STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
Mr. John Holm
MR. CHAIRMAN: We will get started, and hopefully other witnesses may be able to join us. First of all, I would like to thank the witnesses who have appeared today. It is the intent that we would start off, after we have done the appropriate introductions, give each witness an opportunity to make an opening remark, up to five minutes, give or take a moment, and then we will turn to the questioning. Today we will start with the New Democratic Party, as the last public session started with the Liberal caucus. What we tend to do is revert from one to another. With those opening remarks, first of all, I would like to ask the committee members if you would please introduce yourselves for the benefit of our guests.
[The committee members introduced themselves.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Our witnesses today: of course everybody on the committee knows Mr. Brian Boudreau, MLA, he is here as the past President of the Bras d'Or North Community Development; also we have Mr. Brian MacSween, who is a Crown Land Forester with the Department of Natural Resources; Mr. Clifford MacNeil, the United Upland Waterfront Owners; and Mr. Brian Spicer, the Development Officer with the Planning Department for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. We are anticipating, or have been anticipating, that as well a solicitor from the municipality would be here, and that Mr. Michael Brogan, who is a councillor for the region, had also agreed to be present. Quite possibly they have been tied up, and they may join us. With those brief opening comments, maybe we can start at my far right and ask if guests would like to make opening remarks.
We will be starting off with Mr. Boudreau, if you would care to make some remarks.
MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Chairman, I will just pass.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. MacSween.
MR. BRIAN MACSWEEN: I don't have too much to say. As you mentioned, I am a Crown Land Forester with the Department of Natural Resources in Coxheath, just outside Sydney. Back in 1994, this application first came before me. Basically the idea was to take MacNeil's Cove, which was gradually becoming crowded with boats and so on, try to put some kind of an organized grid together. The department has been working the last number of years towards working with community groups to take these kinds of things on. We don't really have the staff or the time, and so on, to spend managing individual mooring grids.
Mr. Boudreau approached me, representing the Bras d'Or North group. We went through the application procedure, as included in the inland coastal waters policy with the department. Things progressed, times changed, various things happened over the years, and we have come to this point today. Other than that, other than to answer questions, I don't have too much more to say.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. MacNeil.
MR. CLIFFORD MACNEIL: I would just like to thank the committee for inviting me here today to have the opportunity to air our concerns at this level. Basically the Upland Waterfront Owners Society is a small group of landowners who came together, who saw the need for a change in policy in many of the government departments that weren't addressing the situation at MacNeil's Cove. That is what we set out to do, to try to effect change. Hopefully today we can do that here.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Spicer.
MR. BRIAN SPICER: I am here at the committee's request, and hopefully I will be able to answer any of your questions with respect to the municipality's involvement in the issue.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I thank you very much for coming. With those remarks, it is 8:09:5 a.m., we will start off with 20 minute rounds of questioning for each caucus.
MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Chairman, I was intrigued, just off the top, by Mr. MacSween's comments that we are to the point where we are today. The first question that we should ask is, where are we today with the mooring grid in MacNeil's Cove? My understanding is, and you can tell me if I am wrong, there was a termination notice sent to the association, that the department is now left in the position of administering the mooring grid and that essentially the proposal that was made has failed.
MR. MACSWEEN: You are asking me?
MR. DEXTER: Yes.
MR. MACSWEEN: At the present time, the actual licence that was issued is now terminated. The group has until May 1st to remove any structures that they have, in other words moorings, in the water. If they don't, then they could revert to the Department of Natural Resources. We have stated that if a community group cannot come forward or form in time for this season, we would issue permits to individuals for this particular year, kind of as a first-come first-served basis with no guarantees of access or anything, just, you have a permit, you can put your boat there.
Just to bring the committee up to date, there is a group formed, which is called the MacNeil's Cove Boaters Association, and it is formed of boaters and other interested parties. They have two drafts of their actual working rules, and they have applied to the Joint Stock Registry for certification and so on. They have contacted me a couple of times and have supplied me with the drafts. They have asked for a meeting sometime in the near future. We have also had a meeting with the United Waterfront Owners and basically discussed situations regarding moorings in front of landowners' properties and so on. Our hope is that before the start of the season, everybody can come together and hopefully a new group will take the grid over.
There is going to have to be, though, as a result of the Ombudsman's report and changes that the department made in our mooring policy, which as far as I know is basically ready to be approved and may be approved actually as we talk, that will require basically a full round of public consultations prior to any group taking over the grid. In other words, they will have to come through with a proposal stating exactly how they intend to do this public consultation with an unbiased mediator or facilitator, whatever you want to call him. That is kind of where we are right at the present time.
MR. DEXTER: Is it fair to say that your experience with this particular project has been a difficult one?
MR. MACSWEEN: I think that is probably putting it mildly. It was a long process, and the thing is, this was one of the first ones in the province. I think that everything that could happen probably happened in this one, and gradually over time, things have progressed. As I say, I think the Ombudsman's report and the Ombudsman's investigation, they came through with a lot of recommendations that realistically I just don't think could be applied, but the ones that could be applied and could be used, we tried to make the changes in the policy in the appropriate way.
MR. DEXTER: I am going to move on to Mr. Boudreau, at this point. I guess I wanted to start, Mr. Boudreau, I think we heard from your colleagues over the last number of weeks that one of the things that you wanted to do by coming before this committee today was to have an opportunity to state what you considered to be your side of the story with respect to this project. One of the ways that you go about doing that is by producing the file. I haven't seen anything before this committee with respect to the file on this project. Do you have a file?
MR. BOUDREAU: Absolutely.
MR. DEXTER: Would you be prepared to tender it for the committee?
MR. BOUDREAU: Any information the committee would like to see is readily available.
MR. DEXTER: What I would like to see would be the . . .
MR. BOUDREAU: If I get some indication of exactly what you are looking for, then it is not a problem. We have it.
MR. DEXTER: The project file would be . . .
MR. BOUDREAU: You want the entire file?
MR. DEXTER: Yes, sure.
MR. BOUDREAU: No problem.
MR. DEXTER: As you know, on phase two of this project, which I think is the one which most people see as being problematic, the province invested some $38,000 or $36,000, and I understand there is $200,000 of HRDC money as well. Do you know whether or not your file would contain detailed purchase orders of the materials and supplies?
MR. BOUDREAU: Absolutely.
MR. DEXTER: Do you know whether or not you were required to file those with the funding agencies?
MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, we were, prior to any funding being released.
MR. DEXTER: Who administered the project?
MR. BOUDREAU: What do you mean by administered? The group was the sponsor of the project. In the first phase of the project, the paperwork was done by the administration, the County of Cape Breton, through the Housing Department, which was a regular procedure at that time. The second phase was done by the group.
MR. DEXTER: When you say by the group, who set up - I assume there was a . . .
MR. BOUDREAU: There was a payroll set up, and it was organized, and . . .
MR. DEXTER: There was a project account?
MR. BOUDREAU: Absolutely. It was audited.
MR. DEXTER: Who set that up?
MR. BOUDREAU: The community group.
MR. DEXTER: Who, in particular, what person?
MR. BOUDREAU: The group as a whole met and made an agreement with it. There were three or four signing officers who were eligible to sign cheques if that is what you are asking.
MR. DEXTER: Who were they?
MR. BOUDREAU: Myself, the treasurer, the secretary and one of the residents.
MR. DEXTER: Who paid the suppliers?
MR. BOUDREAU: The group did after the funding was released.
MR. DEXTER: Do you remember, Mr. Boudreau, did you sign the cheques that went to the suppliers, do you recall?
MR. BOUDREAU: I probably signed some of them, yes. Some of the cheques were made out directly to the supplier also. For instance, equipment was bought at a local lumber dealer. When the cheque arrived, it had the local lumber dealer's name on the cheque as well as the community group. The group signed the cheque and passed the cheque over to the supplier. So many times it was done, a direct payment to the group.
MR. DEXTER: Were paycheques handled in a similar manner? Were they made directly or were they made through the group?
MR. BOUDREAU: The payroll was made through the group.
MR. DEXTER: How many people were employed on the project?
MR. BOUDREAU: All together or just one phase?
MR. DEXTER: Phase two in particular.
MR. BOUDREAU: Phase two, there were approximately 40.
MR. DEXTER: How would those people have been selected?
MR. BOUDREAU: They were selected through the TAGS process. It was a process that was set up by HRD. Interviews were held with HRD officials as well as an official from Bras d'Or North in the room. They were chosen with a combined agreement I guess.
MR. DEXTER: Who signed the paycheques, do you know?
MR. BOUDREAU: Who signed the paycheques? I probably signed some of them along with another individual. The payroll is set up so that two people had to sign.
MR. DEXTER: Mr. Boudreau, to your knowledge, were any of the supplies that were issued to the project ever returned?
MR. BOUDREAU: No. On one occasion there was a mistake by the supplier when he sent out too much wood. So when he realized the mistake that he made, when the order arrived, it arrived by transport truck and they made a mistake and they took too much lumber off it. When they realized what they did, they came and took some of it back.
MR. DEXTER: That would be before an invoice was issued?
MR. BOUDREAU: No, the invoice was issued upon arrival.
MR. DEXTER: So a credit would have gone back to the association for the excess?
MR. BOUDREAU: The excess was never ever charged out and it was just an honest mistake, I would suggest. I did not unload the shipment. It was unloaded, they brought a forklift to the yard and they unloaded it right off the truck.
MR. DEXTER: You said the project was audited?
MR. BOUDREAU: Yes.
MR. DEXTER: Who did the audit?
MR. BOUDREAU: HRD.
MR. DEXTER: Have you received a copy of that audit?
