Mr. Speaker, today Canadians proudly stand upon thousands of years of Canadian history and heritage. From the breathtaking totem poles that line the British Columbia coast, to the Algonquin wigwams that housed indigenous peoples on the unceded land upon which this Parliament currently sits, to Cape Spear Lighthouse on Newfoundland's eastern tip, to Fort Rodd Hill on B.C.'s Vancouver Island, to even the Justice Building down the road, the history reflected in our country's built heritage is simply astounding.
In this our nation's capital, we are surrounded by structures whose foundational stones were similarly foundational to the country we now call Canada. They herald the amazing accomplishments we have had together and serve as a reminder of the chapters in our history that we have not yet atoned for.
Throughout my 32 years working with Parks Canada, I was incredibly lucky to come face to face with Canada's built heritage every day. Through my work with the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and Parks Canada's national historic sites branch, I saw the impact our heritage has on communities and heard the stories people told about their historic sites.
In Saskatchewan, Batoche National Historic Site reminds residents of the independent spirit of the northwest resistance. In Yukon, Dawson City returns us to the excitement of the Klondike gold rush, while in British Columbia, Colwood's Fisgard Lighthouse lets people on the open waters know they have reached home, just as it has done since 1860.
Across the country, Canada's built heritage reminds us of where we came from and where we have been along the way. From the smallest rural towns to our grandest cities, the history contained within these buildings forms what it means to call our communities home.
When I think about built heritage in my riding of Cloverdale—Langley City, I think of George Lawrence House or Matheson House and what these places meant to the origins of both Surrey and Langley. While perhaps only the most ardent heritage buffs across Canada would be able to call upon their history, they have a profound value to the residents of my riding.
This is what makes heritage so valuable to maintain across the country. Everyone can think of a few national historic sites that inspire awe and instill wonder, but what makes them so valuable is their effect on the individual. Just as I take pride in the historic sites in my community, I am sure everyone in the House can identify a building, an area, or a district in their own riding without which their community would not be the same.
As the National Trust for Canada said, Canada's communities are made up of historic places that define our cultural identify, give shape and texture to our urban and rural communities, and attract tourist dollars. Yet every day, these places are being destroyed through desertion, decay, and demolition.
Today I would like to discuss Bill C-323 and measures that I firmly believe will benefit all Canadians. This discussion centres on three fundamental considerations concerning how this legislation would create tangible environmental, financial, and social benefits.
Canada's home-building industry is one our country's largest. It provides enormous economic benefits to our national economy and is the livelihood for many thousands of middle-class Canadians. This sector should be stimulated and encouraged, but we must do so in a way that is also environmentally responsible.
In most Canadian municipalities, home building is a major contributor to landfill waste. For example, Alberta's provincial department of the environment found that 25% of the province's landfill waste was generated by construction. By promoting the preservation of existing buildings, much of this discarded waste could be avoided, preserving natural resources and limiting the release of landfill greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition, the preservation and maintenance of existing housing stock has consistently been shown to decrease potential C02 emissions. According to the National Trust, if every heritage property in Canada were to be restored rather than demolished and replaced with a new structure, this would represent the avoidance of C02 emissions equivalent to the annual energy use of approximately 14.83 million homes. To put this in a more familiar context, in the city of Ottawa, which Statistics Canada listed as having 151,495 single detached homes in 2011, this energy savings would meet the energy needs of all of Ottawa's single family homes for approximately 98 years. This is not just a lot of heritage meaningfully conserved. It is an incredibly positive environmental initiative.
Despite this, there is a frequently cited argument that suggests that tearing down heritage properties is in fact environmentally prudent. The logic behind this claims that heritage properties are equipped with out of date furnishings and technology that would otherwise help reduce their environmental footprint. Despite the fact that newly constructed homes are often more environmentally efficient, the resources needed to demolish and construct a new home means that it takes several decades for the new structure to become a net environmental benefit over the existing heritage property.
