Monday, November 28, 2005 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
By-election Return to Writ
Speaker: I wish to inform the Assembly that I have received a letter from the Chief Electoral Officer respecting the by-election held in the Electoral District of Copperbelt on November 21, 2005. The letter, dated November 28, 2005, reads as follows:
ďThe resignation on September 9, 2005, of Haakon Arntzen, the Member for the Electoral District of Copperbelt, caused a vacancy in the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
ďA writ of election to fill this vacancy was issued on October 21, 2005, with polling day being November 21, 2005.
ďI hereby advise that the returning officer for the Electoral District of Copperbelt has certified in the Return to the Writ that Arthur Mitchell has been elected as the member to represent that electoral district in the Legislative Assembly.
ďPatrick L. Michael
ďChief Electoral Officer.Ē
New Member Takes Seat
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, I wish to present Mr. Arthur Mitchell, the elected Member for Copperbelt, who wishes to now take his seat.
Speaker: The member may now take his seat.
Ms. Duncan escorts Mr. Mitchell to his seat
Speaker: We proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In remembrance of Thomas Faulkner Duncan
Ms. Taylor: I rise to pay tribute to a long time Yukoner, a well respected public servant and devoted family man, Mr. Thomas Faulkner Duncan, otherwise known as Tommy.
Tom Duncan was born in Clydebank, Glasgow, Scotland on June 27, 1921. He served in the Royal Air Force from 1938 until 1955. He was a pilot during World War II, and also served in Egypt and Palestine. During his service he rose to the rank of Flight Lieutenant and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
It was while Tom was with the Royal Air Force that he met Sergeant Colleen Bartlett. While some have the occasion to first meet during a social gathering or perhaps through work, Mr. Duncan and Miss Bartlett met over an assignment ó the assignment ó to clean dishes after an officersí event held in Ottawa. Despite the occasion, the meeting of Tom and Colleen resulted in 60 years of marriage, children, grandchildren and countless memories that will forever remain with the Duncan family.
Soon after their marriage, Tom and Colleen returned to Britain where Tom served at Air Force stations such as Stradishall, Odingham, Lestisher and Ely. These places were also where the Duncan family celebrated the arrival of their children ó Ken, Sheila, Rebecca and Gordon.
In 1955, Tom left the Royal Air Force and with family in hand, emigrated to Canada. They first lived in Edmonton, where their daughter Pat was born.
In 1964, the Duncan family made their way to the Yukon. Whitehorse officially became their home and remains to this day. For the next 21 years, Mr. Duncan worked on behalf of the people of the Yukon as a public servant for the Government of Yukon. Starting out as the principal clerk with the treasury department, Mr. Duncan later served as the director of health insurance services and director of health services. It was under his leadership that Yukonís own health care plan was set up here in the territory.
Unquestionably, Mr. Duncan played an instrumental role in the transfer of health care from the federal level to the Yukon. According to former Yukon minister Flo Whyard, it was Tom Duncan who helped convince federal civil servants that the transfer of medicare was in fact a good idea, that it made sense and that Yukon had more than enough capacity to assume this important responsibility.
Among those who worked alongside him, Tom Duncan will long be remembered as forward-thinking, particularly in relation to matters such as numbering on health care cards, as well as the organization of health insurance for Yukoners travelling outside the territory.
From 1980 to 1985, he worked for the Department of Justice as the judicial administrator, program manager and acting deputy minister. During that time, he worked with architects, the judiciary and the legal community to aid in the construction of the Andrew Philipsen Law Centre.
An additional accomplishment of significance during his years with the government was his continuation of education by correspondence, which earned him the distinction of being the first Yukoner to achieve the certified general accountant designation.
Throughout his many years of employment with the Yukon government, Mr. Duncan garnered the respect of his colleagues and those he served. No matter what the challenge at hand, one could always rely upon his sound advice and coming up with solutions when the occasion arose.
He was respectful of the public service and the public he worked for. He was also respectful of public finances and that dollars spent were in fact the dollars of Yukon taxpayers.
He was well known; he was liked by all and will forever be recognized for his integrity and commitment to the public good.
Mr. Speaker, George Bernard Shaw once said, ďPerhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family,Ē and this was certainly the case for Tom Duncan. Whether it was fishing, weekend road trips or conducting casting lessons on the lawn, Tom Duncan was a dedicated family man.
Mr. Duncanís accomplishments also extended to the community. As a member of the Whitehorse Lions Club, he helped with the building of the former swimming pool on 4th Avenue. He was a three-time member of the Yukon/Northwest Territories senior menís curling team and a founding member of the Mountainview Golf Course.
He was also an avid gardener, a skill that led to the planting of lilac bushes within the yards of many homes here in Whitehorse ó one of those homes being Copper Ridge Place, where Mr. Duncan spent his last year. A husband of 60 years, a father of five children, a grandfather of 11 grandchildren, a Yukoner with a heart of gold, Tom Duncan will certainly be missed by many. He will long be remembered by family and friends for his sense of humour, his inner strength, and his unequivocal love for his family and community.
As the MLA for Whitehorse West and on behalf of the Yukon Party caucus, I wish to extend our sincere condolences to the Duncan family and to the MLA for Porter Creek South for their loss.
Mr. Hardy: What makes a safe, healthy and happy community, Mr. Speaker? Itís those who give without asking for recognition. Itís those who know the importance of community service. It is those who make a commitment to our community and our society as a whole. Tom Duncan was such a person. There is no question about it.
As his daughter Pat, a member for the third party, said at his funeral, this long-time civil servant worked on a number of projects that helped to make this community better, and the legacy is all around us.
Whether during his military service between 1938 and 1955, his career as a civil servant in the Yukon from 1964 to 1985, or as a loving husband and parent, he pursued his passion for excellence with zeal.
Tom was born in 1927 near Glasgow, Scotland. I travelled to Glasgow in Scotland, and when I see that name or I hear of people who are from there, thereís no question that you recognize the strength of character it must take to live in Glasgow. Itís a wonderful place, but compared to the rest of Scotland itís a very strong, vibrant community, and the people who come from there, I think, have left their mark around the world, and Tom definitely has.
He first joined the territorial government as a principal clerk with the treasury department but was later appointed administrator of the Yukon health care insurance plan and the Yukon hospital insurance service.
Itís hard to again mention some of the things Iím saying, but I think they deserve to be repeated. It was while he held that position that he became one of the key players in the transfer of health care from the federal to the territorial government. Itís my understanding that, next to his family, this is one of his proudest achievements, and itís definitely one to be very proud of.
He was also instrumental, along with Bob Porsild, in bringing the senior citizen utility grant to the Yukon. I know many seniors who are very, very thankful for that. It has a tremendous impact on their lives and the quality of their lives. As we all know, those grants have helped reduce the pain of heating the homes that seniors own or rent as we continue to see the rise in costs, and helped seniors to be able to continue to live the life that they choose in their own homes. Many of them recognize that Tom was a person, along with Bob, who helped make that happen.
When he moved over to the Justice department, Tom worked with architects and members of the legal community on the Andrew A. Philipsen Law Centre, just before he retired from the civil service in 1985. As Pat said of him, just after his death in September, he was an absolute public servant. He was dedicated to the belief that government should spend the taxes it collects carefully and wisely.
Tom was also an avid sports fan and participant. He was a three-time member of the Yukon/N.W.T. senior menís national curling team, a founding member of the Mountainview Golf Club and helped build the Lions Pool in Whitehorse. I donít golf, but I swam in that pool when there was no roof over it and my kids swam in it, so, again, I think back that he was a part of something that I have benefited from, as well as my family.
He loved fishing and language, professional hockey and football, gardening and music. He was also very close to children and generous with his time as a volunteer. He was respected for his integrity and commitment to the public good. He clearly made a difference and will be greatly missed by all those who knew him. Besides his wife Colleen, and daughter Pat, Tom leaves behind four other grown children ó Ken, Sheila, Rebecca and Gordon ó as well as 11 grandchildren.
Our parentsí legacy is often the activities of their children, how they raised their children, what examples they set for them and how the children go out into the world and contribute to making this a better place. I believe that Tom has left a great legacy through his children, because we know his children are very active in the community, in political life, and are very committed to making the Yukon a much better place to live for everybody. Thatís a great legacy to leave behind.
To close, one of Tomís favourite toasts was ó this is so Scottish: ďLong may your chimney blow smoke.Ē Letís keep that in mind.
Ms. Duncan: I rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to thank the Government of Yukon, as represented by the Member for Whitehorse West, and the leader of the official opposition, the Member for Whitehorse Centre and leader of the NDP, for their kind tributes today to my dad, Tommy Duncan.
My dad would be truly honoured by your recognition today. He would have said he had a good life, having shared 60 years of it with my mom, Colleen Duncan, who has joined us, my sister Rebecca, and my brother Gordonís son, Brandon, is representing him, as well, today. Gord was very fond of saying that Dad had a great seasonís ticket that went into double overtime, much as his beloved Edmonton Eskimos did yesterday.
My mother and father-in-law, Pat and Gerry Berube, have joined us. They met my dad at curling clubs throughout the Yukon. Former Health minister Flo Whyard and Dad worked tirelessly to ensure we have the health care system we enjoy today.
Mrs. Dorothy Smith and our former Commissioner, Jim Smith, are here as well. Until my dadís passing in September, Mr. Smith and my dad were still patiently discussing and explaining to me how things ought to be done in the Government of Yukon.
Debbie Hoffman of Lackowicz Shier & Hoffman has joined us today via the radio, as my dad used to do. As the administrator of justice in the territory, Dad worked on the Andrew Philipsen Law Centre and the hosting of the attorney generals of Canada visit to Whitehorse in September 1984. The Yukon photograph commissioned for that event hangs in Ms. Hoffmanís office, a mark of my fatherís respect for her and for her firm.
Mrs. Marlene Sudeyko has also joined us; itís lovely to see you here today.
The photographs and the contributions left behind are a tribute to someone who absolutely believed in public service as service to the public.
Thank you again to my colleagues and to the visitors and family who have joined us; thank you for your tribute today.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Rouble: Iíd like all members of our Assembly to join me in welcoming Mr. Dennis MacKay. Mr. MacKay is the MLA for Bulkley Valley-Stikine in the British Columbia Legislative Assembly. Iíd like to wish him a safe drive through the beautiful Southern Lakes, while he visits his communities.
Mr. Mitchell: Iíd like to welcome to the gallery today my wife, Nancy Mitchell, who has been able to join me today, and also a friend and the new executive director of Skills Canada Yukon, Mr. Dan Curtis.
Speaker: Are there any other introductions of visitors?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Speaker: Under tabling returns and documents, I have for tabling the letter from the Chief Electoral Officer respecting the by-election held in the Electoral District of Copperbelt that the House was informed of earlier today.
Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I have for tabling laboratory reports and letters on behalf of the Department of Environment.
Speaker: Are there any further returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Ms. Duncan: † I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House congratulates the Government of Canada for addressing several outstanding aboriginal issues at the recent summit held in Kelowna.
Mr. McRobb: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Minister of Health and Social Services, in conjunction with the Minister of Community Services and the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation, to direct the two departments and the corporation to hold public information sessions in all Yukon communities to provide factual information about the health risks associated with black mould, how to identify the presence of black mould in homes and public buildings, and what procedures to take if it is found.
Mrs. Peter: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) many youths in Whitehorse and the communities are in need of a safe place to stay;
(2) homeless youth affect the whole community;
(3) a range of supports are needed to respond to the needs of homeless youth; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to respond to the recommendations in the recent report from the Whitehorse Planning Group on Homelessness by assuring continued and enhanced funding for the agencies now involved in supporting homeless youth and to research innovative and progressive programs and policies that will effectively support the needs of youth in the Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a statement by a minister?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re:† †Black mould, information campaign
†Mr. McRobb: Last week we heard disturbing reports about black mould in several homes in Carmacks. Seven out of 10 homes tested were found to be unfit to live in without major repairs. The expert report also recommended that four homes be destroyed.
Moulds release chemicals and spores that are toxic if inhaled. The report suggested various illnesses and possibly some deaths in Carmacks may be attributed to the fungi found there. Now that this government said it is rolling up its sleeves on social issues, what is it doing to investigate and combat the incidence of black mould in all Yukon communities?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Black mould is certainly a known hazard in the north and certainly it has been known out there for a long time. The incident in Carmacks involves First Nation housing, which is clearly the purview of the federal government. Yukon Housing, however, has jumped in and offered what support we can. Weíve also provided some vacant units there to the First Nation to house some of the families that have been moved out and would therefore have no place to live until there is some resolution to this. Hopefully, the work of our federal government will address the First Nation housing needs, and we are working with the federal government on a daily basis to try to address that problem.
Mr. McRobb: When a house is condemned because of mould, it requires the replacement of more than just the building. Contents, including furniture, clothing, toys, and electronic equipment have to be destroyed. The ministers responsible for the various agencies are passing the buck back and forth. This is a health issue that affects not just First Nation homes, it can affect all homes and public buildings in the Yukon. Does the Acting Health and Social Services minister accept the Yukon governmentís responsibility for acting on the reportís recommendations about mould found in Yukon homes?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The incident in Carmacks certainly has brought it to the public attention, but itís an issue that we have been working on for some time and it is a concern. The department is actively working in that respect, because it is a known problem in the north. Buildings that have high humidity levels and relatively poor air circulation are at risk. There are programs available through Yukon Housing Corporation, as well, to address this with individual homes. But the Department of Health and Social Services is certainly looking at this issue, as we speak.
Mr. McRobb: A few moments ago, we read a motion into the record asking this government to take action on this serious situation. A systematic health survey is needed to identify homes and people at risk. It should be done Yukon-wide. Information about how to identify moulds in homes and what to do about them is not readily available. Communities need to be informed in a direct way so that people know what to look for and what to do. The Acting Health and Social Services minister must realize the need to work with the Minister of Community Services and the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation ó himself ó to immediately establish a public education campaign, including public meetings in all Yukon communities to provide people with reliable information about the risk from black mould. Will the Acting Health and Social Services minister undertake to do that?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: That is something that the departments are working on and working together on. This has been a known situation for a long, long time. Carmacks has certainly brought it to the forefront, and we are doing what we can to assist the federal government and the First Nations involved. But it is an overall problem, the member opposite is quite correct, and that is why the various departments have been working on this for some time.
Question re:†††† FASD adult offender programs
Mr. Cardiff: In the past three years, at least three adult offenders with FASD have been convicted of major crimes and sentenced to prisons outside of the Yukon Territory. Two of these persons will soon be returning to the Yukon, and one woman who has just been sentenced will return in a few years. None of these people can manage their lives on their own. All of them are considered at high risk to reoffend and require close supervision.
What plan does the Minister of Justice have to provide the support these people need and to protect the public?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The government has a number of departments that work with individuals that come back to the Yukon. I also know that their needs will be met.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, this governmentís proposal for a specialized, therapeutic court is still in the idea stage. There has been no budget allocated and there are no workplans nor deadlines that theyíre working to. Judges have repeatedly called for better treatment options for offenders, whether itís prisoners with mental health issues that are being kept in ďthe holeĒ, or people with serious addictions who canít access treatment. One judge has said that prison sentences and treatment will have been wasted without some kind of structured living environment available once an offender with FASD is released.
When will this minister and the Minister of Health and Social Services put effective supports in place for offenders who need 24-hour supervision after theyíre released?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I believe now the member opposite can truthfully respect the importance of the justice reform process thatís happening right now today. All these issues are of concern and, through the justice reform, these issues will have a better understanding and the government will be able to better meet the needs of the individuals.
