in the water somewhere, or get access to places that they used to go to. It's an absolute disaster. They're trying to save face now, because it's a big issue in the Kamloops, Merritt, Yale and Lillooet areas.
Mr. Chairman, the recreational assets of the interior of this province are second to none. People live in Kamloops, Merritt, Tête Jaune and all these areas because they enjoy fishing; they enjoy hunting, walking and the privilege of easy access to the Crown lands of the province. Now when they walk along the highway, they can't get across it; it's posted. Many of the roads are bulldozed. The Douglas Lake ranch bulldozed many roads. Sometimes we have problems where there's a strip of private land where the access from the main arterial highway to the Crown grazing lease is actually on private land. So they can close off that private gate and they can't get into the Crown grazing land anyway, even if that road was excluded. I understand that's the situation in some of the areas around Kamloops. The minister shakes his head. It's true. I'm dealing with very informed sources indeed.
It's not good enough for the minister to write to people and say: "We will specifically exclude X trail. We can survey that out." That's not good enough. It's the notion that that is public land. We want to have a plan so that the public has access to it. That's not too far-fetched; in fact, when we form the government, we'll have an integrated, coordinated plan. We'll say to the fishing, hunting and other recreational groups in this province that their rights are going to be given back to them. We're going to sit down and listen in a very responsible way to the legitimate concerns of the ranching community, and what their problems are. We're going to sit down with the Fish and Wildlife people; we're going to work out what the solutions should be, and we're going to grant access — in a responsible way — to those people and give
[ Page 8599 ]
them the rights that they've had up until this minister took away the rights of the public to go on their own land.
My colleagues will be dealing with a few other specific aspects of foreshore leases in their own constituencies, but in a general way I'd like to say to the minister that in all the areas where you have attempted to deal with Crown land disposal with respect to the agricultural leases and so on, it's been an absolute disaster. The Prince George one is just the latest one. I gather you had to go up there last week.
HON. MR. CHABOT: No, I didn't have to go up there.
MR. HANSON: You went up anyway. Did you go up on a government jet?
HON. MR. CHABOT: The answer is no.
MR. HANSON: He creates a problem, he gets everybody agitated, massive coalitions of opposition form, and two years later he's back to square one and he's just caused everybody a whole lot of hassle. I'd like to say to the minister that he's perfectly entitled to consult with the opposition to avoid all this hassle and to do something responsible in the order of the Environment and Land Use Committee secretariat approach; some coordinated notion of resource use — not single-purpose, not a special deal in an office. Meanwhile, interministerial committees are meeting on core lands, the B.C. Federation of Wildlife has been told one story and the Outdoor Recreational Council another, and out of the blue you have a meeting in your office. You sit down and make a special little deal. It's a silly way to do business. There are many users.
The only agreement I have with the minister's introductory remarks is when he said: "The future problem in this province will be how to deal with the competition between users of that Crown land." You don't deal with it by having an office tea-party with one group and giving them the whole shebang.
HON. MR. CHABOT: A few questions were posed by the second member for Victoria (Mr. Hanson). I've heard his speech three times now on the question of grazing leases. I will respond, probably for the third time.
But I want to clarify one thing. He keeps talking about the fact that I'm opposed to the preservation of Crown land and that I'm hell-bent on selling off the Crown land of this province. I know the attitude of socialists. They're against the private ownership of land. That's why they want to preserve it as Crown land. I'll quote some statements made by some socialists some years ago. They want to dissociate themselves from statements made by their colleagues a few years ago, so they make cheap statements across the floor such as "tell the truth" and things of that nature. But the record is there to prove their attitude — to prove what they stand for as far as the private ownership of land is concerned. We have it documented that they are against the private ownership of land in this province.
I'll read three quotations, one from an executive assistant and two from MLAs. They're statements made by the socialists when they were in government. The first one is an editorial that appeared in theVancouver Province on Wednesday, November 28, 1973. It says:
"Reports from Prince George that Agriculture Minister Dave Stupich's executive assistant was booed when he told air audience of ranchers that no one should have the right to own land in British Columbia demand some clarification, preferably from Mr. Stupich himself, or even from Premier Barrett.
"It should be said that the executive assistant offered the view on land ownership as purely his personal opinion — that nobody should own land 'because they did not make the land themselves.' But such personal opinions in such a sensitive position, and in relation to other government attitudes, assume some significance."
That's what the executive assistant to the Minister of Agriculture of the day had to say about the private ownership of land.
Another article, called "Black and Female," by Carol Allen appeared in the Homemakers' Magazine in May 1974 on page 12. The person they're quoting is the member for Burnaby-Edmonds (Ms. Brown). It says: "I don't believe in the private ownership of land. It's a myth that we own anything." That is a direct quote from the member for Burnaby-Edmonds about the private ownership of land.
MS. BROWN: Go on; quote the rest.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. There will ample opportunity in committee for all members to join in the debate. The minister will continue uninterrupted. There will be no imputations of improper motive. If any member wishes to respond in debate during committee, there will be ample opportunity for that to take place.
HON. MR. CHABOT: On September 24, 1973, on page 192 in Hansard, is the following quotation of a member of the New Democratic Party. The member for North Island, Colin Gabelmann, said when they were government — I'm not going to read the entire statement....
MR. CHAIRMAN: We are reminded in this House not to use the name of a member who is currently sitting. There is every opportunity to refer to a member of this House either by portfolio or by the riding which they represent. If all members would be reminded of that, parliamentary tradition would be well served.
HON. MR. CHABOT: On September 24, 1973, page 192 of Hansard. he said:
Maybe the government has got to be involved in building homes. Maybe we have to say that land can no longer be owned privately. No one ever suggested that air should be owned privately. Air was given to us by God, or whoever we believe gave it to us, and so was land, Mr. Speaker. It is foreign to my philosophy that land or anything on this earth that is natural should be privately owned.
Now if you suggest to me that that doesn't mean that party or its members are against private ownership of land, there's something wrong. He clearly, stated that he's against private ownership of land. It's been stated by many members of that opposition. They can wriggle all they want and attempt to deny that they had made those statements, but the record is clear. Those people uttered the words that they're against private ownership of land, They hate these remarks which were made in the past being brought to their attention at this time. Oh, they wriggle a lot. They squirm a lot. They're embarrassed a lot, but those are the facts of life. They made
[ Page 8600 ]
those statements. Those socialists over there are against private ownership of land. I recognized that, sifting through the words of the second member for Victoria (Mr. Hanson) when he kept talking about Crown land and how I'm making agricultural land available to the people of this province for agricultural development. He seems to think there's some devious motivation on my part to make land available for agricultural development in this province. That's what he attempts to suggest. He believes Crown land should not be made available for various endeavours in this province, be it for residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural purposes. I detect what that member is attempting to say very clearly. He wants everything to remain Crown land.
In this province we have an agricultural policy of attempting to become at least 65 percent self-sufficient. Unless you make agricultural land available to the people of this province, you'll never achieve that self-suffiency level. That's why we had an aggressive program of land disposition for agricultural purposes in British Columbia last year. We're continuing to make agricultural land available.
We're opening up land at this time. We're starting phase one of making agricultural land available in the Fort Nelson area. It's the last large block of agricultural land to be opened up in British Columbia. It's the largest agricultural opportunity and the largest block of agricultural land to be opened up anywhere in North America in the last ten years. No other area has been opened up with as much acreage as that which we're attempting to open up in Fort Nelson for agricultural development. Is there anything wrong with making that land available to British Columbians? There is a residency clause: you have to be a Canadian citizen and you have to have lived in British Columbia for two years before you're eligible to acquire this land. Is there anything wrong with making land available to our people in this province? I wish you'd answer that question. I think it's right.
In the Prince George special sales area we've rationalized the division of those lands — which land should be parks, which land should be used for recreational purposes, which land should be committed to forestry, which land should be committed to grazing and which land should be committed to agriculture. We've gotten on with that plan and done that. I commend the people in my ministry and in other ministries who have worked together to bring about this special plan to make land available in the Prince George area. That area has had problems with land being locked into a special sales area for many years. At last we've rationalized it. We're going to make land available for agriculture in that area. Certainly it possesses unique problems. On certain blocks of land there is a heavy commercial cover of timber. We are addressing that problem, and the agricultural land disposal policy that is in place today is a good policy. It's one that has taken a lot of time to put into place, but it doesn't address the unique problems that exist in Prince George. After my meeting with representatives of the Prince George Cattlemen's Association, I guess I've got a better understanding of the problems up there. I also told them at the time I met with them that the new policy, once we put it into place, was to make agricultural land available for all British Columbians — which includes the cattlemen. Throughout British Columbia we've essentially had a moratorium on availability of agricultural land, whereby you've had to be a bona fide farmer, you've had to have 40 acres under cultivation, before agricultural land was available. After ten years in which farmers have had an opportunity to establish a unit big enough to become economically viable, we've said the time has come for all British Columbians to acquire agricultural land. I think there's nothing wrong with that, and I'd like to know whether the NDP differ with that kind of an approach as far as availability of agricultural land is concerned. We're not saying that the farmers are excluded from competition for this land, but we're saying that they must compete with other British Columbians, because the time has come that all British Columbians should have an opportunity to acquire agricultural land.
