MR. WILLIAM DOOKS (Chairman): My name is Bill Dooks and I am replacing the Chairman, Brooke Taylor, this morning. I am very pleased to welcome the gentlemen in front of me. They are representing Atlantic Provinces Ready-Mixed Concrete Association. I will introduce them: Mr. John Connely, Marketing Director; and Mr. Bill Dooley, Vice-President Atlantic, Cement Association of Canada. We welcome you here this morning. Gentlemen, routinely we go around the room and introduce ourselves. I know you are no strangers, you have been here before.
[The committee members introduced themselves.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: Gentlemen, what we normally do is you start off with a presentation, anywhere from 20 minutes to half an hour, then we will open up the committee for questions and take it from there.
MR. JOHN CONNELY: On behalf of the Atlantic Provinces Ready-Mixed Concrete Association, I want to thank you very much for hearing our story today. I understand we have some people who are from the construction industry and have seen us before, so hopefully we have some sympathetic ears in the audience. I think we have what we feel is an important story to tell, and that is what I want to get into right now.
The overview of our presentation, as you see on the screen, is a little bit about the association itself, particularly Nova Scotia's industry, the products and services that we deal with and concrete opportunities and how that might relate to the relationship with government.
First of all, we are not always certain whether folks understand the difference between cement and concrete. Oftentimes we hear the news media report that somebody has gone along and crashed his car into a cement wall. We figure, well, that really wouldn't be such a bad thing, it should be just a big cloud of powder at the end of it. But, of course, they mean concrete walls. What you see in the photograph are the components of concrete, water, fine aggregate or sand, coarse aggregate and cement powder. Bill represents the manufacturers of cement powder. In Nova Scotia, we have two operators, Lafarge Canada Inc., which owns the plant in Brookfield - I believe they did a presentation a month or so ago, Bill was here then - and St. Lawrence Cement, who have a bulk-handling facility in Bedford.
Cement is the key component of concrete, and a fine powder made from limestone, iron and other mineral components. Concrete, on the other hand, is a solid, versatile, multi-component, readily-available building material manufactured from abundant raw materials found locally. Twice as much concrete is used worldwide as the total of all other building materials combined. It has been around for a long time, it has been around since the times of the ancient Greeks. Just as a way of keeping it straight I always like to tell people that cement is to concrete as flour is to cake - you can't have the cake without the flour.
The term concrete is composed of many different things. There are many different types of concrete to suit different purposes, different markets, different applications, but typically - I apologize for the clarity of this slide - 11 per cent Portland cement, 16 per cent water, 5 per cent air, 26 per cent fine aggregate and 41 per cent coarse aggregate is roughly what you would find in the mixture drum, foundation mix or some standard-type mix. Those can change somewhat as you need different qualities for the mix.
APRMCA, who are we? The ready mixed association was formed under the Societies Act of Nova Scotia in 1967. We are not a new association, we have been around, we have grown, and that is what we will see here. Obviously, we are an industry association, and we serve Atlantic Canada. We are 57 producer members, those members operate 126 plants in 95 different communities around Atlantic Canada. I want you to note this point in particular because each of those plants are engines of economic activity in every locality they are found. They are important little businesses, some of them are big businesses. What you see in the slides, the pictures in the corner of the slide, you have large and small and in-between, some are owned by multinational corporations, some are mom-and-pop organizations, but they all have a significant contribution to make to the construction industry locally.
We also have 64 associate members, they are mostly locally-owned businesses, some are large and international companies, and there are well over 100 locations operated by those companies in the region. Our industry in the Atlantic Region employs around 1,100 people, with an annual payroll of around $37 million. The owners of these ready-mixed businesses own assets in and around $400 million, when you tally up the cost of trucks, pumps, the raw materials they own, their plants, the land, and so on, it is significant. In Nova Scotia, which is what you would be even more interested in, we have 16 producer members - they operate
40 plants in 32 different communities. I am sure many of you have ready-mixed plants in your constituencies - over 400 direct employees, and an annual payroll in the area of $13 million.
The information I have just given you can be summarized a little more clearly. What I would draw your attention to is that in Nova Scotia there are 16 producer members, as I mentioned, 3 non-members, so 19 company owners operating 43 plants in Nova Scotia. The ready mixed association represents 84 per cent of the companies, but 93 per cent of the plants that produce concrete. Compared to the total in Atlantic Canada, 74 companies operate 144 plants, 77 per cent and 87 per cent respectively.
To carry the case about the value of the industry a little bit more, this table compares Atlantic Canada and Nova Scotia, the annual volume of ready-mixed concrete that is produced here is in the order of 1 million to 1.3 million cubic metres. In Nova Scotia, roughly half of that is produced, about 0.5 million to 0.6 million cubic metres. The annual value of those shipments is in Atlantic, $117 million compared to $47.5 million in Nova Scotia. Employees, we talked about earlier. Payroll work, 1.93 million person hours in Atlantic versus 0.68 million in Nova Scotia. The asset value in Nova Scotia is about $130 million. The interesting point that I again want to emphasize is that Nova Scotia's market is about half the Atlantic market. APRMCA members are producing greater than 95 per cent of that volume.
To just give you a little more identity of where our plants are located, don't count the Xs as there are a couple that have cropped up since we made this slide last fall. We are widely dispersed; there is really no place in Nova Scotia that you can't get ready mixed concrete from a certified APRMCA plant. A little bit more about APRMCA and what our intentions are from year to year, promoting obviously the producers and associate members' interests, their products and services. Education for and about the industry: we put on programs for our members, but also for the wider construction industry and for different government agencies and departments. We talk a lot about new and innovative and practical uses of concrete; the technology for concrete does change, it improves and it is important for us as an industry association to make sure that that information gets out into the public domain. Environmental awareness, high standards of service, safety and quality, I think it goes without saying that any company that wants to stay in business has got to deal with those sorts of things.
One of the main cornerstones of our association is the plant's certification program that we have. A little bit about that: we put that into place back in 1982, so it has been around, it is the standard for source quality control of our member's products. It is now carried in the standard specifications of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. It is a good, solid standard. It recognizes the CSA requirements and other standards in North America's concrete industry.
All producers who are members must be certified. The policing of it is a bi-annual inspection by professional engineers familiar with the production of ready mixed concrete. The certification, again, goes to promoting the standards of quality that we want the market to know about.
To assist us with keeping on top of what it going on in the industry, the association affiliates itself with numerous other industry organizations. The Canadian Ready Mixed Concrete Association is an umbrella organization of the seven associations in Canada. We do exchange technical and promotional information there, and we do some work on national standards through that organization as well.
The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association is based in the United States and we receive a fair bit of information, although a lot of the work they do is lobbying at the state and federal level in the States, so not all of it is relevant to us.
The Cement Association of Canada, for whom Bill works, we are partners in many things we do. Bill is on our board of directors and we do events like this and training and education all across the region.