Mr. Cardiff: The facts are that some of these people canít wait for the corrections consultation to finish. They need support now. The number of adults with FASD in the Yukon is probably one of the highest in Canada. Many of them live alone; they find themselves involved in crime and violence. Putting these people in jail reduces the risk to the public only for a period of time. They need help controlling their lives when they are released.
Supported independent living and adult foster care do not provide the 24-hour supervision thatís needed, and weíve waited three years for this governmentís correctional reform initiatives. These people cannot wait much longer. They need the help now.
Can the minister give his assurance that this aspect of restorative justice will not be overlooked if and when we see some concrete action on correctional reform?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Maybe it would be appropriate to share with the members in this House some of the services the Justice department is currently undertaking.
VictimLINK crisis line is now available 24 hours a day; Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court is now offered in Whitehorse and Watson Lake; the victim service and family violence prevention unit offers support services and professional help to victims of crime and abuse; every Yukon community has counsellors assigned to work directly with both victims and offenders; formal training sessions have been provided in a variety of communities to shelters, shelter workers, JPs and the RCMP on such topics as sexual abuse prevention and how to work with victims of domestic violence and coping with trauma.
The unit has also provided peer support training to the individuals who are working with FASD victims. The unit also provides a yearly three-day training session related to family violence. The Protect Yourself, Protect Your Drink campaign, also known as the ďcoaster campaignĒ, was launched in the summer of 2004.
So, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of things taking place.
Question re: Government credibility
†Mr. Mitchell: My question is for the Premier. The most recent snapshot we have of what Yukon voters are concerned about is the Copperbelt by-election. I spoke to hundreds of voters, and there were some common messages that I heard. People are concerned about access to family doctors. They are concerned about substance abuse and crime in their neighbourhoods. They are concerned about green space. These issues all came up at different homes.
There was one theme, however, that I heard over and over. It was ethical leadership or the lack of it from the Yukon Party government. I know the Premier has heard it as well. What does the Premier intend to do to raise the ethical bar over the last year of this governmentís mandate?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I hope the member opposite ó newly elected and as recent as today, joining this Assembly ó is not making suggestions here. Obviously, the riding of Copperbelt voted. They have made their choice and so be it. This government respects that choice, but the government also intends to carry on with its plan and vision for this territory. Those things come in many forms, Mr. Speaker, whether it be the economy or the social fabric, the environment, the education system, or indeed the health care system. The government is working on all fronts. Ethically, with a lot of effort and ó again, Mr. Speaker, I hope the member opposite isnít making some sort of suggestion here. This is the place for constructive debate.
Mr. Mitchell: † Mr. Speaker, the Premier didnít answer the question. I just spent the last three months listening to voters. One concern stood out among all the others and that is a lack of ethical leadership from Yukon Party government. Even the Yukon Party candidate admitted after the election that ethical issues were a big factor in her loss. You canít fix a problem until you admit there is a problem. The government has a big problem with Yukon voters. Yukoners are very disturbed about the lack of ethical leadership under this government. There is less than a year left in the mandate. What does the Premier plan to do to raise the ethical bar in the next 10 months?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: We intend to continue to govern at the highest possible level of ethics, as we have since day one. But maybe the member opposite could list for this House and the Yukon public, an example of what the member would define as ďethicalĒ or ďunethicalĒ governance.
Mr. Mitchell: From meddling in contracts to the ministerís criticism of public servants, to stalling on whistle-blower legislation, Yukoners are fed up. Every time you open the Globe and Mail and see the word ďYukonĒ, it is followed by criminal charges or other embarrassing news. I heard it over and over again from the voters. It all comes down to ethics. People want the Premier to admit there is a problem and to do something about it. What does the Premier plan to do to raise the ethical bar in the next 10 months?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that if you look nationally and internationally and whatís happening in todayís Yukon, there is a much different picture. Secondly, this government has no qualms whatsoever about allowing the Yukon public to make their choice in the next general election. The measurement of governance is more than just simply what the opposition tries to create in the public domain. The measurement of governance comes in many forms.
†If the member opposite is referring to the loans issue, this is the first government that has triggered a collection process, and there is some optic evidence here in this Assembly today of what that collection process is all about at the highest level of ethics, Mr. Speaker.
If the member opposite is referring to my individual past, itís well known and they can repeat it all they would like to repeat it. Is the member opposite, though, implying that members on this side of the House are unethical in any way, shape or form? I challenge the member opposite to make those accusations in the appropriate domain. As far as the government is concerned, Mr. Speaker, we have governed with the highest ethics, and we will continue to do so. Weíve demonstrated that in the most recent campaign.
Question re: Alaska Highway pipeline project
†Mr. McRobb: My question is for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. Yukoners deserve to know when the construction of the Alaska Highway pipeline project is likely to occur so they can prepare for it. Sure, the decision will be made by the producers. However, considering the taxpayersí dollars this government is spending on this matter, the Yukonís energy minister should at least be in the pipeline loop. Recently, this government estimated that the Alaska Highway pipeline project will be on stream by the year 2012. Does the energy minister still stand behind that timeline, or does he have a revised schedule he would like to share with us?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Both dates are set by industry. We donít have input on when the pipeline is going to be built through this jurisdiction or whether it is going to be built through this jurisdiction.
Mr. McRobb: Obviously, the minister is not in the pipeline loop ó more taxpayersí dollars thrown away, Mr. Speaker. I hope the minister at least paid attention to the latest news out of the N.W.T. with respect to the timing of the Mackenzie gas pipeline. A renowned expert, who was interviewed on CBCís Northbeat last Thursday, estimated that the Mackenzie gas pipeline is now seven years away from being in service. He indicated its regulatory process would alone take two to three years to conclude.
We know that both pipelines cannot be built concurrently, due to labour and material constraints. So if the N.W.T.ís pipeline is actually constructed in the years 2009 to 2011, what is this ministerís expectation for the construction period of our pipeline?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Again, the member opposite is wrong. I donít make that decision. That will be a decision made at a very high level in industry. Our job is to get our jurisdiction pipeline ready if, in fact, the pipeline goes forward, and we are doing that. The Premier and the First Nations met in Ottawa last week, Mr. Speaker, to get some commitment by the federal government to move forward on what the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition ó so we can do just exactly what the member opposite is asking.
††††††† Mr. McRobb: † This minister and this government have repeatedly said the year 2012. Now he wonít even stand up for what he said. The application submitted by TransCanada Corporation to Alaska last year to build the pipeline included a schedule setting out the timing of the various components. This schedule indicated that the construction period would occur in the years 2009-11. Thatís precisely the same period now estimated for the construction of the Mackenzie gas pipeline. Again, we know both canít be built concurrently, so does the minister at least know whether our pipeline would be built after the N.W.T.ís, or is there still a chance it would be built first?
Hon. Mr. Lang: To answer the member opposite, our pipeline was announced in 1978. I do not set the dates for the building of the Alaska Highway pipeline, nor does anybody in the Yukon. The Mackenzie Valley pipeline is another issue. We are not part of nor privy to the work that is being done on the Mackenzie Valley pipeline regarding dates. So to stand in this House and mention any date is irresponsible.
Question re:† Carmacks school
Mr. Fairclough: My question is for the Premier. The Premier has made a big deal about his promise to make First Nations full partners in economic development. It was one of the highest priorities of his party. In Carmacks a new school is a major development and locals expect to be part of it. To them, construction of this magnitude is economic development. The Premierís Team Yukon approach to governance with Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation has not worked so far, so when does the Premier intend to sit down with Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation and commit to them that they will be full partners in economic development, as promised in his throne speech three years ago?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, Mr. Speaker, you know the government has made a commitment to the community of Carmacks that there would be a school built there. The government also made the commitment to the community of Carmacks that all economic development opportunities will be looked at, and there was also extensive training to assist the citizens in Carmacks in preparation for such projects as the school. To date, the school is being built.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, the question went to the Premier, so I would like the Premier to answer the question, not the Minister of Education.
The Premier ran on a platform, ďBy working together, we can do better.Ē That would be good, Mr. Speaker, if it really happened. Unfortunately, the Premierís actions havenít matched his promises. Three years have gone by, and the government-to-government relationships between Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation and YTG is almost non-existent now. A new $10-million school is under construction in Carmacks, and not one single member of Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation is currently working on that building. This must be a major concern to the Premier. How is the Premier going to fix this problem in Carmacks and live up to his promise about First Nations being full partners in economic development with this government?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, the contractors have agreed to work with Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation, and I as a minister will definitely encourage and support that any construction company working on the school structure will honour and respect the citizens of Carmacks, and they definitely will be given priority in hiring.
Mr. Fairclough: They will be priority hiring. Thatís what the minister said.
Iím hoping that maybe the Premier could answer the question, because this is very important. This is about promises of the Yukon Party to the public out there ó making First Nations full partners in economic development. This is not happening. Weíve seen it time and time again. Where is the First Nation when it comes to development and construction of this school? Itís not there.
Normally, Mr. Speaker, a community would take much pride in building such a structure as this. They can talk about it for years down the road: ďWe built the school in Carmacks.Ē The First Nation people arenít working there. I ask the Premier this: how is he going to fix this problem in Carmacks? I would like the Premier to answer that question.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I sincerely repeat that this construction is a very new construction project and I would tend to believe that if, in fact, what the member opposite is saying is true, maybe at this point in time there would be a different kind of qualifications needed to begin the project. But I certainly, again, state on the floor of this House that I do support full participation from the citizens of Carmacks. Itís a project that is being constructed in their community and they definitely should be the ones to benefit from work.
Question re: Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm
†Mr. Hardy: Last Thursday, the former Environment minister stated that the owners of the Northern Splendor Reindeer Farm had refused to allow the government to test their animals for disease. The facts are these: in December 2004, an official of the ministerís department asked the owners if they would allow some testing to be done. When asked what tests, the answer was vague but it did not include Johneís disease. The animals were still under federal health certification and the next batch of federal tests was due this summer. The owners asked for the request in writing, including what tests were being proposed. No such letter was ever provided and the matter was not raised again.
Will the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources now correct the record on that?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Normally when testing is done, the tests are run on a wider range of disease. To my knowledge, the testing was declined. Further testing in a wider range, on the recommendation of the staff and members within the Department of Environment, produced the test that I tabled today and more tests that will be pending ó but all that was on the recommendation of staff.
Mr. Hardy: The former minister said that various tests were done on the reindeer after the government took charge of them on March 30. In fact, tests on three animals indicated the presence of an antigen closely related to Johneís disease ó in other words, a false positive. The standard test for Johneís cannot be done in that short time.
It has been done by two independent labs and no Johneís found, yet the former minister claimed that there was no choice but to slaughter the entire herd because the animals had Johneís disease.
My question is to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, because he has been totally involved in this and itís on record that he has. So Iím asking him to correct the public record and admit that the government had no way of knowing if the reindeer did or did not have Johneís disease before the decision was made to slaughter the entire herd.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I can state for the record that four animals were tested and three tested positive. The test was done by visualization of the organism; in other words, you could see the organism. They were positive. The recommendations from that point on were done by experts in the field and by the good staff of the Department of Environment, and I have complete faith in that staff.
Mr. Hardy: I canít necessarily go off from what that minister says. He wasnít involved in it at all. Heís just an acting Environment minister. Iíd like see the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources stand up, because he has been actively involved in this wholesale killing. As a matter of fact, anybody who has been involved in forestry would call it a clear-cut in regard to the reindeer of the Yukon.
First they wiped out the reindeer business; then they wiped out the reindeer themselves. The minister also claims that federal protocols were followed, but proper protocol would have been to advise the federal vet, who inspected this herd the whole time it was in the Yukon, that Johneís was suspected and ask him to come up from B.C. and do the proper tests. That would have been the proper protocol to follow. It wasnít.
Why did the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources jump the gun and order the animals destroyed when they hadnít taken this simple step and had no way of knowing for sure if the animals had Johneís disease?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Mr. Speaker, again, for the record, when you visualize or you actually see the organism, that is proof positive that it is there. Johneís disease is a communicable disease for which there is no known cure. It is production-limiting, and it involves the progressive deterioration of the animalsí intestines. Do not confuse it with chronic wasting disease, but it is a form of wasting disease. Fortunately, Johneís disease has never been reported in wildlife, and the department therefore proceeded to do what it had to do in this case, knowing that, in the herd, there were positives by visualization. This was done in conjunction with local veterinarians, with regional veterinarians, with federal veterinarians, with the college at the University of Saskatchewan and by veterinarians in British Columbia, all of whom recommended that the herd be culled.
It is a very unfortunate situation. It is certainly not what anyone wanted to do politically. To be honest, Mr. Speaker, it would have been better to find a home for these animals, which the Minister of Environment at the time tried desperately to do. The recommendation at that point was to not do that. Full briefings and technical briefings were offered to the members opposite, who promptly declined. They prefer to simply call across the floor, off microphone.
Question re: Gambling
Ms. Duncan: I have some questions for the Minister of Justice. Since coming to office, the Premier has refused to rule out the expansion of gambling in the territory. Iíve asked several times what the position of the Yukon Party government is on this specific issue. The Minister of Justice is responsible for regulating gambling in the Yukon. What is the Yukon Party Cabinet position on the expansion of gambling in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Quite frankly, thatís an issue that really hasnít come to this minister for any kind of decision.
Ms. Duncan: The Premier admitted in the Legislature last year that the Yukon Party has had some discussions with First Nations regarding the expansion of gambling in the Yukon. That could mean casinos; it could mean video lottery terminals. There has been some discussion that the new Kwanlin Dun cultural centre on the waterfront may include a casino.
Has the minister or the Government of Yukon received any proposals or plans to expand gambling in the Yukon?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: This side of the House doesnít operate on speculation and, again, there has been no specific request of this minister for any such guidelines or what-have-you on gambling.
Ms. Duncan: I would remind the minister opposite that it was the Premier who admitted in the Legislature last year that the Yukon Party had had some discussions around this subject.
Successive Yukon governments, including the NDP one, which the current Premier was a part of, have opposed the expansion of legalized gambling in the territory. Clearly and unequivocally, previous governments have said no. Perhaps the minister could answer this question: before the Yukon Party allows the expansion of gambling, will the government commit to having full public consultation on this issue to determine any level of public support for the idea? Will they commit to full public consultation on this issue?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: It would be nothing out of the ordinary for the government to have that consultation, because consultation is important on any new initiative. I can assure the member opposite that there has been talk about this for many years within First Nations, but nothing has ever come really to questioning any government about supporting legalized gambling. I know, for many years as a member of the Kwanlin Dun government, I never approached any government as a councillor to request gambling.
So, again, itís something I can assure you that, if this government is in government at the time of the request, there will be full consultation.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Point of personal privilege
Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of personal privilege to advise the House that I have today tendered my resignation as a Cabinet minister and as a member of the Yukon Party caucus. I will continue to sit as an independent member.
My decision was made after many meetings with the constituents in my riding, and discussions with a number of individuals have provided me with sound advice over the years. The people of the Klondike have placed their trust in me on three separate occasions and for this, Mr. Speaker, I truly thank them.
The crux of the problem is what everyone knows ó itís Dawson City. The heart and soul of my community has been ripped out by inefficiencies of government at the municipality level and the territorial level, and itís reverberating within the family units of our whole community.