I've heard the member talk about the grazing-lease policy three times now: once under the Wildlife Act, once under the amendments to the Land Act — which was completely out of order; nevertheless, he managed to sneak in his speech on grazing leases under that piece of legislation....
HON. MR. CHABOT: The former cop there applauds the word "sneak." I have some difficulty with that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I have some difficulty with personal allusions. Perhaps we could relate debate to the....
HON. MR. CHABOT: Well, the member for Esquimalt–Port Renfrew applauds the word "sneak."
MR. CHAIRMAN: Perhaps we could relate our remarks to the administrative actions of the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing.
MR. MITCHELL: On a point of order, I'd just like to bring to the attention of the minister that as an ex-cop I have broad shoulders and thick skin.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Thick between the ears too.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. I'll ask the minister to withdraw that remark. It was overheard by the Chair.
HON. MR. CHABOT: That wasn't supposed to be heard. I withdraw.
I always get a kick out of the socialists across the way suggesting that we killed the Housing Corporation of British Columbia. I admit that the government of the day did dismantle that disorganized socialist bureaucracy. I'll tell you, that was a disastrous corporation that produced nothing — except that it probably allowed the Minister of Housing of the day to attend many opening functions or official takeover functions or whatever other kinds of functions took place under HCBC. I guess he had to feel important, and that's why they wanted to keep HCBC in place — to make that minister feet comfortable. I recall very clearly that many years ago most of the activity under HCBC was not in the construction field; it was in the acquisition of developed housing units that were put together by the private sector — and in most instances they were ripped off. That means that the taxpayers of this province had to pay substantially more for certain housing projects than they should have. They weren't good projects, they weren't well constructed, but the NDP always paid top dollars.
Many of them required conversion and other work. For instance, when they acquired that disastrous project called the Casa Loma Motel, that was a very unfortunate use of
[ Page 8601 ]
taxpayers' money. The private individual who owned it ripped off the government.
They weren't very good businessmen and they should never have been in the Housing Corporation of British Columbia. Despite the fact that most of the units were purchased rather than constructed, in that three and one-third years that the people of British of Columbia had the misfortune of having the NDP in government, it produced approximately 1,400 units of housing. Compare that with the housing initiative program which our government put in and which produced 5,200 units of housing in British Columbia, rental and private ownership housing, with no bureaucracy. In fact, it was well administered by the credit union movement of the province with no additional staffing, no inspections, nothing. It was money made available over the short period of a few weeks, and it produced housing.
We have the evidence of the Housing Corporation of British Columbia and what it did for British Columbia. It was nothing but a boondoggle; it was nothing to be proud of. I never cease to be amazed by the socialists who stand up here and suggest that the Housing Corporation of British Columbia should be resurrected. It's unbelievable.
MR. COCKE: Not as long as you're around.
HON. MR. CHABOT: No, never will it be put in place as long as I'm around — never. It was a boondoggle that hurt the taxpayers of this province; millions upon millions of dollars too much that people had to pay for housing. That Housing Corporation of British Columbia was an absolute disaster, one which the people of British Columbia are still paying for. We still have some of those units in British Columbia.
If the NDP want to be constructive.... I haven't seen them constructive for many years. They used to be constructive in the old days, pre-1972, from time to time, when Bob Strachan was here. Some constructive arguments used to come from across the floor. But Bob Strachan isn't here any more; all we have are the mudslingers from across the way.
The second member for Victoria talked about grazing leases. He said: "If we were government, we would bring in a solution for the problems associated with the recreational use of grazing leases. We would have solutions for the B.C. Cattlemen's Association and its members who have these grazing leases." He has all these suggestions if they became government, but he's not prepared to suggest what the recommendations are now. All he wants to do is offer cheap criticism.
I've indicated to him that there is nothing new in grazing leases. Grazing leases have existed in this province since the turn of the century. We're not suggesting that there are going to be new grazing leases; we're suggesting that the existing grazing leases will be renewed. He attempts to leave the impression that grazing leases cover virtually all Crown land in this province. Grazing leases do not represent all Crown land. The grazing form of tenure that we have in this province includes grazing licences, permits and leases. Of those three forms of tenure, grazing leases represent only 2.5 percent. To clarify the record, because he makes a lot of erroneous statements — uninformed statements, I might say — about the question of grazing leases, I'll outline for him very clearly that they represent 2.5 percent of all the grazing tenure in the province.
MS. BROWN: How many hectares?
HON. MR. CHABOT: I don't have the specific hectares. The last thing I want is to make an erroneous statement; we get enough of that stuff from across the floor. After I sit down and have an opportunity to rise again, I'll be glad to give you the number of hectares to which grazing leases apply, but I want you to know that they represent a very insignificant portion of the land that is consigned to grazing in this province. It is only 2.5 percent; 97.5 percent is held under other forms of grazing tenure. So don't attempt to leave the impression that the whole province of British Columbia is locked up in grazing leases. It's not.
To clarify some of the misstatements made by the second member for Victoria, I want to refer to comments I made to Mr. Leverman, the director of the British Columbia Wildlife Federation. I wrote to him about my remarks associated with, grazing leases.
"Regarding the method of policy formulation, several letters I have received from B.C. Wildlife Federation affiliates suggest that development and implementation of the grazing lease replacement policy was a unilateral act of this ministry."
Oh, you attempted to unplant that message with your erroneous and fictitious letters to the editor around the province too. You attempted to convey that information as well.
"Let me assure you this is not the case. The policy is the result of intensive dialogue between this ministry, the Ministry of Forests, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and the fish and wildlife branch of the Ministry of the Environment.
"The grazing lease policy applies only to the replacement of expired grazing leases. No additional Crown lands will be alienated for grazing purposes as a result of this policy. The standard term of the new grazing leases is 21 years, similar to the term under which most of the original grazing leases were issued. As requested, I attach a list of the number and area of grazing leases administered by this ministry.
"Regarding your request for a list of names of all grazing lessees to whom the replacement policy applies, I advise you that it would be a protracted administrative procedure to assemble such a list. However, information on specific leases may be obtained from the regional offices of this ministry.
"Regarding public access across grazing leaseholds, as you are aware, the old grazing lease document provided for the general exclusion of roads and trails from a grazing leasehold. However, this general exclusion was ambiguous in a legal sense and could not always be effectively enforced. Accordingly, when formulating the new policy, it was decided to protect public access in a more explicit and hence enforceable manner by identifying and excluding existing and potential access requirements prior to grazing lease replacement. Using this approach, there can be no misunderstanding as to the public's right of access, and in this sense the new policy may actually enhance recreational opportunity relative to the previous lease document. If it is subsequently determined that an additional part of the leasehold is required for recreational or other road access, the Crown retains the right under the conditions of the lease to resume portions of the leasehold in the public interest.
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" With respect to the public's right to enter and make recreational use of grazing leaseholds, the replacement policy is no more restrictive than the previous grazing lease policy. Both then and now the rancher obtains a lease interest in land and, in the legal sense, exclusive use for a specified period is the essence of a lease. Naturally, recreationists may access and use a grazing leasehold if they secure the permission of the lessee.
" Range management practices. A high standard of range management is the prime objective of the grazing lease replacement policy. To this end, an administrative arrangement is in place whereby range agrology specialists of the Ministry of Forests are responsible for the actual range management function. Before any leases are replaced, lessees must produce a range management plan approved by the Ministry of Forests. Strict compliance with the management plan is a condition of the continuance of tenure."
With those brief comments, Mr. Chairman, certainly we can put to rest some of the erroneous statements made by the second member for Victoria — erroneous inferences that he makes in an attempt to mislead the people of this province. I want to say that he talks about....
MR. HANSON: On a point of order. I ask the minister to withdraw that statement.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Was there any imputation of improper motive from the minister to the hon. the second member for Victoria?
HON. MR. CHABOT: Mr. Chairman, I'm not suggesting that he is deliberately attempting to mislead the people of this province; I'm just saying that his statements attempt to mislead the people of this province. He's not doing it deliberately. I'm not attributing "deliberate" to him. I think there's a big difference between his attempt to mislead the people of this province and me suggesting that he's deliberately misleading by his statements.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. members, perhaps we can avoid the word "misleading." The minister has indicated that he meant no improper motive to another hon. member. That satisfies the Chair. We're allowed to point out where someone might be incorrect or in error; that's fine. The House or the committee is always willing to accept two different opinions, but the guiding principle is that we cannot impugn the motive of another hon. member.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for that clarification.