MR. BOUDREAU: No, I was just told verbally it was audited.
MR. DEXTER: Did they request your books? How was the audit conducted? There must have been a person who audited the project?
MR. BOUDREAU: Well, it is pretty easy to audit it actually. I mean a cheque would come for the wages. If the workers had not got paid, I would suggest, once Friday came they would want their pay and it was quite obvious the salaries were all in order. There were no complaints from any of the workers that they did not get paid or they did not receive separation slips, or they did not receive T4 slips. I mean, everything was in order.
MR. DEXTER: I am not questioning that. What I am asking is, who did the audit and I take it from your answer . . .
MR. BOUDREAU: HRD, actually whoever did it indirectly, I do not have any knowledge.
MR. DEXTER: You do not know. Mr. Boudreau, one of the things you have had is an opportunity to review the documents that are before this committee. Is that correct? Have you seen this binder?
MR. BOUDREAU: Some of them.
MR. DEXTER: Some of them?
MR. BOUDREAU: I just did not really take too much interest in it to be honest with you. I have two colleagues here who I have a lot of confidence in.
MR. DEXTER: You did not take too much interest in a project coming before . . .
MR. BOUDREAU: Actually I did not see the binder until probably three weeks ago and it is in Cape Breton actually, in my office.
MR. DEXTER: But you reviewed it?
MR. BOUDREAU: I have reviewed it once. I went through the booklet once, yes.
MR. DEXTER: There are two documents in the binder that are of some interest, at least to me and I think to others. One of them is a memo from Mr. Ross Kennedy. He was here before the committee a few weeks ago. What it indicated was that you had spoken to him with respect to phase two of the project and that he had indicated to you that there was going to be an equity component in the waterfront development project and specifically that they were going to require a 30 per cent equity from the applicant groups and when I asked him about that, he said that was in fact the case in the guidelines, but that an exception was made for your group.
There is also in the documents a facsimile cover page dated October 30th in which there is a note on the bottom. It says, "Jim, the local MP, Russell MacLellan is very interested in seeing this project proceed as quickly as possible." I guess what I am trying to do is figure out how you managed to get the Department of Economic Development to waive the requirement for the 30 per cent equity share? Perhaps you could tell us how that happened?
MR. BOUDREAU: I do not actually recall the letter that you are indicating. If you have a copy of it and I have a quick glance at it, I could perhaps comment on it.
MR. DEXTER: Perhaps I will show you a copy of the memo.
MR. BOUDREAU: As far as the comment about the MP, I have never discussed this project with Russell MacLellan, never.
MR. DEXTER: So I guess it would be your assumption that someone else must have?
MR. BOUDREAU: I do not know if HRD would request anything from him. I am familiar with the process, but I do not know what the role of an MP is. It is my understanding that, prior to approval of any project, as Peter Mancini just approved the tar ponds project, you know, I guess it is just normal procedure to acknowledge to them the files and so on.
MR. DEXTER: This is in advance of any project being approved. This is in advance apparently of the proposal being considered.
MR. BOUDREAU: I do not have any knowledge of it, Mr. Dexter. I cannot really comment on the letter because I do not even recall seeing it in the binder actually.
MR. DEXTER: Mr. Boudreau, we have heard from Mr. MacSween a few minutes ago with respect to the licence for the mooring and grid. That has been revoked. The boardwalk along the highway has been torn up in part. I think it is becoming increasingly obvious that there was $250,000 spent on a project and on a structure that is built at least in part on private land. There does not appear to be a right-of-way to the project. It is not accessible from phase one of the project. As far as I can see, and I have been there to have a look at it, it cannot be accessed by the public and I think in its present condition it is
probably in fact dangerous to the public. Do you still maintain that this project has been a success, Mr. Boudreau?
MR. BOUDREAU: Absolutely and I disagree with some of the comments you made. To begin with, the project is well accessible to serve the purpose why it was put there. There is a major campground just across the lake. If you were there, you must be aware. I would imagine you saw it. One of the purposes of the boardwalk is to provide leisure for travellers who are camped overnight, on the weekend, or whatever, and they can walk. The access is by walking, I agree that there is no access by vehicle. It was never intended to have any access by vehicle because of the traffic flow on the Trans Canada Highway No. 105. So in fact the project received the attention it deserved, in my opinion. It was an environmentally unfriendly area where there is a lot of driftwood, and debris from service stations and some of the boaters dump their oil. Guess where the oil goes? It was very unsightly. We have approximately 700,000 vehicles that travel through that area. The main purpose of the project was to clean up and tidy up the area and make it look presentable, and hang a flag and show people that there were people in the community who cared where they lived. In the process, it created much-needed employment for both unemployed individuals and summer projects for students.
My opinion remains the same. The project is, has been and will continue to be a success in the future.
MR. CHAIRMAN: A little under four minutes left.
MR. BOUDREAU: If I may, I would agree that the project now in the last few months has some difficulties, particularly with that boardwalk.
MR. DEXTER: In fact, Mr. Boudreau, I have a press clipping here from The Cape Breton Post on February 10th when you were asked about this. I think you said, or at least you are quoted as having said with respect to the comment, they can stick it up their ear, it says here commenting on the licence being revoked. I guess at least in that respect, you would consider the project to be a failure.
MR. BOUDREAU: When we are talking about the licence, Mr. Dexter, it is the grid that you are indicating. If you are talking about the grid in the boardwalk, there are two different aspects of the project.
MR. DEXTER: I asked you about the grid. I said, in respect to that aspect at the very least, you would consider it to be a failure.
MR. BOUDREAU: No, the grid was not a failure. I am confident that the grid will be a success this year, as well as for many years to come. There is organization now in that cove, there is proper spacing with the boulders. The safety is enhanced for everyone involved.
The landowners have protection against liability. It was managed up until last fall in a pretty good fashion. It provides summer employment for students and it provides an opportunity to obtain short-term employment projects for people who are unemployed and need some kind of income.
The community appearance is exceptional. I can't ask them the impact that it had on the community. There is no garbage flying around. You can imagine, Mr. Dexter, with approximately 40 boaters, and I certainly allude to the fact that the majority of the boat owners are very fine people and they care, although a couple of bad apples do spoil the barrel, sir. There was much debris, there was garbage everywhere. It was unorganized and unsafe. I received many, many complaints prior to this project being initiated. There were parking problems. There were enormous problems within the community because of the activity that was carrying on there. The initiative was to bring organization and management to it so that everyone could enjoy what is rightfully ours.
MR. DEXTER: The reality, Mr. Boudreau, is that the slipway which for years was used by members from all over the community has been turned into a private slipway that, in fact, people have been denied access to it. Isn't that the fact?
MR. BOUDREAU: The slipway has always been owned privately. It has been allowed to be used. There was no real concern about liability at that particular time. When liability issues arose, landowners who were affected became concerned.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Time for the first round. We go to the Liberal caucus.
MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Chairman, my first question is to Mr. MacSween. Mr. MacSween, on a previous day, a colleague of yours with the Department of Natural Resources appeared before the committee here, Ms. Rosalind Penfound. I guess she is legal counsel, if I understand it?
MR. MACSWEEN: Yes, and she is Executive Director of Land Services.
MR. MACKINNON: She indicated that certainly this situation, this project, presented a rather sharp learning curve, and I believe you have pretty well confirmed that as well because it was the only project of its kind in the province. Would you care to elaborate a bit on that.
MR. MACSWEEN: To my knowledge anyway, not being as familiar with this end of the province and some of the areas are big boating areas, but in Cape Breton, aside from Baddeck Harbour, there really were not any formalized, organized mooring grids. For Baddeck, permits were issued by the federal government for years. They wanted out of it, so they just dropped it. The province took it over and worked through some process to try and get that one going.
In this particular one, it was more of an informal situation. I talked to boaters who were there in the early 1980's, there might have been 10, 12, 13 boats. At times in the past couple of years, there has been as many as 35 or 40. Landowners were concerned about congestion and so on and possible safety hazards, et cetera. This particular one was one we hoped would work out well. It was a community group that was going to take the responsibility to run it, get liability insurance, cover people off, provide access, provide some facilities and possibly work towards getting a pump-out facility for the boats and so on. We had hopes that it would work. Just because of various developments and so on over the years, it didn't work.
The group volunteers, I see it all the time with community groups, volunteers work hard, but they don't have the time. It is not a full-time job, so that is where the group fell down, perhaps with providing some of the details that we required. As time went on they were not providing them, so that is where the termination came in at the end.
MR. MACKINNON: You indicated the issue of liability insurance. Did they provide that?
MR. MACSWEEN: Yes, they did.
MR. MACKINNON: Did they provide access?
MR. MACSWEEN: The access was provided through the two MacNeil brothers that own the two properties right there, the slipway and so on. There was an arrangement made with Bras d'Or North to allow the use of that slipway for the public and so on. Yes, that was provided.
MR. MACKINNON: In essence, it would be safe to say that the community organization, given the nature of volunteerism and the way they come together, as I know the history of these projects in Cape Breton, and I have been involved in a number, as you well know. Would it be safe to say they made a reasonable effort, a poor effort, a very good effort? How would you assess their performance?
MR. MACSWEEN: I think they made a reasonable effort, but again there is a very definite learning curve for anyone involved in this kind of thing. I don't think they ever realized the kind of detail that might have been required, the kinds of questions they might
get, the kinds of things that might arise within the grid itself where conflicts might come forward and how do you handle them. I think there is a definite learning curve there. Hopefully, if anyone else takes it over, they will learn from the mistakes of the past and go on. Public communication might have been one of the shortfalls.
