32nd Parliament, 1st Session





The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Hon. Mr. Bennett moved second reading of Bill 167, An Act to Validate certain Road Closings and Conveyances in the City of Ottawa.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, this is a bill to validate some actions of the city council of Ottawa, the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, the federal government and the Rideau Centre project by Viking Rideau Corporation, located in the downtown Ottawa area. The city of Ottawa entered into an agreement with the federal government back in May 1979 to turn those allowances over to the federal government upon the date of closing of the roads.

There would appear to be some question whether one should introduce into an agreement, in advance of the date of advertising and of reading the bylaws at the municipal level, an agreement to do something when one has not yet gone through the legal procedure to do it as far as public meetings and so on are concerned. To clear up any doubts, the municipality feels the direction we are taking this evening will validate those closings.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, the minister talked to me about this proposed legislation a few weeks ago, and I have had occasion to discuss it with him and with one solicitor, Mr. Garry Smith, who apparently acts for some of the parties involved. I am not exactly sure who Mr. Smith acts for. In any event, I had a discussion with him to understand the legal technicalities involved and the necessity of having this type of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I think you would be interested to know, since you take great interest in the goings-on in this province and certainly in your national capital, that this development involves what is called the Rideau Centre project. It is a huge development, considered to be worth more than $300 million, and it is taking place not only in the national capital but also right smack in my riding. It is right across the street from the federal-provincial conference centre, the old Union Station, and it is a fair-sized development. Not only is it creating employment and economic activity in the area but with the hotel, convention centre, stores, et cetera it is also going to help revitalize that sector of the city.

This morning, before I flew down here, I had to drop by the courthouse for a minute to see that everything was under control, as you can understand. With this huge development going on, there is very little parking, and streets are closed all over the place. At present it is a real mess, but we are hoping things will improve over time. As I walked back to my car this morning from the parking garage that sits right next to the project, I had occasion to look at this huge project again. There were about 10 cranes out there working away, and stores and buildings were going up. You wonder in this whole thing if there is any method to their madness. They are just like a bunch of ants, everybody working all over the place.

As I was looking this project over I said to myself, "This evening the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing will be proposing this legislation. Of course, those of us who are local people must do everything necessary not to create any legal impediments that might bring this whole project to a halt, especially in an area that has not seen very much construction or economic activity for a period of time."

If I thought for a minute that this legislation, retroactive as it is, were going to deprive any of the citizens of this province of an existing right because we are passing legislation retroactively, I would not hesitate to oppose it. As you can understand, Mr. Speaker, I deeply abhor any legislation that is retroactive -- legislation that, as they say in common parlance, goes back to a particular date.

I tried to be as astute as I could with the minister and with the legal officials involved to assure myself that in doing what we are going to do here this evening we are not going to deprive any of the citizens of Ottawa or of Ontario of existing rights they would have had to oppose or make representation with respect to these street closings.

I have been assured, Mr. Speaker, and you will be pleased to know, that full opportunity was given. Apparently the legal technicality as I understand it -- and you will appreciate that I have only limited legal knowledge when it comes to complex matters involving economics, because I am more concerned about helping citizens with human rights and similar matters than about these large developers or people who get involved in very difficult technical problems --

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): On the motion.

Mr. Philip: He is more concerned with practising law and making money.

Mr. Roy: I have limitations; and I quite understand that when I talk this way, it makes the New Democratic Party member for Etobicoke very envious, because he is frustrated that they would not even let him in the door at law school --

The Acting Speaker: On the motion: Bill 167.

Mr. Roy: Yes, I am sorry. Really, he is a frustrated would-be lawyer.

The Acting Speaker: Speaking to the bill.

Mr. Roy: I discussed with the minister and Mr. Smith the opportunity that was given to people to make representation. Apparently, they were given full opportunity. The advertising took place at the regular intervals that are provided by the legislation; my friend the minister indicates four times. The dates that advertisements took place were indicated at the bottom of his communiqué so people could make representation. Apparently the people involved, the people who are objecting now, did not avail themselves of this opportunity.

The minister, the city of Ottawa and all those people involved assure us that we are not depriving anyone of an opportunity to make certain representation. Basically, as I understand the problem, the objection is based on the fact that they are saying, "Before you enter into any sort of agreement" -- which they did back in May 1979 -- "you should have taken steps that these streets were closed."

In other words, they say: "You went about it" -- if I may use the vernacular -- "ass backwards. You have entered into an agreement and then you went about closing the streets. What you should have done was to have gone ahead, closed the streets, and then entered into an agreement between the city, the region and the federal government."

If we were trying to correct the technicality involved in the process and we were depriving people of an opportunity to be heard, I would have some reservations, but this is not the case. As I understand the minister to have explained it, the city and all those involved do not want to get into a situation whereby because of a legal technicality a whole project is jeopardized -- although they still feel they have not done anything wrong.

The fact remains that there is this legal, technical situation which could jeopardize and slow down this project at this time. When one weighs all the factors involved, all members will be pleased to know that in this situation we are not depriving people of basic fundamental rights. We are just going back and saying that the agreement that was entered into at such and such a time and the transfer of these streets and highways shall be valid as of May 15, 1979.

For all the reasons I have outlined, I think this legislation deserves the support of all the members.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, we in this party also would not like to pass legislation that is retroactive. But in this case it appears the legislation clarifies steps taken to indicate beyond a doubt that they did carry out the requirements for involvement and consultation with the affected property owners in working out agreements when this project was undertaken.

If this legislation is not passed, I understand the ongoing project will be delayed while the court sorts out whether this sequence of steps that was taken was in accord with the intent of the legislation for consultation with the persons affected.

8:10 p.m.

The member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy) has informed me that he has investigated the situation very closely, perhaps even more closely than the member for Ottawa East. He believes the proper steps were taken to allow those affected to be consulted and involved. He feels it would be a very bad situation if this project were to be delayed.

The project is a very important revitalization of Rideau Street. Not only will it create considerable employment during construction, but it will also increase the economic potential of the city of Ottawa and produce some very nice aesthetic improvements in the Rideau Street area in the way of landscaped pedestrian links and things of that sort.

I can understand the anxiety of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to make sure this legislation gets through, because the province has put up $12 million for the project to help build a convention centre, and I am sure he does not want his $12 million going down the drain.

It appears that all parties feel this legislation is justified as a special case to avoid a technical challenge to the procedures that were followed, but I hope that it will not happen very often and that in our legislation we will spell out very carefully what steps must be taken so there is not the danger of a technical challenge which appears to have arisen in this case.

For the reasons I have stated, we in the NDP will support this bill.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I believe the last time we had special legislation associated with urban revitalization was when a bill was brought forward by the minister to assist the city of Brantford. I well recall my colleague the member for Ottawa East opposing the bill at that time and speaking very strongly in support of those citizens whose rights might have somehow been infringed.

The minister himself, who was very anxious that the bill be carried, could not bring himself to enter the House on that occasion, as he may recall; so the Brantford bill was cast upon the mercies of the great orators from all three parties, who all of a sudden discovered how terrible retroactive legislation could be and how awful it might be if regular legal procedures were set aside by an act of the Legislature for the benefit of a city that was trying to use provincial and some federal funds to rejuvenate itself and perhaps get away from some of their problems.

Now the city is not in my backyard. Here we have a situation where, Ottawa having closed the streets and made all of the decisions for which they evidently did not have the proper authority -- although the minister is wagging his finger at me, meaning that we really do not need this authority at all and that everything is okay -- we are returning to this fount of all power to say that whatever they did is okay. It must be politically potent, since all the members from Ottawa think it is an okay business.

The last time this happened it was all the members from Brantford and Brant county, who admittedly were not nearly as influential as this gang, who were going to ride roughshod over the rights of the common citizens and the normal procedures to declare by an act of the Legislature that what had been done was proper and legal.

Whenever I see phrases in a bill, such as "whatever they did is according to the bill hereby validated," I know there has been some pretty severe goof ups by the local minister. The poor minister, whatever he does, usually finds himself as Mr. Fix-It for the municipalities. Even in the instance of Brantford, when municipal matters were still carried by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, it was the poor Minister of Housing, who was scrounging $6 million for the city of Brantford, who had to put forward a bill which would have declared a proper and legal course of events but which the House decided it could not accept under those circumstances.

If the problems experienced by the city of Ottawa are anything as severe as those experienced by the city of Brantford, I am glad I have the generosity and breadth of vision to accept the leadership from those people who are very closely associated with it. Casting aside some of the natural Liberal concerns I might have for anything that might be deemed to be retroactive -- which is heinous in the mind of anybody learned in the law -- casting aside those natural concerns, I am delighted to support the legislation.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the member for Ottawa East and the member for Beaches-Woodbine for their support, and to point out to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk -- like the Premier (Mr. Davis), I have difficulty getting that straight; it has so many titles to it -- just for the member's edification, that the minister might have been called upon at this time to correct something, or a possibility of something, that is not done exactly as it should have been legally.

I did not initiate this particular operation. I would like to advise that there were lawyers --

Mr. Nixon: Your name is on the bill.

Hon. Mr. Bennett: It is on this bill but not on the original agreement of May 15, 1979, which was signed and prepared by the great legal counsel for the federal government, by the great legal counsel for the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, by the great legal counsel for the city of Ottawa, and indeed I think there was a fair amount of outside counsel retained to try to get it drafted properly.

As a result of somebody interpreting which should come first, as the member for Ottawa East said, they got the cart before the horse. The lawyers would only know that. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk and I, not having been taught in the law, we can only take it for granted that they would know they have got the cart before the horse.