The Canadian Standards Association, our current president is a fellow who has sat on several different CSA committees, and through the Canadian Ready Mixed Concrete Association we ensure that our interests are heard. Some of our people from the industry here have in fact been involved at high levels on some of those CSA committees, so we have some good input in those cases.
The American Concrete Institute is a local organization with an international bent and largely formed of suppliers and engineers interested in the technology of concrete. The American Concrete Pumping Association; the Canadian Home Builders' Association; the Provincial Home Builders Associations; the Provincial Construction Associations, several of these organizations, we are members of their association and they are members of our association; and the Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association of which we are a founding member. I am sure there are others that didn't hit the radar screen when I put the slides together.
APRMCA is very proud of the fact that it has become the voice of the ready mixed concrete industry in Atlantic Canada. We have worked hard to get there. We are a non-profit, member-funded industry organization and we work hard as well to keep the industry informed on technical information and in promotional-type information.
Our products and services - I am sure you are familiar with the ready mixed truck that comes down the road and delivers to construction sites. Our bread and butter is the residential market, it has always been sidewalks, foundations, those are very important to us, but our members also make high-performance concrete. We have a product called Dura-mix, it is
concrete designed for the tough demands of our climate in horizontal, in flatwork applications. Decorative concrete for use in architectural finishes, unshrinkable fill; concrete pumping service; aggregate supply; and concrete forming. What we see with those products are a number of market opportunities, and I just wanted to point these out.
What we see here are local applications which we think could be seen more and more and we work hard to promote those. Parking lots, this is a project that was built in Burnside five years ago and it looks like the day it was put in. The intersection you see is the Joseph Howe Drive-Kempt Road project that was built by Halifax Regional Municipality last fall. The project itself is not complete but on the concrete portion of the intersection, there is just one little portion left. It went down in the fall, finished in November, and was a very successful job for our industry and for the City of Halifax.
I mentioned unshrinkable fill, you may not be familiar with it. It is a self-levelling, low-strength, backfill material, it flows and has a great number of applications for transportation work, for example, filling old culverts. They just did a big job filling some underground ductwork tunnels under the old Sears building that is being renovated right now. It is not concrete, it is backfill material but is produced by a ready mixed concrete producer and we are always looking to see more of that.
Roller compacted concrete is a product that has been around for 20 years and for that period migrated from the West Coast to the East Coast. It is a zero slump, which means it doesn't flow. It is concrete used primarily in dams and pavements. It is delivered and compacted on-site using vibratory compacting equipment. That is equipment that is quite readily available in the market here. It is a very competitive product and it is one available for ready mixed producers. We are starting to see some of that being used in Atlantic Canada.
Insulating concrete form systems, Mr. Hurlburt may be familiar with this, I think his former company had done a few projects. This is the Boutiliers Point school, using a product called light form. It is an insulation system filled with concrete used from footing to roof line. Obviously, there is lots of concrete but there are a great many advantages to the owner and the contractor in the course of construction; the owner for the long-term life of the building.
You will also want to note that the Amherst Hospital, which is under construction right now, is being built with the Blue Maxx system, that is a two or three story building and, again, it was a choice of building technique by the architect and owner.
Another form of construction is called tilt-up. We have seen tilt-up construction in a great many of the P3 schools and more recently in the package of schools that went out - I think six new schools that were tendered last fall are being built with tilt-up.
On the lower left you will see the Horton High School which is the first high school built with tilt-up. The other P3 school is Park West in Clayton Park which is a middle school. This type of construction is fast, the quality of the building is high, the life of the building is high. The reason that we saw in P3 construction the use of tilt-up was because of the very short construction schedules and this type of construction was easily able to meet that and provide the quality schools that were needed. So it has applications for any type of building.
I would also want you to take note that this type of construction technique has been around for more than 25 years in Atlantic Canada, mostly in Nova Scotia. Companies like the Stevens Group and J. W. Lindsay Enterprises Limited and more recently, people like Rideau Construction are building these. They have lots of expertise, they do a great job doing it and there are over 500 projects already in existence in this region.
Highway climbing lanes, this is a little bit more apropos to the Department of Transportation applications - access ramps, highway scale approach areas. The picture on the left shows the ramps being built in Bridgetown. That was done in 1992, that concrete today looks pretty well like it was when it was put down in 1992. On the right hand is the Amherst scale approach where they had some problems with the heavy trucks coming in on the same pathway all the time so they built that pathway with concrete to eliminate that problem.
To summarize what our purpose in being here is: we have come to make sure that you are well aware of our industry - government certainly does pass laws and regulations that effect businesses and industries - we wanted to make sure that you are aware that our association is here, that there is a ready mixed concrete industry and we are very prepared and interested in being involved, being consulted when changes are being contemplated. So, your attention, of course, your influence for further growth and success of this industry; your commitment that concrete will be used as the building material of first choice when it makes economic sense; and continuing an open communication with government decision-makers at all levels. I must say that we have had a good relationship with the Department of Transportation and Public Works and several other departments through the years and we anticipate that will continue.
That is the end of my presentation and on behalf of the Atlantic Provinces Ready Mixed Concrete Association, I want to thank you very much.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, John. We are just going to have a few questions now and I will recognize Frank Chipman, the member for Annapolis.
MR. FRANK CHIPMAN: What is the lifespan and the cost of concrete highways compared to asphalt?
MR. CONNELY: I will say that first of all, you will notice that I did not talk a lot about concrete highways, mainline paving, and I did that on purpose. Typically, large projects like that - like the project in Oxford that was built several years ago - are not supplied from a local ready mixed plant. It is too big, so large contractors will put those in. Lafarge Construction Materials actually did that project. They happen to be a member.
Typically the life is designed for 20 to 30 years, or 25 to 30 years, and the life of existing concrete roadways in other parts of North America, including our type of climate, exceeds that. The cost is always very competitive.
The example of the Oxford Highway, which was 3.6 kilometres built in 1994, was compared directly with the adjacent piece of highway being built at the same time. The cost was under 10 per cent more, that is to say it was 9-some per cent more than asphalt. The Department of Transportation and Public Works has done a five year study, and they are extremely happy with the performance of that job. To point to the Halifax intersection that I showed on the slide, which is a much smaller project, the cost of the concrete was just right around the cost of the second bidders asphalt price. It was bid as concrete or asphalt, and concrete was really the choice for that project, not only because of the cost but especially because of the type of traffic that was hitting that intersection.
Our purpose in talking about those types of projects is that there are many areas, you can drive around any town where roads are rutted, especially intersections, especially where there is high volume, heavy truck traffic, where there is turning and stopping, and concrete is the solution for that. That is where we think that various jurisdictions, provincial or municipal, should be using that more often. The intersection in Halifax was partly funded by the province.
MR. CHIPMAN: Asphalt is flexible whereas concrete isn't.