MR. MACKINNON: So the issue of access was settled from your perspective?
MR. MACSWEEN: As far as we are concerned, the access was private until proven otherwise. We don't have the resources to ascertain whether or not that is a private or public access. To the best of our knowledge, it was a private access that was allowed to be used.
MR. MACKINNON: Has that issue of access been resolved presently?
MR. MACSWEEN: We had a meeting a short time ago with the United Landowners, and what I have done is sent a request off to Crown Lands Records Centre to determine that particular area, whether or not there is any Crown land involved other than what is below mean high water mark. That is the best we can do. We will search the records. We had no mapping, no indication whatsoever that there was any public access there. It was a private access that was allowed to be used by the public.
MR. MACKINNON: What is the situation if it is shown that there is no access on a title search?
MR. MACSWEEN: You mean if it shows that it is a private access? I am not sure of the legal ramifications of it, but if it is private, I suppose someone could say, that's it, you are not using it anymore. A lawyer would have to determine whether that is, in fact, true or not.
MR. MACKINNON: When Ms. Penfound was before the committee, she indicated at that time no one has ever brought to their attention the fact that they didn't want this grid or the concern about this particular access. I guess I am somewhat perplexed, because if there is still a question of access, why would the Department of Natural Resources want to proceed with this new group in providing this arrangement or this agreement for a mooring grid?
MR. MACSWEEN: This new group, from the understanding I have, has been working with the landowners who own the access. The only way the thing would work is if they cooperated and everyone came together with a mutual understanding of how the thing should work. Again, the liabilities would be covered off and so on. To my understanding, that is the way it is proceeding.
MR. MACKINNON: If the issue of access is not settled, then the mooring grid agreement would be null and void?
MR. MACSWEEN: Basically, as we indicated earlier on, the department would run the grid this year, hopefully with the understanding that eventually a group would come forward, and the understandings could be reached. But for this year, we would issue permits to individuals but with no guarantee as to access. If you put your boat in down at Alder Point, then fine, you can put it in the cove, but we couldn't guarantee it.
MR. MACKINNON: So the issue of access was never a major concern with the department. Is that what you are saying?
MR. MACSWEEN: Not really, no.
MR. MACKINNON: Okay. Before this organization, this Bras d'Or North came along, what was the practice on mooring in MacNeil's Cove?
MR. MACSWEEN: Basically I think the original people who were using it just dropped an anchor where they thought was the best spot, and moored there. Gradually, as more came in they picked what they thought was an appropriate spot. I know a couple of people, the odd time, there was a conflict, someone put down next to them too close, and then you know, the repercussions come out of that. But, that was kind of the way it was. You just dropped where you felt was the best place for yourself. There was no organization to it.
MR. MACKINNON: So it would be safe to say then, there was an advantage to the Department of Natural Resources to have Bras d'Or North take control of this situation.
MR. MACSWEEN: Definitely.
MR. MACKINNON: All indications were that both the organization and the Department of Natural Resources were working together to effect this new management plan, if I could use that term to demonstrate some organization and control and management and the issue of liability.
MR. MACSWEEN: That was our goal.
MR. MACKINNON: At any particular point in time, Mr. MacSween, was there any resistance from the organization to want to resolve any impasses or issues?
MR. MACSWEEN: Resistance is not the right word. Again, it was just that you might request a certain piece of information. One of the things was the actual nitty-gritty of how the actual grid would work, the actual mechanics of that. We wanted that, and we had difficulty getting it. Again, I think it is the volunteer nature of the group that probably prompted that. But basically cooperation-wise, anytime we requested anything, they tried their best to provide it, I think.
MR. MACKINNON: They did their level best, and I suppose due diligence from a volunteer's perspective when you are dealing with a number of community-minded individuals, irrespective of their different perspectives, they all made a reasonable effort to make a good project work.
MR. MACSWEEN: In my opinion, they did.
MR. MACKINNON: I want to go back to the issue of value for money, Mr. Chairman, because essentially that is what this committee is for. The issue of the $35,000 or $36,000 of provincial dollars that have been put into this particular project - I am not sure if this is a question for Mr. MacSween or Mr. Boudreau, but they can opt themselves to respond.
In the last committee meeting that we held with regard to this particular issue, there was a letter tabled that indicated an agreement between a Mr. MacNeil who owns a large store, a general country store, that he would provide public use of his facilities in exchange for some cooperative agreement utilizing these funds because they use the land for an on-site disposal system. What knowledge do you have of that particular situation, Mr. MacSween?
MR. MACSWEEN: I don't have much knowledge about that personally. I know there was an agreement between Mr. MacNeil and the Bras d'Or North group to allow the use of the property for the purposes of the community good and so on, and then taking certain responsibilities as far as I know, but we came to the disposal system and I know of it, but I don't know any details on that particular issue.
MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Boudreau.
MR. BOUDREAU: I wasn't really paying attention Mr. MacKinnon so . . .
MR. MACKINNON: Was there an agreement between both parties on the expenditure of this $36,000 between Mr. MacNeil and the Bras d'Or North group?
MR. BOUDREAU: Yes.
MR. MACKINNON: There was an agreement?
MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, there was.
MR. MACKINNON: Is there public access for the use of the washroom facilities?
MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, there is.
MR. MACKINNON: Am I right in concluding that aspect of the expenditure of the $35,000 to $36,000, whatever the figure is, has been good value for dollar?
MR. BOUDREAU: Absolutely.
MR. MACKINNON: Well, I know my colleague didn't waste any time drawing the federal component into this particular perspective and I think any question on value for dollar is important. It is somewhat ironic that my colleague overlooked . . .
MR. BOUDREAU: Not me.
MR. MACKINNON: My socialist colleague, Mr. Dexter, overlooked the fact that when projects such as PLI or Scotia Rainbow were approved, the local Member of Parliament signed off on those projects because there is a process in place and I believe his reference to Mr. MacLellan being somehow involved or lobbying - that was the inference - the project. I believe it would be proper, Mr. Chairman, through Mr. Boudreau or Mr. MacSween or whoever is in charge of the project now, to secure the proper documentation from HRDC to find out if in fact the same process is followed there. Am I correct in concluding that, Mr. Boudreau?
MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. MacKinnon, I really can't comment because I am not familiar with the relationship that HRDC has with the MP. HRDC does some checking or some review with the MP of the day on different projects and the MP either approves or disapproves, perhaps.
MR. MACKINNON: My next question would be for Mr. Spicer. Concerns have been raised about whether proper permits have been issued and so on and so forth and I believe I can safely say with some experience, having dealt with you in a number of different life forms, both professionally and in the private sector and again in the public sector, there are always these ongoing working relationships back and forth to make sure that processes were not hindered just simply by bureaucratic red tape. I have always found your understanding of that process to be very positive and a positive aspect for development in our general area. What knowledge do you have, or do you have any particular concerns about the permit process on this particular project?
MR. SPICER: From our point of view after reviewing, at the request of the United Upland Waterfront Owners Association, we had determined that the project, or at least a portion of it had taken place on privately-owned land. As a result, permits would be normally required so we approached the association and requested that they apply for those permits.
MR. MACKINNON: Prior to that, there was never any suggestion that there was any difficulty with that?
MR. SPICER: I'm not sure I follow the question.
MR. MACKINNON: Was it ever brought to your attention, prior to the United Upland Waterfront Owners coming to you and suggesting that there was a problem?
MR. SPICER: No.
MR. MACKINNON: Did you ever have a discussion with the then solicitor for the municipality indicating that permit approval process was not required at the municipal level?
MR. SPICER: I can't recall specifically to this particular case, but I can recall several conversations I had with the then municipal solicitor regarding projects that were on provincially-owned land. It was agreed that we didn't have the ability to prosecute projects that were on provincial property.
MR. MACKINNON: The solicitor, that would be Mr. Muise?
MR. SPICER: At the time, yes it was.
MR. MACKINNON: Who is now mayor of the regional municipality?
MR. SPICER: That is correct.
MR. MACKINNON: The issue of private land ownership and the question of permits, are you able to give us a date as to when this concern was brought to you?
MR. SPICER: Not a specific date. I could ballpark the year, probably around 1997, but I am not 100 per cent sure.
MR. MACKINNON: Would you have a record?
MR. SPICER: I could go through my files and determine that, yes.
MR. MACKINNON: Would you table that for the committee?
MR. SPICER: Certainly.
MR. MACKINNON: Would you table who brought the complaint to you, as well?
MR. SPICER: Yes.
MR. MACKINNON: I am looking at the LRIS map for that general area. I am not sure if all members of the committee have it. Mr. Taylor has a more modified version. It appears to me that along the Trans Canada section of this particular project, there are a number of landowners identified, such as Irving Oil, Theresa Howley, PetroCanada, the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation, and James and Sarah Campbell. That seems to be a bit of a contradiction to the letter that I tabled at the last committee meeting, whereby the Department of Transportation and Public Works issued a letter of authorization allowing the boardwalk to be constructed in this general area, from the most southern point up to but not including the intersection point. Mr. Spicer, have you had any enquiries, prior to the construction of this boardwalk, on this particular section?
MR. SPICER: No, I did not.
MR. MACKINNON: The only enquiries you would have had would have been the section along the Groves Point Road?
MR. SPICER: Actually, I had not received any enquiries with respect to the boardwalk, until such time as it was brought to my attention.
MR. MACKINNON: So it was after it was completed, was it?
MR. SPICER: Substantially completed, yes. If I may, I would like to add that the representation that you see before you, that I believe was passed around by Ms. Stevens, is a representation of where the boardwalk is on the survey. It was prepared by one of our staff members, Mr. Mike Astephen, who is a licensed land surveyor but he didn't actually go out and survey it. He did rough measurements and drew it in, it was a best-fit scenario as to where he believed it would be.
MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Spicer, that wasn't my issue of concern. The issue of concern was the fact that the Department of Transportation and Public Works issued a letter, and I believe it is on file here, giving authorization to the Bras d'Or North Community Development Organization, the authorization to establish a boardwalk in this general area.
MR. SPICER: Yes, they did.
MR. MACKINNON: So it would be safe to assume that the Bras d'Or North Development group did it with the best of intentions and due diligence, given that letter of authorization.
MR. SPICER: Given their experience in the development field, I would say that is a reasonable conclusion to draw, yes.
MR. MACKINNON: Mr. MacSween, you have indicated that there were two Mr. MacNeils that were in agreement for access to that particular property. I can only conclude that that must be along the Groves Point Road, am I correct?
MR. MACNEIL: Yes, Sydney, Vincent and James MacNeil.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Sorry, you are going to have to come back to the that point in the next round, time has expired. We will go to the Conservative caucus.
MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Good morning, gentlemen. If I could, I would like some indication from our guests this morning, perhaps I could place this question to Mr. Spicer, as to who Mr. Keith LeLievre is?
MR. SPICER: Who he is?
MR. TAYLOR: Yes.
MR. SPICER: I only know of one Keith LeLievre, but I am not sure of his capacity in this particular development. I know him as a friend.
MR. TAYLOR: You know him as a friend?
MR. SPICER: As a personal friend, yes, or acquaintance I should say.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, I have a fax here, a letter on Human Resources Development Canada letterhead from that particular individual to Jim Purves. Mr. Spicer, do you know who Jim Purves is?
MR. SPICER: No, I don't.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, perhaps I could inform Mr. Spicer then, just who Mr. Purves is. According to information and documents we have, he is the Senior Environmental Coordinator with Human Resources and Development Canada. Mr. Spicer, I am just curious, whereas you are a development officer or the development officer with the CBRM, as to whether or not you had any communication with Mr. Purves regarding this project?
MR. SPICER: Not that I can recall.
MR. TAYLOR: Not that you can recall. Mr. Chairman, I am certainly prepared to table some of this documentation here this morning.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That would be welcomed.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, under organizational considerations, and this is signed by Mr. James Purves of HRDC, he indicates that he would be looking for a statement indicating whether or not the ownership of the lands and waters on which construction is to take place has been clarified. You have never seen this, Mr. Spicer?
MR. SPICER: Not that I can recall, no.
MR. TAYLOR: Perhaps I could ask Mr. Boudreau if he has seen that letter from Mr. Purves.
MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, I have, I believe. There are actually two letters from Mr. Purves. There were two environmental assessments completed on the project. I would imagine that is one of them.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Purves indicates in this correspondence, that he would like 10 particular considerations clarified. Again, I will certainly be pleased to table that document. Mr. Boudreau, I have a copy of a letter dated September 19, 1994, which you signed. Perhaps just for ease of reference, at least, we have just had it tabled there with Mora. You indicate, under the organizational considerations that the ownership of the land and waters has been clarified, and this is on the Municipality of the County of Cape Breton letterhead. "Yes there has been consultation with both the public and land owners regarding the completed land and water use. There has been great support for this project including land owners, residents, visitors and boat owners. Bras d'Or North Community Development will assume liability for the safety of project . . .", et cetera, including permit for the floating wharf can and will be obtained from Natural Resources in Sydney, because the length is under 50 feet. Mr. Boudreau, perhaps you would tell this committee as to who that letter was addressed to?
MR. BOUDREAU: Is that dated September 19th?
MR. TAYLOR: September 19, 1994, that letter is signed by you, Mr. Boudreau.
MR. BOUDREAU: In regard to the land ownership, a Department of Transportation official visited the site. He indicated to the group, and I was present at the time, that they owned the property in question. They provided a permit and a letter authorizing the group to place the boardwalk on their right-of-way. The letter was accepted by all the government agencies. I still have some difficulty with it, because even the map that was passed out here this morning, where it indicates on the map that Theresa Howley is a landowner, in fact further review of that indicates that the landowner on that particular block of property is now unknown. They don't know who owns it. That is where a lot of the confusion surrounds the project, actually as to who owns this property. To my knowledge, to be honest with you, I
really do not know and I do not think really it is my responsibility to find out. I believe that the Department of Transportation and Public Works indicated to me personally and the group that they had at least some authority on that parcel of property and that is why they issued that letter. That is why we accepted it. It was accepted by HRD. It was accepted by Mr. Purves. It was accepted by the Department of the Environment and it was accepted by all the government agencies.
As a community group with minimal abilities I guess, we assumed that these groups, that DOT, in fact, had ownership or at least some authority on that parcel of property and that is why they provided the letter and the permit to the property. The project took approximately two years to construct. Mr. Chairman, if somebody came across my property and started building a boardwalk on it, I would at least go out and ask somebody what they were intending to do on my property. I believe that the landowners who now indicate that they own the property did not even realize they owned the property when it was being constructed. So, some two years after the completion of the project everybody comes forward saying the boardwalk is built on private property.
That may be, Mr. Taylor, but at the time of the actual construction of that boardwalk and the activity related to it, the full intentions were that the group was within the right to construct the boardwalk and to have the facility on that property.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, just for clarification to Mr. Boudreau, what I originally asked Mr. Boudreau was who this letter was sent out to, on Municipality of the County of Cape Breton letterhead, dated September 19, 1994, and signed by you, Mr. Boudreau?
MR. BOUDREAU: I believe it was provided to HRD. (Interruption)
MR. TAYLOR: So you are telling me and you are telling this committee, when you stated that, yes, ownership of land and waters has been clarified, you are telling me now that the information you had at that time led you to believe that that had been straightened out and clarified, but subsequent to writing this letter you learned that residents, property owners, in fact, somehow found out later on that they owned land that they did not know that they owned?
MR. BOUDREAU: Well, they claim they own it today and to be honest with you, perhaps they do and perhaps they do not. I do not have that knowledge, but at the time I wrote this letter, you are absolutely right, we assumed we were within - we were trying to do the project as responsibly as possible with the resources that we had and we felt that with the letter from DOT and the fact they issued the permit that, you know, we were within our rights.
MR. TAYLOR: I think this is important, Mr. Chairman. The witness or presenter is telling us and he is telling people in this letter that consultation was had with landowners. He is assuring HRDC that, in fact, consultation took place and I guess where I am having difficulty is trying to fathom out whether or not the landowners who are disputing who owns the land today were actually contacted and communicated with by the councillor who signed this letter, Mr. Brian Boudreau?
MR. BOUDREAU: The individuals along the Trans Canada Highway, no, I did not communicate with them. It was indicated to us that DOT owned the property. We communicated with DOT. We assumed at that time DOT owned it. So that is where we went and we did not realize or recognize or even have any idea that there could be any private landowners in that area. On the other side, on the Groves Point Road, in fact, we had written permission from Mr. Sydney MacNeil and Mr. Vince MacNeil. We did not communicate with landowners who lived a mile away, no. We were told that the requirement was to discuss the issue with the landowners who were affected by the project and that is what we thought we had done.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, it seems like at that particular time there was a pretty disjointed protocol in place relative to finding out in fact who owns land and whether or not HRDC's considerations were addressed appropriately because the correspondence which we have tabled very clearly points out that that particular concern, which is still a concern today, at that time people were led to believe that it was clarified. In fact, it is in writing so obviously I would think that there is still some concern about that. I just wanted to point that out.
I wonder if I might perhaps address a question to Mr. MacNeil whereas it seems as if the development officer, I think we learned a little earlier on, Mr. Chairman, was not aware that HRDC had these particular considerations or perhaps that this letter even exists, I wonder if Mr. MacNeil actually was aware at that time in 1994 when in fact HRDC received assurances from the councillor of the day that everything was up to snuff. Mr. MacNeil, did you have concerns relative to landownership?
MR. MACNEIL: Yes, we did not have any knowledge of this letter probably until 1998. We did an FOI with HRDC and this was in the package. We were rather shocked when we read that there had been consultation with the landowners, boaters and residents in the area because that was simply not the case.
In fact, I have a letter here signed by 28 of the boaters who were in MacNeil's Cove at the time stating that they were not consulted or given any notice prior to the licence being issued. Also there are a number of landowners, you mentioned along the Trans Canada Highway, that were kicked around for quite awhile when we first approached the municipality with our complaint. That is what we were told, that the Bras d'Or North Group were of the understanding that the land along the Trans Canada Highway was owned by the province, or was federal land, whatever, and therefore they did not require municipal permits.
I guess that one of the big problems with the project that we see, is the lack of communication through the various levels of government and funding be allotted and being able to slip through the cracks, you know. Had the municipality been brought in on this in the very beginning, they would have identified the property owners right off the bat, and then we would have gone through the proper channels, like acquiring permits, development permits, amendments to the by-law, all those things, but the project went ahead in such a hurry we really never had a lot of time to think about it. There was very little consultation, if any, that I know of and I think I was a member of the Bras d'Or North Group right up until 1994 and I had no knowledge of any boardwalk or anything being in the works. So this must have come about rather quickly.
We did have a plan in the works at the time. There was some communication going on in the group about organizing the moorings a bit for the boaters, sort of a courtesy thing. There was no fee mentioned at the time and we actually had an artist draw a picture in 1992 which was done by the MacNeil family, Sydney MacNeil, just to clarify exactly what he wanted done with the property. There was no boardwalk in that picture either. It just showed a nice park area and the boats in the water sort of in a grid pattern which I think everybody was in favour of some organization, but this particular boardwalk here, no, not to my knowledge. I left the group in May 1994 and there was nothing going on at that time.
