Alexander McKay EDWARDS

EDWARDS, Alexander McKay

Personal Data

Conservative (1867-1942)
Waterloo South (Ontario)
Birth Date
April 7, 1876
Deceased Date
June 3, 1938
manufacturer, pharmacist

Parliamentary Career

October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
  Waterloo South (Ontario)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
  Waterloo South (Ontario)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
  Waterloo South (Ontario)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
  Waterloo South (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 5 of 87)

April 25, 1938

1. Who is the present postmaster at Berthier, electoral district of Belleehasse?

2. When was he appointed?

3. Who recommended him?

4. What is his annual remuneration?

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April 5, 1938

Mr. A. M. EDWARDS (Waterloo South):

I should like to inquire of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) as to what progress has been made in securing boat space for the shipment of cattle to England.

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April 5, 1938


Before section 8 carries, there are some observations I should like to make. The section provides that the company may construct, maintain and operate a bridge across the Niagara river, and so on. Since the destruction of the Falls View bridge, or what was commonly known as the " Honeymoon bridge," in January of this year, considerable attention has been given to the proposal to build a bridge which would become toll free after the capital cost had been taken up.

Proponents of the bridge have given a number of figures as to expected revenues and cost of construction which, at least to me, appear fantastic. While I am not opposing the idea of a toll free bridge, or a publicly owned bridge, and while I am not by any means advocating a private bridge, at the same time when the bill was before the committee many statements were made which appeared to me to be at least contradictory.

The Falls View bridge had been in existence since the 1860's and was owned by the International Railway Company. It took care of the traffic running between Niagara Falls, New York, and Niagara Falls, Ontario. It was a four-lane bridge, and we are told by an eminent firm of architects of Montreal, perhaps the most outstanding architects in Canada in the matter of bridge building, that this bridge was maintained in perfect condition, and at all times was capable of taking care of the traffic at that particular point. If any difficulties did arise, it was on what were known as peak days, such as the Fourth of July, the First of July, Labour day and other holidays. But only on four or five days of the year was there any difficulty in handling the traffic which passed over the bridge. Any difficulty which did arise on those days was due more to the

Niagara Falls Bridge

fact that not enough customs officers were on duty to clear the cars, than to the fact that the bridge was incapable of carrying the traffic. It could hardly be expected, however, that the government would keep a large force of customs officers to meet the requirements of only a few days in the year.

This bridge paid taxes of about $12,000 a year to the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario. I have no interest in the matter whatever, more than to see that a proper bill passes through the house, but so far as I can learn the people of Niagara Falls were perfectly satisfied with the accommodation they received at that bridge. The bridge which it is proposed to build would be two hundred yards below the site of the Falls View bridge, and is to be known as the Observation bridge. Necessarily those in charge will have to purchase property on both sides of the river and will have to build an entirely new bridge at an estimated cost of $4,000,000. I might add, in passing, that the approaches and buildings connected with the Falls View bridge still remain.

We were given to understand, not only by Canadian counsel but by eminent counsel from the United States, that the International Railway Company have a right to rebuild their bridge, under a charter they now hold, without going to any legislative body for further consent. That, of course, was denied by those supporting the building of the new Observation bridge. Up to date, however, no satisfactory answer has been given to the statement made by counsel in committee that the International Railway Company have a perfect right to reconstruct their bridge.

If both bridges are built, serious objections will arise. In the first place there is not sufficient traffic to support two bridges. In the second place, if the Observation bridge is built at the spot indicated, at a point about two hundred yards below the old Falls View bridge, the same distance from the proposed new Falls View bridge, its value as an observation bridge would be destroyed by reason of the new Falls View bridge being between it and Niagara falls.

Evidently the building of a new bridge is a subject of lively controversy on the United States side as well as on the Canadian side of the boundary line. An article appearing in the Niagara Falls Gazette, Niagara Falls, New York, on February 12, is in these words:

The earnings of a publicly owned bridge across the Niagara river to replace the Falls View bridge would be ample to ensure its being paid for in full and being made a toll free span within ten years, in the opinion of assemblyman Harry D. Suitor, this city, who plans to introduce a bill providing for the

creation of a government commission authorized to build such a span in the state legislature early next week as soon as the necessary legislation can be drafted.