The range management practices and plans that are put in place certainly will enhance the multi-use of those lands for the grazing purposes of wildlife and cattle. The member attempts to leave the impression that the issuance of grazing leases is going to have a dramatic and negative effect on the ability of wildlife to graze. I want to say again that grazing leases have existed in this province since the turn of the century. Wildlife have used grazing leases for at least the last 82 years in British Columbia, and they'll continue to do so without negative impact on their ability to survive. Putting the range management plans in place will, I think, enhance the ability of wildlife to survive in British Columbia.
MR. HANSON: The minister indicated that my information is erroneous. I would like to read to the minister from a letter with respect to the Prince George agricultural auction. The letter is dated Tuesday, June 22, 1982, and I received it on June 28, 1982. A few paragraphs indicate the legitimate concerns of the Prince George cattlemen and the other organizations that I listed:
"For the last two years, since the Prince George special sales area plan was in the works, we have maintained our position that all we are interested in is that agricultural Crown land remain in agricultural interests. It does not matter to us who obtains the leases for such Crown land parcels so long as the people who obtain the land are mainly interested in developing it with agricultural objectives in mind, rather than raping it for its timber value. We are fully aware that there are regulations regarding timber harvesting, land clearing, etc., on agricultural Crown land. However, these so-called safeguard regulations are just not satisfactory to dissuade abuses. The penalty for ignoring the regulation is minimal.
"Our first concern is to stop speculation on agricultural Crown land because of its commercial timber value. For the past two years we have proposed that all timber revenues in excess of stumpage and reasonable logging expenses be held back in an interest-bearing trust fund to ensure that a portion of land is developed as required. Secondly, we suggest a separate land and timber sale if the minister would not concur with that first recommendation. The land in contention is 65,000 hectares of Crown land.
"Crown land is a resource that is entrusted to our provincial government. It must act as a proper trustee. It has no right to allow blatant speculation and pocket the profits of its actions. We need a policy that will allow an existing farmer or rancher the opportunity to expand and develop his ongoing operation. We need a policy that will encourage emerging agricultural interests by making available a land base at reasonable cost. We need a policy that will give every average B.C. resident a reasonable chance to compete. The present policy does not meet these objectives."
The concerns I've raised are reasonable. I'm raising them on behalf of the people of Prince George, these organizations that have legitimate concerns. If the minister fails to recognize the logic of their concerns, then what can we do but shake our heads and wait for next year, when his estimates come up? No doubt he'll have mobilized a major coalition at that time in some other sector of the province opposed to his policies and platforms.
HON. MR. CHABOT: One quick response. I don't disagree with the contents of that letter from some individual in the community of Prince George. I don't disagree with the concerns expressed there. I think I responded to the question of Prince George and the disposition of agricultural land over the former Prince George special sales area. I identified the area as unique in that it has a substantial commercial timber cover.
[ Page 8603 ]
Our policy is a first-class policy, put together with careful thought. It might not work in an area having heavy commercial timber cover. It's certainly applicable and it works well in some of the more sparsely timbered regions of the province. It works well in the Peace River, the Bulkley Valley, but in this area, where some parcels of land do have a heavy commercial crop, it does pose some problems. I believe that in my previous response I indicated to the member that I was addressing the legitimate concerns that they have expressed. I might not necessarily agree with some of the concerns they express regarding agricultural land being made exclusively available to existing farmers, because I think they've had that exclusive right for ten years now, and that's long enough. They still have the right to fairly compete with other British Columbians, and we intend to very quickly address....
We'll be having another auction in Prince George of agricultural lands fairly soon — July 21, to be precise. Those are the likely timbered lines that will be made available, and they're being put there with the full understanding and cooperation of the members of the Prince George Cattlemen's Association.
There's no need to watch this little old member here who is attempting to open up agricultural land for British Columbians to help make this province self-sufficient in agriculture. Very soon we will have a policy in place that will address the concerns that have been expressed to us by the Prince George Cattlemen's Association membership.
MR. KEMPF: I have several things that I want to cover during this minister's estimates, some that I know a whole lot about and others that some members of this chamber will probably say I don't know anything about. Before I start, there's one thing that I know for sure, and that is that the cattlemen of the Prince George area certainly don't need the second member for Victoria to bring their concerns to this chamber.
MR. MITCHELL: You'll speak up for them.
MR. KEMPF: Yes, I will, Mr. Member for Esquimalt–Port Renfrew (Mr. Mitchell) — very loudly and, I might add, very clearly.
AN HON. MEMBER: Where are you living now, Jack — Oak Bay?
MR. KEMPF: The second member for Victoria talks about the Prince George special sale area and....
MR. HANSON: Oak Bay Jack.
MR. KEMPF: Mr. Chairman, can you stop those very few opposition members from chattering away and interrupting a very interesting debate by the member for Omineca?
The second member for Victoria talks about the Prince George special sale area and the auction which took place there recently, and he talks as though it was a situation where all of that land went to loggers and those in the forest industry. What that member doesn't know about that situation — besides other things that he doesn't know — is that an awful lot of people in the north are both loggers and agriculturalists. Many of those people that got land in that auction — and will get land in future auctions — are both. That's because of the very real entrepreneurial spirit of northern residents. I would certainly hate to see that sort of spirit removed from this province.
The member doesn't realize that it's very costly to get into any kind of agriculture, especially when it pertains to the clearing of virgin land. I'll talk about that later because it's the very basis for the argument that I want to put forward here today and talk to the Minister of Lands. Parks and Housing about. I'll get to that later.
It's really amusing to sit here this afternoon and hear the opposition members speak as the great protectors of the private ownership of land. One of the reasons that I first came to this chamber in 1975 was that very subject. Although some members opposite would like the members of this chamber and the citizens of British Columbia to believe that they've changed their philosophy regarding private ownership of land in this province, I want to stand here this afternoon and say that's not true. They may have changed their suits. We saw the Leader of the Opposition change his stance from tearing off his tie, opening his shirt and taking off his topcoat to wearing a blue pin-stripe suit now, to try to make the chamber of commerce people believe he's one of them. But it's not true. We know where they stand. We know what their philosophy is regarding private ownership of land.
It also amuses me to listen to that second member for Victoria (Mr. Hanson); he's the land critic for the opposition benches. It's amusing to hear him talk about Kamloops and Merritt being the interior of this province. It really confirms a suspicion which I've had all along about that member that he's never been off the rock. I really am surprised that he has in fact gotten as far afield as Kamloops and Merritt.
I also heard that member talk about critical winter habitat for moose, elk and deer when he was speaking about grazing leases. I want to point out once more, as I have done many times in this chamber, that unless members on both sides of the floor pay some attention to the wolf predation problem in this province, we won't have to worry about critical winter habitat for any of those animals.
The member talked about replies to his erroneous letter, which is the laughing stock of the cattlemen in my particular area and which appeared in all of my weekly newspapers. He alluded to replies; he said he had dozens. In fact, I think he said he had more than that: he had many, many replies to that erroneous letter. I'd just like to ask that member to make available to me the replies from cattlemen in my area to that erroneous letter which he sent to all of my weekly newspapers.
I just have to reply to some of the remarks made by the second member for Victoria, because they were so ridiculous. The member talked about the people who obtained land in the Prince George special sale area through auction as having gotten the land for the sole purpose of raping it for the timber. Again, it shows just how much that member over there doesn't know about what's going on in the province of British Columbia. I'd like to ask that member if he really knows how much you could get at this time — if in fact you could even sell it — for any timber, whether it's from Crown land, timber sales or whatever, whether they could sell it for more than it cost to harvest it, log it and haul it. Nobody's interested in it at this time. So that whole argument is fictitious.
I want to start by commending the minister — he thumps his desk — and I hope he's listening intently, because it may be the last time that I do so in these estimates. I'd like to commend the minister for the hard work that he has done in
[ Page 8604 ]
the area of senior citizens' housing all over this province, particularly that built over the past few years in my constituency. There is new senior citizens' housing at Houston, Burns Lake, Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof, and just a short time ago the minister and I travelled to Fort St. James — yes, in a government plane — to open new senior citizens' housing in Fort St. James. If we as legislators should make any decisions in this chamber, it certainly should be in the area of providing the pioneers of this province with senior citizens' housing.
I'd also like to commend the minister for his very hard work in the area of the construction of badly needed overnight-camping facilities in my constituency. There are new overnight-camping parks at Red Bluff near Granisle and at Parrens Beach, Fort St. James, which were much needed and have been very well received facilities in those areas. I might tell the minister that I was told over the telephone yesterday that the Parrens Beach Park was filled to overflow capacity on the July 1 weekend.