There is a slight difference between this bill and the one the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk was talking about respecting Brantford. The Brantford bill happened to be a private bill. I would not want at any time to suggest to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk that if the present member for Brantford were carrying the bill, the situation might be somewhat different, but I am inclined on occasion to think it might be possible.

To the best of my knowledge, and I have indicated it to the members, the procedure required under the act for closing of streets was followed in terms of advertising, with three bylaw readings on more than one particular day, and to a fair extent I gather everything by legal description was right, save and except they did happen to get the cart before the horse in signing the agreement with the federal government.

I appreciate the House's support to clear up a matter that has significant economic impact on the nation's capital and that will be rewarding when those great national conferences take place in the city of Ottawa. From now on they will not have to be at Lansdowne Park in the horse palace. They will be able to take the member into a nice, modern conference centre, with a nice, modern shopping area and with a nice Westin hotel close to the Chateau Laurier and other government assets. It will be an outstanding achievement for that city; so I do appreciate the support.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

8:20 p.m.


Hon. Mr. Bennett moved third reading of Bill 167, An Act to Validate certain Road Closings and Conveyances in the City of Ottawa.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I cannot let the remarks of my good friend the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk go by without correcting the record, because all members will want to know this. I was waiting with some trepidation. I thought we would get this bill through before he got in from dinner hour. I know he is like an elephant and never forgets.

There is a major difference in this bill. As the minister so well commented, the sponsor of the bill is quite different on this occasion. I am convinced that, had the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk been the sponsor of the previous bill emanating from the city of Brantford, the situation might well have been different.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: Who was the other sponsor?

Mr. Roy: I do not want to be overly nasty to people who no longer are around the table here.

There is another fundamental difference, Mr. Speaker, and you would be concerned if I did not correct the record. The difference is this: in the Ottawa bill, the retroactive provisions do not deprive any citizens of existing rights at hearings, appeals, et cetera, because the procedure was followed; whereas in the Brantford bill, and this was the nasty aspect of that legislation, it would have deprived citizens of hearings before the Ontario Municipal Board. My colleague will recall that. That is where my sense of civil liberties, civil rights and so on became -- in fact, the sense of justice of most members of this Legislature gave us concern about the Brantford bill.

I want to put on the record that we did it with heavy hearts, if I can talk as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk sometimes talks. We did it because of our conviction that the bill was depriving citizens of hearings and existing rights. That is the difference between the two bills.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I am speaking briefly to third reading as to why it should or should not now be read a third time. I appreciate that my colleague assisted me in this matter when he said everything in the Ottawa bill was done according to the rules, except now we require special legislation to say, even though it was done according to the rules, if there was any teensy flaw in that it is all to be set aside and, using the undoubted powers of this House, any question that might be put on those matters is once for all laid to rest.

I am delighted to support my colleague in his efforts to maintain his undoubted popularity in this municipality.

Motion agreed to.


Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 147, An Act to facilitate the Negotiation and Resolution of Municipal Boundary and Boundary-related Issues.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, when I adjourned the debate on this bill last week, I was pointing out that the bill may be bringing in a new process of settling boundary disputes and may be eliminating some of the long delays and some of the acrimony that has stemmed from past methods of settling boundary disputes, mainly through referring them to the Ontario Municipal Board if they could not be reached by mutual agreement. But when one is looking at a new system, one wants to make sure it is a good system, one that is fair and takes into account the interests of all the parties.

What concerns me about this bill, as I mentioned in my earlier remarks, is that it contains too much ministerial power. If the law is to bring justice between parties, it should be seen that the process is operated by impartial people. There should be opportunities for the public to have input and there should be rights of appeal, and this bill is defective in many of these aspects.

We are planning to move some amendments to remove some of the excesses of ministerial power in the bill and to provide for different procedures that will provide more public input. If these amendments do not pass, we may consider not supporting the bill on third reading.

I received a brief from the township of Vespra, which has been involved for about seven years in an annexation application by the city of Barrie, and it has gone through many years of hearings and expenses. The situation is still not settled, partly because it was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, and there may be need for another hearing.

They have put in a brief on the principles of this bill. I would just like to read one paragraph from their brief because I think it sums up the attitude that we should take to this bill. I quote: "Any new method found, however, must incorporate some of the basic rights which are fundamental to the society of which we are so proud. In the event of dispute, there must be the right to call upon a means of arbitration which will permit all parties to produce their case, and which will hear the views of the public.

"There should be no predetermined solution, and the arbitrator should not be subject to bias of any nature whatsoever. In addition, we would maintain that in this, as in any other form of dispute, there must be a right of appeal to a higher body, based upon the usual rules of error by the arbitrator in either law or in fact."

That is the end of the quotation I want to read into the record, but they do go on to make the point that in a democratic society those are the principles that should govern this kind of legislation, which is introducing a new method of settling boundary-related disputes. These settlements may affect the lives of thousands of people, and therefore I think we should consider it with great concern to make sure the decision-making is fair towards them.

One of the areas the township of Vespra and others have pointed to in this bill is that there will undoubtedly be a great deal of delegation to civil servants, to nonelected people, because almost all the steps in the act are given to the minister, who then may delegate his powers to nonelected civil servants. While many of them do a very admirable job, the fact is they are not accountable to the Legislature. They are employees of the ministry and therefore it is difficult to regard them as being completely impartial.

Another area where there is a danger the public may see a lack of impartiality is in the appointment of the chief negotiator when the collective bargaining process is to be followed. The minister simply appoints from a secretariat one of his employees as the chief negotiator.

It seems to me that when we are dealing with disputes or conflicting interests of two areas, we should have the arbitration carried out by a representative from each of the areas -- this is provided for in the bill -- but the chief negotiator should be someone acceptable to all the other parties. This would mean one would probably have to draw from a panel of experienced negotiators who would not necessarily be employees of the ministry; it would give the opportunity for the parties to choose a negotiator on whom they could all agree.

8:30 p.m.

Under section 14 of the bill, the minister is given power to make orders in 24 areas and these are areas that affect people and their lives very closely. They affect, for example, official plans. They affect the payment levels to municipalities under grants programs. They affect the transitional protection of employees affected by annexations or boundary changes. They affect licensees under the Public Vehicles Act. Many other areas are affected. When the minister is given the power to make orders in so many important areas following a collective bargaining process, it seems to me there must be both public input at all stages and also some right of appeal.

This act provides for public input at only one stage. That is after the whole collective bargaining process is gone through "there shall be notification and a public meeting of the final proposed settlement." As I mentioned in my speech last week, the public should be involved at the very beginning, as soon as an application is made for an annexation or a boundary change. But that is not provided for in the bill. I think that is an amendment that should be put in.

As far as the notification goes, the bill is defective in that sense too. It just says "by such method as the minister or Lieutenant Governor in Council may determine." So whether he puts a notice up in the town hall or whether he puts a notice in the Ontario Gazette he can determine if that is satisfactory. What is needed is notification in a newspaper that circulates in most of the area affected. I think that should be spelled out in the legislation.

After the proposal has been notified to the public and they have had a public meeting to find out the details and the council has had a public council meeting to listen to objections, then the ball goes back into the minister's court.

He is allowed five courses of action: if there are a lot of objections he can refer the question back to the party municipalities who have been negotiating; he can refer one or more issues to what is known as an issues review panel; he can refer questions to newly appointed hearing officers that he will appoint; he can refer questions to the Ontario Municipal Board, or he can dismiss all the objections on the grounds the public interest outweighs the objections, which means he could completely ignore objections and there would be no right of appeal.

The issues review panel causes me some concern. It does not say who the people are who will be appointed to the panel. It does not say they should have had any connection with the municipality or that they might possibly be people who are nominated by some of the municipal associations. It is just minister's appointments to whom any issue can be referred for advice. The bill does not say what happens to their advice. Presumably the minister puts it either on his desk or in the wastepaper basket. But they do not have public hearings as far as we know. They simply are a group of people appointed by him to look into the thing in more detail.

It seems to me the Ontario Municipal Board might be a better place to send the thing if there has been no agreement. But they are also given the job of having items referred just for recommendation. I cannot see that we need both an issues review panel and a referral of this sort to the Ontario Municipal Board.

Perhaps we should consider, when there has been no agreement and there have been many objections raised, whether the minister should not have the option to go back to the previous route which we have had in our municipal legislation. That is, refer the whole question to the Ontario Municipal Board for a quasi-judicial hearing with all the parties given an opportunity to appear and then the OMB will make the final determination. It seems to me this legislation should give both those options. The collective bargaining process can be tried. If it does not work then the OMB should come back into play as the arbitrator between the parties.

When we involve the Ontario Municipal Board, we have the clause under the Municipal Act where the decisions of the OMB can be appealed to the cabinet. So we have that additional opportunity for the public, if they do not like a decision, to make a petition to the cabinet, and that is under the present legislation.

Another area that bothers me is that if the minister decides he wants to change an order that has been issued, he can do it without giving the public notice that he had to give on the original order. It is true the parliamentary assistant has said he is going to amend section 19 which calls for this change in order, but I do not really see that he has solved the problem. He says if a change in the order is to be made because the order does not fully carry out the intent and purpose that was intended, the minister may do so without any public notice.

I do not know why else one would change an order unless it was because one wanted to change something that had been done originally. It sounds to me as though the change in the order could permit additional hectares to be transferred from one municipality to another. If something like this is going to happen there should be notice to the public before it is carried out, in the same way the original order had to be notified to the public for the objection process.

As far as using the Ontario Municipal Board as a referral body, we think that part of the bill should be changed so that anything that is referred to it is referred to it for final decision, with the right of appeal to the cabinet.