MR. CONNELY: That is correct.
MR. CHIPMAN: So, you are saying it is approximately 10 per cent more, but double the lifespan.
MR. CONNELY: I would not hang my hat on just 10 per cent more, it really is going to depend on the type of project that it is. So, I wouldn't use that as a rule of thumb. The fact of the matter is concrete is very competitive, even on a first-cost basis. What we are finding is that specifying authorities and particular governments are now looking at the life cycle costs, whereas several years ago they really weren't prepared to do that so readily. As they do that, concrete does seem to be lower in price.
MR. CHIPMAN: But how many years, would you say double the lifespan or more?
MR. WILLIAM DOOLEY: If I could jump in, some of the research we have done in the cement industry indicates that for mainline pavement, let's say the Trans Canada Series, typically for concrete pavements you are looking at about a 25 year life, with some maintenance in the middle. With asphalt, I think the numbers are coming in at around 18 years, something like that.
MR. CHIPMAN: When you say life, what happens to it? Does it flake, does it crack? I know it doesn't heave, is it similar?
MR. DOOLEY: It would be a combination of, probably during the life of it, the surface would have polished, if you will, so the skid resistance would have to be restored. By doing that, you are making the pavement thinner. Also, after 25 or 30 years, the joints are probably worn out to the point where it is not economical to rehabilitate them further.
MR. CHIPMAN: Would you have to remove that concrete, or could you just resurface that with concrete?
MR. DOOLEY: The state of the art right now would be to rubblize it, to go in with some heavy equipment and actually pulverize it. Then if the bridge clearances will allow it, just leave it as part of the base for the new pavement that would go down on top of it.
MR. CHIPMAN: You could actually put asphalt over top of the concrete, couldn't you?
MR. DOOLEY: You could. The experience, and I would point right to the City of Halifax here and the old pavement that was on the Bedford Highway, what happens most of the time when you do that is the cracks reflect through the asphalt, and within a very short period of time you end up in a situation where you still have the same faulting problems and things like that.
MR. CHIPMAN: Just one more thing, I noticed 10 per cent more, approximately, and certainly the lifespan, it would be a better investment to pave with concrete than it would asphalt. I know there is a road in front of my house that was paved 10 years ago, and it is all cracked. I would consider it very poor quality compared to what I have seen. At Rice Road, the concrete roads in my area, they put tons of salt on that and it hasn't been affected at all yet.
Just one other question, though, when you talked about the unshrinkable fill, is that flowable or is that . . .
MR. CONNELY: It is flowable.
MR. CHIPMAN: You would use that to fill wells and . . .
MR. CONNELY: Yes, old wells, certainly, old culverts, which is something highways would often face; trenches, narrower trenches, safer working situation, and if it is a trench with duct work or something else down there where you need to get down, around and under it, that obviously will do the job nicely there.
MR. FRANK CORBETT: A few questions. Recently, there was a study out of the United States that said that - especially with the highway system as it relates to bridges - since the majority of them were built post-war and are now 50-plus years old, they are in major disrepair. Has there been a similar study that you are aware of in Canada, that talked about our road systems and, in particular, that talked about the bridge system and the overpass system used in connecting highways?
MR. DOOLEY: I don't know of any specific study that has been done. I think the general Canadian rule of thumb is that the market in Canada would be a tenth of the United States market. But I don't know if the construction association has done one.
MR. CORBETT: You talked about innovations, too. I was interested because I was fortunate enough one time to be at the University of California, San Diego. They talked about a material called composite solutions. This material, apparently, will be used, hopefully, in the future to replace rebar. I don't know if you have seen those. They appear to be a composite wrap, apparently it is a woven fibre, and it is the same fibre used, I was told, around the outer portions of the Stealth bomber. It has a tremendous amount of strength. In particular it has been looked at in California for earthquaking purposes because, as you know, when the pressure is put on a regular column filled the usual way with rebar, it will pop at a point, it will come out. With this type of wrap, the column will move a few degrees but it will not collapse. Are there systems like that - when you talk about innovations - being looked at in this country, and how far are we ahead on it?
MR. DOOLEY: Oh, definitely, yes. In this country, actually several years ago the federal government funded centres of excellence. One of the centres of excellence that came out of that was something called ISIS, Intelligent Systems Information - I can't remember exactly what the ISIS stands for - centred in Winnipeg. They are looking at things like that, carbon fibre wraps; they are looking at things like putting fibres through structures, so that as the structure flexes they can put a beam of light through the fibre and, looking at the diameter of the fibre as it stretches and narrows down, they can get a handle on the loading on the structures, they can actually get a handle on the life cycle loading of the structure, what has gone over it, if it is starting to deflect more, things like that.
In Nova Scotia, the department here, I would like to give them some kudos. In the past five years, they have looked at and built two particular innovative bridges. One is without any conventional reinforcing steel, down in Salmon River I think, and in one just past that they used high performance concrete; both of those aimed at getting towards a longer life before you have to look at repairs to the structure.
MR. CORBETT: Like the carbon fibre wrap then has been considered - or been at least looked at - on an experimental basis.
MR. CONNELY: Absolutely. Throughout North America too, we are playing along with what is being tried in the rest of the country here in Nova Scotia. In addition to the carbon fibre reinforcement, things like fibres in concrete to replace and reduce steel reinforcing is also a common practice here now. It does not entirely replace concrete reinforcing, but the idea is to come up with ways of construction that we have to deal with our climate, and with the salt that is used on our structures and roadways that affects concrete and steel. Corrosion is one of the things that causes problems in concrete structures if reinforcing is too close to the surface. I think you can talk to the Department of Transportation and Public Works and find that they certainly do maintenance on that sort of thing.
MR. CORBETT: People I have talked to about this, they tell me that their data seems to show that had the Murrah Building in Okalahoma City had that in it instead of the conventional rebar system it probably would have only sustained minimal damage, maybe lost one storey and the rest would have been just glass-related injuries because of percussion. So they are looking at it, and I guess the United States is looking at reinforcing some of their embassies throughout the world.
That said, I have had a bit of experience with the tilt-up situation and it always intrigued me when I first saw it in the early 1970's in California; this is homemade for Cape Breton.
MR. CONNELY: Well, we have a niche market here in this region - especially in Nova Scotia - for tilt-up construction, and California and western Canada too a little bit, and in the southeastern U.S. We are quite unique in our development of the market in Atlantic Canada and we are trying as an industry to see that grow even further into the other Atlantic Provinces. I think we are doing that too; I think over the past couple of years there has been more tilt-up used in Newfoundland and we think there will be more used in New Brunswick this year.
MR. CORBETT: The majority of the new construction, the new paper mill at Stora was tilt-up also I believe.