The main reason for my rising in my place this afternoon, and probably many more times during the estimates of this minister, is to talk about land. My constituency covers an area in excess of 29,000 square miles. The area I represent, Mr. Chairman, you could safely say consists of nothing but land. In the days and, if necessary, weeks ahead in this minister's estimates, we in this chamber are going to hear about some of the problems which exist in relation to that land in my constituency. In a province where 95 percent of the land is owned by the Crown, we have a land shortage, particularly in my constituency where land is our biggest asset. We not only have a fictitious land shortage, but we also have a situation where this land, because of ridiculous controls, bureaucratic red tape and regulations, has been priced out of the reach of the citizens of this province. It's been priced out of the reach of agriculturalists wishing to expand and make viable their existing farms. It's been priced out of the reach of our young people wishing to become farmers, wishing to get a start in agriculture. It's been priced out of the reach of citizens wishing to obtain a piece of Crown land on which to build a home and possibly have a cow or two and a garden plot. I heard the second member for Victoria give those pieces of property a very citified connotation. He called them ranchettes. We wouldn't hear that out in the rural areas of this province. I guess it's something he's picked up in the city of Victoria when talking about Crown land.
Mr. Chairman, we're pricing the land from our citizens wishing to obtain some of that land for the purpose of recreation — whether that recreation be skiing, and they wish to have that land on a mountaintop in this province, or fishing or boating or swimming, and they wish a piece of Crown land on a lakeshore in this province. We'll talk at length about that particular subject a little later on, as I said before, possibly in the days and weeks ahead. We have a land-related situation in this province which has literally dashed the hopes of many of our citizens and completely stripped them of their pioneering initiative. Thank God we still have some of it in some areas of this province, and given half a chance, it could be very much alive and very well, thank you.
Mr. Chairman, this Legislature has got to make some serious changes where land policy is concerned in this province. We've got to free ourselves. We now hear the socialists opposite come down as the protectors of the people who wish private ownership of land in this province. We've got to rid ourselves of the socialist land controls placed upon us by a former administration and still in place. We've got to get rid of that situation brought in by the NDP under the guise of protecting agricultural land. We've got to get rid of that kind of land control in this province. We've got to release the thousands of acres....
Now you see the member for Cowichan-Malahat, the Agriculture critic in this House, smiling, Mr. Chairman. But I say again that we've got to release the thousands of acres of land which are now within the agricultural land reserve — land which will never produce anything, Madam Member. You've been in the north. You know. I've seen you in the north. Yes, I met you in my constituency once; I know you've been in the north. So you know a little bit. You probably know a little more about agricultural land than does the second member for Victoria, but probably very little more.
MRS. WALLACE: And more than you do, Jack.
MR. KEMPF: Well, I wouldn't say it's more than I do, Mr. Chairman. I take offence at that remark, having been born and raised on a farm and lived on one for 18 years in this province. I think I know a little bit about agricultural land; I know a little bit about that of which I speak.
Mr. Chairman, we've got to release the thousands of acres of land that's now within the agricultural land reserve that will never make a farm.
MRS. WALLACE: Jim, I hope you're not listening.
MR. KEMPF: Madam Member, that minister quit listening to me three years ago — at least I feel as though that has happened.
Mr. Chairman, releasing that land from the agricultural land reserve will have the effect of releasing it from that fictitious shortage that I spoke about previously, and consequently from that fictitious level of land value that we have come to in this province, whether it be Crown land or otherwise. We've got to divorce ourselves once and for all from that socialist mentality that is hurting our citizens out there very badly, particularly the ones wishing to obtain Crown land and build homes for their families in this province — divorce ourselves from that socialist mentality that believes that land is better in the hands of the state than in the hands of our citizens. We must make that land, through a reduction in the red tape and regulation, available in a very real way to our citizens. I heard the second member for Victoria suggest that what he called ranchettes, if that policy were followed, would end up only in the hands of the extremely wealthy of this province, How absolutely ridiculous! They would end up in the hands of people who want to live in a rural atmosphere — young people who want to get on the land, who want to build a first home and not have to face the bureaucratic regulations and red tape laid down by all levels of government in this province, whether it be municipal, provincial or whatever. They want to get away from that and live in a rural atmosphere.
Mr. Chairman, I have here and in my office example after example...and that's why I say it may take us weeks to get through the estimates of the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing. It's taken me years to accumulate all these problems, and if necessary I intend to go through them, one by one, so that members of this Legislature and the people of British Columbia realize what it is that the people out there are facing in the way of problems related to land.
[ Page 8605 ]
MR. NICOLSON: You just want to stay here so you don't have to go back up north.
MR. KEMPF: Mr. Chairman, I go back up north every weekend. How long has it been since you've been in your constituency?
Mr. Chairman, I have examples such as this one of a constituent of mine, a very rural constituent. This individual lives about 120 miles from civilization. He lives at Laidman Lake, approximately 120 miles southwest of Vanderhoof.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Is he a trespasser?
MR. KEMPF: The minister asks if is he a trespasser. Well, Mr. Chairman, if he's a trespasser, then the pioneers of this country going back 150 years were also trespassers. I don't have that word in my vocabulary. I don't consider those people trespassers. I consider them pioneers. We've got areas of this province unknown to some of the members of this chamber which still need pioneers, still need the pioneering spirit. If we have to stay here a long time, we're going to get that particular point across.
Mr. Chairman, I want to talk about Mr. Rozek. He applied for an agricultural lease 120 miles southwest of Vanderhoof in my constituency, 20 miles from the end of any road. He is trying to eke out a living for him and his family by trying to develop a ranch starting with a very few head of cattle — trying to build it up, trying to drain swamps, trying to produce a ranch 120 miles from civilization. Mr. Chairman, to make a long story short....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Your time is just about up, hon. member.
MR. KEMPF: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, that's fine. I'll have plenty of time and plenty of other examples to give, but I just want to talk about Mr. Rozek. To make a long story short, what it is that this province is asking of that individual is that he pay $1,294 a year on a lease on land that the B.C. Assessment Authority has assessed at a real value of $6,000. Let's just go over that again, Mr. Chairman, in case you missed it: $1,294 a year in lease charges for land worth $6,000 — and that's not a value that I put on it; that was valued by the B.C. Assessment Authority. I've really got to ask where the fairness is in that situation.
[Mr. Strachan in the chair.]
Let's go over it again: we've got an individual who went out there, and he's now 20 miles from the end of a road.
MS. BROWN: No wonder Jim doesn't listen to you.
MR. KEMPF: Mr. Chairman, can you stop the chattering. I want the gallery to hear the story. This fellow went out to this area 120 miles southwest of Vanderhoof, when there was no road out there at all. Sure, he's 20 miles from the end of the road now, but there wasn't any road at all when he went out there. He's hacked a homestead out of the wilderness, but now he has applied for a piece of agricultural land and he is told that he's got to pay $1,294 a year to lease a piece of land that's assessed by the B.C. Assessment Authority at a real value of $6,000. That's too much; that's far, far, far too much.
I know my time is almost up. and with that I'll sit down. But. Mr. Chairman. I have many other examples. I've got this whole file here and this one here, and I've got a whole boxful in my office, and I intend during the estimates of this minister to bring to this House many of these examples.
MS. BROWN: Well, why don't I just take it for a minute or two.
AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, we'll all get into it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Hon. members, There is a standing order. I hate to use it. Normally a caucus decides how they're going to do this type of thing. The hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Lockstead) has been waiting for some time; that's my observation. The member for Mackenzie is recognized.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Mr. Chairman, I know my colleague will have the opportunity to make his presentation in this House later on, but first of all I do want to agree with one thing that the member for Omineca said — one thing. The rest of it was.... Well, he didn't say anything else. He only said one thing worthwhile, and that was about the problem that all of us rural members face and that our constituents face in obtaining a piece of Crown land to build a home on. I've discussed this with the minister before, and the minister has usually replied to me that he's got the best policy in the whole wide world relating to making land available, and that we in this party don't believe in private ownership of land anyway.
Well, let me set the minister straight on two points: if there is any, documentation of that, any policy of our party — the New Democratic Party, the party that's going to be government within a few short months, most likely — I'd like the minister to produce that documentation. The minister got up in this House and read out of context some remarks that were made by two members of this House, and I know that he's going to be corrected quite shortly in a very stern way here for the remarks he made.
He quoted an executive assistant — what utter rubbish! Just for the record, Mr. Chairman, the policy of the party on this side of the House is not opposed to the private ownership of land; in fact, the policy of this party is to make land available to people who need it. The policy of that minister is to make land available to his friends and to the friends of that political party and the rich. That's where they make....
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Well, it's absolutely true.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Imputations of improper motive have to be censured by the Chair. I would ask the member to temper his remarks. If he has imputed any dishonourable motive to the minister. I would have to ask the member to withdraw.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: I said it was the minister's policy, and it is his policy, because that's what he believes. I'll withdraw because I want to finish this presentation, but there
[ Page 8606 ]
was nothing to withdraw. Let me cite you one example. In fact, there are many examples of the policy of making land available to people in this province who need it.
This government has embarked upon a policy of private developers — and I'm not opposed to this — going in, putting in the roads, subdivisions and the systems required. The policy was supposed to have been that that property, whether five-acre lots or whatever, would be made available through lottery.