MR. TAYLOR: Perhaps before I yield to a colleague of mine, Mr. Chairman, I could place another question first.
MR. CHAIRMAN: There is about five minutes left.
MR. TAYLOR: Mr. MacNeil, we have correspondence here also indicating, and it is to that senior coordinator again, it is to Jim Purves with Human Resources Development Canada, indicating that - and this is certainly understandable - "The local MP, Russell MacLellan is very interested in seeing this project proceed as quickly as possible." That is signed by Keith LeLievre. I am just wondering, Mr. MacNeil, if you or your community group felt any undue pressure brought to bear because of - I won't call it political interference but I would certainly say because of - political representation?
MR. MACNEIL: I guess what we saw as a problem and I wouldn't call it political interference but I think it created a problem all the way through this, Brian, in his capacity as Councillor was head of the group, he wore two hats. I am not saying he applied pressure to the various departments or bureaucrats but I think when you are a political head, you are a politician and you do head up a community group, I feel there was kind of a conflict, or we felt it was kind of a conflict. It was very difficult for us to get our concerns addressed at various levels of government because of this problem. People trusted Brian to do the right thing, to go out there in the community, talk to the landowners, the boat owners, and all of the people involved. I think they were ready to sign off and leave it up to Brian to do this sort of thing and I think that is where a lot of the problem came in.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Just to point out, we should be referring to other witnesses and members by their last name or riding, if that is possible. Mr. Taylor, before we turn it over you were also going to be tabling a number of documents.
The honourable member for Kings South.
MR. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Chairman, I guess I have a question about protocol that I would like to address to Mr. MacNeil. Mr. Boudreau has had a chance to speak fairly extensively so far this morning and one of his comments about the construction of the boardwalk and the consultation process before proceeding with the boardwalk was that if you notice somebody building a boardwalk on your property, the onus is really on the property owner to go out and stop them. I guess I would like your reaction to that statement.
MR. MACNEIL: It is really not the way that it seems. If you look at the properties along the Trans Canada Highway, they were owned, at that time, by Irving Oil, a New Brunswick firm. The piece of land registered to Theresa Howley, who is a senior citizen who is about 76 years old and that land has been in the Howley family probably for a couple of hundred years. They actually ran a ferry before the Bras d'Or Bridge was installed there. So, there are questions surrounding who actually does own that small parcel of property but it still remains that it is in the Howley family, so it is private property nonetheless. It is really up to the Howley family themselves to decide actually who owns the property but it is in care of Theresa Howley; she had been paying the taxes before the boardwalk was built and she continues to pay the taxes today.
The PetroCanada land is similar to the Irving Oil property. We really had very little contact with either one. The Sarah Campbell property, again, Sarah Campbell is paying the taxes on the land, it is assessed to her but it actually belongs to her mother.
MR. MORSE: Mr. MacNeil, I guess I wasn't really looking for an inventory of every property owner but just how did you react to Mr. Boudreau's statement this morning? Are you in favour of just proceeding with projects and if the property owner objects, they should go out and tell the government to stop building the boardwalk, the highway, or the hospital on their property? Is this the way you feel business should be done?
MR. MACNEIL: No, not at all.
MR. MORSE: Maybe we could ask Mr. Spicer whether that is the way the Municipality of Cape Breton views that projects should be done, to just start the projects and if people object, to expect them to come out and take the onus to stop them?
MR. SPICER: If we lived in a perfect world I would say no, we would prefer to have them come in to consult prior to starting projects. Unfortunately, this is only one of many that are community based that usually begin without the proper approvals.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We will have to come back to the Conservative caucus. Maybe we will start a second round with about 10 minutes each.
MR. DEXTER: Mr. MacNeil, is it fair to say that this has raised a fair amount of controversy among the Bras d'Or North community and among people who were previously involved in that association?
MR. CLIFFORD MACNEIL: Yes.
MR. DEXTER: I will be happy to table this. It looks like a little poster that went around the community that says all is not well in Little Bras d'Or. The reality of this situation, you said you were involved in the association up until 1994. What was your position in the association?
MR. MACNEIL: In the Bras d'Or North Community Development Association? I acted as Treasurer from 1989 until mid-winter of 1993.
MR. DEXTER: So, you weren't just a member, you were on the executive of this organization right up until 1994.
MR. MACNEIL: Yes, it is safe to say that.
MR. DEXTER: But you had no knowledge of this boardwalk project being put together or being brought forward.
MR. MACNEIL: No, not this boardwalk.
MR. DEXTER: I just wanted to make that clear. There are a few things I want to touch on, and we don't have a lot of time, Mr. MacNeil, so you are going to have to allow me just to move on.
Mr. MacSween, you received a letter from the MacNeils with respect to the slipway, indicating their support for the project. You then received a letter from them that said they withdrew their consent, and that at the time the letter was signed, they didn't even know there was going to be a mooring project.
MR. MACSWEEN: I never personally received any letter saying that they did not know about the mooring or whatever. What happened, to the best of my knowledge, was that there was a call made saying that they didn't understand what was going on, didn't know about the mooring and so on and so forth. I don't know how that came about. All I know is
that the original letter that I saw stated that they were supportive of the project, the good communication that was going on, et cetera.
MR. DEXTER: Who received the call? Did you receive the call?
MR. MACSWEEN: I did not receive the call, no. To the best of my knowledge, it was received by Bruce Wilmhurst who was one of our planning technicians in Halifax.
MR. DEXTER: But that information was passed to you?
MR. MACSWEEN: That is right.
MR. DEXTER: So, did you go back to Mr. MacNeil and ask for another letter of consent?
MR. MACSWEEN: No. All this happened in the space of one day. I heard that this call had been made. Then I heard that another call had been made saying, no, I'm in full support of the project, and so on, and I withdraw that particular statement or whatever.
MR. DEXTER: Wouldn't that have raised some significant concern with you when you have someone calling to say I didn't even know there was a mooring project going ahead when I signed the letter of consent?
MR. MACSWEEN: Not really, because over the course of the whole thing, we met at different times on the site over there. We had a look at it. The understanding was there that the slipway was to gain access to the water where the mooring grid was to be located. Things were proceeding along. He stated in the letter that the project was well communicated to him and to others in the community, and so on. I took it as a reasonable assumption that he was in full support of everything that was going on there.
MR. DEXTER: How did you explain away the call, saying, I didn't even know there was a mooring grid going in?
MR. MACSWEEN: Well, that is Mr. MacNeil's prerogative. You will have to ask him how that happened. I don't know.
MR. DEXTER: That is an obvious contradiction, don't you think?
MR. MACSWEEN: Not in my mind. Maybe he was persuaded to make that call. I have no idea.
MR. DEXTER: Mr. Spicer, I wonder if I could ask you a couple of questions. This document that has been produced, you indicated that this was done after the boardwalk was put in just as a kind of as-built thing to (Interruption) This is the LRIS is it, Land Registration Information System?
MR. SPICER: That is correct, yes.
MR. DEXTER: That existed well before this project was in place?
MR. SPICER: Yes, it did.
MR. DEXTER: Anyone enquiring could come down and find out what parcels of property were located along the Trans Canada Highway, couldn't they?
MR. SPICER: The information is readily available through that department, yes.
MR. DEXTER: So if a councillor in your municipality came to you, you could have produced this showing the parcels of land along the Trans Canada Highway in what, a few minutes?
MR. SPICER: Probably about that, yes.
MR. DEXTER: Is there any reason that you can tell us why it is that the most basic, the simplest request for an explanation of the landowners wasn't made?
MR. SPICER: The only explanation I can give by way of what I was advised by Mr. Boudreau was that he believed that the property was provincially owned as a result of a permit he had received from the Department of Transportation. I am assuming that he relied on that, but I can't explain why he would . . .
MR. DEXTER: Indeed, I am not asking you to tell me what was in the mind of Mr. Boudreau at the time, I am just trying to be clear that there is no reason why, especially a person whose job it is to be familiar with the zoning in his own riding, couldn't have come to you and requested this information? As you said, it could have been done in minutes. I guess that is what makes all of this so unbelievable - it is really clear that the Department of Transportation had a small piece of property that existed along the highway; they did. They were free to issue the permit that they issued for the small piece of property that they own. The obvious problem was that they didn't own a big stretch of this property along the Trans Canada Highway.
MR. SPICER: If I may, I would suggest that the interpretation that was taken by Mr. Boudreau would be different than the interpretation I would take from that permit and possibly even the Department of Transportation. The permit, as I recall, is issued for any
structure within 100 metres of a right-of-way and that is quite consistent with everything that is done right across the province. If someone comes into my office and applies for a permit for a single family dwelling on their own property, we refer it to the Department of Transportation and they issue one of those right-of-way permits to say you can put a structure within 100 metres of a right-of-way. I don't think in that permit they are saying they own the land, this is my opinion. They are not saying that they own the land, they are simply saying that we are giving you permission to put this structure within 100 metres of the right-of-way.
MR. DEXTER: Fair enough and I think that is a good explanation of the permitting process and it seems to me that to draw any other inference from it is really, in fact, quite a stretch. It is very common especially along rural roads where properties abut right up to the highway, to see requests for these kinds of permits. Is that fair, in your experience?
MR. SPICER: I would ask you to reiterate the question, I am not sure I understand.
MR. DEXTER: Well, where there are not large setbacks along rural roads, you tend to see these kinds of requests for permits more frequently, don't you?