Moving on to the section of the act which repeals section 11 of the Municipal Act and replaces it with a whole lot of new sections, this deals with the erecting of villages into towns, and towns into cities and so on.

It seems rather surprising that all the summaries of the bill and the compendiums hardly mention this part of the act at all, even though it changes considerably the present Municipal Act. One of the areas where it changes is that the OMB's role is retained in this section for various dealings with annexations or dealing with changes in municipal status, but the right of appeal to the cabinet is wiped out in this new bill. It is under the Municipal Act for all other OMB hearings, but it is wiped out in this bill.

Also, in the changes to section 11 of the Municipal Act, the right to compensating grants has been wiped out for local municipalities and counties when there have been annexation changes, and it is left in only for localities. That term is defined in the Education Act to mean territory without municipal organization. So it appears that the government is ducking out of providing any compensation except for territories without municipal organization. That, I think, is a fairly significant change.

8:40 p.m.

There is another section that has not had much attention drawn to it, and that is the costs to the party municipalities involved in an annexation or boundary change. The minister can simply stick them with all his costs of making studies and allocate these costs to the municipalities regardless of whether they thought the studies were necessary or not. The minister is generously willing to pay for studies by party municipalities if they convince him they need them, but his studies are much more likely to be extensive, and the municipalities concerned all have to share in the costs as he decides what their share should be.

The township of Vespra, I think, makes a very good point when it says the initiator of the annexation proposal is the one who should pay any costs that are put on to the party municipalities. In many cases the municipality that is having land taken away from it certainly does not want to lose that land; it has to put up a lot of money to fight against the loss of that land, and it should not also have to pay the costs of the negotiation procedures.

I really do not think the minister should stick the municipalities with the cost of his own studies. If he is going to assess any costs against the municipalities there should also be a staggered program so that municipalities with low assessments do not pay as much as those with higher assessments.

I would like to have seen a provision in the bill for some public funding for the ordinary citizen who may get involved in these hearings by either putting up objections to the proposed settlement or by appearing at the public meetings. If he has to travel some distance, for example, there should be funds available to make sure all the parties affected by the decision have an opportunity to present their cases adequately before the municipal council and at any public hearings that are held.

Those are other areas in which I think the bill could have been improved, and we will see whether we can make some of these improvements in the committee stage. With those stipulations we will support it on second reading.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: Mr. Speaker --

Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: I thought you were down at the Clark dinner.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: My friend the honourable Minister without Portfolio thought I was down at the Clark dinner, but I usually play to overflowing audiences and that is why I came here. The government benches are usually overflowing when I speak, but they must be at another dinner, as he has suggested.

Hon. Mr. McCaffrey: We will see how responsive they are when you close.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: But leaving his frivolity aside, I am greatly pleased to speak on this piece of legislation, particularly in light of the fact that the Barrie-Innisfil-Vespra annexation, which gave birth to this legislation and which has been going on since 1970, culminated only yesterday. After winding its way through many of our administrative tribunals and the courts, it culminated in a settlement between two of the three municipalities involved. I might add that was done at enormous cost to the participants involved, being the municipalities, for the payment of their legal and planning expenses over those years.

I have often stated to those individuals, as I roamed around my riding, that some individual communities have expended sums in excess of what they might be able to without the prior permission of an Ontario Municipal Board hearing. They have done so in defending their positions in these different tribunals under the heading planning and legal fees. Had they decided to go out and buy an alternative, such as an arena or some other thing they wanted to fund, they would have had to receive Ontario Municipal Board approval in all probability.

What are we replacing with this legislation? We are replacing the Ontario Municipal Board hearing method we previously had. I guess if members were to look at the legislation that originally went through, they would see it created the normal route that has been in existence for a number of years. The individuals putting forth that legislation would have asked, "Have we created a very fair, equitable, efficient and fast system?"

That was done before the different municipalities hired their lawyers, and before they decided that what was being done by one municipality was not quite what the other municipality decided was the route all of them desired to go. We then put politicians, both provincial and municipal, into that system. When the original legislators put it forth they called it a fine system. I am sure when they passed the legislation they patted themselves on the back and went out and said, "This will solve all those future municipal problems. We now have an independent tribunal that will listen to these issues and problems."

We are now starting with another piece of legislation that is replacing that earlier one. I suspect the individuals who have drafted this legislation think it is the ultimate solution. It has gone before different municipal committees and municipal organizations. Some politicians have participated in the municipal organizations that have advised the minister and advised the draftsmen of what would be the best terms, procedures and routes to put into this legislation to get around the things the other procedure has given birth to, such as slowing it down and causing delays. I am sure when they put this piece of legislation together they thought they now had the ultimate solution.

I am not so naive as to believe this piece of legislation does that. It will be going to committee. It will need some amendment. It is not perfect as it is now laid out before the House. After reading the history of the piece of annexation procedure that has been in the mill for some 12 years and before the courts for approximately four or five years, after starting out from the Ontario Municipal Board and going to the highest court in this land, the Supreme Court of Canada, and knowing what they are trying to avoid, they see this is probably going to be a method that will resolve this.

I heard the member for Beaches-Woodbine putting forth positions that she had heard from different municipalities in the area and from the brief they have presented to me and the minister. I am sure some opposition members have the same brief. In it the municipality looks at it from its viewpoint but, when we look at this piece of legislation from the viewpoint of the province and the good of all citizens, we are looking at it from a different vantage point.

Some of the people who have been advising the minister on what will resolve this are in the gallery today. They have seen this develop and been a part of it, as I have been a part of it. Mr. Brian Isaac has been watching this over the years. They are trying now to put in place something to resolve those difficulties. I can fully foresee that when we get some lawyers, planners and politicians in on it, rightly or wrongly protecting what we will call their turf, they will also show up some of its inadequacies and some of its deficiencies -- although it could show up some of its more generous and positive features to bring a quick, expeditious and less costly resolution of boundary disputes.

8:50 p.m.

We must start with boundary disputes, although we know it brings into play many other items of municipalities. We have to start, as I like to do, with a basic premise -- which does not meet with the approval of all competing municipalities, individual residents, individual elected politicians, planners and others -- a basic premise such as the Ontario policy that there are basically two styles of communities in this province. We can categorize those two styles as being urban in nature or rural in nature. They have different features; planners of the overall policy of Ontario they should be separate.

They perform different functions. When they do, we look at them for two reasons; one will be the planning function of those municipalities compared to each other. Into that planning comes the very vital feature of assessment dollars from the style and planning. When I speak of assessment dollars, I get back to that other function of a provincial nature, the different grant and assessment structures provided by the provincial legislation when we compare rural and urban communities. Anybody who has had experience at the municipal level in either a rural or urban community knows that different moneys flow because of that, be it for roads, sewers, planning or general assessment. All those features are made up taking full knowledge of the type of community and the assessment that is available.

We have all watched the jealousies between communities over the years and how they have been resolved. We have had amalgamations, consent annexations before administrative tribunals, regional governments put into place, and two-tiered governments. The people in this forum have seen that history develop over the years, the background behind it and some of the good results that have flowed from those decisions that were made early in the legislative history of this province, separating urban and rural communities.

Let us look at what those communities do. Rural communities, as the term has been put forward in policy, carry out the rural agricultural philosophy of this great province. They should not be treading on those things that are characteristic of an urban community.

One can very easily see an urban community's roads, its sidewalks, sewers, libraries, arenas, garbage collection, street lighting, transportation systems, apartments and commercial and industrial development. All those things need hardcore services. That is why it is better, according to our planners -- and I would hate to challenge some of those planners over the years -- that the urban features belong to an urban community and the rural community should be rural.

This is not the first annexation proceeding nor the first dispute that has been created out of boundaries. We have seen rural communities taking on characteristics of an urban community, particularly when they come very close to the urban unit. That is not very difficult to find. The rural community puts in a shopping plaza or an industrial mall and we watch the deterioration of that urban core. One cannot blame businesses. A developer sees cleared land, and it is easy to pave it over. We have our buildings up, we have our shopping plaza and the people are pouring in with their cars. We have seen the social development take place.

Meanwhile, the urban core of the community is deteriorating. It is losing its assessment to that outside development known as the modern-day shopping mall. Then the urban municipality has problems and, the first thing we know, those urban people are down here, saying: "What can we do? We are losing this vital assessment. We have certain features in place -- sewage treatment plants, schools, roads and all those things -- to look after, but now we have lost our assessment because it has gone outside to that rural community."

We develop a system, and again the province rightly comes to the aid of these communities with some good projects. We start with the main street projects, the downtown revitalization projects, and then assist these urban communities with further grants so this deterioration problem has now begun to be corrected. This goes on in city after city and community after community.

Meanwhile, one cannot blame the developers. They go to this anxious rural community and sit there and say, "Great, you can have a shopping plaza within a week." I have seen that happen in my community. I have seen the problems that have arisen and the jealousies that have been created. Then there are the problems of trying to settle that.

I can empathize with those people on the outside, because it will make some changes in their taxes. They are going to lose in one situation some $2 million to $3 million worth of assessment from those shopping plazas if the OMB decision is finalized and those shopping plazas are taken into the urban core.

Yet if one were to say to those individuals, "Would you put that urban plaza away up in the other end of your community?" they would say, "No," because it would not get any people to go to it. I think that emphasizes the argument that those are urban features and belong to the urban features.

A rural community must maintain its rural nature and character. We have our food land guidelines which are designed to try to save this rural land. We all know it is a prime necessity in the province to save that food land for the necessity of providing for our future.