We had a case in my riding — that's why it was brought to my attention — where that was not in fact taking place. The friends of the minister or the government perhaps — certainly friends of the developer — had first crack at obtaining that land at $20,000 per lot. That wasn't a bad price in that particular area for those lots that would eventually come under private ownership and could probably be further subdivided at some future date.
Not everybody who wanted a piece of that land had the opportunity at that time of obtaining that land. That situation was corrected because it was brought to my attention and representation was made to the minister and to the ministry, but how many have there been since where these things went by the board unnoticed or nobody complained? That's my second point. It went for $20,000 per lot. How many young couples, particularly in this time of economic recession, brought about largely by this government, have $20,000 to plunk down for a piece of property? Not too many.
I don't expect this of this government, but what I'm suggesting to the minister, as the member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf) did indirectly in his presentation, is that we come up with a policy of making Crown land available to the people who need it — not to the rich or those who already have land. That's the present policy of this government: those who have got are getting more, and those who need it are getting nothing.
Those who are fortunate enough to receive a bit of Crown land for some purpose — a small holding, to build a home on or for recreation purposes — are now being taxed out of existence by this government sitting across the floor. Here's a government preaching restraint, that brags about bringing in legislation supporting the federal Liberal government all the way in their so-called restraint program and taking dollars out of the pockets of working people, and what do they do? They tax.
In one example I have here, there is a 600 percent increase over one year on the tax on a recreation lease on the Sunshine Coast. That is what this government is doing. These guys can go flying around the world, take in Broadway shows and buy fancy wines, and then what do they do? They ding it to the people. They increase taxes by 600 percent on recreation leases in some cases.
I wrote to the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Curtis), but this minister is responsible. He's in cabinet and he's responsible for these recreation leases. What did the minister say? He said they had been getting off too cheaply all these years. What can I say? I know they won't do anything.
Mr. Minister, I'm going to change the topic here for a second. Yesterday under the Ministry of Environment I raised the possibility of making some leases available to people who wish to enter the mariculture or fish farming industry on the coast of British Columbia. The Minister of Environment (Hon. Mr. Rogers) said that it was none of his business and to talk to you. Well, I'm talking to you now, Mr. Minister.
What I'm suggesting to you is that the coast of Vancouver Island and large parts of my riding lend themselves to this industry. It's an up-and-coming industry in British Columbia, and in my view it has to be encouraged. We are very far behind other nations in the world in this regard — Japan, Norway, Sweden and a number of other countries that are very advanced in this field. Even the United States is far ahead of us in this regard.
This government is making it almost impossible in some cases for people with private initiative to get into this industry. They're not asking for handouts, loans — any of these things. They should have encouragement, in my view. Many of them should have financial encouragement.
HON. MR. CHABOT: What industry?
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Mariculture and fish farming. Do you know what that is? Okeover is a good example. The minister is very familiar with Okeover.
HON. MR. CHABOT: We protect it.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: We're protecting it at the moment, but we'll see what happens. I'm watching that one very closely.
In any event, I'm suggesting to the minister that when you have this type of application.... I have seen applications rejected on the grounds that some large logging company has the upland — not even the ownership; they don't even own the upland — from the proposed lease application for maricultural purposes. They merely have a TFL. The government and the minister brag that 95 percent of Crown land in British Columbia belongs to the people. I say nonsense. Applications are rejected because of upland ownership, or control of the land by some other firm under some form of tenure. The two can work in conjunction very easily. The area I'm thinking of will not be logged for probably 70 or 80 years, because it's young growth, but they have a TFL on that area. The minister and that ministry rejected this person's application for two acres. One hectare: that is all that was required for a perhaps viable oyster culture operation in that area. It was rejected on those grounds. It's not fair. You talk about encouraging private initiative. You're killing it with your extravagance and the policies of your ministry.
Regarding making Crown land available, I want this on the record for the people in this province. I know the minister is not listening; he couldn't care less. His mind is made up and he doesn't want to be confused by facts. When we form the government again — which will be soon, God willing — in order to save this province from that group over there, we are going to make Crown land available. In fact, our party has a policy to make land available to people who need it. When my colleague the member for Nelson-Creston (Mr. Nicolson) was Minister of Housing, we had policies; we made housing and land available to people in this province who needed it. It was an excellent policy, one that was dismantled by that government over there out of sheer ignorance and jealousy.
With that, I think I've made all the remarks I wish to make. One last item: I would like the minister to review once again with his colleagues the policy they recently engaged in, the extremely punitive taxation on Crown leases for small holdings and recreational lots. Financially, you're simply breaking some people; that's what you're doing.
[ Page 8607 ]
HON. MR. CHABOT: I think the most charitable thing I can say about that member is that most of his speech was made up of wild statements from a wild man.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Withdraw, please.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Withdraw what? He is a wild man; he does make wild statements.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I have asked the minister to withdraw. It's a personal allusion which the Chair finds offensive.
HON. MR. CHABOT: The Chair finds it offensive; the member doesn't though.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair does. Please withdraw.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Thank you very much.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Please proceed.
MR. HANSON: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, that wasn't a withdrawal. I would ask you to ask the minister to withdraw.
MR. CHAIRMAN: You're probably right. The minister will withdraw without qualification.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I'll withdraw, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I don't know how to respond to the member. He makes some very wild statements. He talks about making land available to my friends.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Well, I must have a lot of friends out there. I want you to know that the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing is involved in making available one out of every six residential parcels of land in British Columbia in one form or another. So I must have a lot of friends out there for making this land available to individuals.
We really don't get very many specifics from the member for MacKenzie (Mr. Lockstead), just wild accusations. He talks about a TFL and how it infringes upon the ability to require an oyster lease. I don't recall his ever having taken that up with a minister.
He talks about making Crown land available. Yes, there was a policy regarding the availability of Crown land when the NDP was government, but not by way of buying Crown land. The policy was lease, lease, lease.
He talks about escalation of recreational lease lots. I recall very vividly, when the NDP were government, that a fellow by the name of Bob Williams tripled the price of recreational lots in British Columbia overnight. I recognize what's happened to land values in the last couple of years and how it has affected recreational leases and the ability of people to pay their lease fees and the taxes on these leases. I have addressed that problem and will be making an announcement in the next few days about a revised program.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Make it now.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I won't make it now. I'll make it in the fullness of time. To you, my dear friend, I just want to say that that question is being addressed; not the way Bob Williams addressed it when he was the Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources.
You suggested that your party is not opposed to private ownership of land. I'd like to refer you to a speech made by the member for North Island (Mr. Gabelmann). I don't believe he was from North Island then — North Vancouver–Seymour at that time. On page 192 of Hansard, September 24, 1973. the member for North Island said:
Maybe the government has got to be involved in building homes. Maybe we have to say that land can no longer be owned privately. No one ever suggested air should be owned privately. Air was given to us by God, or whoever we believe gave it to us, and so was land, Mr. Speaker. It is foreign to my philosophy that land or anything on this earth that is natural should he privately owned. I believe that it's going to take us decades and decades to reverse that mentality and attitude in this society — and I have it too — that we all think we have to own a chunk of land, and that until we own that chunk of land. until we own a house, we've actually not made it.
have got to reverse that philosophy, Mr. Speaker. I'm not suggesting
that this government will have the time to be able to do that; I think
it's a thing that has to happen throughout North America over a great
many years. But I think it's important that people begin to talk about
the fact that there is no real difference between land and air, and we
would think it absurd and insane if air were owned privately. I think
it's the same situation for land.
"It is foreign to my philosophy that land or anything on this earth that is natural should he privately owned." No one in the socialist movement of British Columbia or the socialist movement of Canada has ever repudiated that statement by the member for North Island.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: On a point of order, I wish to correct the minister. I want him to withdraw that last statement where he said that no one in our party in all these years has repudiated that statement. I just did some ten minutes ago. I want the minister to start telling the truth in this House.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Now we have a little problem. It's obvious that from time to time we listen to conflicting opinions. The minister entered into debate. That was fine. However, was the member for Mackenzie (Mr. Lockstead) imputing any dishonourable motive to the hon. minister? If you imputed that the minister was not telling the truth, would you please withdraw.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: Mr. Chairman. I thought I made it very clear that I wasn't imputing a wrong motive to that minister, because what he said was not true and not correct. How could I withdraw something which is correct?
MR. CHAIRMAN: You can enter into debate, you can have a difference of opinion, but you cannot tell another hon. member of this House that he's not telling the truth. Could you please withdraw that. The member for Mackenzie knows exactly what I mean. We can have a difference of opinion, but me can't impute a dishonourable motive.
MR. LOCKSTEAD: If the minister feels imputed by that remark, I'll withdraw it.
