In-person land registration services discontinued

MANITOULIN – Several local people have again voiced their concerns with the Manitoulin Land Registry (LRO) office in Gore Bay being closed to in-person visitor counter services, with all interactions being moved online as of October 13.

“It is one of those things where people could normally go up to the office to receive in person service, but now they will have to do all of this by email or calling in,” said Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne. “It’s just one more step being implemented by the government to get people to use their computers instead of having in-person service. And there is no thought to the jobs that are there, or the spinoffs. And the ones who are most hurt by this are members of the public.” 

Mayor Osborne noted previously that it will mean another job being eliminated from Gore Bay and Manitoulin, whether it be immediately or in the near future.

Theresa Carlisle, secretary of the Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB), told the Recorder, “I am sorry to see a good service being closed. I’m a little concerned, for instance, with not being able to get a registered plan of subdivision in person. And I’m also concerned that not everybody is comfortable with working online or having to use a credit card on line to get information or purchase documents they are looking for.”

“Ontario’s land registry offices are changing to serve Ontarians better by shifting to a digital-focused service model starting October 13, 2020,” said Harry Malhi of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services told the Recorder previously. 

“By embracing technology and putting people at the centre of everything we do, we are responding to the needs and changing preferences of our customers and offering timely, cost effective services,” said Mr. Malhi. “Ontarians are doing more online these days and our government is working hard to keep its promise of delivering simpler, faster and better services to all Ontarians.” 

“Ontario’s land registration system was established in 1795 and has undergone several transformations in its 225 years of existence. In keeping with our modern word, land registration is a segment of government services where customers have already adopted the digital channel as their preference. Our data shows that 99 percent of documents are registered online, 87 percent of searches are conducted online and 98 percent of surveyors submit plans for pre-approval via email,” continued Mr. Malhi. “This shift has happened organically as a result of the specialized user group (i.e. lawyers, law clerks, surveyors, municipalities, title searchers and historical societies) visiting less in-person as they prefer to conduct their business online.”

Gord Keatley of Keatley Surveying Ltd. in Little Current told the Recorder that up until now, if one wanted to look at a deed one could do this for free at the LRO, but it is $3 per deed online. Reference plans will also increase from $5 to $15 to purchase online and if a paper copy is required it will cost $15 plus a delivery fee of $15.

“It is just a case of the government doing what they want to. It will drive prices up and there will no longer be in person service,” said Mr. Keatley. “For a farmer that wants to grab a plan, it is certainly not convenient to go online and have to pay $30 or more to buy what they need when they were able to go into the (LRO) office in the past and look at these documents.”

He pointed out the former provincial government made the deal with Teranet to have these services provided by the private corporation, which is making massive profits. 

In-person land registration services were discontinued by the end of the day on Friday, October 9.