When we look at the procedures that are in here, it might be that we have taken too much away, put it in the statute and perhaps given too much to the minister. Should there be perhaps an alternative procedure with the Ontario Municipal Board hearing being there? Should it be there as an alternative to this structure, rather than moving it out entirely and following this route, because some municipalities may enjoy that litigious and costly route?

I watched the opening of the Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the Barrie-Innisfil-Vespra one. I will state it quickly. There were numerous lawyers from the Metropolitan Toronto area, far more than at any other hearing; and I guess if one went down the list there would be many. I will not quote the author, but one author thought it would be of great assistance to the life of the communities if they got rid of all the lawyers. I am paraphrasing that author and that statement. Had something gone wrong at this particular hearing, that author's words would have been very true.

It was a hearing that lasted a historic number of days, and the cost was enormous. When the municipalities took the litigation to its final step in the Supreme Court of Canada, they nearly had what we would describe as a hollow victory, because they had to go back to the Ontario Municipal Board to get the final resolution. There was an argument over population. There was a question as to whether they had adequate information on the population figures when the OMB hearing went through the first time.

Even if they went back today, I have stated that the population figures might not change those boundaries a great deal, if they changed them at all. They went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, with the inherent costs of that, and arrived back at the bargaining table. They have seen the difficulty now.

We have had a change in the makeup of some of the councils and in some of the features of their thinking. When the ministry people came in to put forward a solution to these people in a negotiated fashion, they were able to see more of what was taking place. In the slowed-down process of negotiations, they got more than they could ever have received in an Ontario Municipal Board hearing.

These local politicians sat down around a table, which is what the citizens wanted, and started looking at these positively to resolve the problem and to get it over with, because the whole area was becoming stagnant. If one does not have a vibrant commercial and industrial urban centre, the rural community surrounding it suffers. It was very apparent that had to be solved, and the outside communities have brought themselves to the table and have resolved this particular problem.

9 p.m.

I said they solved even more, and that is what this bill sets out. There are a number of features telling what the minister and the negotiating team -- the issue review panel -- can do. They can do more than an Ontario Municipal Board hearing can do, and it can be negotiated; items can be put on the table.

When we go into an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, one of the unfortunate features of the hearing is that it is an administrative tribunal and, although some people will not acknowledge it, administrative tribunals in one form or fashion are to emphasize and follow the policy decisions and directions of a provincial government.

Some of the statutes that we put forward in this Legislature have that in them. They say that this is the policy of the province and the tribunal that will hear this will follow the policy of the province. That is one thing that is very difficult for people to understand. There is often litigation over whether that is a correct feature of an administrative tribunal.

Administrative tribunals do not give out justice, as we expect of a court; they follow a prescribed form. They are trying to give the individuals the best hearing possible, but they still have to follow the direction of the province, be it a transport board hearing or be it, in this case, an administrative tribunal that is conducting a hearing on land boundaries.

When there is this feature of an administrative tribunal, be they the litigants from the municipalities, be they the litigants representing developers, or be they the litigants of individual land holders or citizens' groups, they put their information into the hopper, being the hearing officer of the Ontario Municipal Board, and they do not know the result until the decision is given.

At that point in time there may be satisfaction or dissatisfaction, depending on the point of view they had before, and the material put in there. In the process that is coming forth now, I can put items on the table; as has been described by the member for Beaches-Woodbine it is a bargaining or arbitration process. I will exchange this item for that item, or four of these for five of those. They can come back again and rediscuss that.

They do not have to wait until I have made a decision, as they would if I were an Ontario Municipal Board hearing man, and said, "Sorry, this is my decision, and that is it, and then follow the appeal route. There is ongoing negotiation throughout; so a lot of the items are settled and agreed upon, and the parties can then put it together in an agreement that can become legislation.

There are some rewards and rewarding features in this particular forum that are not available to us in any other forum. There are more of the items that can be put on the table here than in an Ontario Municipal Board hearing. In fact, in some they would have to make a return visit to the Ontario Municipal Board even after they have made their initial appearance.

This has advantages that cannot be found under an Ontario Municipal Board hearing. Of course, there are comments that it will be political because the minister is involved in it, but the process is political whether it is the local municipal people or whether it is us.

There are certain philosophies of the province, one of which in this particular area is the Toronto-centred region plan. That plan showed the development of the Metropolitan Toronto area and the satellite cities that were to grow up.

Those cities were to expand with certain amounts of growth. The province has led that way; it has put in the major roads, encouraged industrial development and provided for sewers so that growth is taking place in that direction.

There was a Simcoe-Georgian task force, which was a local group of individuals. The people who put that information together said: "Here is the direction we would like to go. Applying the basic philosophy of the Toronto-centred region plan, this is what we want for the local area, provided by the local people."

We now have that in the situation involving those local people. This has shown the way for this legislation to go. Undoubtedly, they got themselves into legal difficulties that at some point in time they should have got themselves out of, but could not; however, they finally did in this process of a negotiated settlement.

Other municipalities throughout Ontario had looked upon this one as the bad example that we must avoid --

Mr. Nixon: It is a bad example.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: As the member for the riding with the long name has just stated, the one in Brant county, the Brantford area, got together and negotiated it --

Mr. Nixon: Barrie has made five millionaires out of the lawyers who worked on that one.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: I do not want to contest the facts. The only difficulty in the member's statement is that they were not local lawyers, either; they were Metropolitan Toronto lawyers.

When we get this legislation together, Barrie was the example other municipalities did not want to follow. They were all looking at this Ontario Municipal Board proceeding. The one in Brantford and Brant county was the prototype of this legislation. Those communities, those politicians got themselves together; they put their feelings, their ambitions, their hopes and their emotions on paper and they resolved something. That was used as the prototype for the Innisfil-Barrie one, which has now reached its resolution. Indeed, the legislation flows from it. It does have some possibilities. It does have some hope.

When it goes to committee, when it is completed at the committee level and some minor touchups are given to the bill, and maybe even some major ones, I hope we will have a better procedure for resolving boundary disputes between different communities.

These things do create animosities, as the member for Beaches-Woodbine said earlier in her remarks; they do create difficulties between the communities where they fight it out, and understandably so. There will be changes that some people will not like. Some of them will hit them in their pocketbooks because they are living in a rural community, receiving certain grants, paying less taxes because of the assessment and our market value system, and when they come into the urban core to share those services they are sharing on the outside.

If they were truthful, they would just admit that they share those urban facilities but want the lower taxes on the outside of the community. One cannot live in a rural community and in all justice and truthfulness say: "I am not a farmer. I just want that rural facility, and I want next door to me all those urban features -- but I want those urban people to pay for them. I want my taxes to be as a rural agricultural community." That is not the philosophy of what the province is trying to do. That is not the direction we should be going in. I hope this bill will resolve those features.

Those are some of my thoughts on this. I hope to participate in the committee when this comes forward. There will be further discussion on this when the legislation settling the Barrie-Innisfil annexation dispute comes before this House. It has had first reading now; it will be coming up shortly for second reading.

I hope that the work of all the parties and those people who have been so familiar with this legislation and the problem that has resulted in this will advise us wisely and that we will use this information wisely to produce a bill that solves those future problems, I hope expeditiously and at less cost for the individuals, and that their communities will be the better for it.

9:10 p.m.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to hear the comments made by the member for Simcoe Centre. I know the parliamentary assistant, who has the carriage of the bill, was very glad to listen to him as well. They are just discussing how glad he was to hear him at this very moment.

Before I get into the body of my remarks, we should put on the record that even though this is a save-Joe-Clark banquet tonight, the Minister of Industry and Tourism is here loyally in his place, for some reason.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: We drew lots and I lost. I had to miss the dinner.

Mr. Nixon: I usually do send copies of my speech to Joe Clark's office, but I will be sure that tonight we faileth not.

The member for Simcoe Centre made a good point when he said the Barrie-Innisfil problems were an example of everything that was bad with the legislation and the leadership of this government in municipal difficulties. On the other hand, the solution in Brantford and Brant county, with great respect to the government of the day, is an example of one of their better initiatives.

As a person who has been known to be critical of legal fees and the attitude of lawyers and others learned in the law -- or of lawyers learned in the law, who I guess are the worst kind in their fees associated with municipal annexation and negotiation -- I can say that the Barrie situation is a classic. There, the legal fees alone were well in excess of $1 million.

The list of firms and individual lawyers who were associated with the case is just a running list of the major Tory lawyers, headed by Goodman and Goodman, naturally, who were in on the big take up there in the poor, innocent hinterland of Barrie and Simcoe county, where they feel for some reason that if they do not have a Toronto lawyer they really are not in business.

It is always a shame, because I know the honourable member himself knows that some of the very best lawyers in the area are indigenous to Barrie itself. Not all of them have been successful in politics, but it was not for want of trying.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: Four times he tried.

Mr. Nixon: Well, the fifth time, boy, he is coming in.

As far as the bill is concerned, Mr. Speaker, and I know that is the matter that interests you principally, the alternative to the terrible legal confrontation that we experienced in Simcoe county, the experiment in Brantford and Brant county that has led to this bill, was one of the most interesting and successful ones we have seen in a long time.

Before that, it was considered as a matter of government policy that the imposition of regionalization -- or, since the member for Oxford (Mr. Treleaven) is here, restructuring -- was considered the final solution, if I may use the phrase, to problems associated with municipal controversy.

In my own view, the so-called restructuring of counties was in the same unacceptable bag as regionalization. The regional governments them- selves have given us in opposition a litany of everything that is bad about the imposition of so-called solutions from this senior level.