MR. LEA: Just so things will run much more smoothly in the House, the minister said when he spoke that nobody that he was aware of in the socialist movement of Canada, or in the
[ Page 8608 ]
international movement of the world — in Uruguay or China — had repudiated the statement that he just read, made in 1973 by the now hon. member for North Island. There was somebody who did, however, and that was the member himself. He said he's changed his mind entirely since that 1973 statement.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That's not a point of order, but it's perfectly legitimate in the debate itself.
HON. MR. CHABOT: In response to the statement by the member for Prince Rupert, I was just reading here — the member for Mackenzie is very touchy on this issue....
He's suggesting that the member for North Island wasn't telling the truth when he made a statement in this House on September 23, 1973. Now I was just quoting from Hansard, the official record of this House, what this member had to say. He's never apologized for or refuted his own statement in Hansard that I've been able to see. I wish he would give me the page. Maybe he has embarrassed his colleagues to such a degree that they've forced him to make some kind of insignificant retraction of a philosophical statement made by him as a member of the socialist party of British Columbia.
MR. NICOLSON: Mr. Chairman, I'll apologize in advance, if I should be in order.
I'm not going to go back and relive the debates of the estimates of 1973 and 1975, as tempting as that might be, because there are pressing problems. I appreciate some of the remarks made by the member for Omineca (Mr. Kempf), by my colleague from Mackenzie (Mr. Lockstead) and by others in this House. The minister has said that he has policies. I'd like to look at the policy on foreshore leases for marinas, where the minister has come up with a policy this year which says that you take the upland assessed land value and figure it out on a per-square-foot or per-square-metre or some kind of a square-unit basis and apply that same square unit factored down by one-fifth or one-twentieth or whatever, and then apply that as the value of that particular privilege of having floats and maybe some pilings out in the water, and of trying to contribute to the economy of British Columbia in a time when maybe the only thing going is the tourist industry.
As I pointed out to the minister earlier, in my little corner of the world this policy has driven one marina out of business this year. I think he was faced with a bill of something like $6,000, in addition to having to pay a very large increase in his lease for his little operation — Mike's Marina on Christina Lake. He also had to pay the price of having an official survey, which was going to add a few more thousands of dollars. This was a small operation which provided employment. The season is only a couple of months long; July and August are the big months, and then there's a little bit of a shoulder period in June and September. For the rest of the year business is rotten or non-existent. The lake is frozen over for about six months of the year. There isn't a great deal going on then, so it's really about four months of the year that people are making use of this privilege. But during that period they are providing a service. They are enhancing the tourist climate and the service of being able to have some wharfage and to leave a boat in the water during the summer months, and that is just one particular little one where....
The minister's policy also called not just for paying the one-year lease, but for paying for that upfront, five years in advance. That's how it came to this figure of about $6,000 in this particular instance, plus a survey cost, as I stated. What this did for Mike's Marina.... They were providing employment for a couple of people during the summer months, and their cash flow was probably less than $50,000. It led to them deciding to forget it. They pushed their floats up on the shore and went out of business. They said: "Forget about the lease."
There is another small marina in my riding near Kokanee Creek Provincial Park. These people, I think, purchased this about a year ago, and this year they were faced with a directive which said that the upland value of the property was so much and the formula computes out to so much. These people were looking at having to pay five years upfront and, I think, for some survey costs. To the best of my recollection, I think the total bill is coming out to around $13,000. Their total cash flow last year was $55,000. That was for five years upfront and the other costs that they had — not just the lease but the other costs they would be incurring to have a survey done. I don't care if it's $10,000 or if you correct me and tell me it's $9,000; it's too darned much when the total cash flow is about $55,000. The people didn't even make enough money to make a 10 percent return on their invested capital, let alone to really draw salaries or wages out of the particular operation.
There are some more established ones on Kootenay Lake at Balfour, and there are others, such as The Jones Boys Marine, which has two separate operations — one at Kaslo and one further down the lake. There are several of these operations, and they vary in size, but it doesn't matter who it is. They're all being very hard hit in a year in which the economy is pretty rotten and interest rates are extremely high. The minister said that he was going to review this some time ago. Has he reviewed the policy and has he eased this up?
I want to point out to the minister that it's also my understanding that if you kick and scream and yell hard enough, all of a sudden this policy of having people pay five years upfront becomes: "Well, how would you like to pay just the one year; would that be better? Could you afford that?" Well, that is no kind of a policy at all. People are having to bargain with the Ministry of Lands on terms and conditions. Is that any way to run the ministry? It is very ad hoc, and I can say that the same policy goes for the leasing of land. You've got a whole wide gamut of policies; there is no firm, set policy. You have anomalies where non-residents are getting cheaper rates on recreational residential land than residents, and so on. There are all kinds of anomalies created, but in this specific case the minister said he was going to review this. Has it been reviewed? Is there any relief in sight for these marina operators who, I am sure, are on Shuswap Lake, François Lake and Lord knows how many lakes all over this province?
HON. MR. CHABOT: Well, I don't think our foreshore leases are that extravagant and that far out of line. Before I can address and respond to the member for Nelson-Creston on these two or three specific cases that he has brought to my attention, I would like him to respond to this: are you talking about legalizing the illegal occupation of Crown land wherein we might have a retroactive application of the lease fee back five years and the necessity of a survey as well? I think you must be talking about trespassers who have probably been brought to our attention by residents or municipal governments of the area.
[ Page 8609 ]
I understand that we don't have a pre-payment policy on foreshore leases. I'd have to double-check that, but I have always been under the assumption that it was an annual lease situation. However, when you talk about the five years, we're probably looking at going back and collecting some lease fees for trespass in years gone by.
MR. NICOLSON: Maybe the time has come to try to regularize the use of foreshore. It certainly isn't just marina operators. It's a very common practice to build a breakwater in order to trap the longshore currents and to create sand simply for a sandy beach. If you go along any lake — well, not any lake, but it's a pretty common practice on most of the lakes in the province. People have built little breakwaters, sometimes with log cribbing that is filled with rock. They are there illegally; they are a trespass. But some of those very same things offer shelter for a boat that is caught in a storm, where no other shelter might exist for small craft for several miles one way or the other.
I don't think you can correct these things overnight, and I don't think you should try to. This neglect has been going on for years. As a lakeshore dweller, I personally resented it when my neighbours built some of these huge projections out into the lake. But they are there, so let's not go back on them for something that was done 5, 20 or 30 years ago.
Perhaps they should be regularized. Perhaps a permit should be sought for them, but it should be a nominal fee for something like that. They are just as much a part of the landscape as perhaps some very large log that became lodged into the beach.
These are hardly even viable commercial operations; however, they do provide a service to boat-owners and a summertime activity. A great number of them are ma-and-pa operations. Others are more permanent operations. In a time when property taxes and interest rates are going up at a tremendous rate, here we have socked these people....
We used the term "double whammy" a little earlier today in question period, but this is a real double whammy. These people have seen their upland property go up tremendously this year. They face very high interest rates. Some of these people, like those at Kokanee, are not making a return on investment. They're really not even drawing out wages. They've ploughed a little bit back. Last year I link this one particular operation, if I remember right, had a difference between revenue and expenditures of maybe $13,000 on a cash flow of about $55,000.
I didn't get all this information from one place. I phoned over to Christina Lake and asked around, and I was getting the very same information from different sources over there as I got from Kootenay Lake. I expect that this is happening all over. There is this business of asking people to pay for five years up front, and it's really a bad thing. The increase is very great. I'm sure some of these things were never legally installed in the first place. The Ministry of Lands never went around enforcing these things unless there was a real stink raised by a number of citizens about somebody doing something like this.
I hope the minister will review this. I hope he will look at the viability of these operations and setting fees accordingly.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Just in brief response, on the question of a personal dock or a personal foreshore lease, I want to say that we treat those differently than we would commercial. We do have a nominal sum for legalizing these illegal structures that have been put there on the foreshore. Essentially we don't get involved unless there has been some degree of complaint by residents of British Columbia. We generally close our eyes and ignore these docks unless we do get some complaints. There are some areas where we've had to rationalize the use of foreshore — up on theSunshine Coast, for instance — but in most parts of the province I would think that a dock.... Even though we do have a fee in place for a small dock, I don't think we'd go out of our way to penalize people. We hope they will apply, because it's a very small sum we've imposed for a legal dock. Nevertheless, there are thousands of them throughout British Columbia, put there in trespass. We recognize that, and we're not harassing those people. We have no intention of harassing those people.
[Mr. Davidson in the chair.]
On the question of commercial ones, needless to say, the fee structure would have to be different there. I'm not familiar with the specific ones that you've brought to my attention, but if you want to discuss it further or give me some of the specifics, I'd be glad to look into it.
I have three issues that I would like to raise briefly with the
minister. During the estimates of the Minister of Environment (Hon.
Mr. Rogers), I asked a question with respect to the three-year
moratorium placed on the Baynes Sound area....
HON. MR. CHABOT: Right across from Denman Island.