The previous NDP government and Liberal government flowed some tens of millions of dollars into Dawson to construct a sewage treatment plant and a recreational facility. When the recreational facility started going sideways, they subsequently loaned more money to the community. For the past five years, Dawson City has not had a functioning arena. It has not had a centre for our children to play in and the ice hockey arena, being what it may, is only there when the weather outside is below freezing and they can get the temperature lowered in the building. The curling club has been decimated and it is only through the tireless efforts of a number of individuals that theyíve managed to put something back in place ó all on natural ice.
Mr. Speaker, the forensic audit of Dawsonís officials speaks for itself. But where that is at, I donít know. Itís in the justice system; itís with the RCMP.
What is most troubling, Mr. Speaker, is ó I have been in the government for three years. Prior to that, I raised the alarm bells to the previous Liberal administration about what was occurring in Dawson City. The project management team ó or the PMT ó was assembled under the previous Liberal governmentís watch by their supervisor, appointed by the Liberals under order-in-council. Mr. Speaker, this has proven to be a dismal failure in that the advice provided to the senior level of government, the Yukon government of the day, resulted in this project going ahead ó
Speaker: Order please. Please sit down.
The honourable member is straying away from a point of personal privilege, from the Chairís perspective. The honourable member will have the option of bringing issues important to him and his constituency in this House through other forms of business. If the honourable member has more to say about the specifics of the point of personal privilege, the House would welcome that. Other than that, I would ask the member to conclude, please.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
The whole issue as to why I am leaving government is predicated on what has happened or not happened in my community. What I am calling on the Yukon government to do is conduct a full public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act into the Dawson City situation. It is with deep regret that I step away from the Yukon Party, but I do so in order to best represent my constituents. I have been encouraged by many to return to municipal politics or stay where I am, but one thing that I will do and pledge to my constituents, is to serve them to the best of my abilities.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Mr. Cathers: † Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the acting government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee this afternoon is Bill No. 17, Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06.
Before we continue, do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 17, Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06.
Bill No. 17 ó Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06 ó continued
Department of Highways and Public Works
Hon. Mr. Hart: I am pleased to present the supplementary budget for the Department of Highways and Public Works. I would like to thank all the employees of this department for their hard work. The highway crews have been working very long hours lately to keep our roads safe, mainly due to the conditions we have experienced over the last week. They are the ones who go out when the road conditions are the worst and make them safer for the rest of us.
Last week, we were reminded of the danger involved, when one of our employees was injured on the Campbell Highway while sanding the road. On behalf of the government, I say thank you for your work and best wishes for your recovery.
We have equally dedicated employees in other branches. Many of our employees sacrifice evenings and weekends to ensure that infrastructure that the people and the Government of Yukon need to operate is available. This means providing and maintaining our highways and airports, our buildings and addressing our data networking and information needs, including our French language services. It also means taking care of our procurement and the supplies of goods and services for the government. We have many dedicated employees. We take care of these aspects. On behalf of all Yukoners, I would like to thank each one for his or her hard work.
††††††† I would also now like to address the departmentís goals, which are as follows: to support government program delivery through procurement and management services; to serve the public by managing and regulating transportation, infrastructure, systems and programs; to serve the public and support government departments by developing and maintaining buildings, transportation and technology infrastructure; to provide and promote French language services to government departments and to the Yukon public in accordance with the Yukon Languages Act.
Again, it is my pleasure to present the House today with a supplementary budget for the Department of Highways and Public Works. This budget requires no borrowing for the current account or for capital account expenditures, and it will require no tax increases.
Our progress within the Department of Highways and Public Works in the last year has been remarkable. This progress is as a result of our comprehensive strategy to strengthen the foundation on which the physical, economic and social future of Yukon is built.
Considering the Department of Highways and Public Works has one of the largest budgets within the government, I am very proud to say that our objectives in building our territory are on course and are greatly contributing to the future of the Yukon.
Notre progrŤs dans le dťpartement de la voirie et des travaux publics au cours de la derniŤre annťe a ťtť remarquable. Ce progrŤs est un rťsultat de notre stratťgie complŤte pour renforcer la base sur laquelle le future fiscal, ťconomique et social du Yukon est ťtabli. Considťrant que le dťpartement de la voirie et des travaux publics dťpense un des budgets les plus importants dans le gouvernements, je suis trŤs fier de dire que nos objectifs en construisant notre territoire sont sur le cours et contribuent †considťrablement au futur du Yukon.
It is what I have already read.
The vast majority of items outlined in the supplementary budget are items to consider for revote and simply represent a redistribution of funds throughout the department. The only new monies that are tabled in the supplementary budget will be outlined in an additional $750,000 to our operations and maintenance account that will be used to improve highways and maintenance within the territory and will greatly enhance the level of winter services for Yukoners and thereby contribute to their greater safety.
While I will be tabling a completed supplementary budget for the benefit of the House and members opposite, I wish to now present some of the budget highlights. In keeping with the growing needs to the secure government IT infrastructure and data in cases of emergency, $288,000 is included in this supplementary to provide equipment and network connections for the business continuity off-site facility, which will function as a backup facility for the governmentís information technology infrastructure.
$2,436,000 will be allocated in the supplementary budget to replace the aging MDMRS, or multi-departmental mobile radio system, which is coming to the end of its useful life. This money will allow the government to replace it with the most modern and effective communication system in Yukonís history, ensuring that the territory will have a progressive communications platform for the years and decades to come.††
Mr. Chair, my department has continued its dedication to the people of the Yukon over the past year. It is at this time I wish to highlight just a few of these new accomplishments and funding details.
Monsieur Le President, mon dťpartement a ete continuellement dedie aux personnes de líexcťdent de Yukon derniŤre annťe. Et maintenant, je souhaite accentuer juste quelques-uns de ces nouveaux accomplissements et dťtails de financement.
$154,000 will be allocated in this supplementary in order to maximize the cost efficiencies for several Whitehorse Airport projects, a number of which were completed concurrently with the Whitehorse Airport CATSA renovations. $1.7 million will be used for the reconstruction of kilometre 1558 to 1635 of the Alaska Highway, of which $709,000 is directly recoverable from the Canadian strategic infrastructure fund.
The Alaska Highway is a critical international highway and we are working closely with our partners in the United States to ensure that long-term funding is maintained for this key artery between southern Canada, the Yukon and Alaska. The cost is also offset by additional savings of $150,000 from kilometre 1616 to 1627, a reconstruction project that was less than originally estimated.
Anyone who was on the Alaska Highway this season saw Yukoners at work upgrading the highway. For the Klondike Highway, $409,000 will be used to complete the installation of street lights from kilometre 710 to 750, which will provide a higher degree of safety and security for those motorists using this portion of the highway.
Mr. Chair, $330,000 will be spent to complete pre-planning projects in various locations throughout the territory where geotechnical work was not completed during the winter.
For the Campbell Highway, $105,000 will be allocated in this supplementary, improving the highway from kilometre 10 to 55. Furthermore, $444,000 will be used for pre-planning as required geotechnical work was not completed, and $150,000 will be allocated to increase the highway equipment rental contract in Watson Lake. $300,000 has been allocated to the Dempster Highway in order to address increased surface deterioration on that highway.
To answer the statement from the Member for Kluane on November 24, $595,000 will be spent in order to complete the deck replacement for the Takhini River bridge.
In terms of other roads throughout the territory, I am pleased to announce that $400,000 has been allocated to the following areas: $100,000 to improve safety on the Takhini River road; $100,000 to resurface, provide drainage and upgrade secondary roads such as Grizzly Valley, Horse Creek and East Point roads; $150,000 to align the road around the First Nation reservation, Tagish east, Six Mile area; and $50,000 for secondary road projects will address the clearing and widening of highways due to snow storage issues.
I am pleased to announce that this supplementary includes over $1,256,000 for the federal airports capital assistance program, or ACAP. The money will be used for runway resurfacing and upgrading and the electrical system for the Old Crow Airport.
In addition to the previous budget allotment, a further $628,000 will also be used to implement the new security fencing at the Old Crow Airport, of which 100 percent of this amount is recoverable. I would also like to announce that Dawson City will receive an additional $344,000 for similar security fencing around its airport. This money is provided from the funds approved by Transport Canada and is also 100-percent recoverable.
Mr. Chair, in keeping with the theme of security for Yukon airports, $982,000 will be allocated in this supplementary budget for security renovations at Whitehorse Airport, of which $790,000 is recoverable from the Canadian Airport Transport Security Authority, or CATSA.
The Property Management Agency of my department has also been working very hard for Yukoners. Therefore, it is with great enthusiasm that I announce the following: $214,000 has been allocated to the trolley track extension vehicle and the track upgrades within the City of Whitehorse. Residents and visitors alike took great advantage of our trolley system. Furthermore, both tourism officials and the community viewed the creation of the trolley system as a highly identifiable recreation of our history and culture, a fact my department is very, very proud of, Mr. Chair. Also, $174,000 has been allocated to provide a semi-public potable water system assessment that will provide safe and healthy drinking water in government facilities. This assessment was awarded as a result of specific regulation changes.
Finally, Mr. Chair, $7,000 has been allocated to replace the fuel tank in the main administration building, as this tank is 30 years old and requires replacement.
I would also like to point out that my department brings several conveniences to the daily lives of all Yukoners, while also ensuring that the daily operations of the government are met.
Monsieur Le Prťsident, je voudrais prťciser que mon dťpartement apporte plusieurs commodites aux vies quotidiennes des Yukonerais, tout en síassurant que les opťrations quotidiennes du gouvernment sont ťgalement rencontrťes.
Mr. Chair, Yukoners will drive to work this morning and return to their homes this afternoon on roads and highways that are maintained by my department. Our children, the Yukonís greatest resource, are educated in schools that have been developed, maintained and upgraded by the Property Management Agency, a division of my department. My department, through the information and communication technology division, ensures the flow of information is coordinated within our schools, homes and communities. My department controls and maintains government key assets, which include the buildings used to conduct the work of Yukoners each and every day. These are valuable assets to our government, and we continue to make the necessary investments that will ensure their strength and longevity.
My department, through the Queenís Printer, prints the documents and materials we use here in the House, materials that are used in the courthouse, throughout our education system and the government.
The Bureau of French Language Services, a division of my department, ensures that our citizens have access to materials in both of Canadaís official languages. It provides French training for staff and ensures the translation of materials into French for the Yukonís francophone community.
Le Bureau des Services en Francais, une division de mon dťpartment, síassure que nos citoyens ont accŤs aux matťriaux qui sont dans les deux langues officielles du Canada. Il fournit la formation franÁaise pour le personnel et assure la traduction des matťriaux en francais pour la Communautť francophone du Yukon.
Mr. Chair, my department, through the division of aviation and marine, provides and coordinates the activities of our airports which connect us to the outside world and bring the world to us. My department brings forward investments in our roads, our buildings, airports, our technology, our cultural and most importantly the people of the Yukon.
Mr. Chair, through these significant investments in our roads, airports, buildings and information systems, we are creating a new and vibrant Yukon economy. These investments will provide new opportunity for our citizens, our businesses and lead to great prosperity for the territory. Mr. Chair, my department is the backbone from which the services and solutions Yukoners want from their government are met.
†My department is very proud of its accomplishments and what we have done for the Yukon and its citizens. The department has and will continue to provide the very best services to this territory, with the pride and dedication it has become known for.
Mr. Chair, I would be pleased to answer any questions the members opposite may have for the Highways and Public Works supplementary budget.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Fairclough: I thank the minister for his overview of this supplementary budget. We, of course, always have questions in this department for the minister. We do have many questions in general debate about the department, whatís in the supplementary budget and what is not in the supplementary budget and what could be in the supplementary budget. Iím† hoping that the government would commit to keeping its promises that the government has made over the years. I do have one question in particular that I would like to ask the minister, and that would be in regard to the Carmacks bridge, but I will get to that in a second. I just want the minister to be prepared for that.
We had much debate in this House about the bridge in Dawson City. From day to day, it is moved around between different ministers. It should be the Minister of Highways and Public Works who takes on the bridge in Dawson City. Itís in Economic Development now and may be in Energy, Mines and Resources ó who knows? But the thing is, the bridge is no longer going to be built, so I would think that it is not in Economic Development; thereís no development there. So letís go back to the minister responsible for Highways and Public Works.
The government, the Yukon Party, said that the bridge across the Yukon River in Dawson was a pilot project for a P3 project ó a public/private partnership. I would think that has failed now that we donít have a project.
Maybe the minister could give us a bit of an update on the Dawson bridge. Are the plans going to be pushed aside? Itís not in this Yukon Party mandate now, for the rest of their mandate ó they only have a year to go. Whatís the plan for the bridge now? Are we seeking more bids on this bridge? Are we taking it back out to the public? Is the minister now looking at truly a public/private partnership in regard to this bridge? Because a lot of work has been put in by different companies, bringing forward much detail of what they would do to build a bridge in Dawson City. There is still interest there. I am wondering what the position is of the Yukon Party in regard to this bridge across the Yukon River in Dawson City.
Hon. Mr. Hart: The cancellation of the P3 procurement process has resulted in a delay in construction of the Yukon River bridge, as the member opposite has indicated. But the Yukon government still considers the bridge beneficial for the local economy and we are looking at our options to move forward, as I advised the member opposite. We are continuing to work on the environmental work for that bridge. Pending completion of that work ó it will take some time, from what Iím advised ó we will wait for some feedback on that and we will also look at some further feedback on the bridge from the local residents as well as the issues relating to that. In the meantime, we are going to do the environmental work to meet the Water Board requirements for that particular bridge. We are doing that because, down the road, it may be a viable P3 or it may have to go to a traditional method of financing that bridge.
Right now, those options are all open and we are just trying to keep that option open for us. We need to do this environmental work regardless.
Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Chair. This has cost the government now a fair bit of money to look into this matter, and now the minister is saying we have to go through the steps of environmental assessment, all the environmental work that should have been done, I would think, before a decision is made on what type of bridge is going to be built in Dawson City. I would like to know what the timelines are for completion of this environmental work, and what is the estimated cost to do that work?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Weíre working through the environmental assessment process as it relates to Parks Canada. Environmental assessment input from Parks Canada has outlined some concerns relating to the heritage impact of the bridge. We anticipate it will take between six and seven months for that review to take place, and that will be a review taking place by Parks Canada and submitted to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at a later date.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Speaker, I can see this is another platform commitment by the Yukon Party in and around election time that is soon to come forward. What the minister didnít say is what the estimated cost is to do this environmental work on this process with Parks Canada? Who is footing the bill for this? Is it the Yukon government or is it Government of Canada?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I stated, this is environmental work that is being done on behalf of Parks Canada, so they will be taking care of that particular expense. We will have some additional work that will have to be done on our side. We estimate it will cost between $50,000 and $60,000.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the minister tell us, then, what the up-to-date costs are? What has been spent on the Dawson City bridge to date? If he doesnít have that number in front of him, he can send it over by legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the year 2004-05, we spent $1.1 million. For the year 2005-06, we spent $355,000.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay, those are the rough numbers the member opposite would like to give.
The Yukon Party is continuing with this work. The City of Dawson asked that the Yukon government consider the position of Parks Canada before the decision was made to go with a P3 so that it could be incorporated into the design of the bridge. That hasnít happened, but the Yukon Party is continuing with this process. Six or seven months from now ó possibly in June ó maybe the minister could update us. He said down the road it could be a P3 or it could go through a regular process.