MR. CONNELY: Maybe I should distinguish for you the difference between tilt-up and precast and that is what Stora was and Stora was an excellent project, a unique project done here in Nova Scotia and we should be proud of it and our local businesses, Stresscon, the work they did was quite phenomenal there.
The difference between tilt-up and the Stora project is that tilt-up is site-cast concrete, whereas precast is cast in a plant under very controlled conditions. There are some differences in the types of results you get; that is what some of the major differences in costs are as well.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Frank. Anyone else, with a question? Mr. Donald Downe.
MR. DONALD DOWNE: Thank you, John and Bill both, an excellent presentation. We have gone through this a few times, when I was minister I had the opportunity. I just want to build on a couple of comments that have been made here. The whole issue of this unshrinkable fill, the department I think was looking pretty hard at it. Have they actually picked up on some of the applications for that? It seemed to be a cost saving for the Department of Transportation and Public Works in the long term.
MR. CONNELY: They have tried it in several areas. It is our hope that we will see them using more and more of it. I am not sure if they have added it to their spec yet, do you know?
MR. DOOLEY: I do not know.
MR. CONNELY: I am not certain of that, but we encourage them at every opportunity to use it, both at head office level and when we are talking with the regional engineers. We encourage our members out there in the hustings to deal with those folks and offer that. Any ready mixed plant will be able to produce that product.
MR. DOWNE: On to highway application, certainly I think most people who are driving out toward Amherst would realize that highway has lasted very well. There has always been that issue about life cycle costs, application costs. Now with the new accounting procedures where before we expensed a highway, whatever we spent that year, the full expenditure was done in that one year. So under this new accounting procedure, you only have to discount it at a depreciated rate and the application then, for ready mix, becomes even more competitive on that basis as well because there is a depreciation argument that the life cycle cost could be 25 years versus 18 years, thus allowing the depreciated factor to show that the actual expenditure on the balance sheet would be less per metre or per kilometre than in asphalt, if one were to use that application. Have you explored that with the Department of Transportation and Public Works and/or the Department of Finance in determining what the depreciated rate could be for ready mix versus that of asphalt?
MR. CONNELY: No, as an industry we have not talked to either department about the specifics. We are only glad to hear that the life cycle argument that we have presented frequently over the last 10 years is being heard by the province. We knew it was always there as a valid argument so in terms of the numbers, we don't really have any good information here right now for Nova Scotia. I don't know if it is fair to raise the point about the new highway that was called in Ontario and closed recently. What was that, Highway No. 417?
MR. DOOLEY: Yes, Highway No. 417E where the tender documents did take into account life cycle costing. It was an open tender. Any material could bid it and again concrete was the winner there.
I guess I would like to jump in on the cement side, John, and Don, no, I actually hadn't realized about the new accounting system and the potential impact it could have on evaluating various construction options. So it is something that I definitely want to look into after today.
MR. DOWNE: The thought that caught my attention was capital assets, what they do is basically we would take $1 million for a highway job and expense the full $1 million if we spent it this year. Under the new system, they can discount that $1 million expenditure over whatever time they felt was a reasonable period of time for depreciation. If the life cycle cost for asphalt was 10 years, for example, then they would take $100,000 per year and apply it that way. If the argument can be made that ready mixed has a life cycle cost, if the life of the depreciated life of that job is 15 years or 20 years, and you can substantiate that, then that would be an argument that might be used with Finance and Transportation and Public Works to allow for a longer period of time that you would cost that back out. It might be of benefit to the industry and it is just something I think would be worthwhile.
MR. DOOLEY: Thank you very much. I will be starting that this afternoon.
MR. DOWNE: Yes, he can start figuring that out this afternoon. Well, they had to do some sort of calibrations to determine that for asphalt and it might be an argument that you have been making for a long time that ready mixed would last longer and has and that might be an argument that can be used.
My colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, brought up the issue of composites and we have Composite Atlantic down in Lunenburg County and they are making materials for the aerospace industry but that application has been alive and well for the ready mixed business for a long time and frankly, it is nice to see that there is work that has been going on like that around for a long time.
I am interested in the fibres that they are using in ready mix now. There is a fair amount of activity with that, as I understand it and it is like the old days of straw-making brick but really they aren't just throwing that in, it really does add strength. I will go back to
the old 3,000 PSI kind of attitude and mentality, so I want a 3,000 PSI with about a three inch slump. What would the difference be in regard to the amount of concrete you would need with the fibre versus not the fibre?
MR. CONNELY: The strength of the concrete would be designed without the fibre. The fibre is used to give some structural or some tensile strength to that piece of concrete. The concrete itself is measured according to the strength of the concrete mix itself. I would just point out, and this may be off your question a little bit, in the development of fibres, a company from Cape Breton came to Dalhousie and said we are in the wire rope business, it is not going so well now that the fishing industry is down, is there something we can do with our product line? DalTech helped them develop a new reinforcing fibre for concrete. That product is now well developed and is being marketed worldwide by W.R. Grace & Company and Grace Canada Inc., and it is a very unique product.
Fibres are made of many different things. This particular one called grey structural fibres is a steel - is it all steel?
MR. DOOLEY: It is polyester, I think.
MR. CONNELY: It is polyester fibre and they have extremely good results in the reinforcing of concrete. In answer to your question, you would design or, as an owner, order up a certain requirement, then the concrete would be designed to meet that requirement and the reinforcing would be designed to meet that requirement. Again, there is no rule of thumb to say this much fibre added - the dosage rate of fibres or the amount of steel reinforcement in a concrete slab or a concrete wall all depends on its use and so on.
MR. DOWNE: I think the company is out of Cape Breton North. The rope operation, it seems to me when we toured that they were packaging all this fibrous material. It was some place up there where they were packing this fibrous material in one of the operations and trying to use it.
MR. CONNELY: They package the material to create a dosage that is easy to handle on the job site. So it is so many bags or so many kilograms per cubic metre of concrete, again, depending on what you are trying to achieve with the in-place concrete.
MR. DOWNE: A question for Bill with regard to the cement. Offshore, capping off wells and things of that nature, is there much application where we are able to sell our product to the offshore?
MR. DOOLEY: Yes, actually, I think both my members in Atlantic Canada are selling oil well cement to the offshore industry at the moment. Volume-wise, I really don't know. One of the real benefits in this goes right back to the final product, concrete. One of the real benefits from the recent pipeline that was put in from the offshore is that there was
approximately 250 kilometres from out in the ocean that had to come in, and all that pipe had about two or three inches of concrete around the outside of it to not only protect it but to weigh it down to keep it at the bottom. So the offshore industry for both John and I, there is a direct benefit at the moment.
MR. DOWNE: Last, but not least, we see a lot of activity in Halifax, a lot of cranes, condos and hotels being built. So, obviously, it has been a reasonably good period of time over the last couple of years; the industry that puts $37 million into the economy by salaries and so on and so forth. The industry is also one, when the HST was brought in, I understand that was a fairly significant benefit for the industry, especially in the application of capital and the application of trucks. The environment, to go forward, has been relatively positive. Maybe you can mention a little bit about the HST and what your feelings have been as far as the industry goes.