MS. SANFORD: That's right. It was with respect to log dump leases so that a study on mariculture could be carried out. The Minister of Environment said it was not his concern or his jurisdiction; I would have to ask the Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing. So I would like some information about the study and what's happening to it.
Oh, isn't this interesting. Both the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing are looking in alarm at the Minister of Environment, as though they've never heard of this study. What is going on over there? Perhaps the press release issued two years ago was just a press release, and there is in fact no major study on mariculture in the Baynes Sound area. I ask questions about this in the Legislature each year. I haven't any information about it, and I wonder if today the minister will tell me if any interim reports have been filed with the House. What is the stage of this study? How many people are involved in the study? How many ministries are involved?
AN HON. MEMBER: One.
MS. SANFORD: One. I assume that he's going to tell me it's Environment. Environment told me I would have to ask Lands, Parks and Housing.
Very briefly, Hornby Island Lodge in beautiful Tribune Bay on Hornby Island.
HON. MR. CHABOT: I'm going to sell it off.
[ Page 8610 ]
MS. SANFORD: The minister tells me across the floor that he's going to sell it off. It happens to be within a park, Mr. Chairman.
HON. MR. CHABOT: We'll move it out.
MS. SANFORD: I think he's being quite flippant and facetious, as he's been on this issue for the last three or four years. The school board in School District 71 would like very much to have permission to utilize those buildings in order to conduct outdoor education classes. The minister has steadfastly refused to give them that permission. The buildings are sitting empty. They are falling into disrepair, and I assume that the minister is going to allow those buildings to collapse in a heap and not do anything about them.
HON. MR. CHABOT: So I've got to sell them.
MS. SANFORD: I'm not surprised.
Foreign ownership of land is an issue that I have raised in this Legislature for ten years. The Minister of Lands, Parks and Housing still has done nothing in terms of legislation with respect to prohibiting the sale of British Columbia land to absentee foreigners.
Recently there has been another study on the foreign ownership of land conducted by Lands, Parks and Housing and based on the forms that people fill out when they purchase land in this province. I'm wondering if, following that study, the minister has finally decided to take some action on the issue of absentee foreign ownership of British Columbia land, particularly in the agricultural area. We know that up in Peace River about 30 percent of the agricultural land is now owned outside of this province and country. That's a disgrace, in my view. But I assume that this do-nothing minister will again do nothing about the issue. He doesn't care if the foreign purchases of land in this province drive the price of land up, drive up the assessments, and force people off their properties because they can't pay the taxes that are imposed on them because of high assessments. It's partly because of the foreign purchases.
That resource is too valuable to allow decisions to be made outside of this country with respect to land, particularly agricultural land. I hope the minister will, at this stage, tell the House that he is, in fact, going to take some action on the issue.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Short questions deserve short answers.
First of all, Hornby Lodge. I wasn't being facetious to the member. I was being factual when I said that I'm contemplating selling that lodge and those other buildings.
MS. SANFORD: Does that include the park?
HON. MR. CHABOT: No, no. It's a beautiful park and it should stay intact. That's why it was acquired. But I'm looking at the possibility of selling the lodge and the buildings associated with the uplands of that park and removing them from the park. They've been sitting there for I don't know how many years unoccupied and deteriorating. Rather than keep them as an incompatible use within the park, I think it is more appropriate that we remove these buildings from the park. I intend to proceed in that direction fairly soon.
MR. GABELMANN: By 1995 will be soon for you.
HON. MR. CHABOT: No, I would think in the next few months, unless I get too many panicky people from Hornby Island writing to me or something.
I'll have to get some information from my office later on that moratorium that was imposed in the Buckley Bay region. I'll have to find out just where it's at. I always thought there was just one ministry involved, and I'll have to determine just where we're at on that issue.
On the question of foreign ownership of land in British Columbia, I think I've stated before that it's not the significant problem that the member for Comox (Ms. Sanford) suggests. There aren't that many parts of British Columbia that are owned by foreigners, Only 2.9 percent of the farmland in the province is owned by foreigners, a very small percentage.
MS. SANFORD: It may be small to him. But we are talking about millions of acres owned by people outside of this country.
HON. MR. CHABOT: No, you're wrong.
MS. SANFORD: I'm not talking about just the farmland at this moment; I'm talking about all land that is owned by people outside of this country. This minister keeps saying that it's not an important issue and that it's really not significant. I tried to point out to him how important the resource is. Here again I'm speaking just about farmland. It is so important a resource to the people of British Columbia that we should not allow decisions about the use of that resource to be made outside of this country. It is the West Germans at the moment who are purchasing the largest areas of farmland.
The other thing is that in Manitoba, where an NDP government was elected last fall, they have already brought in new legislation dealing with foreign ownership of land. What is that minister doing over there? He obviously doesn't care; that's the only conclusion I can arrive at. He doesn't care about the issue.
HON. MR. CHABOT: Certainly I care about the issue. That's why we've carried out an intensive monitoring program to determine how significant the issue is. The member quotes wild statements about millions of acres being foreign-owned in British Columbia. That is an erroneous, fictitious number. I say that the amount of farmland owned by foreign citizens is 2.9 percent — insignificant.
MR. KEMPF: The question of foreshore leases came up in debate a few minutes ago. Although I wasn't going to speak on that particular subject, I've changed my mind. It's not very often that I would agree, either in this House or outside of it, with the socialists opposite, but I would agree with the member for Nelson-Creston (Mr. Nicolson) when he talks about the citizens of this province being overcharged. I think it goes along with what I said earlier about the cost of Crown land for agricultural purposes in the province of British Columbia. I too take exception to the policy we have in regard to charging our citizens for foreshore leases. I'd like to give a very real example, which happens to be a commercial foreshore lease, of the detriment that it's causing citizens in the province of British Columbia.
[ Page 8611 ]
I cite the situation of a George and Ruth Smith on Takysie Lake in my constituency of Omineca, Mr. Chairman. I came upon this situation a couple of years ago, and I was astounded to find what we were doing to those people in regard to the charge — a charge, I might add, that was never before levied, although these people have owned this very small and very insignificant resort on Takysie Lake for several years. But unfortunately, on a particular day, I guess one of the employees of the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing was driving along the road on a sunny afternoon and spotted what he considered a trespass on a foreshore lease on Takysie Lake. I've got to relate the story that emanated from that discovery. Pretty soon these constituents of mine received a letter saying that henceforth they would have to pay for the use of that foreshore in the form of a lease.
[Ms. Sanford in the chair.]
I'd like to read parts of the reply from my constituent to the ministry's office in Burns Lake in regard to that letter which they received. I don't want to read all the letter, but I want to quote most of it. He's writing this letter to Transport Canada, not knowing whom to write to in this particular case.
"Your department wants a ridiculous amount; the provincial government Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing wants a similar amount. We have a small resort on a small lake (Takysie Lake), 15 campsites, two wooden docks which are used for our own boats, a boat-launching ramp which consists of a dirt path to the lake, which seems to be the big concern of your people. We have been told that because we charge for boat-launching, we must pay the government their share. We are willing to do much better than that. We will turn over to the government our total revenue from the boat-launching facility in 1980."
This letter was written in 1981. But in 1980, when records were kept:
"Thirty-six launchings at $1.50 equalled a total revenue of $54. The other alternative will be to stop charging altogether. We do not understand from your Vancouver office why it is that the government wishes more than our total revenue for this facility."
I would just like to read from parts of a lease agreement. which would almost take a Philadelphia lawyer to understand, that was sent to these constituents of mine in relation to that particular foreshore lease. It points out that they must prepay a ten-year foreshore lease. The total prepayment would have to be $500, which is a security deposit, plus an additional $1,010, for a total of $1,500 for ten years. That's $150 a year, and is almost three times more per year than the total revenue that facility would bring these people. I think that's out of line. I think that's exorbitant. I don't agree that that is a proper charge to be levied by government on the citizens of this province. I take exception, as have other members this afternoon, to that policy.
That's not what I wanted to talk about. When I was last on my feet I was talking about agricultural leases and the problems faced by some of my constituents in regard to the cost of those agricultural leases. During the debate this afternoon I heard that the minister is looking for ways to make the policy "more efficient and less frustrating." Well, I too look very seriously to that kind of new mentality in that ministry. This afternoon I also heard the minister talk about the grandiose strategic land-use plans now going into place. On behalf of those citizens whom I represent, I'd just like to say that we're absolutely fed to the teeth with Victoria bureaucrats telling the people of the north where they're going to live and what they're going to live on.
[Mr. Davidson in the chair.]
MR. KEMPF: No. I don't think this is a political issue at all. I take offence at members opposite suggesting that it might be. I think it's a people issue. It's one which I take very seriously.
As I was saying, I think the people of the north, particularly those in my constituency, are fed to the teeth with bureaucrats in Victoria telling them where they're going to live and what they're going to live on.