Is the Yukon government still interested in building the bridge through the government contracting process or are we just putting it aside and considering a P3 again? I donít think the cost is going to be any different between what came forward and what will come forward after the environmental process by Parks Canada is completed.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Iíd like to inform the member opposite that we did obtain a Parks Canada review of our bridge prior to us going to a P3. In fact, we got their support on that particular aspect. However, since theyíve been back, theyíve turned their support on this particular item and are asking for a substantial change in their position that was originally provided to us.
Also, for the other question, Iíve indicated in the House here that the current market is very high for the construction of any kind of facility in North America, and weíre trying to keep our governmentís options open. I donít want to dispel the P3 option; it may be an option further down the road, and it may not. As I mentioned to the member opposite, we want to look at all the options to build this bridge. We may build it under our normal procurement method. We may build it under different auspices, depending on whatís available, and the P3 may be something we look at.
But right now, the market is high, and itís very high right throughout North America. The cost of steel is obviously a big factor in the bridge, and I believe if that particular entity goes down at some time in the future, we may be able to look at this bridge again at a more reasonable rate. But I donít want any government to be precluded from looking at the options that may be available to them for building this bridge.
Mr. Fairclough: I donít think that would be the case anyway, but I think there was a campaign commitment they couldnít follow through with.
The ferry will be running. The price of fuel has gone up. Do we expect the cost of O&M for the ferry to rise with the price of fuel, or will it go up higher? Can he also tell us the life expectancy of the ferry? I think the last time we asked this question, the life expectancy was about five years. Since then they have done some work to the engines and so on. Maybe the minister can give me an answer to that.
Hon. Mr. Hart: The member opposite has probably had to put gas in his own vehicle. The government has to put gas in all its vehicles, and we are also finding it difficult to deal with the fluctuations. But we are cash managing our fuel, with the hope that we can keep abreast of that particular situation.
With regard to the ferry, as the member indicated, we have just rebuilt our engines on the ferry and we have ongoing maintenance required every year on the ferry, and I anticipate weíll probably get five or six years out of that ferry still before a major replacement is required.
Mr. Fairclough: When asking questions in the House here on the Dawson City bridge, it appeared that the Yukon Party had all kinds of concerns about the ferry, the use of the ferry ó environmental concerns, the fact that itís killing a lot of fish in the Yukon River and so on. There was a real push to ensure that the bridge was built ó it was a ďfor sureĒ thing at the time. And now what does the Yukon Party say to the public ó that itís not going to happen, not as long as the price of building this bridge is that high.
Now, in keeping with bridge building, I just noticed that in the budget there is a decrease in the rehabilitation of bridges. I would like to know which project is falling off the governmentís project list of bridge rehabilitation, or is it a shift of money to do more work on another bridge? Can the minister provide me with information on that and, if he doesnít have it, provide it by legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Hart: It is a bookkeeping entry, because we had overstated our recovery under the strategic highway infrastructure program.
Mr. Fairclough: So what the minister is saying is that all projects that have been on the departmentís books are continuing and will be completed, as it was brought forward through the main budget. Is that what the ministerís saying?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Yes, to the member opposite, there have been no cuts to our bridge rehabilitation program.
Mr. Fairclough: But there is a decrease. Can the minister provide us with information about the next projects? Which ones are coming up for repairs? We heard a motion from the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin, urging his government to work on the bridge deck across the Teslin River. I thought that was all part of the original project, to make improvements to that bridge, but I may have been wrong on that. Which projects are next on the list? The department always has a big list. Iím particularly interested in the bridge at Pelly Crossing. Iíve brought this up to the minister before many times ó its appearance. Itís rusting; itís in bad need of a paint job, and the minister can answer that question too.
Hon. Mr. Hart: The Takhini River bridge contract has already been awarded. They will commence work next year. In addition, the Donjek River bridge contract is out to tender right now.
Mr. Fairclough: I asked the minister about the bridge across the river in Pelly Crossing. When can we see government working to make improvements there? Over the years, weíve seen a walkway put in and some lighting put in on that bridge, but its appearance right now ó Iím sure the minister drove over that bridge many times this summer. It needs a paint job. There is graffiti all over it. Thatís not what Iím concerned about. Iím concerned about the paint disappearing and it rusting away. I would like to know when that community can expect to see a new paint job on the bridge.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I will concur that he has asked me about this bridge being painted in the past. We are looking at the safety of the bridge itself. We donít look at aesthetics when we are dealing with the priority of paints and all the rest of that. There is one bridge on the Pelly River in Faro that is in worse shape than the bridge the member opposite is concerned about.
As I stated, right now we are trying to concentrate on the safety of our bridges throughout the Yukon. I am proud to say that we have actually invested some money in our bridge rehabilitation over the last few years to try to have a look at all our bridges throughout the Yukon. In fact, we were successful in getting the federal government to assist us on those bridges that are located on the Alaska Highway.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, speaking of safety, bridge safety and so on, there is a single-lane bridge in Carmacks, over the Nordenskiold River. Iíve brought it up many times as a safety issue that people are running across the bridge ó there is no walkway or anything ó but the government did commit to replacing that bridge with a two-lane bridge and a walkway. The replacement bridge should have been built this summer or possibly next summer. That was the governmentís commitment. Are we still on track with that?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The timing of the construction of the bridges is based on volume and the use of those bridges in relation to public safety, as the member opposite said. But there are averages in the Yukon weíre looking at right now that have greater volumes and are much more in need of repair than the Nordenskiold road. But as I mentioned, we would have to look at those particular bridges first. Iíve been across that particular bridge that heís discussing, and I think that that is something we can look at in the future for sure. But right now we have to look at the volume and the safety of the general populous of the Yukon and what is needed to put a bridge in place. Weíre looking at bridges across major trunks of the highway ó i.e., in Carcross and other areas ó to deal with those first, and then weíll look at the member oppositeís question.
Mr. Fairclough: Government has committed to replacing this bridge. They have committed to that. What was proposed for a structure is a two-lane, acropanel structure with a sidewalk, but land issues related to the adjacent property needed to be ironed out. It shouldnít have taken too long to do that.
From the information ó itís a legislative return I have ó it says that itís hoped that a replacement structure can be installed over the next five years, subject to funding being available. The minister talked about safety issues. There have been vehicles jammed in that bridge ó itís a narrow bridge ó bumper to bumper, front bumper to rear bumper; there have been vehicles that have gone over the edge, just before either side of the bridge. The approach to the bridge has always been sinking, and Iíve brought this up to the members opposite. All summer theyíve been putting asphalt down, but it continues to sink. Itís eroding away in and around the concrete abutment. It may take one good high water off the Nordenskiold River to do some serious damage here.
It is a safety issue. A lot of people live on that side of the river. As a matter of fact, the town is expanding that way. I live on that side of the river too, and Iíve seen parents walking their kids across on the very lane in which vehicles travel. There is no walkway. As a matter of fact, right at the edge, because itís the old military-style bridge construction, any small kid could fall through the cross supports of that bridge.
The minister said he would look at it. I would like to know how much seriousness will be put into this bridge replacement and if we could get some time frames.
What we have here is a commitment from government, and this bridge should have been replaced by now. Weíre behind on this matter. We have some savings from the Dawson City bridge. Itís not a very wide span across the Nordenskiold River.
I would like to know how much priority this will be given by the Yukon Party government. I would like to take this information back to my community too, so would the minister provide some information?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I have also driven across this bridge and I concur that the bridge looks like it needs to be replaced, but we have a priority list. We already have several bridges underway for replacement right now. When a bridge review comes up again, I suspect that this will be up there, but we do have a couple of other bridges that need some immediate attention and we will be looking at them first.
As I mentioned, if the resources are available at the time, we will look at replacement of this particular bridge. Right now, we are looking at our specific bridges that, again, have high volumes of traffic, high volumes of usage, and are under stress. We talk about this bridge ó although it is not the prettiest looking bridge in the world, it still serves a purpose. It does require some maintenance but maintenance is being provided and the bridge is structurally sound.
Mr. Fairclough: I didnít say that the bridge would fall down, but it could, because the gravel around the concrete on which it sits on both sides is sloughing away. For years, the Highways department has been stuffing big rocks down there, doing what they can to fill the holes there, and itís still moving away. So, the gravel on the river side is taking all the small stuff away, and we are continuing to see this problem. Whether there is a movement of concrete, I donít know. The bridge itself I donít believe will ever fall down. The bridge itself is structurally sound.
The concern that I have is a safety issue. The member said that thatís a priority of theirs, not because the bridge would fall down, but I think it would be because of the pedestrians and the traffic across that bridge. It is quite a bit more than the member thinks it is, and we do have a lot of people coming off, particularly in the summertime, from the two roads across that go into the mining camps and so on. But I am concerned about the community people.
Now, the minister said that this may be included in the next bridge review. When can we expect that to take place? Can the minister give us a date?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We inspect our bridges biannually, and this particular bridge is getting inspected annually and receiving the maintenance as required, as the member opposite indicated, because of the situation we looked at. But as I also stated, we do not consider this bridge to be unsafe; it is structurally sound and it is maintained ó we are doing the maintenance required to keep it up to date and in place. We, like I stated, review our bridges on a biannual basis ó this particular one, though, we look at every year.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Chair, the department has to look at it every year, because it does require maintenance. You have to pound the nails in. This bridge has a plank bedding so nails keep popping out and the planks keep lifting, so it does require some changes to some of the planks there and to pound the nails back in. So that type of maintenance ó fine. I believe a lot of the filling in was done by the municipality, and some work has been done by the Department of Highways and Public Works on this bridge. I want the minister to give it some serious consideration.
This bridge needs to be replaced, and it needs to be replaced with a two-lane bridge. Itís not a large-span bridge. When I asked the questions of the Liberal government, I believe they had one that they could use. They had it stored somewhere in the southern part of the Yukon. Iím not sure if thatís an option any more or whether or not the department has been looking at a new structure, because much talk has been given over the years to ensure that at least we have a walkway for pedestrians.
Hon. Mr. Hart: We have over 75 to 80 wooden bridges throughout the Yukon. I can assure the member opposite that they all require maintenance on an annual basis. They require nails to be put in, as the member opposite discussed. We have lots of maintenance to do on lots of bridges throughout the Yukon. I assure the member opposite, on the priority basis given, we will look at replacement of this bridge based on that same criterion.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister is saying two things. One was taking action to make improvements to the bridge from a safety point of view. I would think that safety of the public, in the end, is what it is, not because of how it looks, Mr. Chair. I would like to know what the costs would be to replace this bridge with a two-lane bridge and a walkway. I believe the last time, the number floating around was just over $1 million, but Iím not exactly sure what the final cost was. I donít have those numbers in front of me. Iím wondering if the minister can provide that for me.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I donít have those numbers right here at my hands, but we could give the member opposite the latest results that we have.
Mr. Fairclough: If the member would like to look at the letter that was sent by the minister, just look at the legislative return and give some explanation about commitments to the replacement of this bridge, which should have taken place, I believe, in the summer of 2006.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Could I have the date of the legislative return the member opposite is referring to, please?
Mr. Fairclough: Itís November 8, 2001, and itís by the minister of the day, Pam Buckway.
I wonder if we would all get action if we put a motion forward on the floor, like the Member for Pelly-Nisutlin did with the replacement of the decking of the Teslin River bridge. That could work. Maybe thatís the way to do it.
I would like to know about the mobile communications solutions ó MDMRS, now known as MoCS. We had an increase in monies toward that ó I am trying to find it here ó of about $2.4 million for communication equipment. Thatís from the main budget.
Is the minister trying to keep up to the deadlines of the construction? We have here that construction would have already started this year. We are past that. Is the increase to show this construction? Is it possible to do that with the winter weather that weíre into now?
Hon. Mr. Hart: If the member opposite wishes to put forth a motion, I strongly suggest he talk to the current federal government, because that bridge was provided monies through the Canada strategic infrastructure fund. That particular bridge was identified for reconstruction. Also on this matter, we had a three-by-three foot section of the deck that failed recently so, yes, itís in definite need. That indicates it needs repair yesterday.
Weíre in the process of doing that. It was identified last year. It will require a substantial amount of time to rectify, but I look forward to seeing work commencing at least on the deck of the bridge.
With regard to the mobile communications solution, we are currently in procurement and I really canít discuss a lot of detail, especially financial plans at this time; however, I will state to him that the schedule is on track. Construction for the summer of 2006 on the cell and radio is anticipated to be met.
Mr. Fairclough: Just before we go back to this issue, maybe the minister can give us in writing by legislative return a follow-up to the legislative return that we got in 2001. In there, it called for work to be completed on the geotechnical investigation for the foundation. Has that work been done? Itís since 2001, so I expect that work to be done.
†Hon. Mr. Hart: You will note that I got up and asked for when this commitment was made because I know I didnít make any commitment. But I would be more than happy to provide the member opposite with a legislative return of our actions and where we got on that particular bridge.
Mr. Fairclough: Also, there was a proposed structure for this bridge replacement, a two-lane acropanel structure with sidewalks. I havenít seen that, and the minister of the day has not provided me with that. Can the minister provide that information with a legislative return also?
Hon. Mr. Hart: It sounds like heís talking about a Bailey bridge with a walkway. But regardless of the situation, I believe that ó weíll have my department have a look at it and give a full in-depth review and provide that to him in a legislative return.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister is unsure about it, and so am I, and thatís why Iím asking him to direct the department to do that.
In regard to MoCS, weíre behind ó well, the minister said we were on time for the start of construction. All the planning work has been done, the strategic planning and so on, over the past years. That work has been done. I would like to know whatís involved in construction to ensure this project goes ahead. It should have started in the third quarter of 2005.
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I stated to the member opposite, when the live procurement came in for both the radio and cell ó right now it would be unfair to all the components if we were to make any discussions with regard to the financial aspects or construction aspects of the system. I will state, though, that we have progressed to the stage where once the procurements schedules are completed and we select the successful applicant for the cell, we will be going out, we anticipate, sometime early next year for the radio component and we anticipate that we will be ready when the time comes.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister said that we are on schedule, but I am reading the information ó Iím not sure where I got this ó off the Internet I guess. Itís one that Iíve been wanting to ask for awhile. So we are about six months behind ó is that what the minister is saying, that we are about six months behind schedule?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Iíll try to get this out without tipping our hand on this particular issue. We are on schedule for the replacement of the system, we are going to be able to meet the RCMP requirements for the radio, we anticipate that the cell will be up shortly and we will be in a position to move forward on that particular issue. But in essence, we anticipate the construction will take place in the summer of 2006 and that when we terminate MDRMS, as we know it, in 2007, we will be in a position to have a new system in place.
Mr. Fairclough: Construction in the summer of 2006. The minister said that he expects the cell phones to be in place in the communities ó is he talking about cell phones? I see the minister nodding. When will that take place? I see that in here we have the total time for construction to take place being a year and a half, according to the information that I have here. We are talking about the winter ó around Christmastime of 2006 ó for it to be completed. Then there is transition. When can communities, I guess, expect to use cell phones?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Communities will see action on the cell phones during the summer of 2006. We expect that the combination of the radio and the cell will be functional for the summer of 2007. We anticipate that the radio will be ready in time for the deadline, which is June 2007. We anticipate that in June 2007 we will be in a position to see both the radio and cell phones functioning in our 17 communities. You will see construction take place in the communities during the summer of 2006, with functionality by the summer of 2007.