The other is research and development. Has there been a lot of activity going on with the universities and the association in developing innovation within the industry specifically for applications here in Nova Scotia?
MR. CONNELY: I can start the answer to that. I would say first of all the Ready Mixed Association is not funded in a way that lends itself very well to that sort of thing. We certainly give moral support to the types of research that go on at DalTech and other Atlantic engineering schools and support them through our publications and talking about the things that are happening. In terms of contributing directly to them, it is usually a one-on-one situation between the researchers, perhaps, and the local ready mixed producers. They want to develop their product for real life rather than just in the lab. Frequently you see work between the researchers and a local ready mixed company, we are not always aware of that.
MR. DOWNE: For proprietary information is that basically . . .
MR. CONNELY: Perhaps for the researcher initially. He is just looking for a way to get on-site concrete, how is it batched in a ready mix truck, rather than a little small batching unit in a lab. There are differences and those differences can affect the results. I think it is important that the researchers, for example, when they develop this great structural fibre, make sure that the product was going to work in the field. You can always make it work in a lab, change a little of this, change a little of that.
In terms of national research, Bill might be able to address that a little more easily.
MR. DOOLEY: From the cement side of things on the local level in Nova Scotia, in the past we have very much mirrored what John just explained for the ready mixed side. Nationally the cement industry has gotten involved, for instance, there used to be a centre of excellence on cement and concrete which was located at the University de Sherbrooke in
Quebec, we were very involved in that. Funding in the amounts of $100,000 and $150,000 a year in the past was very common with that.
Looking to the future, one of the things the cement side of the industry has identified is that in terms of universities, research and even just general education to the university students, it is something we have to stand back and take a very serious look at. We are in the process of doing that right now. I do not have anything to report in terms of what is planned, the committee is still being struck. It is something that the industry has identified that we have to have a look at again.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Don. Frank.
MR. CHIPMAN: Mr. Chairman, I was just interested, you made a comment about the P3 schools and they used the tilt-up construction. Now those are in panels, is that correct?
MR. CONNELY: That is correct. The economics of tilt-up construction comes from the fact they can be built all through the year, they are built on-site, they are supplied from a local ready mixed producer who is generally quite nearby. You can build large wall panels, so you can put up a storey of a school very quickly, or two stories of a school. There are projects that have been built that are multi-storey, so if a storey is 12 feet and you build a 24 foot or a 36 foot long panel and stand it in place with a crane, presto, you have a wall and in very short order you have a school. There are a whole lot of benefits that way. It is fast construction, typically panels are 40 tons to 60 tons and the bigger the panel the better, because it is faster construction that way.
With many of the P3 schools, by the time it got organized, the owner was letting the contracts go in July, August, September and they wanted the school opened for the next September. In typical construction we have experienced on government buildings in the past, you would never see a school built in less than one year.
MR. CHIPMAN: So what bonds the panels together?
MR. CONNELY: They are designed to be connected once they stand up and they are braced into place during construction . . .
MR. CHIPMAN: Can they be reused?
MR. CONNELY: The braces?
MR. CHIPMAN: No, the panels.
MR. CONNELY: Well, in fact, they can be, especially when the idea of an expansion to a building is contemplated when it is built. The panel could be disconnected, removed, and set aside and used again, let's say it was an end wall or whatever.
MR. DOOLEY: The panels would have to be pretty much reused on the same site.
MR. CHIPMAN: Could you take that building down and move it to another location?
MR. DOOLEY: It is not that feasible. The panels are typically, as John mentioned, in the area of 30 feet by 30 feet square, not something you can put on a truck and move.
MR. CONNELY: And it is rigid. They can be moved on-site a short distance from here to the other side of the job site, carefully, but to move them a great distance would really not be that feasible.
MR. DOOLEY: Unless you took that into account when you designed the building initially and said we want to move this building in 10 years, then yes you could design that into the panels quite easily.
MR. CHIPMAN: You don't know if that is designed in in this type of construction?
MR. CONNELY: I don't think it would be; I think it is fair to say that there is no intent that these schools are going to be moved.
MR. CHIPMAN: I am under the impression that the schools will belong to the lessor or the owner of the building and to the province, so after that period of time they could theoretically move the building somewhere else.
MR. CONNELY: Theoretically, but most of the panels in those schools were built for speed, so they were building big panels.
MR. CHIPMAN: Any idea why the speed, why time was of the essence?
MR. CONNELY: Well, because of the short period of time to construct before they wanted the schools open.
MR. CHIPMAN: I know I have a new school in my constituency, and I don't know how much foresight went into the selection because it cost the province a considerable amount of money to expropriate land to actually get to the school. There was a 15-foot right-of-way to the school through a residential area which necessitated a lot of aggravated feelings among the people in that area.
Anyway, I guess one of the other things I am concerned about is I look at the construction of the highways today, and I know we have more trucks as we have lost the railway - and my colleague across will probably say we know who did that, who dismantled the railways - what size of aggregate would you use in concrete highways?
MR. CONNELY: The coarse aggregate would be, maximum nominal size of three-quarters of an inch or, in metric, 3 millimetres.
MR. CHIPMAN: Right. I know I talked to a gentleman a couple of weeks ago and he works for a asphalt company. He said they used to use three-quarter inch, but now with asphalt today they are using half-inch. I can think of one highway in my area, Highway No. 10, that was built approximately in 1948, and I can say there are parts of that highway that aren't the greatest because there is a lot of pulpwood hauled to the plants. The base is still good, it is a fairly good highway, so there is a difference. There is a lot of truck traffic on that road, so what is the difference between the asphalt construction of the 1940's and 1950's compared to today? The one road in front of my house is coming apart and that has a good base under it, but the asphalt doesn't seem to be as thick. It has cracks and is deteriorating fairly fast and that is only over a 10 year period.
MR. CONNELY: I guess you wouldn't hold our feet to the fire on the asphalt; we don't really know asphalt that well. Whether it is an asphalt road or a concrete road, the construction of the base is very important in where that road is going, and what it is built on is crucial. Part of the economics of road construction with concrete is that - we talked about right-of-way earlier - when it is planned you can reduce the width of the corridor by virtue of the fact that you don't need as wide a bed for the base, because the traffic on the highway will be carried by the concrete and not by the base, as is the case with asphalt.
I don't know if that really gets to your question, but over the years the technology for both asphalt and concrete has changed and the availability of grades of asphalt, I think, also has changed. With regard to cement and concrete, for highway or any kind of construction, the technology has continued to improve. We mentioned the term high performance concrete; basically what was available 50 years ago would hardly have been contemplated today. But you get higher and higher strengths of concrete. And not only strength, but other characteristics of the concrete that would have been impossible to achieve even 20 years ago is now achievable by virtually any ready mixed concrete producer. Through the use of the different kinds of cement products, the way they combine the products, the equipment they use to mix it in, with the add mixtures that they have available to them now to assist them in both the design of the mix itself and the construction placement of that concrete.
