History and current state
The Land Titles Office (LTO) of the Department of Justice maintains public documents that are accessible to stakeholders (e.g., lawyers, land surveyors) and the public to conduct land titles-related transactions and searches under Yukon’s Torrens system1 of land registration.
The increase in number and complexity of real estate transactions over the past 20+ years has resulted in strains on the processes and systems, including longer turnaround times for registrations, requests, and queries. These longer turnaround times have a direct and negative economic impact on professional stakeholders, developers, and members of the public. The LTO committed to modernizing and streamlining all aspects of its operations to allow staff to work to their full capacity and to meet the needs of stakeholders and the public more effectively.
The LTO has conducted business using only manual, paper-based processes for over 100 years. The introduction of a database (Land Interest Management System, LIMS) about 20 years ago to record many government land interests across departments resulted in land titles information being entered into the database. LIMS is a centralized land information repository but is not a land-titles-specific system. LIMS did not eliminate manual examination or handling of submitted paper documents. Instead, it created additional work to transfer information from paper into the system. LIMS can compile certificates of title for land titles that are in its database. However, LIMS does not contain many cancelled titles or some active titles. Since the implementation in December 2019 of the Yukon Land Titles Registry (YLTR), ownership of LIMS has transferred to Energy, Mines and Resources, Lands Branch.
In 2012, the Government of Yukon (YG) reviewed and analyzed the present state of the land titles systems in the Yukon and other Canadian jurisdictions: legislation, business processes, supporting computer platform, governance model, and financial/fee structure. This initiative included a full review of existing Yukon legislation, engagement with stakeholders, and business requirements gathering and analysis.
In 2015, legislation review and stakeholder engagement resulted in a new Condominium Act, 2015 and Land Titles Act, 2015, which were passed by the Legislative Assembly. The Land Titles Act, 2015 has been proclaimed but the Condominium Act, 2015 has since been amended and awaits proclamation on October 1, 2022.
Among other things, The Land Titles Act, 2015 enables business process changes that contribute to the LTO modernization. These changes include support for the move from the current paper-based system to an electronic system that can support the growth in complexity and volume of transactions as well as improvements to LTO business processes.
The LTO currently consists of 11 employees including the Registrar, processes approximately 9000-10000 documents per year, and manages approximately 19,000 certificates of title.
The LTO holds records dating from 1897 to present. These include original hand-written and word-processed records for all titles as well as a combination of microfilm, microfiche, and digital (LIMS) formats.
The paper filing system for all original paper records consists of over 240,000 documents, which are filed numerically and stored in a physical vault. This system includes all documentation related to land titles. Document formats vary in size and include paper, survey plans, bound books, cross-reference and index books, and patents.
The LTO has maintained a daybook since 1897 which records every instrument and caveat submitted for registration. From 1997 to 2019, the LTO has registered instruments and caveats manually in both the daybook and LIMS although only the entry in the daybook has legal effect. LTO staff entered a brief description of each instrument or caveat into LIMS and assigned the next sequential number to the instrument.
Since the implementation of the electronic registry on December 2, 2019, the Daybook is maintained by retaining a paper copy of every Document Registration Form and electronic reports that can be run detailing all registrations.
YG started a microfilm program in 1985 to microfilm original certificates of title, instruments, and daybooks. The YG Records Centre, which is in a different location than LTO, holds the master microfilm and master microfiche of land titles records while the LTO holds a microfilm/microfiche copy of the records. Certificates of title are microfiched (jacket system) and instruments are microfilmed (roll).
LTO registration fees are estimated by the system at the time of submission. Clients must provide payment either before services are provided or by way of maintaining a prepaid account with LTO. Fees and account balances are calculated, charged, and maintained electronically in the registry system. The system automatically creates and sends a monthly account balance statement for every account holder if there has been activity during that month or if the account holds a positive balance.
Anyone can request land titles information. Lawyers or surveyors are generally the ones who submit instruments or caveats for registration but members of the public may also do so. Requests for registration currently arrive in person at the LTO, and by mail; LTO also accepts requests for information (but not requests for registration) in person, by phone, and by email. LTO staff members process the paper documents, enter information into the registry system, and then file the registered instruments or caveats in the vault as required by legislation.
Most interactions require a secure, online solution. LTO staff have eliminated many administrative tasks such as paper handling, filing, and billing, and therefore have time to provide improved customer service to clients who require additional service or have complex questions that are not supported by the online tools. LTO staff have well-defined roles and expectations of service delivery.
The public and customers can access information via secure, online, self-serve tools to complete most tasks. Basic administrative tasks such as status inquiries and document submissions are automated. The LTO communicates changes to procedures broadly and consistently. Customers receive rapid responses to queries from trained staff.
The ongoing Land Titles Modernization project contains plans to formalize the return of paper documents to submitters and recognize the scanned electronic version as the authoritative record.
All LTO registry information is available online and via data interfaces for use by other YG departments.