Mr. Suitor declared to-day that on the Falls View bridge, figures on file in his office show that the International Railway Company-

Listen to these figures:

-earned $459,000 between April 1, 1935, and March 31, 1936, and that it received revenue of $540,000 for the period April 1, 1936, to March 31, 1937. For the period from April 1, 1937, to November 1, 1937, the bridge revenue totalled $521,000, Mr. Suitor declared. The bridge was wrecked by the effect of ice on last January 27th.

These are the figures which were given to the railway committee in connection with the proposed Observation bridge. In an effort to substantiate their claim to the right to build a $4,000,000 bridge, the company were calculating on these revenues to carry the load. What are the facts? The following are the facts which were produced by the counsel for the Falls View bridge. I understand that the two bridges are to be identical, each having four lanes for traffic. Therefore it is expected that the revenue which would be derived from the Observation bridge would not be greater than that which was derived from the Falls View bridge during the last ten years. I quote from the statement:

The facts are that Falls View bridge revenue for the year ended March 31, 1936, was $237,403 not $459,000 as stated by Mr. Suitor. The revenue for the year ended March 31, 1937, was $280,449 and not $540,000 as stated by Mr. Suitor. The revenue for the period April 1, 1937, to November 1, 1937, was $282,335 and not $521,000, as stated by Mr. Suitor.

It will be seen that there is a wide variation in the figures presented by the two parties. The figures presented by the proponents of the Observation bridge are purely an estimate, while those presented by the owners of the Falls View bridge are the actual annual revenues over a period of ten years. I quote:

As a matter of fact, careful calculations based on the actual revenue experience of Falls View bridge and the estimated cost of a bridge as proposed by the Niagara Falls Observation Bridge Company lead to the inescapable conclusion that the so-called "free bridge" can never become toll free.

An expenditure of $4,000,000 for a new bridge at a new site would be conceivable. Assuming this cost, the bridge would be faced with an annual deficit of $50,000 before taxes. Assume an average annual income of $325,000, interest charges at five per cent would be $200,000; operating costs, $95,000; depreciation at two per cent, $80,000, or a total of $375,000, a deficit of $50,000 a year without allowance for taxes.

Assuming a cost of $3,000,000, which is much closer to the reasonable maximum that could be spent prudently and wisely for a new bridge on a new site at Niagara Falls, the structure would earn a net income of $20,000 a year

Niagara Falls Bridge

before taxes. If tax free, such a bridge would require 150 years to liquidate its cost, retire its securities and become truly a public bridge, toll free.

The question of taxes, however, is important. The Peace bridge between Buffalo and Fort Erie, operated by a public authority, paid last year in Canada taxes of $34,700. Proportionate taxes levied against the proposed observation bridge, even at an estimated cost of $3,000,000, would transform the small annual profit into a loss and would destroy all possibility of the bridge becoming toll free.

With particular regard to the tax situation, it is significant that more than half the revenue of Falls View bridge accrued during the tourist season. This large proportion of the receipts comes from persons living at a distance and visiting Niagara Falls for a day or two. If the so called "free bridge" paid comparable taxes it could never become toll free. If it did not pay taxes, the citizens and taxpayers would lose this contribution to governmental expense and would have to make up the difference out of their own pockets, largely for the benefit of transients.

The question may well be asked, when consideration is given to the revenue figures I have quoted: Why should the International Railway Company wish to replace their bridge? The answer is obvious. According to the estimate of their engineers, their proposed bridge will cost possibly $1,200,000 and not more than $1,500,000. They figure that the net revenue will be in the neighbourhood of $75,000, based on past performances.

I notice reports in several papers that considerable objection has been taken to the proposed new bridge by the local municipality. It is contended that they will lose taxes amounting to $12,000, which was the amount paid upon the old Falls View bridge. They will also lose the taxes on the land that will be expropriated for the entrance to the new bridge. The city of Niagara Falls, Ontario, faces a considerable loss in taxes should this new bridge be erected. I quote from the Niagara Falls Gazette of Niagara Falls, Ontario, as follows:

Alderman John McAninch voiced a strong protest against the charter being granted to this company, without further information, stating that this city has been treated very discourteously by not receiving any information on the bill presented to parliament.

Speaking in this house on March 29, the hon. member for Welland (Mr. Damude) is reported on page 1979 of Hansard as saying:

So that so far as the city of Niagara Falls is concerned, the province of Ontario, I am assured, will have no objection and will see that that municipality receives an assessment on this property.