MR. CHIPMAN: Just one final question. Concrete roads and asphalt, are they both recyclable? Can you recycle the concrete in, say 25 years time; when you decide to resurface that road, can you chew that up and recycle it?
MR. CONNELY: Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Howard Epstein.
MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Can you help me? It is still not clear to me why it is that there is not more road or highway construction in Nova Scotia using concrete. You have been polite to the department, but could you just explain to me what the holdups seem to be?
MR. CONNELY: Well, I guess, typically the cost per volume of concrete is higher on the initial cost. The tendering procedures for the Government of Nova Scotia have always been that lowest, first cost got the job. With the onset of life-cycle costing, there is a different way to evaluate that. We have, as an industry, always endeavoured to sell our product on its quality and bid it very competitively and they have done that. It was always hard to have the arguments that we made heard. Now we seem to be having them heard and the Oxford project, for example, that was built in 1994, was considered to be a trial project.
Really, in the face of the fact that there were thousands of kilometres of concrete highways, roadways, streets, and so on, of all types built in North America and there are lots of old concrete roadways in Nova Scotia that have stood up very well. The Bedford Highway, for example, was a highway built in 1948, I think, with old technology and it was not until the 1980's that it was actually repaved. Sure, after 40-some years it was not in the greatest shape, but there is a road that had a 40 year life and served the driving public very well.
The road into the Brookfield Cement Plant is a good example as well. It has been a concrete road carrying tractor-trailer loads of cement powder 365 days a year and built in 1966-67 and there it is still in operation. Is it in great shape? No, it is not really in great shape right now, but it is still in service in spite of that. Those examples, we think, are good examples to cite when we say, look, it has worked. There are certain places where concrete does serve a good purpose and that is where we ask you to look at it.
We could also say that we, as an industry, were a bit at fault. We were saying, pave all the roads with concrete, and that is not going to happen and we know that, but there are certain areas that concrete makes sense and it would be the best first option.
MR. EPSTEIN: Just to be clear, there is no regulatory or legal barrier at all?
MR. CONNELY: No, none at all.
MR. EPSTEIN: It is a question of policy?
MR. CONNELY: I would say.
MR. EPSTEIN: And the essential point is whether the tenders are evaluated on a life-cycle basis?
MR. CONNELY: That is true. Plus, it is sometimes hard to make change. Roads have been built with asphalt since almost the beginning of time and the departmental people are geared to think that way; it took some time to show them that we had another option that would be worth considering.
MR. EPSTEIN: And are all the highway tenders now evaluated on a life-cycle basis?
MR. CONNELY: I don't think so, in Nova Scotia yet.
MR. EPSTEIN: Why is that?
MR. CONNELY: I don't know.
MR. EPSTEIN: Some are, some aren't? Is that what you are saying?
MR. CONNELY: No, in fact, the example we cited was actually an Ontario project and as far as we know, it is the first project where life-cycle costing was actually built into
the tender requirements so it was evaluated right up front. I have never seen a project like that. It is usually the closest - well, it isn't even close, but you might get an alternative. Here is the tender for a highway of such and such a length, bid it in asphalt or bid it in concrete.
MR. DOOLEY: At the moment, the design for a highway is, in the material choice, made in-house at the department based on past experience and their expertise. I am sure that takes into account location and contractors that would be available. Haul distance has become an issue . . .
MR. EPSTEIN: Are you telling me that DOT will specify materials in their call for bids, thereby ruling concrete out right from the beginning?
MR. DOOLEY: Yes.
MR. CONNELY: That is correct.
MR. DOOLEY: But, again, keep in mind the comment that John made that concrete is not going to make sense in every application.
MR. EPSTEIN: Yes, well, wouldn't there be a difference between brand new construction and repairs?
MR. DOOLEY: Absolutely.
MR. EPSTEIN: All right. So, there are situations of brand new construction where concrete should be ruled out right away, is that what you are saying?
MR. DOOLEY: Yes, I would think right now for secondary highways, construction that doesn't have a lot of truck traffic, so therefore the loading is not there, that would probably would be a hard argument to make.
MR. EPSTEIN: Given its life expectancy?
MR. DOOLEY: Yes. I actually don't have a problem making that statement. Where the real benefits of concrete are going to shine through is in new construction where you can take advantage of the fact that it is a rigid pavement and therefore you can save some money on the subgrade, the sub-base design. Also, in the areas where new construction is going to take a lot of truck traffic. Mr. Chipman mentioned the rails, we no longer have them now so the amount of truck traffic that is going on our highways is increasing dramatically every year.
MR. EPSTEIN: So given that our major highways are already constructed of asphalt, does that mean that unless there are brand new highways or interchanges built, there will not be any opportunity for concrete to compete?
MR. CONNELY: Not necessarily. There are concrete applications, again, that would be suitable to certain areas. For example, climbing lanes, slower truck traffic on a grade, you end up perhaps with more rutting. It might be quite feasible to take a lift of asphalt out and do the repair work with concrete and end up with a longer life because that particular piece of the highway is getting a worse beating.
In terms of construction, you do have to separate new construction and repair work, but there are concrete products and applications of concrete for repair and then there is obviously, new construction applications. Again, the example of the City of Halifax, that is a new intersection. To cite an example that we are quite proud of in Fredericton, New Brunswick, they had a very busy intersection at Prospect and Regent Streets. They were replacing that intersection just about every second year, and they were doing major maintenance. One of those maintenance budgets went to removing - it is a repair job, but it is like new construction, they have replaced the intersection. They did it very competitively, they paid a little bit more. That was in 1992. They have really not touched that since 1992.
MR. EPSTEIN: In Nova Scotia, at truck scales, what is the situation?
MR. CONNELY: When trucks are coming off the highway, they are all coming into one lane approaching the point of weighing and, if the approach is asphalt, you end up with braking. You have heavily-loaded vehicles, and that does cause some problems as they are coming off the highway. It gets worse and worse as they get closer and closer to the scale, they are braking harder as they get closer to the scale. You can sort of pick a point from the scale out and say, we can build the lane x feet or more than that, anywhere from the highway into the scale really.
MR. EPSTEIN: Are all our scales now built with concrete?
MR. CONNELY: Most of them don't have long approach lanes, really it is just an area right near the scale itself that has a concrete pad. That is our point to the department, as they do repair work or replacement work on those laneways, replace it with concrete; do it once now, and the job is done for a long time. That saves you maintenance dollars, which can go to other things.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Any further questions? Seeing none, I would like to thank John and Bill for coming in today. This was very informative, and we wish you well. Any further closing comments you would like to make?