In the days of Darcy McKeough, whose whole aim was to regionalize the southern peninsula of Ontario -- as a matter of fact, right through to Ottawa -- it was apparent that until we finally got him fixed up with another job we really could not stop the regionalizing process.

I thank the good Lord and the political fates that I was able to assist the good citizens and ratepayers in Brant county to resist the pressures for regionalization that were urged upon us by senior levels and by those in our own community of a Conservative persuasion. We have been called in some respects the hole in the regionalized doughnut.

Of the many accomplishments that I take credit for personally, even though I was in opposition, nothing gives me greater pleasure than the fact that our area was able to resist that fate, which to the taxpayers in a municipal world is worse than death because of the high costs of regional government and the shortcomings and inadequacies that are now so apparent in regional government in general.

Up until this statute, regionalization was considered to be the only solution, if not the final one. There are many areas where regionalization was imposed, where a continuation of boundary disputes have really been as disruptive and have led to about as much acrimony and local problems as they did before regionalization.

A classic example is the boundary between the restructured county of Oxford and the region of Haldimand-Norfolk near Tillsonburg. The honourable member from Oxford would know, as would certain ministers if they were here, that one of the areas where this bill may very well apply in the near future would be in the solution of that very problem.

Mr. G. W. Taylor: It is exempted, section 3, Oxford.

Mr. Nixon: Accepted or exempted?

Mr. G. W. Taylor: Exempted.

Mr. Swart: Nice to have read the bill.

Mr. Nixon: All right. Thank you very much. Read it? I wrote it.

The problems that have been festering there, and that is really the only proper word to use, have given rise to a good deal of municipal and fiscal dislocation as well as the kind of bad feelings that often resulted when elected municipal politicians, defending the rights of their own territory as well as their own citizens in attempting to do the best for themselves, were confronted with an impossible situation, a situation which up until now really had no rational solution at all.

I am not naive enough to believe Bill 147 is going to be successful in all instances to produce an amicable settlement. Certainly it requires elected officials of goodwill at both levels, and experience. When it came right down to the application of the experimental procedure in Brant county I must say we were fortunate to have officials, elected and otherwise, of goodwill. I must also, in his absence, give a good deal of credit to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) who, in those days, had the carriage of municipal business as well as federal-provincial policy.

I do not believe the minister intruded unnecessarily into the matter; but his officials, I am sure, earned the respect of those participants at the local level on all occasions.

While the mayor of Brantford and the county warden of Brant, as well as various reeves and other municipal officials, were adamant that they were not going to give in to what they considered unfair demands from the opposite side, they finally saw, when the experimental procedure was laid before them, with all of the checks and balances and all of the careful edging up towards the boundary of both sides, that they had a meeting of the minds and an agreement. So far in the experimental procedure it has been reasonably well accepted by both sides.

I was not a party myself to the negotiations but I am glad to say that both the provincial and municipal levels were kept reasonably well informed. I certainly believe those people felt from time to time the process was going perhaps unfairly in one direction or the other and were quite quick to indicate their concern to provincial politicians, the previous member for Brant and myself.

There was never an occasion I recall where our advance reference of these concerns to provincial officials went unheeded. I felt they were as responsive as one could ask under these circumstances. The point is that while we, as a Legislature, can establish a structure, it still depends for its success upon the goodwill of the elected and appointed officials at both the local and the provincial level. I think that is obvious in many of our endeavours, but no more so than in a situation which we are trying to design which will take us away from any confrontation procedures designed to give the solution to some of these long-standing problems.

There was even one occasion when the provincially-appointed mediator undertook to invite the chief representatives of both municipal parties to go with him and the other provincial staff out of the community entirely. I think they went to Niagara Falls, not Welland.

9:20 p.m.

Mr. Swart: Niagara Falls.

Mr. Nixon: There are lots of interesting facilities down there anyway. They carried on meetings away from the glare and pressure of the media and other politicians so they could get away from it entirely and have a frank review of the outstanding issues.

Naturally in a bill such as this we look for the sections which, notwithstanding the failure of previous sections, are going to lead to agreement. This is a matter I am sure is going to lead to considerable discussion, perhaps on second reading but certainly in the review of the bill by the committee of the whole House. There are some aspects of the bill I am sure can be improved.

I have had the advantage of looking at the amendments from the New Democratic Party critic. Some of them are very good indeed and we will have a good opportunity to discuss them. My own colleague the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) has had substantial municipal experience himself as mayor of Waterloo, necessitating, in his approach to thorny and difficult problems at the municipal level, the kind of long-sightedness and commitment to a commonality of interests that would lead to agreement.

I think there is goodwill on all sides of the House for the acceptance of this bill. As an alternative to further regionalization there is no doubt it has many advantages which recommend it. One of the statements made by the present Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs when he still had some responsibility for municipal matters was that the government, as a matter of policy, had rejected once and for all the so-called regionalizing alternative. That was good news indeed.

It is something I was glad to hear. I remember going back to the original Smith report on taxation in the province when the commissioner, as he then was, made the recommendation for regional government in Ontario. I did not realize, as I read those recommendations and even saw the rough regional maps he had prepared for my own and other areas, the heart-rending controversy the implementation of his recommendation would lead to.

I do not know the way out of it short of a change in government in this province. The commitment of the present government, being in office for so long, does not permit it to review the extremely dislocating and expensive municipal errors it has committed as a way of correcting the matter.

It has established massive and expensive bureaucracies in the regions of the type we have grown used to at the provincial and federal level. One thing we do not need is another imposition of that kind of government at the local level.

I do not intend to get off on the good old round of complaints about regional government other than to say those people who feel the passage of time has ameliorated those problems at the regional level are not correct in that assumption. There is as much animosity and disappointment with regionalization in many of these areas as there was at the time of its imposition. I am thankful indeed the government has recognized its errors in its former policy of regionalization and has renounced that alternative.

At the same time, I wish it would come up with a program to correct those mistakes. I do not believe the mistakes are irreparable. While I am quite confident a change in government could correct them, it does not look as if we are going to have that for some months.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Months?

Mr. Nixon: Months. Neither of us will last forever.

Hon. Mr. Grossman: My party might.

Mr. Epp: Larry for leader.

Mr. Nixon: Anybody who renounces Joe Clark when he needs help is going to have a little difficulty moving on. As you will recall, Mr. Speaker, Laura Sabia was looking for help, too, and where was the Minister of Industry and Tourism at that time? He was sitting in the House signing letters -- that is what he was doing. So I do not know whether the party is going to be able to survive his leadership or not. I am on his side, but for reasons he might not fully appreciate.

I am glad the government has renounced the former solution to these problems, and I personally have a good deal of faith in this bill. Our experience in Brantford has been a good one. There are some citizens who are still disappointed with the removal of their developmental rights in a so-called green belt around the city, which they felt was imposed on them against their will. That area was neutralized as far as development was concerned more or less to stop the urban spread that had been going on and, according to the city of Brantford, it sapped some of the economic life from their downtown core.

I know some citizens feel their right to develop was withdrawn without adequate recourse to hearings of the OMB, which have not yet been held in spite of all the provincial statutes. They send out a hearing officer. We expect the first hearing officer to arrive in January 1982, which shows just how slowly the mills of the Conservative gods grind. We are not even sure how finely they grind, but we will find that out after their hearing officers, established in the previous bill -- the experimental bill -- finally arrive in the Brant-Brantford area.

I support with enthusiasm the bill itself, which establishes in general legislation an experiment that I as the local representative am prepared to say to the minister was a success in Brant-Brantford. I say in closing that, as is so often the case in our endeavours, the words do not produce the solution; it is the goodwill of the men and women who are entrusted with the implementation of the program that really provides the solution on which we all depend.

Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and take part in this debate along with many other members in the House, particularly my colleague from Beaches-Woodbine. I endorse the comments she made, which were thoughtful and quiet and carried a lot of meaning.

I am also glad to follow the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. I hope he will recognize I got the name of his riding right. I see he is talking to his colleague. I do not blame him. That colleague is here for only a few hours of the weekly session and I suppose he has to carry on the conversation while he has the opportunity.

It is always interesting to listen to the old pro from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk. In his years in this House he has reached the point where he can just skim through a bill and to some extent grasp the substance of it. Not only that but he can speak on a bill for half an hour even if he has never read it, just as he did in the previous speech he made -- and, by the way, he never got called to order -- because he seems somehow or other to be able to be on --

Mr. Epp: That's not fair.

Mr. Swart: It's not fair, but it's true. I am sorry the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk was not listening to my comments, but he can read them in Hansard tomorrow. I just want to assure him they were very complimentary.

I am very pleased to rise to speak on this bill because, as many members know, I was involved in municipal politics for more than two decades. For more than half that time I represented the head of the municipality, a so-called rural municipality, which was squeezed between three cities, the cities of St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland. During that period I was involved in no less than four annexation proceedings, one of them a very major one. So I am quite aware of the problems, the costs and, yes, the bitterness that were part of those proceedings.

9:30 p.m.

The principle of the bill we have before us is that of trying to provide some better alternative whereby changes in municipal boundaries can take place and consume less time, less money and perhaps eliminate some of the bitterness that took place in those hearings.

I think we may have overlooked another point, too. In fact, in this proposal it may be something controversial. Certainly, the principle of the bill is not controversial and, from the comments we have heard to this time, many of the proposals will provide a more democratic method of arriving at boundary decisions, in that those decisions will not, at least to the same degree, be made by a court or by a quasi-judicial body. They will be made by the elected representatives.