Possibly the hon. member for Welland would be prepared to give us his authority for making that statement. It certainly does not

appear in the bill and I think we must take the bill as it reads at present. I quote from the Buffalo Courier Express as follows:

The old Falls View bridge, commonly known as " Honeymoon bridge," collapsed this winter due to heavy ice jams. The International Railway Company, owner of that bridge, opposed the bill because it claimed it had authority to reconstruct a bridge on the same site as the old one without any additional legislation.

We did not have any refutal of that statement presented to the committee. I quote from a Niagara Falls dispatch appearing in the Toronto Globe and Mail of Maxell 29, as follows:

The city council to-night, by a vote of four to three, decided to telegraph Prime Minister Mackenzie King asking him to withhold presentation in the House of Commons of Bill 15 to grant a charter to the Niagara Falls Observation Bridge Company, until the city has protected its rights.

So far as I know, the city has not been invited to sit in on the discussion of this bill.

What took place in the committee had the appearance of a real attempt to rush the bill through, and I protested in the committee because of the power play which was put on. I think that in neither our railway committee nor any other committee of this house to which bills are referred should any pressure or undue haste be applied. It is very much better to allow a committee to discuss a bill thoroughly, giving it plenty of time, even if one or two more sittings are necessary, because this procedure saves the time of the house in the end.

I noticed in last night's Ottawa Journal a dispatch from Toronto headed, "Hepburn protests Ottawa Action over New Bridge." It reads:

Premier Hepburn registered "a formal protest" in the Ontario legislature to-day over what he said appeared to be "deliberate delay" of the federal government in passing a bill providing for a new bridge at Niagara Falls. Replacing the collapsed Falls View bridge, it is to be erected jointly by Ontario and New York state.

Well, Mr. Hepburn has a perfect right to protest if he wishes to do so, but just how effective his protest will be in this house I am not so sure.

I have nothing further to say. I object to this bill being passed for the following reasons, which I have summarized.

1. The International Railway Company claim to have the right to rebuild their bridge under the existing charter.

This claim has not been satisfactorily refuted.

Niagara Falls Bridge

2. There is not enough traffic for two bridges at this point.

3. The proposed Observation bridge would be two hundred yards below the Falls View bridge, and the view of Niagara Falls would be obstructed by the Falls View bridge.

4. The practical impossibility of the Observation bridge ever becoming toll-free under the present financial set-up.

5. Approximately $12,000 a year has been paid in taxes by the International Railway Company to the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario. No provision is made in this bill to pay any taxes to this municipality.

6. The great disparity between the cost of building the Observation bridge and the cost of rebuilding the Falls View Bridge, $4,000,000 and $1,500,000 respectively. These are the figures submitted by the proponents of the Observation bridge and the Falls View bridge respectively.

7. The estimated revenue from the proposed new Observation bridge was double the figures submitted by the Falls View bridge of its actual receipts over a period of ten years.

The traffic capacity of the two bridges would be the same, namely, four lanes of traffic.

8. The International Railway Company propose to rebuild their bridge at once. Plans are actually being prepared and the bridge is to be ready for traffic in 1939.

The Observation bridge could not possibly be ready until 1940. That is a very important point. The evidence in the committee was that the day after the destruction of the Falls View bridge, steps were immediately taken to provide for reconstructing the bridge, with higher spans and a wider spread so that there would be no danger from ice in the future. Those plans are in preparation and are coming along fairly well, and if the company is allowed to go ahead and rebuild the Falls View bridge, it promises to have that bridge in operation in 1939. The estimate is that the other bridge, the Observation bridge, would take three years to complete from the time they get permission to build. They have not yet received permission to [DOT]build from the New York legislature. They might get permission at the fall session; but, if not, they will have to wait until next year. So it will be at least two, and possibly three years from now, before there will be service at that point by the Observation bridge, and hon. members can see what a disadvantage that would be to the merchants and those doing business in that city.

9. I am informed that arrangements can be made to have the Falls View bridge toll free when costs of reconstruction have been recovered.

That, I think, is a very important point, and it is something that should be fully considered. That is all I have to say, and I trust that the sponsor of this bill will have it referred back to the committee for further consideration.

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April 4, 1938


Will the minister give the imports of manufactured goods from the United States?

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April 4, 1938


All over Ontario.

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