MR. CONNELY: I would just like to say that our doors are open. We have some kit folders that include our presentation, to pass around to you. If you have any questions about situations in your constituency, about the members in your constituency, between Bill and me and our members, we would be very glad to field your questions and help you out in any way we can.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. The committee is going to recess for 2 minutes. We have some committee business to attend to when we come back.
[10:13 a.m. The committee recessed.]
[10:16 a.m. The committee reconvened.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would like to call the committee back to order. There are a number of things we have to deal with under committee business. First of all, I think Darlene has passed out a letter, addressed to the Honourable Murray Scott, Chairman. We had discussed this some time ago, about actually taking a road trip to Cape Breton and sitting, at least I think two different times to hear testimony from people from Cape Breton about their economy or on the economy. Brooke is not here, obviously, and I don't know if we should just approve this in principle, or have any questions, and then give it back to Darlene to address it with the Chair. Any comment on that?
MR. EPSTEIN: It seems pretty straightforward.
MR. CHAIRMAN: There is a budget attached as well.
MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Chairman, I just want it to go on record that I am against this.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay.
MR. HURLBURT: I think that $14,000 to do a road trip, to go to Cape Breton, it is just ridiculous. With the resources we have to work with today, I can't see it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay.
MR. HURLBURT: That is just my opinion.
MR. CHIPMAN: Mr. Chairman, I would concur with my colleague here. I think all the support staff, Darlene, the people from Hansard, they are all here, the cost, do we move them? I think we are central, we are in Halifax. If we start doing that, if we go to Cape Breton, are we going to be required to go to Cumberland County or to Yarmouth County or Annapolis or wherever? Are we going to be, have committee will travel, or are we going to be, you know, the resources are here, I guess.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We had discussed this earlier, and we wanted to talk about how much it would cost. Darlene has put the cost together, and the letter is before us here today. I guess it is to discuss. I was only going to approve it in principle or deny it, and then pass it back over.
MR. DOWNE: I think it is a moot point. We have already agreed that we thought we should do this, the committee has already agreed to this. (Interruptions)
MR. HURLBURT: To get an estimate. To get a proposed budget.
MR. DOWNE: Well, agreed to go forward and to take a look at a budget. I think my colleagues are saying they don't mind going, they are not opposed to going. It is, can we find a cheaper way of going. Is there a more effective way that we can go from a cost point of view than $14,000? Am I hearing you correctly? Yes, it is not that you are opposed to going
MR. HURLBURT: No but if you are going to go to Cape Breton, I just feel that, are we just going to take Cape Breton into consideration here, or are we going to go to Sheet Harbour, are we going to Yarmouth, are we going to go to the Valley, to the South Shore? Does it start here, or does it start and finish here?
MR. DOWNE: Mr. Chairman, if I may, there are chronic issues around the province, but none as critical right now as there is in Cape Breton with the serious unemployment situation that is there. I don't think anybody would disagree with that. The numbers substantiate that. We have had two representatives who have been here. I think if we are serious about trying to get a handle on the complexity and the seriousness of the problem and what are some of the options, I will give you a couple of examples. The Throne Speech, and I am not saying this in a negative political way, it never talked about the problem of Cape Breton or a solution to Cape Breton; the budget doesn't talk about a solution to the problem.
Are we sending a signal that we don't care what happens in Cape Breton?
MR. HURLBURT: No.
MR. DOWNE: Or are we saying, we have a serious problem here, one that needs the attention of governments? In a non-partisan way, the Economic Development Committee here is saying, the one thing that community needs is economic opportunity. We are going there for no other reason than to give assistance to the government, in a non-partisan way, to take a look at what are some real, legitimate opportunities to create wealth and self-reliance.
That is what I thought this was all about. That is what I thought we were trying to establish here. That is why I am prepared to go. If we can find a cheaper way of travelling, I don't mind sharing a room with my colleague, or whatever the situation is. Let's face it, there is a real serious problem that has to be addressed. Where does it go from there? What does it mean for other areas? I am not precluding any other area. If I know in Nova Scotia we have 40 per cent unemployment in one area, and it is going downhill not uphill, then I think it is incumbent upon government, in a non-partisan way, to go forward to find solutions.
Whether it is the Liberals who are in power or whether the New Democrats are in power or whether the Tories are in power, it is incumbent upon a government to make sure that all its people are given an opportunity to go forward. Talk about building self-reliance, if we are not prepared as a committee to go there, to try to help find a solution, then how in the name of heavens are you ever going to find self-reliance, unless you tell everybody to move away?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Maybe I should interject. This letter is directed to the Honourable Murray Scott, requesting the funds. An answer would come back from Mr. Scott telling us if the funds are available or not. So I guess our conversation today is surrounded on the letter being sent to Mr. Scott to see if there is money allowed in the budget. That is where we are. We don't want to lose focus, it is not that we are going today or not. We want to know if there are funds available.
MR. CORBETT: Mr. Chairman, you are absolutely right. But I think it is incumbent that we respond. Although the letter is put forward, clearly the two members across have voiced their opinions, that this was not - as they would see it, I am putting words in their mouth - an economically viable thing to do. (Interruptions) What I heard was about why we should do this. One was the cost. We do not preclude going anywhere. That is our job, to be informed by the citizens of Nova Scotia, whether that is Cape Breton or Yarmouth or Annapolis. If we should go there, we should go there. It is as simple as that.
There is often a hue and cry across the street, about if something goes on in the House, going on and talking about the cost of running the House for a day, then the cost back is, well, democracy is not cheap. This is one form of democracy, of getting it back. To say that there is nothing to be gained by going to Cape Breton, with the largest unemployment rate in this province, we have heard it many times, oh, the new economy is coming in and you have to get on the wagon, it is the old, coal and steel are dying, it is platitudes. I think if we were to come down and listen to people who can't afford to come here to tell us what is going on in their little RDAs and so on, I think it is important that we go out and do that.
Mr. Chairman, in all fairness, the governing Party sent a red tape commission around the province. We could sit here and argue the merits of that, certainly.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Frank, I think I should clarify one thing. Anybody who would want to come to be a witness to this committee, they are reimbursed their expenses. I just want to clarify that . . .
MR. CORBETT: It is not always easy to get away.
MR. CHAIRMAN: . . . but there are other issues surrounding that.
MR. EPSTEIN: There are only two points that occur to me on this. One is, of course, that this committee doesn't have a budget of its own, let alone any kind of discretionary budget, so this is not a decision that we can make on our own.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That's right.
MR. EPSTEIN: It is not as if we actually had a pile of money and we could save the Province of Nova Scotia by not spending it. It is not our decision. Essentially, that is a decision that will be made at the Speaker's Office, presumably in consultation with some of his Cabinet colleagues. He will decide and they will decide whether this is, from their perspective, an economic allocation. It is true it is a lot of money, and they will have to decide whether it is a reasonable way to spend it or not.