MR. SPICER: Any permit, any person who comes in and applies for a permit through our office whose property abuts a DOT right-of-way or road, those permit applications are referred to the Department of Transportation for their approval. One, for access; and two, because the structure would be within 100 metres of the right-of-way. Several times over a course of a year, we would receive the access permit back, but they would indicate a permit for building within 100 metres of right-of-way wasn't required because they were beyond that particular distance. I would say anytime a permit is applied for within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality within the jurisdiction of DOT that those applications are referred to them and they make their comments.
MR. DEXTER: Mr. Spicer, you actually did a memorandum in which you indicated that you would request that the Bras d'Or North association would seek to get the permits that were required and I believe the memorandum that I have, which came in this package, says, "In light of this information should the community association fail to apply and obtain the necessary permits within three weeks, legal action is recommended.". This was February 4, 1998, so in fact your concern about this was substantial enough that you were willing to recommend legal action to the municipality.
MR. SPICER: I would like to put that in context, if I may. What we were attempting to do as a result of complaints from the United Upland Waterfront Owners association was to demonstrate to the community association that they were obligated to apply for permits from the municipality, thereby allowing for some input from the residents, should there be a rezoning required, as an example. However, we didn't receive a response to that.
MR. DEXTER: And what response did you receive?
MR. SPICER: We didn't receive an application for permits.
MR. DEXTER: And never have?
MR. SPICER: No.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Time for this round. We will probably get back to a third round for five minutes. The Liberal caucus, 10 minutes.
MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Spicer, this particular piece of LRIS mapping that we have, is that identical, as it was back in 1994?
MR. SPICER: I wouldn't be able to comment on that. I would suspect the boundaries are similar, ownership may have changed or there may have been better information available.
MR. MACKINNON: It would be safe to say the representation, the ownership on here may have very well changed since this process commenced?
MR. SPICER: Ownership may have changed or better information may have come alight to the department.
MR. MACKINNON: When was the first time that anyone from your department visited this particular site for whatever reason?
MR. SPICER: As a follow-up to your previous question on when we received the complaint . . .
MR. MACKINNON: No, not in complaint, but in terms of issuing permits, because I know there have been permits issued over on the MacNeil property over around the store.
MR. SPICER: Yes, renovation permits and so on.
MR. MACKINNON: When would that have been, approximately? Would you be able to provide that for the committee?
MR. SPICER: Hopefully I will be. Our computer system has just been redone, and our search function is not as good as it should be, but yes, I will make an effort.
MR. MACKINNON: Would you say it was around 1997 or before 1997?
MR. SPICER: There were a number of associated things that were happening in that area over a period of years. There was a caboose that arrived there several years ago, and again, I am not sure of the time-frame. After that there were permits that had been applied for the store for upgrading.
MR. MACKINNON: Approximately, what year would that have been?
MR. SPICER: It would only be a guess, and I am not real comfortable with that, mid-1990's, 1996, 1995. I am really not sure.
MR. MACKINNON: It would have been before 1997 anyway.
MR. SPICER: I believe it would be, but I wouldn't want to commit to that.
MR. MACKINNON: At any point in time when any of your inspectors visited the site, did they ever raise concern about the boardwalk that was located over along the Trans Canada?
MR. SPICER: It was never brought to my attention.
MR. MACKINNON: Did Irving Oil ever raise concern with you?
MR. SPICER: Not that I'm aware of.
MR. MACKINNON: Or Mrs. Howley?
MR. SPICER: Not that I'm aware of.
MR. MACKINNON: Is this the same Mrs. Howley that has an employee with the Department of Natural Resources?
MR. MACSWEEN: I think she is probably related, but I don't think it is his mother or anything like that. I think it is a relative.
MR. MACKINNON: Mr. MacNeil, you indicated that you left the organization in 1994?
MR. MACNEIL: Yes.
MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Spicer has indicated he didn't receive any complaint until 1997. Why didn't you complain to the municipality for that three year period?
MR. MACNEIL: I guess what brought the whole situation to light was when the mooring grid was issued in 1996 and along with the mooring grid licence there was also a floating section of boardwalk issued along the front of Andrew Quinn's property. So that is where we sort of got together as a group of landowners and started calling one another and started comparing notes and that sort of thing. The other landowners, Vince and Sydney MacNeil, had signed agreements to allow the boardwalk to be built on their property. You are only talking about Andrew Quinn and Mrs. Howley with that small section of boardwalk on her property. When I approached her first, she had thought it had been expropriated from her. That was her feeling of it.
MR. MACKINNON: So out of nine potential landowners, we are only deal with one issue of concern, then, am I correct?
MR. MACNEIL: Not exactly.
MR. MACKINNON: Well, this what you are telling us.
MR. MACNEIL: No, it is not what I am telling you at all. The Irving Oil property, if you notice I have a letter here from Irving Oil stating that they never, ever gave permission either. They had no knowledge of it then.
MR. MACKINNON: Did they complain to you?
MR. MACNEIL: No, not to me.
MR. MACKINNON: Did you bring the issue to Irving Oil?
MR. MACNEIL: No.
MR. MACKINNON: You brought it Mrs. Howley?
MR. MACNEIL: Well, yes, we did contact the resident landowners. We weren't concerned about (Interruption)
MR. MACKINNON: She wasn't aware that she even owned the property. She thought it was (Interruption)
MR. MACNEIL: She was aware of it, yes.
MR. MACKINNON: At that point she thought it was expropriated.
MR. MACNEIL: If you will let me speak. What she actually said to me was that it was a piece of land that her family had saved. They had sold a portion to Irving Oil in 1969
or 1970 and they had saved this small portion, she and her husband, and she had been widowed sometime after that. She was well aware it was hers, but she had made no effort to . . .
MR. MACKINNON: I will be honest, Mr. MacNeil, I find it awfully coincidental that you did not complain to the municipality for a three year period after you left the organization. It was not until Mr. Boudreau announced his intentions to run provincially, or was nominated, that all of a sudden this issue came up. Then subsequent to this your wife became the constituency assistant for one, Helen MacDonald. Don't you find it a bit of a conflict? You are talking about conflict of interest. Don't you see yourself in a bit of a conflict here?
MR. MACNEIL: No, what you are saying is not right, Mr. MacKinnon. The complaints started immediately almost. The boardwalk along the Trans Canada Highway which was on Mrs. Howley's property was not constructed in 1995, it was not constructed until probably 1996. In the summer of 1996 there were a lot of students there working on it.
MR. MACKINNON: Was your daughter one of them?
MR. MACNEIL: It was not finished and it is still not finished. This has been said here today that there were no complaints before the project was 90 per cent finished. It has never been 90 per cent finished. It is not 50 per cent finished.
MR. MACKINNON: Mr. MacNeil, did your daughter work on the project?
MR. MACNEIL: No, not at all.
MR. MACKINNON: Did any of your children work on the project?
MR. MACNEIL: No, they did not.
MR. MACKINNON: Never employed by Bras d'Or North?
MR. MACNEIL: No, they were not.
MR. MACKINNON: Mr. MacSween, Mr. Dexter tried to portray the issue of the LRIS mapping being used as a benchmark for identifying title. Is it not a known fact within the Department of Natural Resources - and my colleague, who is a member of the legal community, knows full well - there is only one group of individuals who certify title and that is the legal community. Am I correct on that?
MR. MACSWEEN: That is correct, yes.
MR. MACKINNON: So if the Department of Natural Resources presumed that there was no problem with title to any of these issues, certainly with your legal counsel, Ms. Penfound, if there was any issue raised, you certainly would have reacted to that accordingly, would you have not?
MR. MACSWEEN: Our involvement with the boardwalk portions of it on the highway was minimal. We knew of it, but that was about it. The properties that we were concerned with were the two MacNeils who gave their permission because they controlled the access to the cove.
MR. MACKINNON: According to this map - a quick estimate - I would say the two MacNeil properties would represent about, what, 90 per cent of that land access?
MR. MACSWEEN: Well, that is a figure, whether that is exactly correct, it is close.
MR. MACKINNON: We would never really know unless we searched the title and had a survey done?
MR. MACSWEEN: That is exactly true.
MR. MACKINNON: Yes, which would be the same in just about any project that you work on in the province?
MR. MACSWEEN: That is right. The LRIS mapping is notorious for being what it is, a graphic representation.
MR. MACKINNON: Precisely. I know in my own case I have a piece of property that was not registered on LRIS mapping for at least close to 10 years, until I brought it to their attention, but that is because I did not make a habit of going to LRIS every year just to check to find out what they are doing with their affairs. Is it a policy of the department to have the title searched or to request certificates of title along with the deeds every time a project comes up?
MR. MACSWEEN: No, it is not.
MR. MACKINNON: So this is essentially the first time this type of issue was really raised?
MR. MACSWEEN: Basically, we have to rely on a certain degree of trust. If a person says they own the land, it is their responsibility to be able to show that if it ever comes up, but we do not require it.
MR. MACKINNON: I will turn my time over to my colleague, Dr. Smith.
MR. CHAIRMAN: You have one minute left.
DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Chairman, I will be very brief with our last minute here. I have been very quiet this morning. I have followed this project with interest. This is the third time our Public Accounts Committee has dealt with what is known as the Bras d'Or Waterfront Project.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The second time.
DR. SMITH: I think the third time . . .
MR. MACKINNON: One in camera.