Mr. Fairclough: Now, the government has been working with two telephone companies, ICE Wireless and Northwestel. Are we going into an area where the government canít give any information at this time? Are they part of this whole process? Or how is the government doing it?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I have to be very careful here. I will advise the member opposite that they are proponents.
Mr. Fairclough: Both? Is that what the member is saying, Northwestel and ICE Wireless? Both will be involved? I thought, Mr. Chair, that one of them would be providing the service. Is the minister saying theyíre working together on this project?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Mr. Chair, I advised they are proponents.
Mr. Fairclough: So what I can say to people in my community is that people will be able to use cell phones in their communities this coming summer?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I would just like to reiterate what I said. I indicated there would be construction in the communities in 2006, and it would be implemented in the summer of 2007. So in other words, the construction will take place in the summer of 2006, and they will actually be able to use it in the communities in 2007, if they are one of the 17 communities identified.
Mr. Fairclough: I know the minister can go back and read Hansard, but Iím sure he said there would be cell phones in the community in the summer of 2006. He has straightened that out now: itís 2007, so we can tell the communities that.
We can expect additional monies to come forward from this government. We have just over $4.9 million and an additional $2.4 million in this supplementary budget. Can the minister tell us what the final cost would be for this whole project? Has it gone up from their original estimate?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I indicated, we are in a live procurement process on these issues. Itís a very sensitive issue when it comes to financing and I canít discuss anything specific, but I will state that the money is in here and will be utilized by the successful proponent when that is announced and procured.
We donít anticipate any additional monies being provided for the service.
Mr. Fairclough: So the monies in this supplementary budget ó no more dollars would be coming from the Yukon government for the completion. That was the question I asked: how much more money is being spent through the construction to complete this project?
Can we get some numbers? Are the ministerís hands tied in providing the numbers to us?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I stated earlier, my hands are tied as to what I can actually discuss as far as the future goes. We donít know. I donít want to tip our hand into the future either. In essence, though, whatís in the supplementary we can discuss. We donít anticipate any further monies being allocated other than whatís in our supplementary.
Mr. Fairclough: I donít know if the minister answered that question. I asked whether there would be more monies coming out of Yukon government ó Iím not saying this year or in this supplementary budget. We are in the supplementary, but weíre talking about a project that could cost the Yukon government more money. Thatís the concern I have. If it is an issue with the department to maybe hold off for a little while, I would like to ask the minister to provide information to us on this side of the House when he can, if the minister could do that.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Once the decisions have been made with regard to the MoCS system, I would be more than happy to provide the members opposite ó both him and the third party ó with the results of our procurement contract to replace our system and deal with it.
Mr. Fairclough: Good, thank you, Mr. Chair.
The minister said that this summer construction would start. I would say thatís June or July. Thatís almost nine months behind schedule ó the schedule that I have before me, anyway.
All right, I will just leave that. The minister can provide the information to us. Iím hoping that it could come to us on this side of the House quicker than it has in the past. I know after the spring sitting ó information is slow to come to us on this side of the House. It usually comes just before the sitting, so we have a of couple months off. The department, over the cold winter months, can put that information together and send it to us on this side of the House.
I asked this question of the minister in the House, and itís about the wash bay, his favourite subject. I want to know if the minister bought that bucket and sponge for $12. Where did he find that sale?
The wash bay came in at about $400,000 and I believe weíre up around $700,000, and the bill to government is still ticking. Itís still not complete. I would like to know when the completion date of this wash bay will be ó he didnít answer in Question Period. When can we have the first vehicle washed in there? What does he expect the final cost of this wash bay to be?
Hon. Mr. Hart: If youíll bear with me for a second, Iíll go through the history of the bay. The requirement for the wash bay arose because the existing wash bay was just damaged beyond repair. Our equipment is bigger, so we needed a bigger facility. We couldnít get it done by the private sector. Technical requirements for the construction of a new bay were significantly influenced by environmental regulations and requirements. The new wash bay contains oil-inceptor systems, which captures hydrocarbons and dirt before they can reach the cityís sanitary sewer system.
Also, regarding the matter of actually constructing the wash bay, the specified ceiling-mounted, oil-fired air heating system was inappropriately installed based on an unauthorized substitution agreement between the subcontractor and the subconsultant.
This situation was caught by our staff, which led to the subsequent lengthy dispute between us and the contractor. During a dispute resolution time frame, we also considered the following issues: the outstanding need for a heating system to upgrade the welding shop, the outstanding need for the heating system to upgrade the tire shop, and the outstanding need for the heating system upgrade for the main heating plant that supports the transportation maintenance facility. It should be noted that many additions had been made to the transportation maintenance facility over time, and the heating system was not kept up under some of these conditions; the existing heating system had little or inadequate backup capacity; the 30-percent restocking charge that YTG would face as a part of the dispute resolution process and a need for a heating system upgrade for YTG facilities. Considering these factors, the decision was taken to issue an additional tender for the provision of an additional heating capacity to address all the noted heating requirements listed previously.
This move has improved occupational health and safety issues in the welding and tire shops, as well as the risk management issues where the main heating plant for the transportation maintenance facility is concerned. The removed heating units that were first inappropriately specified had been restocked to YTG inventory for use in future heating system upgrade projects, thereby avoiding restocking charges. The matter of water supply for the wash bay didnít cause a delay in opening the facility ó old, as-built drawings inaccurately portrayed the location of water lines, which have since been located by staff and connected to the wash bay.
The new wash bay and heating upgrade project has improved the following issues, and Iíll just briefly go over them: occupational health and safety in the welding shop ó basically 5,000 square feet of space; occupational health and safety issues with the tire shop for 1,000 square feet; environmental regulatory compliance, where hydrocarbons, grease and dirt are concerned; risk management from the main heating plant at the transportation maintenance facility; asset management and property management were optimized where heavy and light fleet equipment life is concerned; avoidance of restocking charge where the unauthorized insulation of heating units was concerned; provision of heating plant equipment for the future; environmental risk management where decommissioning the old wash bay was concerned; optimizing of staff time where operation of the new wash bay was concerned; improving work conditions for employees where new versus old wash bay safety features involving carbon monoxide and other noxious vapour were managed; improved energy efficiency, thus reducing the greenhouse gas emissions where the new bay equipment is concerned and employment or work for the contracting community is concerned. The total cost for the undertaking, including consulting work, was $699,000 for the wash bay. I anticipate the wash bay will be fully operational sometime early in December.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, thatís a big list of problems with a small project like this. If the municipality handled it in this way, this Yukon Party would fire them.
There was one question I had in regard to restocking. The minister said that 30 percent of restocking materials ó maybe he can explain exactly what that is ó is in dispute resolution right now. Can he explain that a bit?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The 30 percent is considered the standard restocking charge. The issue of dispute was that we took the equipment back into YTG standards to avoid the restocking charge. That was rendered as part of the dispute resolution with the contractor.
Mr. Fairclough: I thank the minister for that information. It seemed to be something similar to what we provided in our questions in Question Period.
Letís move on. I would like to know from the minister: what improvements does the government have for the Silver Trail ó letís say from Stewart Crossing to Mayo? I know the community has raised this issue over and over again about improving the road for safety issues. Thereís a lot of money spent on highways, and itís recognized ó people like that. How much can we see over the next construction season to improvements to the Silver Trail?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Itís not in my supplementary we donít have any monies for the Silver Trail, but when the main budget comes up in the spring, we will definitely discuss the situation.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister knows that the department has looked at all the roads around the territory and what improvements could be made ó reconstruction or resurfacing and so on. If the minister doesnít have that in front of him ó I know itís all a political decision in the end to do a lot of this, unless itís a huge safety concern.
I asked the minister about the maintenance on the Signpost Road and I appreciate the legislative return from the member opposite. It doesnít satisfy the people in Keno, but maybe it can be addressed, even in this supplementary budget, whether or not the minister can direct some monies toward this.
Part of the explanation the minister gave in his legislative return was that there was too much snow to move at the altitude of the Signpost Road and they had to wait until the melt started to take place before improvements could be made, but the minister would continue to monitor this. It makes a huge difference in regard to tourists coming up in early spring, the early part of the tourist season.
So I ask that question for the people of Keno: what can the minister do to ensure the snow is taken off and we donít have damage to the road by melt-off? Or are there no changes from what information the minister provided by legislative return?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I said, itís not in my supplementary right now but, in the spring, weíll look at the situation and see what we have available to assist, as we did last year.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay. I take it that the minister will put some thought to it. The problem is that the main budget comes out and is voted on, and the snow is already gone. Thatís why Iím asking the question. I asked the question last year and the minister gave an explanation. I think he could take the time to correct that.
If the minister can think about that a bit, I would appreciate it.
I know weíre talking about the supplementary budget and general debate. It does affect the bottom line of the main budget, and thatís why weíre asking questions about all the roads in the territory.
One question Iíve asked the minister before was on a government commitment to move the highway camp in downtown Carmacks to a location out on the Campbell Highway. Theyíve fenced it off and everything. I think there was a cost of about $2 million at the time to move this camp. What are the plans of this government? Is the highways camp going to be moved? The people of Carmacks want to expand; they want to improve downtown Carmacks; they want to attract people there; they want tourists to come and visit. This was a commitment by government to work on with the municipality. As a matter of fact, over the years, weíve slowly seen parts of the highways camp disappearing because of improvements to the recreation centre in Carmacks.
So there has been some movement on the part of the department and government, and there is also a commitment to move this camp. So I know itís not in the supplementary budget, and itís not in the main estimates either. Iím looking, down the road, for information to give to my community about the plans of the Yukon Party to move this camp to the new location that they have identified on the Campbell Highway.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I will respond to his question: with a pace that will be cooperative to a certain extent, but I would like to get into the supplementary, if possible.
Regarding moving the facility, again, there is nothing specific in the line. We have done some issues with regard to environmental looks but, in the end, weíll possibly be looking at some planning in that particular area in the next year or two.
Mr. Fairclough: The next year or two will be too late for the Yukon Party. Their candidate made this commitment when asked by the community members. Their candidate made that commitment, so Iím just wondering why the Yukon Party is not following through.
I asked a question about chipsealing the Campbell Highway between Carmacks and Faro, and the department said ó and they made a mistake at the time ó that it would have been completed this summer. But there are 30 kilometres left to do, I believe. I would like to know ó theyíre obviously not going to do it this winter in this supplementary budget. But I donít think it will take all that much to complete that, and there are a lot of tourists who have asked about it, and many of them do want to use Little Salmon Lake and continue on to Faro.
That would be a huge improvement to the people in Ross River. I know the work needs to be done on that road to Ross River, but Iím concentrating on whatever is left ó I believe itís 30 kilometres ó and whether the government is going to seriously consider completing that over the next construction season.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I donít know if I want to be collaborative anymore.
I will advise the member that I will be looking at the future road construction projects for all the Yukon. We can bring it up at that time and discuss that in the House next year.
Weíve made large advances on improving the road from Carmacks to Faro ó large advances. This government has done tremendous work, both on repairing the highway as well as the BSTing, in addition to work that weíve done between Faro and Ross River. There has been a substantial amount of work done on that portion of the highway to improve its ability to handle heavier tourist traffic.
Yes, we recognize that there is a small section that requires some further improvements, but there is also a piece of the highway that requires some engineering as well as some road repairs to the main base prior to the BST going on. I suspect that we will be looking at all those factors in making the selection for this summer.
Mr. Fairclough: Members opposite always say they want some ideas. Iíve raised this issue quite a few times. If any government were to complete that section of the highway, it would be a huge improvement to our tourist industry and for community people, which, I would say in the end, is the most important.
I heard the minister say they were working on making improvements to the section of the Alaska Highway between the Klondike Highway cut-off ó the Mayo Road ó to Fox Lake so highway speeds would be 100 kilometres per hour. That requires a lot of straightening and widening of the road. I heard the minister say that in the House during budget debate. I would like to know when we can expect that to happen and will work be done this winter?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The simple answer is no.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister said theyíre looking at making that improvement. When will they make that improvement? Are they thinking a year down the road, the next construction season? I donít expect anything to happen this winter, other than maybe some blasting, engineering and survey work. I think the survey work is already done.
Is that in the plans of the Yukon Party for the next construction season? I heard the minister say in this House thatís what they were going to do. I canít remember whether it was general debate on the supplementary budget, when the Premier didnít want to answer any more questions and the Minister of Highways and Public Works took over.
Hon. Mr. Hart: We have planning monies for the north Klondike Highway in the budget anticipated for next year, but until such time as we know what that total budget is, we wonít know where the repairs will be needed and to just what sections.
Mr. Fairclough: I thought the minister would have some pull in Cabinet here. Some ministers do ó they can announce a project without even identifying it in this supplementary budget. Like a school ó that was just a drop of the writ. Now that the Member for Klondike has crossed the floor, Mr. Chair, maybe that will free up a few bucks for the Minister of Highways and Public Works. Letís spend some of it. Letís give some good direction to government to make some of these improvements.
There is a question that was asked of the Member for Klondike, as a matter of fact, at that time, that perhaps the intersection of Wann Road and the Alaska Highway would require lights. We havenít heard anything back from the member opposite, so maybe the minister then could let us know.
Also, while he is on his feet, in regard to the intersection of the Alaska Highway and the Klondike Highway, many have asked for improvements to the turning lanes and the whole intersection there, because there have been a lot of close calls and so on that took place, so maybe the minister can give us an update as to the Yukon Party plans in those two areas.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Again, those items will be in the main supplementary, and the things that will be looked at through the process. In regard to lights, we have to take into consideration the flow of the highway, because the Alaska Highway is a main artery through Whitehorse, so we are looking at particular restraint on the highway and sticking with the national plan. But in essence, with regard to the improvements to the turn lanes, that will all be discussed when we start dealing with next yearís main budget.
Mr. Fairclough: I would expect that would be a normal process. Iím sure the Member for Klondike would be interested in that, because that was his issue.
The other issue that the Member for Klondike had when he was sitting on this side of the House was making improvements to the Klondike Highway so we could up the speed limit. Iím sure he would love that, now that some brushing has taken place. The Klondike Highway requires a lot of work. I know itís narrow. Itís a wider road until about six, seven, eight miles out of Carmacks, and then it goes narrow again toward Whitehorse. Is this minister going to act at all on the wishes of the Member for Klondike to try to make road improvements to the highway so we can up the speed limit?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We will be dealing with the Member for Klondikeís issues and concerns with regard to his riding, just like we are with everybody elseís riding ó in the mains. When we look at the projects for the entire Yukon, weíll be looking at his concerns. Weíll be looking at setting priorities and making our selections based on those.
I will state, though, since the members opposite brought up the clearing aspect, that we have taken a fairly aggressive process with regard to clearing and grubbing in the Yukon. Most of it youíre seeing on the Klondike Highway in the last couple of years, but we are expending that money all across the Yukon, so itís there. There has been a limited amount of grubbing and clearing in the Yukon over the past 10 or 15 years, and itís going to take a long time to catch up. I anticipate that, if we keep at it and do it on a year-by-year basis, weíll be able to catch up sometime before I get both my feet in the pine box.
Mr. Fairclough: Letís hope so.
So, the Member for Klondike is not there to voice himself on the government side.
Chair: Order please.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Fairclough: I didnít say he wasnít here; I said he wasnít there on the government side to make his positions known.
Chair: Thank you for the clarification.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay, Mr. Chair. I know you will be listening carefully from now on.