There may be some disadvantages in that; I may comment on that in a moment. But the principle of the bill certainly does provide for the elected people, and particularly the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, to make a great many of the decisions on the changes in municipal boundaries.

That may also require some political courage -- changing this bill from a court decision to a decision by politicians, where the public and municipalities, who may rather violently disagree with the decisions, will make those politicians targets instead of the Ontario Municipal Board.

The member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg) may or may not remember that after a very bitter annexation hearing and proceedings in the greater St. Catharines area in 1960 or 1961 -- I have forgotten which year that took place but if it was like most of them, it probably took place in both years -- they hanged in effigy the two members of the Ontario Municipal Board who made the decision to annex the town of Meritton to the city of St. Catharines. I drove by there for --

Mr. Nixon: You cannot blame that on Vern Singer.

Mr. Swart: No, I realize how defensive the member is in this matter. I drove by there for two or three days and saw those effigies swaying in the wind --

Mr. Nixon: Only in Niagara.

Mr. Swart: -- on the scaffold in front of the old town hall in Merritton. The parliamentary assistant may not want to become the minister if that same kind of situation exists because of this bill and it is directed against the minister.

Mr. Nixon: They will not do it in effigy.

Mr. Swart: No, hopefully not. It has already been stated of course, that the initiative for this bill has come largely from the experience in Brantford. I think everybody who has spoken and everybody who was involved would agree it was successful, by and large. I think it is true to say, though, that it too took quite a bit of time. I understand before the actual act was passed in 1980, there were about two years of negotiations leading up to it.

There were some real obstacles. It was a major boundary change, a major annexation with the ingredients for some very real conflict, yet it was brought about in a fairly successful manner. I know there was a substantial acreage involved. I am not sure just how many acres. Perhaps the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk knows. As I stated before, I have mastered his terminology.

Mr. Nixon: It was 2,800 acres.

Mr. Swart: I think it was in that neighbourhood. I have mastered the terminology of his riding which most people in this House have not yet done.

Mr. Nixon: I appreciate it.

Mr. Swart: I believe in the beginning the township was against the principle of the annexation of most of the parts of their municipality which were ultimately attached to the city of Brantford. They were opposed to it, yet they ultimately agreed that all the urbanized areas would be included. I believe there was very little arbitration. There may have been some mediation, but it is my understanding the only arbitration that took place was with regard to the official plan which was to cover the area. I believe there was only one person as an arbitrator in that instance, unlike the bill that is before us at the present time.

It is true to say it was certainly less costly and probably less time-consuming than if an annexation had taken place under the Ontario Municipal Board. Both municipalities are now reasonably happy. The proceeding does put much more responsibility at the political level, especially on the minister.

We support this bill in principle, as my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine has stated in her excellent comments. However I must warn, as others have, that other situations may not be similar to what took place in Brantford. They may be much more difficult. Other councils may not be so co-operative. In fact, we may not have a Dave Newman in all cities who will head up a committee and function in such a co-operative manner. It might have been a Liberal or a Conservative who had done that and it might not have worked out quite so well. We may not have a man of the calibre of Mac Makarchuk as a provincial member.

Mr. Nixon: Do you want a real comment on that?

Mr. Swart: I am making the comments right now: I have the floor. We may not have a person of the calibre of Mac Makarchuk with his co-operative nature, who helped to resolve many of the problems that existed there. The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk can persuade almost anybody to do anything except vote Liberal in Ontario.

The Deputy Speaker: Carry on with the bill.

Mr. Swart: Yes, thank you.

I do want to comment on the one danger that exists in this. Granted it is balanced off in other ways, but there can be the problem of some political partisanship being injected into the final decision when those decisions are left at the political level. It is possible there could be allegiance to certain political parties by members of councils or others in positions of influence in the municipalities. They might have some undue power over the minister who is sitting over there, at least for the next few months, and might cause some decisions to be made that were not based solely on the facts of the situation. That is a real danger.

9:40 p.m.

On the other hand, I think that is balanced off by the fact that it is more democratic. When one is leaving politicians to make decisions, there is always the danger that inappropriate decisions will be made because of the friends they have out there. We see that happening all the time on the other side of this House, where decisions are made with regard to the economy, to interest rates and a great many things that are totally inappropriate to the average citizen, but they are made over there because they have friends out there they have to serve. That is one of the dangers of the political system.

This bill proposes procedures that are far different from the procedures used in Brantford. Granted that was a pilot project and these proposals probably have come out of that more than anything else, but the procedures are very different and much more complex. I am not at all sure by this bill that there will be as much time spent at least in arriving at a decision on boundary changes as there would be by applying to the Ontario Municipal Board.

I am not sure whether anyone who has spoken has yet outlined the procedures, and I am going to do it very briefly. First, the municipality must pass a bylaw, which is then submitted to the minister. He does a study and makes a report back to the municipality. If he finds agreement on that report, then either by legislation or by order in council he can cause the annexation to take place.

If there is a disagreement, then he appoints a negotiating committee, which enters into what it is supposed to do; that is, to negotiate. There is no time limit on that, and perhaps there should not be. Then it makes a report back to the minister and to the municipalities. Public meetings are held, and then the councils report back to the minister. Then all options really are open to the minister at that time, including referring certain issues to the Ontario Municipal Board and referring them to an issues committee, if I have the right terminology there. He can use any procedures he wants.

Ultimately, from that he can arrive at legislation or at an order in council. I suggest that procedure, as necessary as it may be, is going to be very time-consuming, and I am afraid that if they get a lot of lawyers involved -- and this may be the key to it -- there is not as much room there for costs as there is in the present proceedings.

Mr. Epp: What have you got against lawyers?

Mr. Swart: I do not have anything against lawyers, but I know they are costly. If one can resolve problems successfully without going to lawyers, one will save an awful lot. One may get oneself in trouble sometimes, but one can sure save an awful lot of money.

Mr. MacDonald: You can also get yourself in a lot of trouble when you go to a lawyer.

Mr. Swart: One can get oneself in trouble when one goes to a lawyer too. The member for York South is so correct.

As the member for Beaches-Woodbine and others have pointed out, the bill does require some fairly substantial changes even as a trial bill which the government recognizes may have to be brought back to this House in the not-too-distant future for some changes. It seems to us there are some changes that are obvious, and my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine has mentioned some of them.

One change I personally object to is the absence of public input at an early stage in these proceedings. In fact, there will be no public input at all. If an application is made and a report is made by the minister, that report is accepted and an order in council is passed; the legislation is passed.

There is no place there for any public input whatsoever. That seems to me to be a serious omission. There could be a major annexation or amalgamation taking place where there was no possibility of the public having any say; at least no provision is made and no formal structure is provided for the public to have any say. We intend to move an amendment to correct that.

My colleague also mentioned that the powers given to the minister are very broad, especially in section 6(d) and section 13(g), where the minister can do anything he deems necessary or feels is right. All the procedures that are really required may not be included in this bill because it is a new process. Surely, if they want to change something, they should come back to the House for an amendment. To give such broad powers to the minister to do anything he likes in this whole process seems to me to be providing a blanket provision which is not desirable in any legislation.

If anything is referred to the board to arbitrate, and that is really the purpose of referring it to the board, if the negotiating committee cannot resolve it, if the municipalities cannot resolve it between themselves and the minister deems it necessary to refer it to the OMB, it seems to us the OMB should make a decision on the negotiation process or the political process. Has it resolved it? Therefore, it should be referred to the OMB for a decision.

Under the present Planning Act, that can be appealed to the cabinet. But for them just to make a recommendation back to the same person who could not resolve the thing before seems an inappropriate procedure, especially when the new Planning Act we have before us at the present time provides for the Ontario Municipal Board to make practically all its decisions without recourse to the cabinet. In this one we really have a substantial move backwards. Therefore, we will be moving an amendment to provide that the OMB shall make the decision and it shall not just be a recommendation to the minister.

We also think that section 19 of this bill is inadvisable. It negates much of the democratic procedure up to the time when, "The Lieutenant Governor in Council may at any time, upon the recommendation of the minister, rescind, change, alter or vary any order made under section 14" -- that is the order which provides for the amalgamation -- "and, unless the Lieutenant Governor in Council determines otherwise, section 17 does not apply to any such subsequent order."

Of course, section 17 says, "No order shall be made under section 14 until 28 days after the Clerk of the Executive Council has given public notice in such manner ... " Here we have a situation where the Lieutenant Governor in Council could change, and perhaps change dramatically, a decision that has been made previously, and there is no public knowledge of it. There is no chance for any input whatsoever. It is a fait accompli. We suggest that is not a reasonable situation.

As my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine has pointed out, section 23 for some strange reason exempts from these procedures, and goes back to the old OMB process, all of those annexations that may be connected with raising the status of a municipality from a village to a town or a town to a city. It is quite normal procedure. I am sure all of us who have been in municipal life and have watched what is taking place in the province have recognized that frequently at the time a municipality is elevated from a village or a town it will make application for annexation of the area around it. These can be major annexations.

9:50 p.m.

I think of Trenton, a town which I think I am correct in saying could be elevated to a city and which, within its application to be elevated to a city, could apply to annex a large surrounding area. This process would not be available to make the decision; they would have to go through the Ontario Municipal Board. Surely this was not the intent of the minister.

I am glad to see that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) is coming in to take part in this debate. He will be glad to know that to date everyone has supported the bill, at least in principle.

I certainly do not think it is the minister's intention to require that all municipalities that make large annexations, that are simultaneous with the elevation of the municipality from one status to another, should be prohibited from using the procedures available in this bill or in any subsequent bill that provides the same sort of voluntary and co-operative method of resolving the boundary problems.