DR. SMITH: One in camera, so it is the third time. We have taken quite a bit of the committee's time I think, Mr. Chairman, we would all agree, on this particular issue known as the Bras d'Or Waterfront Project, or commonly referred to as the McNeil's Cove Project. We have heard that the province has had $53,000 in this project: phase one, $38,000; phase two, $15,000. I think we have allocated a fair amount of time to determine whether we have had value for money. Hansard has recorded that I objected to this hearing today. I think we have had value for money. It has been determined. I, coming from a small community, have seen groups disagree . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would just ask, you are over your time right now. So is there a question?
DR. SMITH: You can take it off the other time. No, I am just commenting.
MR. CHAIRMAN: There will be a comeback, another five minute round. I am not trying to be cutting off, but trying to keep it consistent.
DR. SMITH: Good, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.
MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Chairman, my question today is directed to Mr. Spicer. Mr. Spicer, I cannot help but try to figure out, or understand, the involvement or the responsibility of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in this project. There have been many questions here this morning we have been skirting in and out and around, but I guess to be direct, what is the purpose of a development permit, quickly, because time is running out?
MR. SPICER: Very quickly, it is to ensure that the proposed development is in compliance with the land use by-law.
MR. DOOKS: Right, okay, how does one go and apply for a development permit?
MR. SPICER: Well, it depends on the circumstances, but they would come in with their project proposal, showing how it relates to its property boundaries and what they intend to do.
MR. DOOKS: What is the process to achieve that goal? You go into the municipal office. You meet someone at the front counter and you say I want to apply for a development permit, there is a project going on in the community. What takes place after that?
MR. SPICER: Depending on the type of project, it may be referred to other agencies or it may be handled in-house. Generally for a small project for a development permit only, not a building permit, it would be reviewed by myself or a member of our staff to determine compliance with zoning and we would apply the necessary provisions of the by-law to the project whether it be setbacks, parking, amenities, space, and so on and so forth, and then correspond back to the person advising them that they either have the permit or we need additional information.
MR. DOOKS: In the case of this situation, what process did you follow?
MR. SPICER: None, because there was no application applied for.
MR. DOOKS: So the community group did not apply for an application, I think we understand why, there was excitement of money coming on a project into a very rural area. I have to ask you directly, even though they did not apply for a building permit or development permit, the responsibility of the municipality at that time would be to go out because we travel throughout our communities and I understand that there is a project going on and then what is the protocol? You went out . . .
MR. SPICER: The general office policy is to act on complaint.
MR. DOOKS: So someone made a complaint and then you went out, but you had no understanding that this project was going on before there was a complaint?
MR. SPICER: Did I have personal knowledge of it? I may have noticed it when I drove by the Trans Canada Highway, but other than that I would not have noticed it, no.
MR. DOOKS: Do you have a building inspector and a by-law officer in your area?
MR. SPICER: Several.
MR. DOOKS: Is there other construction going on in this small community?
MR. SPICER: Yes.
MR. DOOKS: The building inspector or the by-law officer would not see this project taking place there at that time?
MR. SPICER: I would hope that they would have seen it, yes.
MR. DOOKS: Would it not be the norm for them to make a recommendation or bring it to the office saying, hey, there is a project going on? I am sure this project was well-known in that community.
MR. SPICER: I am sure the project was well-known in the community. I cannot explain why the project was not brought to our attention.
MR. DOOKS: Would you say that this was a small project or this was a large project as far as the municipality was concerned? You said earlier that if it was a small project, you would deal with it in-house?
MR. SPICER: Yes, as opposed to a mall where I would refer it to other agencies for comments on the capacity of water, sewer, that kind of thing. In relative terms it would be a small project, yes.
MR. DOOKS: PAC, the Planning Advisory Committee, at what point did they enter into this process, so you understood that there was a project going on, you went out and asked the people to put in for a permit at that time?
MR. SPICER: Not immediately, no, we had to determine compliance for zoning and so on. After consultation with the solicitors, I may be a little out of sync here on where we were, I believe we informed the Planning Advisory Committee over a period of months what was taking place on the project because it was becoming very high profile, but my final recommendation did not take place until I believe, and I think you have the file in front of you, around 1998.
MR. DOOKS: Are you familiar with the stop work order that could possibly be placed on a project? If the building inspector or by-law officer went to a project and realized immediately there was no permit put in place, they could issue a stop work permit until everything could be finished up?
MR. SPICER: Building inspectors have the authority to issue stop work orders should they choose to do so.
MR. DOOKS: They never thought that this should be taken seriously, that there was a construction going on, safety was involved here? I am taking the focus away from the group, away from any one person and what I am trying to do is put the responsibility back on the municipality where they are a very local government, we boast that all the time. So here we have a project going on and it was a number of months before the municipality decided to act at all. Is that the norm in Cape Breton?
MR. SPICER: The norm in . . .
MR. MACKINNON: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I believe if my honourable colleague would check he would find we were in the middle of a process merging eight municipalities with entirely different, but very generic to the issue, eight different dynamics.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That is an argument, it is not a point of order.
MR. DOOKS: I think that my colleagues on my left have acted in an aggressive manner toward me. What I am trying to do is trying, Mr. Chairman, (Interruption) No, Cape Breton is the regional municipality, I wanted to know what is the procedure, sir, in the municipality to order stop work orders on projects is. That is what I am trying to figure out. If they could clearly understand what I am talking about, is the process in which the by-law is applied, is it in that manner, in your municipality, that stop work order would be put in process? It is just a process and they could clearly understand that, Mr. Chairman.
MR. SPICER: If it is determined that a building permit is required, then the process would be to issue a stop work order on the project. This project, to the best of my knowledge, was not considered for a building permit; they were waiting to see if we dealt with the development permit side of it first. I don't have the mechanism under the land use by-law or under the former Planning Act to issue a stop work order. I have to go to the Planning Advisory Committee and seek any orders through that body, which we did.
MR. DOOKS: I guess I would have to ask then if I could have some clarification on that because it would be my understanding that if a member of the Planning Development Department would go out and look at a project and they would see that there was no permit in place, that there would be a stop work order put in place on that project until they would come back to the municipality to find out if the proper application has been put in place. So anyway, speeding on down the road, a number of months went by and all of a sudden it became an issue with the Planning Advisory Committee and I believe at that time we determined that they should definitely have a permit for their project.
MR. SPICER: A development permit, yes.
MR. DOOKS: Then it became a legal issue, I believe. PAC made the recommendation that we should go and take legal action towards that project, is that correct?
MR. SPICER: They gave them the option to apply for the permits and gave them time to do that before they would proceed, yes.
MR. DOOKS: So, after a number of months they went back and gave them an opportunity to do that, but then the CAO comes into play here and I read here, in a letter that I have, that the CAO reviewed this with a number of departments and decided at that time that they wouldn't take legal action, is that correct?
MR. SPICER: That is correct.
MR. DOOKS: Why is that?
MR. SPICER: You would have to speak to the CAO about that. But it is self-explanatory in the letter.
MR. DOOKS: It states in here because of some civil action and because of the money that it would take to put legal action in place, that they didn't think that the municipality would benefit from that because it would only be a small fine levied to the community committee. This to me seems a way that the CAO is trying to dodge in and out of responsibility. The point of what I am saying is, not looking at the group, but I still believe the municipalities should have had a major role or more of a role here trying to protect the community group and also the project. Back to the PAC, did they have the community meetings?
MR. SPICER: The Planning Advisory Committee afforded an opportunity to both the United Upland Waterfront Owners Association and the Community Development Association to present their cases to the Planning Advisory Committee before they made their decision.
MR. DOOKS: Now, did the application come in?
MR. SPICER: We have never received an application.
MR. DOOKS: Do you feel, at that stage, at the very first, if the application had come into the municipality that we would have been in this situation today as far as landowners or anything like that is concerned?
MR. SPICER: Are you referring to the project prior to its beginning?
MR. DOOKS: Yes.
MR. SPICER: I would like to think that if they had applied for a permit before the project began, we would have advised them that there appeared to be some controversy over landownership, and they should have it straightened away prior to beginning. I would like to think that would happen.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The time in this round has expired, and we will come back hopefully for five minutes in third round if you wish.
MR. DEXTER: I would like to pursue this one issue with Mr. MacNeil. You heard earlier in the testimony of Mr. Boudreau that there is access to the boardwalk, and I am talking specifically with respect to Phase II along the Trans Canada Highway. They talked about there being a campground on the other side. I don't live there, but I have been there several times now, and my recollection of that area is that there is a major highway running along that side of the cove. Is there any safe access across that highway for people from the campground?
MR. MACNEIL: No, not really. They would have to walk across the Bras d'Or bridge and climb down over the bank now, actually, to get access to it. The only access that was there was through the Irving Oil property, and temporarily, because needless to say, the floating boardwalk was never built, so the access from Groves Point Road was stopped. The temporary access was through the Irving Oil property. Since that has been sold, the property owner now has No Trespassing signs on it.
MR. DEXTER: What about just physically getting across the highway? What is that like?
MR. MACNEIL: It is a very busy highway at times. You have times when the boat is in from Newfoundland, you can't get across the road, traffic is bumper to bumper.
MR. DEXTER: It is not the kind of thing you want to take your kids across?
MR. MACNEIL: No, certainly not me anyway.
MR. DEXTER: One of the things about this project is the applications were originally made to HRDC, it was identified as a green project. Do you have any comment about that?
MR. MACNEIL: A green project, you mean a make-work project?
MR. DEXTER: To clean up the cove.
MR. MACNEIL: That has been said that it has cleaned up the area, but that is a matter of opinion, too. The section along the Trans Canada Highway had a lot of driftwood and that sort of thing. There were native grasses growing there and that sort of thing.
MR. DEXTER: Do you see driftwood as unsightly.