Even though it was asked in this House, over and over again by the Member for Klondike, to make improvements to that road, weíre not going to see that from the Yukon Party because thereís less than a year left in their mandate ó perhaps less. Maybe even this winter weíll see an election, or this spring ó maybe sooner. It depends on whether another member crosses the floor.
Anyway, letís move on.
When the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources held up the map of the roads to resources in the House, he said that he is receiving technical support from the various departments to meet his goal under roads to resources. Obviously, the Minister of Highways and Public Works must be deeply involved in this. I would like to know how much technical support the department is providing to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources on his pet project.
Hon. Mr. Hart: There is nothing in this supplementary for roads to resources, but we do participate actively in interdepartmental reviews of this particular project.
Mr. Fairclough: Letís move on to something else.
In regard to the brushing and clearing contracts, the information that the minister provided in the past ranged between $4,000 and $8,000 per kilometre. That was awhile back. Are we seeing an increase to these contracts and by how much?
The government has done a lot of work cutting the clover that they planted along the sides of the highway. I know that the public has been asking for the government to do this ó I know why it is planted there ó but it is only cut in certain areas and not along all the roads. Is it just a budget thing? Is the department planning to do more work cutting clover over the next year? Whatís the plan in regard to that? Also, could he answer the question about the costs per kilometre of brushing? If he doesnít have that in front of him, maybe he could provide that by legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, the cost per kilometre varies, depending upon the density, depending upon the terrain that weíre working in, depending upon the specifications of the contract ó depending upon many factors. It would be very difficult for us to quantify each and every kilometre that we cut last year. In addition, with regard to clover, we deal with all the clover issues as they come up, based on the demand from the public to clear certain roads because of the hazard that they create. In some places, we have to do it quicker than in others. Itís all based on a priority basis and the issue of safety when it comes to hindrance to the road.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, the last information that the minister provided was that itís costing between $4,000 and $8,000 per kilometre to do the brushing. Since then, weíve had the price of fuel go up, and that was part of it. It does affect the bottom line of government. Either youíre going to put more amount of money into brushing, or youíre going to do less with the same amount of money. Thatís my concern with that: what are the new numbers? If the minister doesnít have them, maybe the cost of doing the job has gone up since the last information the minister provided. So thatís what Iím asking for, and if he doesnít have it in front of him, he can just provide it by legislative return.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Well, the member opposite really puts on the pressure. Nothing ever goes down, not even taxes from the federal government.
In essence, when it comes to clearing and grubbing in the Yukon, there is never enough money. As I stated previously, Iíll probably have two feet in a pine box before it ever gets close to being caught up. We have a substantial amount of grubbing that has to be done on an annual basis. As I stated earlier, there just hasnít been enough emphasis placed on it for the last 15 or 20 years, and I canít fix it in the short term that we have. Weíve taken a very aggressive way of handling and dealing with our grubbing in the Yukon, and we have done a substantial amount of grubbing throughout the Yukon and all over the Yukon, not just in any one area.
So weíll plan to continue to do that in the new year, and the member opposite talks about fuel costs ó of course they are there. The fair wage schedule will be another issue we will have to deal with. All the costs are going to be taken into consideration when we look at our budget and ceiling and what we are going to do. Whether or not we actually achieve a full amount, there are situations that arise, for example, during the season that we donít have any control over. Whether the contractor is unable to complete the contract, so we have to retender, for example, or if the weather is not conducive to doing any of that particular work in this one particular area ó all these things come into play and we have to take all that information and to deal with each particular situation as it arises. But, in essence, weíre doing our best to ensure that weíll have grubbing come forth and weíre doing our best to ensure that we get our best bang for the buck, and we are also looking at trying to increase the kilometres that we get on our grubbing and we are also doing it in areas, again, where we have high volumes of traffic and thatís where we will be concentrating.
Mr. Fairclough: I still want the information. How can the minister give it to us? He canít.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I can give them a range the same as we did last time.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, the minister says nothing goes down, but Iím sure that the Member for Klondike getting kicked out of the caucus ó his blood pressure has probably gone down, Mr. Chair.
I would like to know about the Canol Road. I know that there is interest in mining over the winter, to do more exploration work. Is that road going to be kept open all winter this year?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We have had no requests to keep that road open all winter.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, we believe otherwise. We have heard that the department was keeping the road open this year. There is much interest from the Chinese to do some exploration work this winter. That request has been given to the department. Perhaps the minister has more information. Maybe the minister can look into this matter and get back to me if in fact it is different from what he has said here.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I stated that we have not got a request. The mining company has made an inquiry to us, but they have officially provided us nothing. In the meantime, we are working with Energy, Mines and Resources on that particular situation.
Mr. Fairclough: I asked the minister about road pull-offs off the highway. A while back I asked about one in regard to Five Finger Rapids and why the design was the way it was, because the exit and entrances to these pull-offs are all 90 degrees now. Theyíre not on an angle like they were before, so you have to almost come to a stop to pull off. Thatís evident at Braeburn, and so on, but thatís not my question. My question is about the new pull-offs that the department has created over the last while. I would like to know which ones they are and how many have been developed by the department? I could name two of them. One is on the Alaska Highway right before the Klondike Highway intersection, on the right hand side going in that direction. The other is at Conglomerate Rock just at the other side of Braeburn going north. The pull-off there was just moved 100 feet or so. Iím wondering why we would go through the expense of making a pull-off when there was one that was perfectly usable and used by the public.
Now we have one area where the road is blocked off and people are using the new pull-offs. It must cost government money to do this. Iím wondering why there is such a demand. Also, what Iíve noticed along the highway is that there are more pullouts and toilets set up rather than inside the campgrounds. They are roadside pull-offs so you can use the toilets more and more. The one Iím thinking about is near Yukon Crossing. So if the department has undertaken to do this, I would like to know what the plans are. Where can we see more improvements or expenditures from the department on the different roads? The public is interested in that.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Iíll respond to this question for the member opposite, and then Iíll have to pull a Member for Klondike issue and start sitting down.
I believe that, again, these are issues for the main budget in the process. There are many questions the member opposite asked with regard to our pullouts. All our pullouts, whether theyíre done for Department of Highways and Public Works or whether theyíre done in consultation with the Department of Tourism and Culture, whether theyíre done in consultation with Environment, are all done and implemented to meet the highway specifications both at the entrance points as well as dealing with issues. When it comes to putting in restroom facilities ó yes, theyíre put in those places in particular, in pullouts. We have pullout structures close to town, again, in consultation with many stakeholders as to where they should be and how they should be constructed. Theyíre constructed so we have appropriate sight distances. Thatís how weíre dealing with those.
Mr. Fairclough: My advice to the minister would be not to follow in the footsteps of the Member for Klondike in this matter. Itís general debate ó thatís how it works in this House. If you have one line item change in your department, we go to general debate, and we can talk about it in lines too. Itís general debate in the department.
I only have a few questions left for the member opposite, so Iíll pass it on once Iím done here.
Iím interested in the number of pull-offs. Maybe I missed it in the remarks from the minister, but when I look at the number of highways listed, there are quite a number of increases to all the highways: the Campbell Highway, the Klondike Highway, the Dempster Highway, the Atlin Road, which had no money put into it. There are increases, some of them as high as $759,000. Once you have those increases, there is debate that can take place on a number of different highways, including bridges.
Iíll leave that. Iím hoping the minister can provide more information on these pullouts, because I think they are unnecessary, in a lot of cases. When I look at Conglomerate Rock, which was an attractive place to go and hike around, I canít see why the government would have done that and wasted another $50,000 to $100,000 on it.
Those are the reasons for asking these questions. The public is interested.
I would like to know about one contract that went out, and itís in regard to improvement of the Frenchman-Tatchun Lake Road. Was this a sole-source contract, or was it publicly tendered?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, weíre unaware, but we can get back to him.
Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Chair. In that information, if the member could provide what the cost of that contract was. From what I understand, itís around $30,000. So if the minister can do that, I appreciate it.
Iíd like to ask the minister about the heavy equipment rental program that is taking place mostly in the Watson Lake area. When do we expect an analysis done on that program that the public can see, and does the minister feel that so far we got the best bang for our buck in reconstruction of Yukon roads under that program?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, I am informed by my officials that this report will be ready shortly, and weíll be tabling it in the House, as I indicated.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Iíd like a timeline, then, from the minister. Because we asked this question this time last year, and the analysis was supposed to be done before the next construction season. What is ďshortlyĒ? Weíve heard the Yukon Party use that term ďin due courseĒ so many times. It doesnít mean anything any more. So what does he mean? Will the analysis be done before Christmas, before the new year, before the next budget comes out? Letís be clear on it, and letís see what we can take to the public.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I will table it next Monday.
Mr. Fairclough: Thatís quick, Mr. Chair. Thatís an improvement here. Letís hope the other ministers can follow suit with how quick this minister is responding to questions here and providing information. Okay, Iíll wait for that.†
I do have one more question, and itís in regard to airports. I heard the ministerís remarks in regard to the increased costs at the airports in Old Crow and Dawson City and also for improvements to security at the Whitehorse Airport. I would like to know what is left. This is a huge increase. Itís not small ó itís over $3.3 million. Itís a huge increase. I would like to know whatís left and how much more government monies can we expect to go into improvements for the Old Crow Airport and the Dawson City Airport. Iím sure that the security for the Whitehorse Airport would be complete. Could the minister provide that information?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Yes, it is a large amount of money with regard to this airport, but I would like to advise the member opposite that we worked hard with the constituents up in Old Crow with respect to this particular project. I would also like to emphasize that a good portion of this money is recoverable from the federal government. There have been time delays with the contracts. There have also been other issues, but I will provide him with a quick breakdown ó if he could get out his pencil ó with regard to where we get the estimated money here.
There is $1.2 million for airports capital assistance program runways resurfacing and electrical upgrade. We have $32,000 to construct the new Old Crow terminal building, a revote from 2004-05. There is a $628,000 increase for security fencing at the Old Crow Airport. Thereís a $982,000 increase for security renovations taking place at the Whitehorse Airport, which is recoverable from Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, CATSA, and is a revote from 2004-05. Thereís a $23,000 increase in Whitehorse air terminal building security renovations ó this is a functional plan and basically the project to early completion of phase one.
We have $13,000 required to complete the Whitehorse airport baggage system upgrade to meet Transport Canada regulations. We have a $47,000 increase in Whitehorse Airport as the result of the rehabilitation of apron 1 ó again, a revote. Thereís a $344,000 increase in security fencing at the Dawson airport and, again, these funds are approved from Transport Canada and are 100 percent recoverable.
Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I thank the member for the information. The department has also done a lot of work to a number of airports across the territory in regard to improvements to the fuelling stations and also to the fire retardant used by the bombers. Iím wondering if all that work is complete and, if not, what work can we expect to happen over the next year to ensure the project is complete throughout the territory, where itís needed for the purpose of firefighting?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Right now, weíre working on doing an environmental assessment in Old Crow on their fuelling facility and digging in and working with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation on the possibility of a partnership on the process of combining the two facilities, theirs and ours, into one.
Mr. Fairclough: Is the minister saying the rest of the communities ó all their improvements have been done? I know a lot of work has taken place over the last couple of years. So in Mayo and Carmacks, for example, I have seen a lot of improvements there. Airports, I guess, that are used extensively, particularly by the forest fire department ó are those all taken care of? Have all the improvements necessary been made except for Old Crow?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I request this member opposite bring this question up under Community Services, because mostly those are dealing with wildland fire management and dealing with the fire hazard issues. In regard to fuel, this is the area that weíre dealing with, with regard to our airports.
Mr. Fairclough: Okay, Mr. Chair. Those are all about improvements to airports. I will bring that up.
Now, Mr. Chair, my colleague from Kluane has told me about how poorly the new section of the Shakwak Highway is holding up, and some of the sections are only one or two years old. I would like to know who has taken responsibility for this. Will the government be chasing the contractors to guarantee their work? Maybe the minister can fill us in on what his department is doing.
Hon. Mr. Hart: To respond to the member opposite, we have an agreement under Shakwak that states that they provide the funding for the construction of the highway, and itís up to us to maintain the highway. The area in question has intermittent permafrost in the ground and the member opposite knows full well just exactly how that affects the highway. We are working on sections of the highway the best we can based on the resources we have.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister didnít answer the question about who is responsible for this. Is it the contractor or are we just leaving it? Thatís an increased cost to the Yukon government to fix these sections up. Normally you would go after the contractor, so Iím just wondering what the department is doing. Who is responsible for not taking into consideration the fact that there is permafrost and so on? Itís a design that government is involved with.
Hon. Mr. Hart: For both members opposite, the last time I checked, none of us could have determined we were going to get the warm spell last week. None of us could determine that we were going to have the situation we have in the Middle East. I would say to you that we canít guarantee 100-percent geotechnical work on the highway so, no, we canít go back to the contractor on that particular issue. As such, the government will have to be responsible for dealing with the condition of the road after the construction period, which we are doing.
Mr. Fairclough: What the minister just said ó is that normal for all new construction on highways, that the government does not go after the contractors? Is that the case?
Hon. Mr. Hart: If I could make a quick announcement: 171 to 133, the federal government fell.
Anyway, in essence, anywhere we canít provide detailed geotechnical information ó i.e., in permafrost ó yes, we are responsible for those particular areas. In areas where permafrost is not an issue and we have the geotech work, no, then we have an option to come back to the contractor. In many cases, we have.
Ms. Duncan: I actually had as my first question a similar line of questioning, although Iíll disagree with the area. Mr. Chair, before we get into it, though, weíre just about at the customary time for a break. Weíre doing a change-up between questioners. Could I perhaps suggest the minister might like a short break at this point in time, and we then carry on?
Chair: Do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: Weíll take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with Bill No. 17, Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06, in Vote 55, Department of Highways and Public Works.
Ms. Duncan: I believe I had the floor just before we called the break. In May of this year, the minister said to us, ďThe Alaska Highway is the core of our transportation system and key to Yukonís road infrastructure development.Ē That was from his opening remarks on the budget on May 3, 2005, from Hansard, page 4353.
Iíd like to begin where we left off just before we took the break ó the discussion of the highway system. I had the very good fortune of riding ó I wasnít actually driving the vehicle ó on Yukonís highways, particularly the north Alaska Highway, the Beaver Creek section, in both August and November of this year. There were at least 30 Yukoners ó competitors in November, plus a minor hockey team of 17, plus parent chaperones. All of us drove up to Fairbanks in November.
Weíre talking about a group of long-time Yukoners and, without exception, people said theyíd never seen the road that bad.
We donít need to go to the PNE or the Canadian National Exhibition. We can ride the roller coaster known as the Alaska Highway. Mr. Chair, for the ministerís information ó Iím sure heís well aware of it ó it has gotten worse. Now the frost heaves are moving south, in that theyíre just past John Troutís establishment, as opposed to being further up the highway.
Iíd like for the public record the technical explanation for this. Iíve been in the ministerís shoes. There was a visitor who several years ago was bound and determined that he was going to complain right to the Premier about the state of this road. I met with that individual and explained that Yukon had the best road builders anywhere, that they were building this road on permafrost, and that the frost heaves ó as the minister said in answer to the Member for Mayo-Tatchun, you canít predict the weather, none of us can. But there have been other technical explanations Iíve heard offered: that the road was originally built in the winter, which is part of the problem; itís built on swamp, for lack of a better word, as well as the permafrost; and if you go further north to Fairbanks on the Alaska Highway, their road right-of-ways arenít nearly as wide as ours and that has been offered as a technical explanation.