MR. KEMPF: Mr. Chairman, the member for New Westminster (Mr. Cocke) chatters away. Have we heard him in this debate talking about land? No, we haven't. Do you know why? Because he doesn't know anything about it. Yet he chatters from the other side of the floor when somebody who knows something about the land problems of this province is on his feet and making those problems known to this Legislative Assembly.
I don't think it's for the bureaucrats to tell the citizens of this province whether they should live on rural Crown land subdivisions, where those subdivisions should be and who should live on those subdivisions. I heard the minister talk about his ministry as providing one out of six of the residential parcels of land in this province. I would suggest that this is the crux of the problem. My people don't want to be told where they can live and on what parcel of land. They want to make that decision themselves.
MR. KEMPF: The members opposite take very lightly the real problem faced by the people of this province in relation to land. I don't take it lightly, and I intend to keep the debate going for a long time in this chamber.
I was talking when I was last on my feet about a constituent of mine....
MR. KEMPF: Mr. Chairman, we've still got seven minutes. However, if it's the wish of the House Leader (Hon. Mr. Gardom) that we rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, I'll so do.
The House resumed. Mr. Speaker in the chair.
The committee, having reported progress, was granted leave to sit again.
MS. SANFORD: On a point of order, earlier today, during debate on Bill 26, I read into the record a list of percentage increases in UIC claimants between June of this year and June of last year. Regrettably, those percentages were in error, and I wish to apologize to the Legislature and to
[ Page 8612 ]
all members of the House, and ask leave to file with the House the corrected figures.
MR. SPEAKER: Just as an observation, the point of order made by the hon. member for Comox (Ms. Sanford) was not a legitimate point of order. Perhaps if it were raised as a matter of privilege, then the Chair could anticipate it. No objection having been taken, this is just a matter for future consideration.
Hon. Mr. Rogers tabled the annual report of British Columbia Place.
Hon. Mr. Gardom moved adjournment of the House.
The House adjourned at 5:55 p.m.
WRITTEN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
9 Mr. Barber asked the Hon. the Provincial Secretary and Minister of Government Services the following questions:
With respect to the State Ball held Monday, November 23, 1981—
1. How many vehicles were in the service or employ of the Government of British Columbia in connection with this event?
2. What was the make and model of each such vehicle in the service or employ of the Government of British Columbia, and what was the cost of service on that date?
3. From which appropriations were the costs of such vehicles paid?
4. Were any vehicles donated free of charge for the use and enjoyment of members of the Executive Council and, if so, by whom were they donated?
5. With respect to any vehicles mentioned and replied to in No. 4, who is the registered owner, what was the make and model of the vehicle(s) thus donated, and what was the market value of the donated service?
The Hon. E. M. Wolfe replied as follows:
"1. I have no information on the personal expenses or travel arrangements of other members of the Executive Council, members of the Legislative Assembly or invited guests who attended the State Ball held at Government House on Monday, November 23, 1981. No vehicles were leased through my Ministry nor were any vehicles donated free of charge to my Ministry for use at the State Ball.
"2, 3, 4 and 5. Not applicable."
50 Ms. Brown asked the Hon. the Minister of Human Resources the following questions:
With reference to social assistance fraud—
1. Were any persons formally charged with defrauding the Government of social allowance payments in any of the fiscal years 1976/77, 1977/78, 1978/79, 1979/80 and 1980/81?
2. If the answer to No. 1 is "yes", in the case of each year (a) how many persons were charged, (b) how many, if any, were convicted and (c) what was the total amount involved in cases where conviction was obtained?
3. With reference to "fraud investigators" in the Ministry, what are the names, salaries, previous occupations, and locations of the investigators?
4. What is the total number of administrative staff, excluding the investigators?
5. What is the total cost and number of months, covered for the investigators and administration in 1976/77, 1977/78, 1978/79, 1979/80 and 1980/81?
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The Hon. G. M. McCarthy replied as follows:
|(a)||Number of persons||
|(b)||Number of persons||
Cases still before Courts as of April 1, 1981, 179. In addition, many more cases are dealt with through agreements with clients without proceeding with criminal charges. In 1980/81, 687 cases were terminated due to the inspectors involvement which covered $311,147.02 in monthly assistance. Had each of these cases continued for an additional three months undetected, the over-payment would have neared the million dollar mark. 675 settlements were negotiated without court in the amount of $583,818.28.
"3. As of March 31, 1981 the names, salaries, previous occupations and locations of investigators were as follows:
|Roy L. Johnson||
|Ken Katzalay||Vernon||2,033||Police Staff Sergeant|
|M. Donovan||Vernon||2,033||Constable, Insurance Agent|
|J. Rutter||Vancouver (Reg. 2)||2,033||Constable, Social Worker|
|A. Lloyd||Vancouver (Reg. 2)||2,033||Financial Assistance Worker|
|M. Springall||Vancouver (Reg. 2)||2,033||Financial Assistance Worker|
|Myles McLeod||Cranbrook||2,033||Police Staff Sergeant|
|Keith McFayden||Nelson||2,033||Police Corporal|
|D. J. C. Talbot||Prince George||2,010||Police Constable|
|G. E. C. Danielson||Prince George||1,971||Police Staff Sergeant|
|Henry Hryciw||Abbotsford||2,033||Police Staff Sergeant|
|B. Efic Rowe||Abbotsford||2,033||Constable, Sheriff|
|Phil Welock||Terrace||2,033||Constable, Stager|
|Jim McDonald||Dawson Creek||1,971||Financial Assistance Worker|
|Elden Taylor||Duncan||2,033||Constable, Sheriff|
|Jack Willie||Kamloops||2,033||Financial Assistance Worker|
|Alex Hawrys||Victoria||2,033||Police Officer|
|George Whittaker||Victoria||1,971||Police Staff Sergeant|
|Larry Ivison||Delta||2,033||Police Constable|
|Frank Smyth||New Westminster||2,033||Training Officer|
|Ken Jensen||New Westminster||2,033||Police Corporal|
|Wayne Skelley||Vancouver (Reg. 14)||1,971||Police Corporal|
|Bruce Marsh||Vancouver (Reg. 15)||1,971||Police Constable|
|Wm. Summersgill||Vancouver (Reg. 16)||1,971||Military Investigator|
|Wally Welychka||Vancouver (Reg. 16)||1,971||Police Sergeant|
|Frank Waterfield||Vancouver (Reg. 17)||2,033||Constable, Sheriff|
|Marsh Lynch||Surrey||2,033||Municipal Employee|
|Robert Hayward||Vancouver||2,033||Pharmaceutical Salesman|
"4. Administrative staff, excluding the investigators, Nil. The investigators utilize steno pools for their office requirements, i.e., typing, filing, office routines.
"5. Total costs: 1976/77, $176,652.00; 1977/78, $601,208.00; 1978/79, $618,100.00; 1979/80, $653,243.75; and 1980/81, $733,836.39."
53 Ms. Brown asked the Hon. the Minister of Human Resources the following questions:
With reference to the number of social assistance recipients placed in employment—
1. Were any placements made in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981?
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2. If the answer to No. 1 is "yes", how many persons were placed in each month in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981?
3. Were any of these placements made in ministries of the Provincial Government and if so, how many, and in which ministries?
4. Were any of these placements made in ministries of the Federal Government and if so, how many, and in which ministries?
5. Were any of the placements in private employment subsidized in any way by the Provincial or Federal Governments?
6. If the answer to No. 5 is "yes", how many jobs were subsidized and what was the total cost to (a) the Provincial Government and (b) the Federal Government?
7. Were any of the placements made through Department of Employment and Immigration?
8. If the answer to No. 7 is "yes", how many in each month?
The Hon. G. M. McCarthy replied as follows:
In April 1980, the Ministry shifted its emphasis from job placement to helping the recipient gain sufficient skills and confidence to find his or her own job. Statistical data on job placement is not consistently collected due to this change in emphasis in the Ministry's rehabilitation program.
"3. The information requested was not collected by this Ministry.
"4. Statistics on federal government subsidized placements are not collected.
"6. (a) In the 1981-82 fiscal year, the Ministry of Labour committed $591,571.44 to employers providing training for income assistance recipients on 485 jobs, and (b) statistics on federal government subsidized placements are not collected.
"7. All employable income assistance clients are expected to register at local CEIC's as a requirement for income assistance eligibility, in order to enhance their opportunity to secure their own employment.
"8. This statistical information is not collected."
74 Mr. Lorimer asked the Hon. the Provincial Secretary and Minister of Government Services the following question:
With reference to the Lower Mainland Regional Correctional Centre, how much was spent on capital improvements (a) during the year ended June 21, 1981 and (b) during the year ended June 21, 1982?
The Hon. E. M. Wolfe replied as follows:
"Capital expenditures on the Correctional Centre for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1981 were $184,103.
"For the fiscal year ended March 31, 1982 capital costs were $71,578."