We think substantial changes should be made in this bill, and we will be making certain amendments. It looks as if we are all in general accord on this, so I hope the government will give serious consideration to those amendments and not reject them out of hand, as it so often does, whether it is on a minor bill put forward by the Liberal member for -- which riding?


Mr. Swart: No, I was not thinking of that one. The bill today, with regard to the amendment to provide a year's notice for --

Mr. Mancini: The member for Prescott-Russell (Mr. Boudria).

Mr. Swart: Prescott-Russell. This was a very minor bill today, a bill that made so much common sense, and yet the government stood to block it. Two members who spoke on my bill last week to remove the urea formaldehyde foam insulation did not say a word against the bill, yet it was blocked by the Conservatives.

I hope the government will not do that with the amendments to this bill coming from this side of the House. The people over there need all the help they can get, and they should accept it with gratitude.

We recognize this is a whole new field. We are going to need a period of time to work out this bill. It seems to me that one of the things the government must do is to guarantee that the manual which is going to be developed -- and I think they are already in the process of developing it, though it may be two or three months -- and which will be the Bible for the operation of this bill, will be tabled in this House as soon as it is developed. I hope the minister will give that guarantee when he rises to speak.

Like the other members who spoke on this bill, we will approve it with, I hope, some substantial amendments. We will be watching to see how it works. We know very well this kind of bill may not have a great many applications immediately, unlike many bills that go through the House. But every application of this bill will be a very important event to many people, a very crucial matter to many people in municipalities in this province. Therefore, we will be watching it very closely and making comments on how we think it is working. Good luck to the minister.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak to Bill 147, and to bring up a matter that I have spoken about with the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

I am sure the negotiating process that has been set out in this bill, which will help municipalities solve their municipal boundary problems and amalgamation and annexation problems, is probably somewhere down the line going to involve transfer payments from the province of Ontario to certain municipalities that are going to be adversely affected by losing certain tax bases.

I want to bring to the attention of the members that approximately a year or so ago the town of Amherstburg was involved in annexation hearings with the two neighbouring municipalities, the township of Anderdon and the township of Maiden. The town needed to expand, as industrial development was stymied by the limitations of its boundaries and urban development had sprawled over into the rural municipalities. It was felt by many that the people in these urban subdivisions that had grown on the outskirts of the town could be better served by the urban community of Amherstburg.

The townships involved worked very diligently and very hard to hammer out an agreement and they did it without Bill 147. Specifically, the township of Maiden, which lost a huge portion of its tax base, agreed for the most part with the annexation because it felt it had a commitment from the former minister of municipal affairs and his parliamentary assistant that it would receive transfer funds from Ontario to carry it over the next four or five years because of this huge tax loss.

The municipality in question, Maiden, went ahead in good faith and basically did not extensively oppose the annexation procedure which was taking place. They allowed a huge portion of their municipality to be annexed, and when all was said and done, when the deal was signed and when the new boundaries were drawn up, they requested of me to remind the province -- specifically to remind the former minister of municipal affairs and his parliamentary assistant, the member for Wilson Heights (Mr. Rotenberg), of their commitments.

By the time that happened, we had a new minister of municipal affairs, the member for Ottawa South (Mr. Bennett). He had become the minister, and when the civil servants in his department prepared a summary of what should transpire as far as transfer payments going to the township of Maiden were concerned, the new minister stated flatly to his bureaucrats that, although there may have been a moral commitment for this money to be turned over to the township of Maiden from the province of Ontario, there certainly was no legal commitment made, and therefore he was not prepared to assist the township of Maiden in the expenditure problems that it now faces because of the loss of tax base.

They still have to operate the municipality. They still have certain obligations to the people in that municipality. They still have several capital projects that they must carry out, even though the township is now smaller, and they do not now have the tax base in order to carry that out.

10 p.m.

My point is that as Bill 147 progresses and Bill 147 is used by different municipalities, the member for Wilson Heights knows darned well that somewhere down the line he is going to have to assist municipalities for their loss of the tax base through annexation. He is going to have to give them transfer payments, and just as sure as I am standing here that is going to take place -- money from the province of Ontario to certain municipalities.

We had three municipalities that were prepared to act in good faith and that did several things the government wants to be done in Bill 147. Now let the government live up to its commitments and ensure that the township of Maiden gets the transfer payments that were promised to it.

Under the impression they were left with, they did not fight this tooth and nail at the Ontario Municipal Board level and consequently they saved all three municipalities a considerable sum of money. They also saved the province a considerable sum of money, because the hearings conducted by the board were not nearly as extensive as they would have been.

The government should now do for the township of Maiden what it is going to be doing for other townships after Bill 147 is passed.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Edighoffer): Does any other honourable member wish to participate? If not, the parliamentary assistant.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to see you temporarily back where you were in a previous incarnation.

I will try to be brief in the summation, because a lot of the points that were made will be dealt with in committee of the whole, when we deal with various amendments.

The two critics, the member for Waterloo North and the member for Beaches-Woodbine, criticized the bill because they said there was too much power being given to the minister. I thought the member for Welland-Thorold was doing very well in answering that until he got towards the end of his statement, because really the philosophy of the bill changes the whole method of dealing with these disputes.

The philosophy of the bill is that the discussions and the process and the decision-making will be political and not administrative, not by tribunal, but the responsibility will be the responsibility of the politicians. The lawyers, the planners and the consultants will not be the ones making the decisions; the elected representatives of both levels of government will be the ones who will do it.

All the discussions should be in the hands of those who have been elected. The municipal representatives on the interministerial committee, who have sat in on this bill for several years and helped us to draft it and made suggestions, are very firm and very strong on the fact they want this process which leaves the decisions and the negotiations in the hands of politicians. They do not want the tribunal process where the decisions are in the hands of the Ontario Municipal Board.

A lot of what has been said, especially by the member for Beaches-Woodbine, indicates that in a number of amendments they will be proposing they want to give at least half of it back to the Ontario Municipal Board. I submit, as we will discuss on the amendments, that we have to go one route or the other and if we try to mix them up and have half and half, we will have the worst of both worlds. I think they want the Brant-Brantford process and not the Barrie-Innisfil process, and this is what the bill does.

There was some question about public participation. Of course there will be public participation. In answer to a question the other night by the member for Waterloo North, there is already a commitment to the interministerial committee that the manual procedure will be discussed with them before it has been finalized, and that will be done. There cannot be a negotiation process -- and it is a negotiation process -- without consulting with the public.

I point out to the member for Beaches-Woodbine that the chief negotiator has to be a person who is knowledgeable. We cannot, as we do some times in labour arbitration, take a professor, a judge or someone who has not been involved. A chief negotiator has to be a most knowledgeable person because this person, I would point out, is a mediator and not an arbitrator. This person does not have legislative powers, but only the powers to suggest and mediate and to be a chairman and come up with a suggestion.

I also point out that those matters that will be handled by ministerial order, by order in council, as the member for Welland-Thorold has so well pointed out, will have to be made public and published and there is a 28-day period to catch up with any member of the public who feels he has not had a proper hearing up until that point.

I point out also that the kind of solutions that are being brought forward by Brant-Brantford or by Barrie-Innisfil were by legislation. Under this act, those kind of complicated procedures will be done by legislation with all the protections and all members of this legislature able to participate. The less complicated ones will be done by ministerial order.

The Acting Speaker: Order. There seem to be a number of private conversations that perhaps are necessary but are unnecessarily noisy.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, we will be dealing with details of the various matters that members of the Legislature brought forward in their presentations when we get to the committee stage. A lot of these are covered in the amendments, and I think it is better to deal with them once, in the amendments, rather than to deal with them twice.

I simply point out to the member for Essex South that, had this bill been in place, the municipalities in question would have been able to negotiate a transfer of payments between themselves and a compensation to the one municipality that was losing taxation. That would have been a part of the negotiation, rather than something they presented to the Ontario Municipal Board for the OMB to make a final decision.

With these few comments, I ask that we approve second reading and then I will ask that this matter go to a committee of the whole House at some future date.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for committee of the whole House.


Mr. Rotenberg, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Wells, moved second reading of Bill 115, An Act to amend the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth Act, 1973.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, this bill has been requested by the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth. If it was not a major municipality, but just a city, town, or village, this would probably be a private bill. It asks that they be allowed to make exemptions in store closing hours for any class or classes of shops in a designated part of the municipality.

I point out that the regional municipality now has the power to do this for the entire municipality. In other words, we are giving the power for, say, during a special sale or a special event, to allow certain stores in a certain area to be open without having the stores in the whole municipality open. But the municipality already has the power to do it for everyone; so we really are not giving them something they could not do in, some would say, a worse manner right now.

There has been some question as to the wording of the bill and what it means, whether where it now says "day or days of the year" means just a few days or whether it could be extended to mean many days more than anyone intended. To clarify this, I give notice to the opposition that when we get to committee of the whole, I will be moving an amendment that makes it explicit, as we thought was implicit, that any bylaw passed under this bill will be limited to a maximum of five days. So they could not take this bill and use it to keep some plaza, store, or some area open for a couple of months in the year. I commend this bill to the House.

Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this particular piece of legislation which, as you will recall, was introduced last spring. At that time, the government was anxious to proceed with the bill, and we were anxious to proceed with the bill, but somehow or other the government never put it on the Order Paper for debate.

It has had another rewriting since that time; I guess about five months have passed. It was in the House just a few days or a few hours, and already on this very simple bill, which has three sections and only one main section, the government is recommending an amendment to the bill with one very small section in the bill.