As the Preservation Green Lab reported in its study, "The Greenest Building", it takes anywhere from 10 to 80 years for a new building that is 30% more efficient than an average-performing existing property to overcome, through efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts related to its construction.
The environmental benefits to heritage preservation are easy to see and an indication of the importance of the federal government's role in actively promoting it as an environmentally superior practice. Just as environmental protection benefits all Canadians, Bill C-323 would lead to equally comprehensive financial benefits.
To more closely examine the economic ramifications of Bill C-323, it is worth looking at the experience of our neighbours to the south. In 1981, the United States passed legislation creating a 25% federal tax credit for restoration of heritage sites. This built on legislation that was first introduced in 1976. In the three and a half decades since then, it is estimated that $23.1 billion in federal tax credits have generated in excess of $120.8 billion in private investment in historic buildings. This is roughly a 5:1 ratio of private to public investment, all of which ultimately ended back in the domestic U.S. economy.
Not only did the U.S. federal government's heritage restoration tax credit benefit the restoration industry, it boosted the entire national economy. This is due to the money multiplier effect, which explains how money being spent in one industry is eventually recycled into the broader civic, provincial, and national economy. If workers are paid to restore a heritage home, they may spend that money at Tim Hortons, whose employees will go on to, say, get a haircut, at which point the barber will buy sports equipment for his daughter. This cycle is essential to a government's economic considerations, and means that money invested in one area will necessarily benefit Canadians across the country.
In the United States, the confluence between public and private investments in heritage restoration has created great economic benefit. As the National Trust for Canada estimated, while the U.S. federal government spent $23.1 billion in restoration tax credits over the last 40 years, this credit resulted in an additional $28.1 billion in tax revenue, a net gain of $5 billion in tax revenue for that country. In short, the U.S. federal government made money by promoting heritage restoration.
In addition, heritage tourism represents a significant contributor to Canada's economy. Tourism is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, and it is estimated that cultural tourism accounts for one-third of that market. Reflecting the importance of this industry, the Canadian Tourism Commission reports that heritage tourism represents the past visitation of 34.5 million Americans and 2.6 million Canadian tourists.
As I have outlined above, I strongly believe that the preservation of Canada's heritage is a noble goal in and of itself. With that being said, however, the United States example shows how heritage preservation creates tangible benefits to society on the whole.
Based on the estimates of the National Trust, whose tireless efforts have left an indelible legacy on Canada's built heritage, since 1981, the United States heritage restoration tax credit has directly led to the preservation of over 41,000 historic properties that would have otherwise likely been left to neglect or demolition. This alone is a remarkable achievement, but it is the impacts on the broader society that make me believe Canada would be well served by a similar measure.
Along with tens of thousands of properties saved, the U.S. tax credit is estimated to have led to the creation of over 525,000 housing units, including 146,000 dedicated to low- and medium-income housing. In every corner of the country, we hear concerns about housing affordability. In my riding of Cloverdale—Langley City, I can safely say it is the topic about which I hear the most from my constituents.
Today, we are debating legislation that would help address Canada's growing housing issue, but this is not the only benefit that Bill C-323 would deliver to Canadians across the country. In tandem with an increase in housing units, the U.S. tax credit is credited with creating 2.4 million jobs. These are reliable, middle-class positions across a multitude of sectors, and would ultimately benefit the entire Canadian economy. This money would overwhelmingly go to small and medium enterprises based in Canada, and the increase in employment would give communities across Canada a welcome boost.
Not only is heritage good for communities as they currently exist, but it benefits community rehabilitation. One can think of communities across Canada, such as Toronto's Distillery District, Winnipeg's Exchange District, and Vancouver's Chinatown, where heritage and culture are inseparably entwined.
This bill would not guarantee the preservation of all heritage buildings in Canada, but it is a great first start. In Canada's 150th year, I can think of nothing more appropriate than signalling our support for both the history of this great country and the welfare of the people living in it today. In this spirit, I offer my support for Bill C-323 and encourage my colleagues in this House to do the same.