That is the reason we have additional distance in our rights-of-way in the Yukon. Removing that overburden has allowed for greater warming, which makes the frost heaves worse. It was also offered that before the road was built and rebuilt, the top layer was scraped off. It was built during the wintertime ó I said that ó and of course there was the permafrost.
What is the technical explanation? Why have we spent millions and millions and millions of dollars rebuilding this road, and it is getting worse? What do we say to our constituents who drive that highway? Why? Whatís the technical explanation? Better yet, how much money is the minister looking for to try to fix it when he goes before his Cabinet colleagues with the budget this spring?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Maybe Iíll give it to the member opposite in terms that are really applicable to her. When she was sitting on this side of the House ó why do we have buildings that fall into the ground, engineered buildings that fall into the ground? She could maybe share my, shall we say, frustration, when I ask why we get engineers to give us the scientific proof of why things sit in the ground and they donít, after we build a building on top of it? Itís a very difficult problem dealing with permafrost.
We are working closely with the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. We are also working with Laval University on some models of a type that will deal with permafrost ó permafrost that we have in the Yukon. Because the permafrost that we have in the area that we are working on is very close to the freezing point, and the difficulty is that ó how do you keep it frozen or how do you keep it thawed? Thatís the big question.
The member opposite indicated that she went in November. Our biggest thaw period is between August and November. In fact, the road she was probably on may not have looked like a roller coaster, but sheíd be lucky if it looked more like a twist. If she noticed the guardrails on the side of the road, she probably noticed that on some of the longer corners the guardrails are either clear at one end and they are about a foot to two feet at the other end of the same guardrail. So, you would have huge movements in the ground, especially in that area of the road. In many of those sections along that side of the road, Iíll remind the member opposite that they were flat, two years ago. Not just the road, but the area adjacent to the road, was flat. We now have craters on the other side of the road.
There is no scientific label I can put on this for the member opposite so she can explain to the hockey team and those who went to Fairbanks why it was in the condition it was.
I took a trip earlier this year on that road in a motorhome, and I more than experienced what our average traveller takes in a motorhome on that section of road.
As I said, I donít have an answer to give the member opposite, so she could hand it out. All I can tell her is that weíre working with the experts on trying to come up with some model thatís affordable, that we can put into place and give it a try. Weíre working with these universities ó the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, as well as Laval ó on trying to come up with something that we can put together and implement in the Yukon situation to try to alleviate that situation. The biggest problem is trying to provide stable ground on which to build the road. Either we keep it frozen or we keep it thawed.
When we do geotech work, for example, we can drill for 1,000 feet and find ice, but we canít tell when we clear off the surface how far itís going to thaw down. We donít know. In some areas it may not move at all; in some areas it may move 1,000 feet.
The member opposite will probably notice near Snag, on the right-hand side as you come back into the Yukon, there is probably about a 30-by-30 crater sitting on the side of the road. Itís growing bigger, and itís getting closer to the road, so weíre going to have to figure out something to deal with that, or else it will take the road with it.
Itís a big challenge, no doubt about it, in that particular area. Weíve filled several holes with BST many times over. We can do BST on that highway in May and, by November when you go over it, itís still in the same condition, even though we ran a grader and made it as level as possible. It moves and shifts; itís really difficult to deal with.
The member opposite is correct. We do have some of the better road builders here in the Yukon. But thatís what we have to deal with. Again, weíre trying to do some research on some engineering aspects that will aid us in that particular event. The problem is that we have a long stretch of road, and we only have so many dollars with which to operate and keep it at least reasonable. I have travelled that section of road when it was the old Alaska Highway, before it got redone. I can assure the member opposite that it was pretty rough back then, too, and so despite the fact that itís a big roller coaster, I think we have to slow down a little bit there and take into consideration whatís there until such time as we can come up with some sort of method whereby we can correct the situation and correct it in a reasonably affordable manner so that the travelling public can have a smooth ride to Fairbanks.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, what I heard the minister say in his response is that thereís a grain of truth in all of these comments then. Some time ago I knew an individual quite well who worked on the highways, and in particular that section, who said it was not uncommon ó this individual is a surveyor ó for there to be a six-percent drop in road grade overnight because of the permafrost in the area. So thereís a grain of truth in the ďItís the permafrostĒ explanation. Thereís a grain of truth in that these massive changes in the road ó part of the whole global warming issue weíre dealing with, in that we donít know when this ice is going to melt.
From the ministerís answer, I think there is some question as to how much of the overburden we should be removing. Would it have made a difference if we had left some of the overburden ó probably one guess is as good as another.
But the other point that was raised in our discussions was that on the Alaska side they have ó and I donít know what the scientific term is for them ó poles in the ground with what look like tents or hats over them, and that apparently is to release some of the warming to allow for some movement, I guess.
But I donít know what the technical explanation is for these widgets. Perhaps the minister could enlighten us. In essence, what the minister has said in response to me ó and he can perhaps correct the record ó is that there is a grain of truth in all these comments and that theyíre doing the best they can ó itís underway.
Could the minister also advise me, given that heís got technical assistance: is there a difference in the geological formation ó I donít have a geological map in front of me ó between the permafrost weíre dealing with in this area ó Beaver Creek, Snag, through Koidern River ó and the level of permafrost further up on the road to Fairbanks? Perhaps the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources wants to answer that later, but if the minister has the answer, Iíd appreciate it.
Hon. Mr. Hart: On our side, as I tried to mention to the member opposite, our permafrost is closer to zero, and itís very intermittent, whereas if you go further north, obviously the frost goes down and itís not as intermittent as it is on our side and specifically in the area that the member opposite identified. So we canít measure where the thaw is going to take place on the road.
Also, I will say, with respect to the road, we looked at other issues ó i.e., insulation underneath the roadbed. Of course, although it sounds like a very good process, itís a very expensive process to get to. But we have explored that particular idea also, in dealing with the roadbed surfaces. In Alaska, the system the member opposite is referring to is basically a system similar to whatís called ďthermosĒ in the Yukon. We use liquid to cool the area ó underneath the area ó and they use air to keep the area cool and to keep the ground cool. Thatís how itís circulated there.
Again, they have much more water in their ground bases than we do here in the Yukon, and thatís a big difference also, and it makes a greater difference in dealing with the roadbed and how itís formed. Itís a lot easier to use that system there than it is on our side.
Ms. Duncan: Weíve been wrestling with this issue for a number of years now. There are issues around the U.S. government having spent a great deal of money on the Shakwak project, and we have a great number of American visitors travelling that highway. Thereís some concern of, ďWhat happened? Weíre still going to need a lot of money to fix this road.Ē As the minister said, theyíve explored the insulation idea, but that will be very expensive.
I did ask two questions: is the minister looking for money in the spring budget to try to deal with these issues, which is a question of how far along the research is with the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and Laval University in Quebec City? The other thing that I would strongly recommend, having driven the area, not in a motorhome but with an RV attached, is that the more work we can do with our tourism industry ó Corelle is not unbreakable, folks, when youíre driving on that particular section of the highway. Sorry, Mr. Chair, but everything will bounce. Tie it down; donít take the good china. Even just providing an explanation to visitors at Beaver Creek, which showed the highway model and showed what we do, would help.
Yukoners should all be on the same page with this information, which is why I started asking these questions. Here was a group of Yukoners who were not all on the same page. Iím not pointing fingers or laying political blame. I believe the Yukon government has done the absolute best we can do on that highway over the years, and our road builders have done it. Nonetheless, we have a problem on our hands, so the more information people have and the more accurate that information, the better we would all be.
The point of my questions is: how much money are we looking for to try to deal with this? How close are we in the research? And are there any new initiatives underway to provide information and work more closely with our visitor reception centres to provide these technical explanations to our visitors and Yukoners alike?
The minister has been very receptive to my suggestions. The highway construction brochure went out ó that was a suggestion I made at the briefing ó and it was very well received by Yukoners, I understand. I would just like to put forward that suggestion to the minister.
Hon. Mr. Hart: The brochure that she mentioned ó we do indicate in there, for example, that we have intermittent highway conditions on the north highways. Maybe we have to put a highlight in there on that particular section. I am more than willing to look at that to bring it out so that when we bring out the pamphlet again, we can have it bordered or something to address that particular issue. Keep in mind we have limited space to work with there, but in essence, that is one place we could deal with it.
The other thing is that we will undertake to work with Tourism and Culture. Maybe we can provide something to the visitor reception centres along the way and in Dawson so that if they take the Top of the World Highway in the summer, and those in Kluane, they can be advised.
In general, most of the time Iíve found that most of the businesses along the highway advise the people who are travelling up the highway of just exactly the condition that itís in as it relates to speed. Those who have already come through the process are in the relief mode, so itís a little bit nicer for them to carry on with the Alaska Highway.
But the memberís comments are well taken and we will review what we can do to upgrade it and we will continue with our research on this. As far as road maintenance goes, we will continue our maintenance on that particular section and bite off what we can and work from there.
Ms. Duncan: I wasnít so much thinking of the brochure; I was thinking of the advertising lines like they have in Kluane ó Iím sure the minister is quite familiar ó the seismographic machine that shows the earthquake activity. Itís a visual picture for people. And Iím thinking a visual of the road might be helpful to people even as far south as Dawson Creek. And thereís nothing quite like word of mouth on the highway. The more Yukoners who know what theyíre talking about, saying, ďYou know what, this is a permafrost issue and weíre doing the best we can,Ē the better off weíll all be.
The minister is quite correct that maintenance is excellent on our highways, and my compliments to the Department of Highways and Public Works for the work they do. The reconstruction this summer went quite well. It took out quite a few of the bends, but weíve got Sheep Mountain left to deal with just before we hit the Slims River bridge. Whatís the plan for that particular area? Is that in future Shakwak money, and where is the road going to go?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Weíre doing construction from Silver City to Slims River this coming season. We will be looking at tying that to the Kluane region in 2007-08, and we anticipate following a very similar road system to whatís currently going through there. Right now, weíre working with Environment Canada on that particular aspect, in dealing with the water base there, because weíre right adjacent to the water, as the member knows. We will have to widen the road, and then we have issues with Parks Canada that weíre trying to deal with also. But we feel that theyíre fairly agreeable to helping us get the situation completed, so we donít anticipate too many problems there. Weíll have to make some alignment to accommodate them, as well as us, but we anticipate it will be done in 2007-08.
Ms. Duncan: So, for the 2006 tourism season, we have gone as far as we can go at the base of Sheep Mountain? Yes, I see nods from across the way so thatís my understanding.
Iím glad the minister mentioned the Taylor, or Top of the World Highway, because it had been some years since Iíve been over that way. I had the opportunity to be on that particular stretch of road as well, this summer. Are there any plans or discussions underway with Alaska to do their bit on their side of the highway? The Canadian side is much better.
Hon. Mr. Hart: I am sure sheís well aware from when she was on this side of the House ó we continue to work with our friends in Alaska. Unfortunately they have an individual over there who ó shall we say in the House here ó really doesnít care if there is a road or a trail through there and thus no work gets voted on. Usually any cut that comes in the budget of highways in the State of Alaska ó that is the first one they cut. However, I have discussed it with Commissioner Barton on several occasions, and I think that the sooner we get the Alaska Highway done, as far as going through Kluane goes, and we swing up with the speed limit, then I suspect that theyíll have to make some changes on that side to accommodate the Top of the World Highway ó or the Taylor Highway as they call it.
Ms. Duncan: On the Robert Campbell Highway there was only $2.75 million budgeted in this yearís mains and there is nothing in the supplementary, and yet there has been significant exploration work done in that mineral-rich area of the Yukon, and the Yukon Zinc property is proceeding along. When we first started talking about P3s in this House, that was the suggestion ó the Robert Campbell Highway as the P3 ó because of the mineral exploration. Are there any discussions about work on the Robert Campbell Highway for the spring? There is no money in the supplementary. What is on the horizon for the Robert Campbell Highway?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We do have $747,000 in the supplementary for the Campbell Highway. We anticipate we may be putting improvements of the Campbell Highway in the main budget, when we get to that stage, similar to what I told the previous member. Once we get to the budget, depending on where the resources lie, weíll look at where the funding goes.
We have had inquiries from not just one, but several, companies about roads, the maintenance of roads and the building of roads ó and several things ó to date, we have nothing official from anybody specifically on whether theyíre going to build a road or they want us to plow the existing road, or whatever it is. Right now, to this date, most have just been inquiries.
If we get an official request and thereís a time limit, obviously weíll have to sit down and work out whatís available to us and what the conditions are and how we go forth.
Ms. Duncan: I do apologize for missing the additional money for the Campbell Highway in the supplementary budget. The discussion between the government and various mining operations ó is the government looking at spending any money on the Cantung mine road, and are there any discussions ongoing with the Kaska at this point in time?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We are doing our maintenance work up to the border; the mine is still responsible for ó I canít remember the kilometres, from whatever it is; thatís their responsibility. So weíre continuing with maintenance on our portion from Tuchitua to the border.
Ms. Duncan: Are there any cooperative agreements or sole-sourced contracts or is it Government of Yukon that is doing the maintenance from Tuchitua to the border? Is it our graders and our operators, or is there an agreement with any First Nation government or anyone else to do that maintenance?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Tuchitua to kilometre 134 is ours ó Government of Yukonís. From kilometre 134 to 201 is the mineís responsibility.
Ms. Duncan: And weíre doing the work. The mine is free to contract whomever they wish to do the balance.
Before we leave the highways section of Highways and Public Works, there was quite an extensive amount of bridgework scheduled for this summer. I noted that there was still some work going on on the bridge south of Beaver Creek, south of White River. And there has been quite a discussion about bridge decking in the Legislature. Can the minister give an update as to what the additional funds ó there is $219,000 of additional money in the supplementary ó are going to be used for, and what is he doing about the bridge-decking questions and a progress report on the bridge reconstruction this summer?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I will try to give the member opposite a quick breakdown on the $219,000. Weíre looking at $54,000 required to complete the Teslin River bridge. Itís a revote from 2004-05. We have $595,000 required to complete the deck for the Takhini River bridge, which is out. Thereís a $165,000 increase to complete the installation of the Takhini River bridge; again, itís a revote. Weíre looking at a $150,000 increase in other bridges, for the Frances River bridge, to strengthen the repairs and abutments. Thatís to ensure that we can get the fuel trucks over and into Cantung. This is partially offset by a reduction of $745,000 in the Yukon River bridge construction, which was put on hold due to current market conditions.
Just a quick update: the Big Creek and Little Ranch are complete, as far as the bridges go this year. The Takhini River bridge is set to go in the spring, when it is thawed. The Donjek is out for tender right now. The Beaver Creek bridge is substantially done. There are some minor deficiencies that weíre working on with the contractor but, regardless, we consider it substantially done.
We ran into a snag with Lewes River on an environmental issue, on which we have had a great difficulty in trying to find somebody to do some drilling for us. Again, it was difficult to find anybody who wasnít working somewhere else in the rest of the world to do this type of work.
In essence, we will going out to tender on the Teslin bridge for the decking. Again, this was part of the Canadian strategic infrastructure funding we agreed to with the federal government, so we intend to get working on that this year, and I think our recent incident indicated that we canít wait too much longer. Itís a busy bridge. I donít know if the member opposite ever has been underneath it when an 18-wheeler goes over it, but it makes you want to think about it.