It seems the government itself obviously has not given very much thought to this bill. Had they given much thought to it, then after all that discussion last spring, after having the summer to sleep on it, and to wake on it, if you want, they would not now have to bring in an amendment after it has been in the Legislature for only a few days.

Obviously it has not had the kind of time-consuming concentration that an important piece of legislation like this should have. I think the parliamentary assistant and the minister should be embarrassed to bring this before the Legislature and ask us to vote on it if they have given such little thought to it.

10:10 p.m.

We have to remember that this comes in response to a request by the chairman of the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth, a long-time and steadfast supporter of the members across there, who feels this piece of legislation should get high priority and be passed in this Legislature.

We must also keep in mind that what we are doing here is giving piecemeal legislation for the people in one region of Ontario. It is not province-wide, as it should be if the government felt strongly about it. It deals only with one regional municipality rather than with all the 838 municipalities across the province. I suppose what we could have after this is pieces of legislation in other parts of the province through municipalities asking for similar legislation.

The fact that this is going to give authority to the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth to exempt certain classes during certain times leads us to believe the government would support legislation across the province. They have not given any indication of this, and I thought the parliamentary assistant would give some indication. He obviously has not. They should bring in some omnibus bill that would include the whole province.

Since the parliamentary assistant spoke about this one amendment, I must draw the attention of this Legislature and the people of this province to the fact that they are trying to impose something in this bill for which they are not giving a clear explanation. They are trying to give the impression that there are only five days for which a municipality can pass a bylaw that will permit a particular store or stores to be exempted during five days of the year.

I am told by some learned authorities that those five days apply only to the one bylaw and that a municipality, if it wanted to be very lenient about the whole matter and not be serious about what it perceived to be its responsibilities, could pass a series of bylaws and those stores could stay open all year for the extra hours.

It is unfortunate the parliamentary assistant did not clarify that as far as this Legislature is concerned, because that's what I am told. I hope he can clarify that for us because, as I am told the amendment is going to read, the number of days will be five per bylaw. We will have more to say about that when we get to committee of the whole House, to which I presume it is going to be referred.

I am not enthusiastic about supporting this bill. I think it is a bad omen and a bad piece of legislation. I think the government, by its own action, has obviously not thought out the bill very well, and we will be opposing this piece of legislation.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, this bill deals with the controversial matter of store hours and their regulation. As we all recognize, there are conflicting interests involved.

In our party, we favour as much uniformity as possible so that there is not unfair competition between stores in one geographic area and stores in another and so that there is strict control of the number of night hours, weekend hours and Sunday hours, if Sunday openings are allowed for certain classes of stores, in order that the workers who are expected to work in stores do not have their family lives completely disrupted by long hours, night hours or weekend hours that are excessive.

While I think the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth has put in fairly good store hour limitation, when they asked for this legislation to allow for special occasions, I think they were probably as surprised as we were at the way the legislation came down, because it did not say special occasions or that their store hour bylaws could be varied for a very few number of days in a year for a store or class of stores or for any geographic area. It said they could exempt any store or class of stores in any area for any number of days, for a day or days, which meant the whole limitation of store hours in the region could be undermined by exemptions.

While I do not think the present council had it in mind to undermine their laws, I think we could not let that kind of a bill go through because of our concern about keeping store hours under regulation as much as possible on a province-wide basis to protect workers who might be required to work excessive hours if we did not have regulation of store hours on a somewhat uniform basis throughout the province.

We tabled a reasoned amendment indicating that we could not vote for that kind of bill. When the parliamentary assistant and probably the minister saw that this was our feeling about the bill and that there was some concern that it was much too sweeping in its terms, they indicated they were planning to bring in an amendment that would limit the powers of exemption granted in this bill. I believe the regional council is not averse to this amendment, because it was the council's intention only to get authority to open stores for one or two days, possibly when there was an anniversary or a special sale or a new plaza being opened.

I welcome the willingness of the parliamentary assistant to revamp the legislation to make it more precise and to make sure that we preserve the general limitation of store hours in the area and not allow exemptions that could undermine that limitation. For that reason, we will be supporting the bill with that amendment.

We are also planning to bring in an amendment to close the loophole that the critic for the Liberal Party mentioned, because I think there is a possibility that more than one bylaw could be passed for any store or class of stores in an geographic area in any year. I do not think that was the intention of the regional council, but we might as well close the loophole while we are passing the law; so we will be bringing in that amendment as well.

The Deputy Speaker: The honourable member for Hamilton Centre.

Ms. Copps: Am I honourable now? That is good.

The Deputy Speaker: You have always been honourable in my eyes.

Ms. Copps: Mr. Speaker, I just want to reiterate the comments made by my colleague the critic of municipal affairs. I think the history of this bill has been very long and involved and really is a rather shoddy job on behalf of the government.

If we take a look at the substance of the bill as presented, we can see it does not address the problem that existed in the city of Hamilton. I think many of us know that a problem occurred earlier this year when a local shopping plaza wanted to be open beyond the normal closing hours. It was originally introduced as a bill intended to deal with a singular situation.

In fact, the bill is far too broad in its interpretation and, even with the amendment presented by the government, the notion that the regional municipality could pass a series of bylaws that would allow a store or class of stores to stay open for five days, plus five days and then five more days, is certainly not acceptable.

10:20 p.m.

I could understand if the government were intending to introduce legislation to speak to a particular situation; we would be prepared to support that legislation. In fact, if the government had chosen to apply a condition to this bill by stating that bylaws could be passed on only one or two occasions of the year, it would certainly be more palatable; but as the bill stands, it is far too sweeping and wide-ranging.

I have to ask why the government has taken five months to introduce a bill and at the very last moment comes in with an amendment that is in itself ambiguous. I am not sure whether the amendment means five days any time the region plans on passing a bylaw or whether it means five days in any given year. Obviously the government has had enough time, and certainly enough pressure from the region to draft a bill that would better respond to the very situations we are referring to.

This bill has very serious implications, not only for the region of Hamilton-Wentworth but also for the whole province, in that it is the thin edge of the wedge with respect to the policy of uniform store closing hours. Many of the members who were here some time ago will realize what difficulty this government had in hammering out legislation that would be acceptable to all regions and municipalities with respect to uniform store hours. That legislation has been passed and we have seen the problems.

For example, in the city of Toronto discriminatory store closing is applied in a number of instances. I am sure the people in the Beaches neighbourhood are not happy with legislation that allows the stores around the Harbourfront area to remain open on a certain day but not those in the Beaches. This problem, which at the moment is simply indigenous to the city of Toronto, could well become a problem in Hamilton-Wentworth and across the province if we supported this legislation.

I do not believe the original spirit of the legislation has actually been produced in this bill. I discussed this with the regional chairman at the time it was originally introduced. The spirit of the legislation was supposed to allow very singular exceptions for certain businesses or stores that might be celebrating grand openings or anniversaries.

If memory serves me correctly, in the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth there have been only two such occasions in the last two years, or an average of one occasion a year. For this, the government is introducing legislation that presumably could allow the region to pass any number of bylaws covering a five-day period for any class or classes of shops or any shop in the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth.

Although under most circumstances the region would not want to abuse that privilege, we have a policy in this province of uniform store hours in certain municipalities, and that policy is supposed to be applied across the board. The intent of this legislation violates that policy. If it is the spirit of the legislation to allow certain exceptions to be made, then we should come in with legislation that more clearly defines exactly what it is we want to achieve.

The legislation that has been introduced is far too sweeping. For that reason, although we support the principle that on very specific occasions businesses should be allowed to stay open on a one-shot celebration basis, we cannot support an amendment that would allow a municipality to pass bylaw after bylaw in any given year to allow a specific shop or class of shops to remain open in one part of the community while not allowing the same privileges to other parts of the community. Therefore, we cannot support the amendment or the bill.

Mr. Charlton: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to make a speech; I just want to take a minute to clarify a couple of issues here, because some of them seem a little confused.

We have found ourselves in the same position as has been expressed by our colleagues to the right by the way in which the bill was worded. On the other hand, I think in fairness we should point out that the ministry in reality presented a bill worded in a fashion that was supported by the regional legislation committee. The member for Waterloo North suggested that perhaps the procedure has been slightly sloppy. That was indicated by the fact that they were coming in at the last minute with an amendment or announced amendment.

I think in fairness it should be made clear that although we also had some problems with the wording in the bill, the parliamentary assistant, and probably the minister, were good enough to sit down and listen when the issue was raised and to talk reasonably about the whole matter. So the amendment is the result of some serious discussion over the matter and not just a last-minute correction of an error.

The point has also been made that we can all support the intent of a special occasion exemption. In that respect, we welcome the amendment the ministry is prepared to make. As my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine suggested, we also have an additional amendment we would like to move.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, I can sum up in about 30 seconds; then maybe we can have second reading if there are no other speakers.

The Deputy Speaker: Are there any other speakers in regard to this legislation? There seems to be agreement; so the parliamentary assistant may sum up.

Mr. Rotenberg: Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that under the amendment I will be proposing a municipality technically could have a five-day bylaw. We will deal with that in committee of the whole.

We all believe in local autonomy. This is the bill as requested by the municipalities, as the member for Hamilton Mountain has pointed out. The amendment I will be proposing is simply to clarify what is a possible legal interpretation, although some lawyers think the bill as it stands is sufficient. We want to give the municipalities some local autonomy, and we trust the municipalities will deal with the bill as amended in a proper fashion.

I will deal with this further in the committee of the whole. I ask that you now put question.

The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour will please say "aye."

All those opposed will please "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for committee of the whole House.

The House adjourned at 10:30 p.m.