There is another point, well maybe two other points. One is that the question was raised, and it is a perfectly legitimate question, about if we are thinking of going to one part of the province, do we equally have an obligation to go to other parts of the province? I think that probably does make sense, but I don't think it means you have to do that in the same year.
I don't think this committee has travelled recently, and I expect that if the Speaker's Office were prepared to allocate some monies toward taking the committee to one part of the province, they wouldn't also say, and you have to go to two other places in the province as well, this year. But they might next year or the year after, they might say that in the next fiscal year maybe you should go down to the southwest part of the province or to the northwest part of the province and see what is going on there.
So that would flow out in future years, I don't think that any region would be left out of this, and we would consider it. Certainly, the observations about, if we were going to travel, an appropriate place to start, given the complexity and the economic needs, I guess really would be Cape Breton. I don't have any problem with that.
The other is this. I know we did make this decision before, about at least exploring the possibility of travelling. I understood that there was a lot of interest around the table in moving. We should remind ourselves that there is a lot of interest in the areas outside metro, in having easier access to committees like this. A saying you often run into, in any kind of area outside metro is something like, well, it is 300 miles from Sydney to Halifax, but it might as well be 3,000 miles from Halifax to Sydney for all the interest you get coming back. I think a good signal is always sent to areas if people are prepared to travel out there.
MR. CHIPMAN: Just in response to Mr. Downe's comments about Cape Breton, we all realize they are under tremendous pressure, there is a lot of unemployment. But physically we can look at the visit, we can visit the sites and we can talk to the people, but what resolve will the committee come back with, what action will the committee take? This isn't a thing that has happened in the last 20 months, it has been going on for several years.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I think its purpose would be to travel to Cape Breton and to listen to the people, a number of people who would have concerns addressing the economy. It would be the responsibility of the committee to make recommendations to the department, to serve the same function as we do here in Halifax.
MR. CHIPMAN: I don't mean to be facetious, but I will tell you, I have looked at the Economic Development Committee, the number of witnesses who have appeared here in the last three or four years, and if my memory serves me correct, John Whalley from the Cape Breton Regional Development Association was here just a year ago and Father Greg MacLeod has been here before. I have had one witness come up from my constituency. When I look through the book and see who the witnesses have been in the past, I think there has
been fairly good representation from Cape Breton, but not so much from the other parts of the province.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The discussion here today is simply, should we approve, in principle, this letter going to the Internal Economy Board or to the Honourable Murray Scott. That is the reason for discussion on this letter today.
MR. DOWNE: Just in response to the comment of my esteemed colleague, who brought up the fact that there have been two from Cape Breton and one from his riding, I fail to acknowledge that kind of a comment from a member of this committee who has been listening to the presentations and hearing the fact that there is a crisis happening, and they gave some options or some things that should be done. The reason for part of the trip, I agree with Howard, 3,000 miles to Cape Breton, it does send a signal that government, and I think everybody would like to send some positive signal that we care, but the more important part of it is to hear first-hand what the people in the businesses there are saying. There are some success businesses there that I would like to hear from as well. What are the impediments for further opportunity of economic self-reliance?
I am not precluding your area of the province, I am not precluding the Chairman's area, Queens County, or any area of this province. I am just saying that there is a problem in that particular jurisdiction, with 40 per cent unemployment rates or some figure close to that. That is considered, on a national level, a crisis. If we aren't prepared to go up, take a look and talk to the people, then I think what we are saying is that it is beyond help, just let it go its own way. That is basically the signal we are sending. (Interruptions) I would like to send this letter forward.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I would like to get a consensus to approve this letter in principle. Would all those who would be willing to support the letter in principle please say Aye. Those against, Nay.
[The motion is carried.]
Thank you, we will send that letter to the Chairman, with the approval of the committee, in principle. Oh, that is something exciting, the election of a new vice-chairman. This is where Mr. Bill Estabrooks was a former vice-chairman and we would like to have some names stand for this position today. Do I hear any names?
MR. EPSTEIN: I am going to speak up for myself here, Mr. Chairman. I think the tradition - I am not sure if it is actually in the Rules of the House, but I think the tradition has been that on committees where the government members chair, that the vice-chair position would typically go to the Opposition. I have actually been asked by the Leader of our Party
to take the position of vice chairman of this committee, if it is agreeable to the members of the committee. That is our request and I would ask the committee to follow the usual tradition, if that is okay.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Any comments on that?
MR. DOWNE: Howard would be a fine vice-chairman. I just want to ask a question - is it in fact the Official Opposition, so that the Third Party would never have an opportunity to even have a candidate put his name forward?
AN HON. MEMBER: Never.
MR. DOWNE: Never? Howard has been in that Third Party position before and . . .
MR. CORBETT: And we would know.
MR. DOWNE: Well, you should know. But, is that factual?
MRS. DARLENE HENRY (Legislative Committee Clerk): As far as I know, I cannot go back into the books, per se, but it has always been the Opposition. Whether it is the official or not . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Richard, would you like to say that again?
MR. HURLBURT: Is this a rule or regulation or is this just a gentleman's agreement?
MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, it has been the tradition since I have been in the provincial government for almost two years now, that the vice-chairmen come from the Opposition. I think the question Mr. Downe is asking is, does it have to be the Official Opposition, or any member of the Opposition? I guess that was the question. I cannot answer that question. So, we will turn that over to Darlene.
MRS. HENRY: I would have to go back and then get back to you on that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I guess we know it is from the Opposition. Do we have any problems with that today before we could carry on? If there is a problem, I would be willing to wait until the next meeting.
MR. EPSTEIN: I will check the rules.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I will defer that. That is unfortunate, but we will hear that. Yes, Mr. Morash.
MR. KERRY MORASH: I was just wondering, do we have someone from your Party who is interested in doing this?
MR. DOWNE: Actually, we were going to nominate Frank until Howard took it. (Laughter)
MR. CHAIRMAN: I guess we are going to defer that until the next meeting. Now, a possible meeting for May 1st or May 15th? I believe we are out of witnesses and the tradition is for each caucus to come up with some names and forward them on to Darlene for our next meeting. Okay? Any comments on that?
MR. CORBETT: Have those submitted for the May 1st meeting?
MRS. HENRY: Yes.
MR. CHAIRMAN: So, we are going to have a meeting on May 1st or thereabouts. What are we going to do about the summer? Are we going to carry through? Last year we recessed through the summer and I think we are getting to the point where we should make some decisions about that.
MR. CORBETT: Maybe we can do that at the organizational meeting, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay.
MR. CORBETT: Two regular members are not here, that I know of, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: That is right, that is fine. Any further discussion? Any new business today?
The meeting is adjourned.
[The committee adjourned at 10:34 a.m.]