In essence, I think itís fair to say we did some structural and seismic work on that bridge already. So, you know, as far as the strengthening aspect goes, it has all been underway, and now itís just a case of fixing up the deck to make it safe and give it another 90 years of life, I guess. Iíll be in a pine box for sure by the time it comes up for redecking.
In any event, thatís where we are, as far as the bridges go. If the member wants anything else, write me a letter, and Iíll respond.
Ms. Duncan: Much as I enjoy correspondence, itís far more pleasurable asking questions in the Legislature.
The heavy equipment rental fund, HERC ó the minister said in response to the Member for Mayo-Tatchun that the analysis that was done would be provided and tabled in the Legislature on Monday. Iíd like to ask some questions about what sort of analysis was conducted. What questions were asked? Did we get value for money? Was there a comparison done between what was achieved through the heavy equipment rental contracts versus what we would have received had we tendered the contract and gone through the tendering process? Did we save time? Did we save money? Is that the substance of the analysis?
Hon. Mr. Hart: When the document is tendered, it will be tendered as basically reviewing the project cost, using the cost per kilometre, and it will also be providing a comparison of the highway system. In other words, the Campbell Highway versus the Alaska Highway versus the other secondary roads aspect that weíre looking at in those areas.
Ms. Duncan: When this change was made by the government and this decision was undertaken, it was a pilot project in Watson Lake. There was a great deal of money invitationally tendered, or spent in that particular area. The idea was to provide more work to the community, and presumably to save the government time as opposed to putting out a public tender, which has to be advertised for so long, it was an invitational tender or sole sourced.
Has there been any opportunity for the contracting community to give their feedback on this system to the government? Has there been a round table of the contractors called to review what happened? Will the results of that analysis be contained in the analysis to be tabled by the minister?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The reason for HERC ó I hate to use this phrase. Letís say local improvements for highways, or something along those lines. The aspect was that we had several small contractors ó and I repeat, small contractors ó coming to us, saying they couldnít bid on a job because they couldnít get bonding. Secondly, they couldnít compete with the bigger operators on any of the jobs.
What was brought up to us was the system that was used in northern British Columbia. Itís called a day process they have down there. We looked at that particular process. The problem was, of course, that if we were to just take it and put it into a Yukon context, it would be very difficult to administer because, for example, if they have a hoe operator, then for the first 300 hours, itís your turn. Well, the member opposite knows full well that 300 hours on a hoe here might take four years to use, so thatís a very difficult task for us to look at.
So, what we did was take the basics of that program and we tried to look at what we could do in a small community to give them the opportunity to bid on jobs in their area. I must emphasize that we used the third party agreements, where they provide us in the spring with our costs for their equipment and they give us a list of that equipment. Everything is bid out under that process. Itís open and accountable. If anybody wants to check me on that process, they can.
But the concern here is to ensure that it goes to the local operators. Yes ó did we meet with the local contractors association in Whitehorse? Obviously, their response would be totally different than the Watson Lake contracting association.
The emphasis is to bring value and workload to the rural areas. The members opposite continually tell me in the House here, on this side, that we have to help the rural areas. This is our attempt to try to do this. We did run into some small difficulties when we first ran the program and we made some adjustments to try to equal the program out and provide a little bit more openness to the process. The local contractors gave us some suggestions on what we could do and we took that into consideration. Then we tried to expand the program outside of Watson Lake ó again, outside of the Whitehorse area.
Again with the emphasis on trying to assist our rural small communities ó our small independent business operators, with equipment, maybe only one piece of equipment, maybe two. Itís difficult to bid on a contract, any major government contract, with one or only two pieces of road equipment.†
Now, we also have the rural roads program, but again itís fully subscribed and thereís lots of competition for that funding and so we are trying to work this program similar to that. Iím hoping that one day we will just be able to call it ďrural roadsĒ, or whatever you want to call it, I donít know. The acronym means nothing. The idea is to get work out into our smaller communities and to our smaller operators or smaller businesses.
Iíve had several contractors come to my office and explain both their pleasure and their displeasure with the system. Most of the displeasure is coming from the Whitehorse operators because they canít bid on the job in Watson Lake or Teslin or Dawson or whatever. But you donít get any complaints from the Watson Lake, Dawson or Teslin operator, because they are working in their territory, in their town.
Now, obviously we have to come up with a solution or something similar to that for the Whitehorse area, but I donít know how we would do that just yet. Weíre trying to deal with the smaller rural areas and work with that particular program and see if we can just work out what we can, but the closer we get to Whitehorse, obviously the harder it is going to be to keep that same program so that it works the same way. We do go out to the communities, we ask them and we work right from the third party agreements on the prices for their equipment and their labour for that piece of equipment, and itís all tendered out the way itís supposed to be.
I donít know how else to put it more plainly. It was a request, like I said, from small business in the rural communities to help them out in their bid to get work, and I think that it is an attempt ó and we are all obviously open to some suggestions.
Again, it depends where youíre going to call from. If youíre from Whitehorse, obviously, this program is not seen in the same favourable light as it is in the rural areas. And I can assure the members opposite, in the rural areas where weíve used it, it has been widely accepted. The biggest complaint is I donít like being off for a week and coming back to work for a week. Again, thatís just a case of trying to ensure that we utilize all the equipment that we have there and can still get the job done. Again, the equipment still has to be safe and meet all the requirements for the job, and the construction is supervised and itís dealt with.
Like on any other construction job, though, we do have some people who provide equipment and canít meet the requirements, but we have to deal with them the same we would everybody else. But in essence, the whole program idea was to help out our rural, small-time independent business operator with equipment. Those with limited pieces of equipment have a great difficulty competing with the larger operators.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I appreciate the ministerís explanation and where the government was coming from. My questions are not a criticism of the smaller operators. In politics, as the member opposite well knows, perception is reality, and there is not a good perception around this particular government initiative. The program still needs some tweaking and needs some work.
I look forward to reading the analysis, re-reading the ministerís explanation of the program, and taking a look at that information.
How much funding has flowed to other communities ó other areas of the Yukon, other than Watson Lake? The first year was strictly Watson Lake, and there was a great deal of money spent in that community. And the minister says, ďWell, you know, the Watson Lake business community was happy.Ē Iím concerned that Teslin and Faro were also considered part of that business community ó that have equipment as well.
So, my question is: when will additional money start to flow to other ridings, and when has it flowed, and how much, and when will the additional money start flowing to other ridings?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The member opposite indicated the first year we went to Watson Lake. Well, the Robert Campbell Highway needs a lot of work, and the member opposite even indicated that thereís a lot of interest on the Campbell Highway. So, we went there. We used the Campbell Highway as a ways and means of starting something in that particular area.
Now, the work is continuing on the Campbell Highway, and weíre continuing from where we started on that particular venue. We also did some work in Dawson, in Teslin, and weíve done some work here, on the outskirts of Whitehorse, at Tagish. We also did some work in the Takhini River Road area. I donít have the specific numbers, but we can go from there.
Ms. Duncan: Iíd like to discuss the MoCS system with the minister now. When we last discussed this in the spring, we were discussing the MoCS system as a potential P3. At that time there was a request for qualifications. For the RFQ for MoCS, a contractor could make a submission under the request for qualifications either as a P3 or not. In other words, we involved Partnerships B.C. ó I think $550,000 was the cost of working with Partnerships B.C. on the MoCS system and the bridge. If there was ever a breakdown offered of how much the bridge was and how much MoCS was, I would appreciate receiving that, but I think they were rolled into just one lump sum payment to them.
The difference between the bridge and MoCS was that the request for qualifications for MoCS could either be submitted as a P3 or a traditional procurement method. I know this has been in the public domain over the summer but, for the Houseís benefit, could the minister tell us where we moved over the summer months? What happened with the MoCS project and the P3 idea?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Iím constantly reminded Iím in live procurement.
We went down to a separate procurement process, one for the cell and one for the radio. So that is the constant for the delay. The idea is that, if we did that, we would get a reduced cost for the radio system itself ó if we went that way.
So the issue is that we have one procurement for cell, one procurement for the radio system, and thatís where weíre at right now.
Ms. Duncan: Is the MoCS system still potentially considered a P3 or has that been taken off the table?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Obviously, once we get into dealing with the proponents, that will be one of the issues that will have to be decided on.
Ms. Duncan: We donít know yet, because we are in a high level of procurement, in other words.
What is the additional $2.4 million to be spent? Did the bids come in higher than anticipated? Are we moving that far along on construction? Why do we need another $2.4 million in this supplementary?
Hon. Mr. Hart: $2.4 million is provided in this supplementary as an estimate. I canít provide the member opposite with any specific items with regard to the money because, as I stated, we are in a live procurement issue on this. But we donít anticipate that it will cost us anything more under this particular process, until we get to the second one.
Ms. Duncan: How did we get so far off in the first place? When the budget was tabled in the spring, we were looking at $4.97 million to be spent on this project. The minister is coming in and asking for extra money but weíre still in the middle of the procurement process. Would the minister please, for the benefit of the public, connect the dots? We donít have all the bids in yet. We are not going to start construction. The system wonít be live until 2007, so how do we know already that we need another $2.436 million? Have they spent all of that $4.9 million? The minister is still in the middle of the procurement process. What Iím looking for is an explanation as to why theyíre seeking another $2.4 million when weíre still in the middle of the process.
Hon. Mr. Hart: On this particular one, the $2.4 million is the money that is the supplementary; itís a revote from 2004-05. It is money that is in there. Our total expenditures on a revised vote will be $7.4 million. We canít go over that, but we canít discuss the monies for the same reasons I advised the member opposite, because of the review stage of our bids, and until such time as we know what those are, we will work from there. But thatís what weíre advised. Thatís just a revote of monies we had set aside for the MoCS program.
Ms. Duncan: Iím sorry to go back with the minister. He didnít mention any money for the Dawson bridge. When we outlined all the bridges and all the bridge work, there was no money mentioned from the Dawson bridge. So is that project entirely on the shelf, or is money, time and effort still being expended?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We anticipate spending approximately $500,000 on the Yukon River bridge, and basically it is just made up of issues to deal with the environment and the engineering costs.
Ms. Duncan: Did I hear the minister correctly ó that weíre going to spend another half a million dollars in engineering on the bridge at Dawson City and in doing some environmental work? Is there any money still going to Partnerships B.C.?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We have $1.8 million set aside in 2005-06. We will probably expend about $500,000.
Ms. Duncan: I need to have this clear for the record, then. In May 2005, there was $1.8 million ó I believe thatís what the minister just said ó budgeted for the Dawson bridge. Of that, we will expend half a million dollars on engineering and environmental assessment. The balance of the money, of course, would be lapsed and then revoted somewhere else, either in the department or somewhere else.
Could I have a more detailed breakdown on how that half a million dollars in anticipated money is to be spent? And is the balance to be lapsed, or has it been spent on other projects?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I will provide her with some numbers, if she wants to write them down. On the Yukon River bridge, expenditures for 2005-06, we have salaries, $11,000; travel, $5,000; construction contract, $165,000; contract services, $167,000; freight, $3,000; advertising, $2,000; program materials, roughly $700; printing, $700, for a roughed-out estimate of $355,000; and we anticipate roughly $140,000 to $150,000 for value engineering and environmental work on the bridge.
Ms. Duncan: The environmental work would include presentation before the Water Board, is that correct?
Heís nodding yes.
Hon. Mr. Hart: And Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Ms. Duncan: The environmental assessment work has been done before. So, is there a shelf life to that environmental assessment work? Is that environmental assessment report readily available to the public?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, we anticipate that most environmental studies have some sort of shelf life but, again, that would be a question for YESAA to decide. But also we could make amendments to the Water Board licence and make adjustments and let them make an assessment of just exactly what can and cannot be done. Thatís the process that was taken originally and it was felt that the previous work was sufficient and this is merely engineering work and environment aspects to deal with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada concerns.
Ms. Duncan: Could the minister just indicate if that information is publicly available? Would he be willing to provide it to us?
Hon. Mr. Hart: When the project is complete, itís public information and will be available.†
Ms. Duncan: Before we get into the public works end of the questions in general debate, I do have a few questions around the additional expenditures for airports. Could the minister outline what that additional money is used for, whether itís for revotes or what its intended purpose is? Also, could we have a timeline on the Old Crow Airport?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the record, Iíve read this out once. The increase of $3.3 million consists of $1.2 million for the airports capital assistance program, which is for runway resurfacing and electrical upgrade for the Old Crow Airport ó again, a revote. There is a revote of $32,000 for the construction of the new Old Crow Airport terminal building. There is a $628,000 increase for security fencing at the Old Crow Airport. New projects funded by Transport Canada ó again, these are 100-percent recoverable. There is a $982,000 increase for security renovations at the Whitehorse Airport; $790,000 is recoverable from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, or CATSA. That is a revote from 2004-05. There is a $23,000 increase for Whitehorse air terminal building security renovations, which is a project due to early completion of phase 1 and a revote of 2004-05. There is $13,000 required to complete the Whitehorse Airport baggage system upgrade, which is a revote from 2004-05. There is a $47,000 increase in the Watson Lake Airport line as a result of rehabilitation of apron 1, which is a revote.
There is a $344,000 increase for security fencing for Dawson Airport, funds approved from Transport Canada, and these are 100-percent recoverable. As for the timeline, we plan to complete all work in the next construction season.
Ms. Duncan: † The next construction season being next summer, weíre looking at an official reopening probably in September 2006, judging by the response from the minister.
Weíre getting close to the end of our time for today. I would just like to conclude by asking the minister to provide the House with an update on the Red Line train in Carcross. It seems to me we spent some money on this ó or voted for some money, or against, depending on your perspective. Did the train operate this summer, and if not, why not?
Hon. Mr. Hart: The Red Line train is an asset of Highways and Public Works, but with regard to the operation and the arrangement of that, I suggest that she ask the Minister of Economic Development. Thatís where the agreement lies.
Ms. Duncan: The ministerís department bought it. So, what are they doing with it? Itís a logical question. Iím not accepting the minister standing up and saying, ďWell, go ask the Minister of Economic Development.Ē They own the asset. There must have been some intended purpose for the train ó the Red Line train in Carcross. Itís $50,000 of taxpayersí money that was spent to purchase this asset. Why did we purchase it if there was no intended use for it? Itís a pretty expensive paper weight, except itís not going to sit on anybodyís desk.
What was the intended purpose when the option was put forward to buy it?
Hon. Mr. Hart: With respect to the train, the purchase of the train was through Economic Development ó an agreement between them and White Pass. The aspect enabled 37 jobs to be created and also the objective of bringing the train into Carcross. The intent was that White Pass would lease back that same train from us for a period of two years. That was the intent.
They spent this summer building the track and rail, with the objective that they are trying to bring the train back into Carcross as soon as they can market the program to come there.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Chair, that may have been the intent. Clearly, thatís not what occurred. I would ask for a more detailed explanation as to why not. However, in light of the time, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 17.
Chair: Ms. Duncan has moved that we report progress on Bill No. 17, Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06.
Motion agreed to
Mr. Cathers: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: Mr. Cathers has moved that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 17, Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of† Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried. The time being 6:00 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled November 28, 2005:
Election of Arthur Mitchell as Member for Copperbelt, letter dated November 28, 2005 from the Chief Electoral Officer to the Speaker† (Staffen)
The following document was filed November 28, 2005:
Reindeer, Herd Statement (dated May 19, 2005) from Dr. Rick Brown, Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre Ltd. to the Department of Environment, Government of Yukon and other related documents† (Kenyon)