MR. MACNEIL: No, not at all, it is a matter of opinion, I suppose. I really felt it would look better before it was touched than it is now. I find the boardwalk is rather unsightly and very poorly designed. That is not just my own opinion.
MR. DEXTER: Were there other things in the other representations about how the cove was going to be cleaned up through this project?
MR. MACNEIL: Yes, part of the activities, I think when the funding was allotted, was to remove the old moorings the boaters were using and replace them with moorings that would be user-friendly or environmentally friendly.
MR. DEXTER: What are the old moorings?
MR. MACNEIL: Most of the old moorings were engine blocks that were dumped in, two or three of them together, chained together, whatever the boaters could find, really.
MR. DEXTER: Were they, in fact, ever removed?
MR. MACNEIL: No, they weren't. They did have a permit to remove them, but they didn't remove them.
MR. DEXTER: Any other aspects of this projects, Mr. MacNeil, that weren't fulfilled as originally set out?
MR. MACNEIL: Yes, the floating boardwalk was probably a big part of it, and that is why I say, it has been said it was 90 per cent finished; that floating boardwalk would probably be a 1,200 or 1,500 foot section, it was never built. The Economic Development Department said here last time and provided information saying that there is 2,700 feet of boardwalk there and it was a good value for the money, the $38,000. My challenge to them is where is the 2,700 feet? To our knowledge there is only approximately 1,200 feet being constructed.
MR. DEXTER: Just so we are clear for everyone here, the proposal included a floating boardwalk that would go from the boardwalk section located along Groves Point Road over to the section that was located along the Trans Canada Highway and that, in fact, never happened.
MR. MACNEIL: No, the permit was cancelled in 1996, I think in September. It was issued by Natural Resources with the mooring grid license and they didn't have permission, there was no consultation with the riparian owner and he, as a result, had it cancelled.
MR. DEXTER: Mr. MacNeil, perhaps just for the benefit of the committee, we heard Mr. Boudreau and Mr. Kennedy, a few weeks ago, saying that this project was good value for money and in fact, if I didn't misinterpret what Mr. Smith was going to say, he was going to go down that road as well. In your opinion, as an active person in the community, did this project represent good value for money?
MR. MACNEIL: As far as the project is concerned, I could not say that. The project was never completed and the section along the Trans Canada Highway, some portions built on private property cannot be used and there is no access. There are "No Trespassing" signs that some of the property owners are still requesting be removed and they are looking for ways to do that in conjunction with the community. If you look at the amount of materials that were put into the project - I think Economic Development said $38,000 last time - if it was a $50,000 project I would say yes, but a $600,000 project? No. I would like to have $600,000 and be able to do that type of project.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We will now move on to the Liberal caucus.
MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Chairman, I guess I am somewhat perplexed with the last set of comments because for an individual who left in 1994, not even knowing that there was going to be a boardwalk, I was rather intrigued by the amount of detail he knew about this project, but that having been said, I will let others make the judgement. My question is to Mr. Boudreau. Mr. Boudreau, what legal advice did you receive in terms of the permits that would or would not have been required?
MR. BOUDREAU: In regard to the municipal permits, the indication prior to the project being started was, the group felt they didn't do anything wrong, that was the direction they were given and the legal opinion that arose at the municipal level was not to apply for the permit because the letter said the lawyer indicated to the group that there was information supporting the position that the group had.
MR. MACKINNON: So, is that the same legal counsel that provided the advice to Mr. Spicer?
MR. BOUDREAU: No, it was an independent lawyer.
MR. MACKINNON: Was it Mr. Muise?
MR. BOUDREAU: No, it was not.
MR. MACKINNON: Who was the legal counsel?
MR. BOUDREAU: We had Mr. Broderick review the file. When the municipality got involved in it originally, the file was given to Mr. Broderick in New Waterford, he is a lawyer down there.
MR. MACKINNON: So you used up the extra step then of getting some independent legal advice.
MR. BOUDREAU: Yes. I think it is important to note here that I believe the CAO indicated very clearly, and the letter that he issued was, that if an application was put forward, then the project conforms with all zoning laws and would likely obtain the permit. It is also important to note that the building inspection was done on this project at the request of the upland owners. The report indicates very clearly that it was built up to building code and it was safe and it was not hazardous or anything like that.
I would suggest that that came about because initially there was a displaced steelworker from Melville who was obtaining a course in environmental engineering at UCCB. He took the project on and reviewed it with his professors and, actually, that is why the project, in my opinion at least, was as large a success as it was, because of the planning that went into it prior to the actual construction.
MR. MACKINNON: What you are telling us, Mr. Boudreau, is that you went the extra step of getting independent legal advice and the project evolved around some technical expertise. Obviously there were some environmental concerns that your organization was trying to address as well. Could you identify those?
MR. BOUDREAU: I am not sure, like the environmental issues and . . .
MR. MACKINNON: You indicated that you commissioned somebody from the university.
MR. BOUDREAU: Actually, a number of residents approached the group in regard to the project before it was initiated, and this individual is one of them.
The area was an unfriendly environmental area. We have to realize that approximately 750,000 vehicles travel through the terminal at Marine Atlantic to go to Newfoundland each year. The area was full of driftwood, there were old tires, oil cans, debris from litter thrown out of windows, patches of oil. We felt it was an area that, with some attention and some effort put into it, we could clean it up, make it look presentable and at least people travelling through there would recognize the fact that people in the community cared about where they lived. That is why the project was initiated originally.
MR. CHAIRMAN: You have about 15 seconds.
DR. SMITH: I am sorry I didn't have time for my comments, because I felt that three sessions was too long for this provincial investment of $53,000. I spoke of my involvement in a small community, about growing up in a small community when groups disagree, and people . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: I hate to do this to you.
DR. SMITH: I have run out of time again, but I think it is a fair hearing, I mean to say, and I am quite prepared to move on to more important things.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, and your point is made. If I could, then, going to the Conservative caucus, Mr. Taylor.
MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Chairman, just in case there is any misunderstanding, I want to clarify that the Tory caucus fully appreciates the hard work that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality does, and we know for example - and I only use this figure of speech to illustrate a point - that if Joe the bartender or Sadie the cleaning lady were trying to build a porch or trying to put a deck on their home, obviously they would have to go through the permit process. It does appear as if this application - if we can call it an application I guess, or a non-application - slipped through the back door.
Our line of questioning does not bring into question our support for municipal government. But I think people in Nova Scotia, and in particular the Baddeck area, are concerned that, in fact, through a politician, or some politicians perhaps, being a little overzealous, or possibly through inadvertence, this project ended up, in my view, not providing the taxpayers of this province - and Canada, because there was HRDC money involved - with any value at all, irrespective of what Mr. Ross Kennedy, the Regional Manager, told us in here a couple of months ago. I don't think the taxpayers got any value for this small boondoggle.
My question, Mr. Chairman, is to Mr. Spicer. It may not be fair, but I would like to think there have been some lessons learned throughout this whole process. I wonder whether or not CBRM has put in place any guidelines or any regulations to make certain that this type of thing does not happen again?
MR. SPICER: I am not aware of any changes in the administration as a result of this particular project.
MR. TAYLOR: I have to say I am disappointed to learn that. In my few minutes left, may I yield to my colleague, the member for Colchester North?
MR. CHAIRMAN: The honourable member for Colchester North.
MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Actually, I would take a longer time for all my questions, so I think I will just pass.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The honourable member for Kings South, you have a little over one minute.
MR. MORSE: Mr. MacNeil, I understand that before this went in, there was over 50 years of unfettered access to MacNeil's Cove by boaters?
MR. MACNEIL: It could have been longer than that.
MR. MORSE: The effect of this project was to confine it to one point of entry for a fee, correct?
MR. MACNEIL: For a fee?
MR. MORSE: Was there not some sort of user fee of $83 or something like this?
MR. MACNEIL: Yes, they did put a toll on access to the lake.
MR. MORSE: Okay, thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Anyone else? (Interruption) That was something I was going to come to in a moment when we are finished with these witnesses.
MR. MACKINNON: I guess personally, I would like to thank all four witnesses, (Interruption) caucus and I appreciate their straightforwardness.
MR. CHAIRMAN: On behalf of the whole committee I would like to thank the witnesses for coming forward. It is much appreciated and again, thank you.
Now, Mr. MacKinnon you have a matter you wish to raise?
MR. MACKINNON: Yes. I am a bit disappointed that the other two witnesses who indicated that they were going to be here - I am curious - did they give any reason as to why they would not be here?
MR. CHAIRMAN: It is my understanding that we had expected both as of 8:00 a.m. this morning.
MR. MACKINNON: Okay, thank you. (Interruption)
MR. CHAIRMAN: Again, it is a question for the committee. If the committee wants to proceed further and request again. (Interruption) Okay, well that settles that issue.
There are a couple of other things, just before we leave the topic here, and Mr. Boudreau had made a commitment to provide to this committee a file. I am just wondering when the committee would anticipate receiving that?
MR. BOUDREAU: Before your next meeting, Mr. Chairman, I will make that commitment. Of course, I have not been in Cape Breton one day in the last three weeks, so.
MR. CHAIRMAN: No, that is fair. Thank you very much for that commitment.
The next item is, unless anyone has anything else to bring up, is our agenda for next week. Of course, next week, we will be having, and it will not be a briefing session, but it will be a public session and the audit on the P3 by KPMG. There will be representatives from the Department of Finance, Priorities Planning, Transportation and Public Works and, of course, the Auditor General, we anticipate, will be joining us as well.
Are there any other issues that members would like to bring up or questions before we adjourn?
We are adjourned.
[The committee adjourned at 9:57 a.m.]