Category: Brad Cathers Letters

New Land Titles and Regulations Implemented

Brad Cathers
As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, July 8, 2016

by Brad Cathers, Minister of Justice

This week, the Yukon government was pleased to jointly announce with Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) that the new Land Titles Act, 2015 and accompanying regulations have now come into force.

This new legislation modernizes the system by bringing clarity and certainty to the existing market and in turn creates a better platform for responding to the increased volume and complexity of land transactions today.

The new regulations will streamline policies, process and procedures and will allow for a smooth transition to a new electronic system. These changes will accommodate new circumstances, provide Yukoners with more accessible information, and create a framework that better protects the interests of property owners. The legislative framework will also help support Yukon’s real estate market and open avenues to provide more options for economic development.

Under the new act and regulations, Yukon First Nation Category A and Category B Settlement Land can be registered at the Land Titles Office in a manner that preserves aboriginal title. For the first time in Canada, settlement land can be registered without impacting aboriginal rights. This will offer new economic opportunities to participating First Nations for residential, commercial, and agricultural development, and the opportunity for increased home ownership by individual First Nations citizens will be facilitated as a result of better access to mortgage financing for homes on settlement land.

While First Nations across the territory have been updated on the progress and given the opportunity to provide input, Kwanlin Dün First Nation in particular has been a key partner in developing this historic piece of legislation. The KDFN lands branch and legal counsel worked with Yukon Government staff on the aboriginal title of land parcels while allowing First Nations to access a stable registry system in which financial institutions, lenders and investors have confidence. It also provides a strong framework to protect the legal rights of residential, commercial, and agricultural interests.

The development of the updated act is part of the Land Titles Modernization Project, which was launched to keep pace with the ever-changing environment in modern land dealings.

Since 2012, the project has engaged numerous stakeholders through advisory committees, public comment, and consultation to identify the key issues and outline the direction the government should take moving forward. The new legislation was passed this past fall, and the government has been hard at work developing the regulations with technical input from stakeholders.

This partnership and collaboration has made the potential economic growth through land registry and development achievable for the citizens and government of Kwanlin Dün, and all settled Yukon First Nations, should they choose to implement this system under their Final and Self-Government agreements. There is no obligation to do so, and the choice to register land parcels will remain in the hands of the respective First Nation.

The Land Titles Act, 2015 as a whole creates our territory’s first fully modern title system that ensures the interests of property owners, investors, and all Yukoners when it comes to modern land transactions.

Working toward safe homes, safe communities

Brad Cathers
As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, June 17, 2016

by Brad Cathers, Minister of Justice

Our Yukon Party government is committed to ensuring all Yukoners feel safe and secure in their own homes and communities. Whether it be through RCMP presence, reliability of emergency medical services (EMS) or the development of community programs, we have made the safety of Yukoners a priority.

My colleagues and I have been working continually to support and expand EMS and 911 service across the territory. This year, an important step toward improving services has been the Yukon government’s investment of $334,000 with an additional contribution of $142,000 from the Government of Canada to relocate our 911 call centre to the Emergency Response Centre on Two Mile Hill.

The call centre, our new Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), was opened in February of this year. It is operated by the RCMP and has the necessary equipment to allow an easy transition for the upcoming expansion of basic 911 service Yukon-wide. Additional funds have been allocated to hire more RCMP operators to accommodate an expected increase in 911 calls when the expansion is complete.

We also recognize that Yukon-wide 911 service will require enhanced response coordination, particularly in Whitehorse and the surrounding area. We have a new EMS station located on the Whitehorse General Hospital campus, which houses two ambulance crews and the Yukon Emergency Response Coordination Centre. The Centre dispatches ambulances within the Whitehorse service area and coordinates medevac and patient transfers for the territory.

Brad Cathers opens the new EMS station on Hospital Rd

Minister Brad Cathers at the March 2016 official opening of the new emergency medical services station on the Whitehorse General Hospital campus.

In addition, Yukon EMS received two new ambulances this year and a total of eight since 2011. The Yukon government has also committed funds to purchase 12 new fire vehicles since 2011.

Improving emergency medical services and their response times are key to maintaining the well-being of Yukoners, while a strong enforcement sector plays an important role in security. In this year’s budget, the Department of Justice is providing $385,000 to the RCMP to fund five additional officer positions, which will add capacity for the first responders who are providing round-the-clock public safety coverage. This will allow our members the flexibility of focusing their resources on engaging the community, while still being able to build on proactive policing and crime reduction strategies.

In regards to further proactive strategies, we are also providing $21,000 in start-up funding for the return of an improved Crime Stoppers program, which will be led by community volunteers and will be based on an anonymous tip and reward system. This valuable tool helps promote citizen engagement in responding to criminal activity and encourages members of our community to take responsibility for keeping their neighbourhoods safe and crime-free.

Finally, in addition to EMS and crime prevention, partnership between our government, municipal governments and Yukon First Nations is another key element in providing the best possible service in keeping Yukoners safe. Partnerships in communication and enforcement allow all parties to coordinate programs and work toward shared goals.

Together with Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) Chief Doris Bill, the Premier and I were pleased to announce more than $1.4 million in territorial government funding over three years to the KDFN for its Community Safety Liaison Officer pilot program. This was in response to the numerous calls to increase safety measures in KDFN community and is aimed at building KDFN capacity in providing accessible, sustainable and culturally-relevant justice services, while promoting community accountability, responsibility and respect for the law. We are proud to be partners in this community-led initiative and look forward to seeing tangible results from its implementation.

This government remains dedicated to the safety and well-being of citizens in all our communities. We will continue to demonstrate that through funding and partnerships with other governments and organizations across Yukon. Thank you.

Government responds to input from Yukoners with progress on the Land Titles Modernization Project

Brad Cathers
As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, November 20, 2015

by Brad Cathers, Minister of Justice

This week, the Yukon Legislative Assembly passed a new modernized Land Titles Act, part of a project which we began by listening to Yukoners.

The goals of the Land Titles Modernization Project are to make land transactions simpler, to provide citizens with better access to land titles information, and to work with Yukon First Nations to expand opportunities for their settlement land.

As part of this project, we reached out to the public and stakeholders and asked them to share their views. They talked about the importance of modernizing the Land Titles Act, which had changed very little in the last century.

We listened, and now we’re delivering. The new Land Titles Act and its regulations – which will be developed next – allow the Land Titles Office to move from a paper-based system to an electronic system. An electronic registry will enable anyone with an internet connection to search through land titles and documents filed with the Land Titles Office.

In a first for Canada, the new legislation will allow for registration of First Nation Settlement Land in the Yukon Land Titles Office while safeguarding aboriginal title. We were very pleased to work in partnership with First Nations to achieve this ground-breaking legislation.

Under the new legislation, the land titles registrar will have clear authority to make rules and to establish checklists for examining documents and survey plans. Forms used to register plans and instruments will be established by regulation. This means that it will be easier to amend forms to meet current legal and financial requirements.

Yukon will now join other jurisdictions in requiring that certificates of title be issued for all lots shown on a survey plan that is being registered. This will ensure consistency between the records of the Land Titles Office and those of the Surveyor-General of Canada.

Provisions for accepting and rejecting submissions will be clearly outlined under the new Act and regulations. If any instrument or survey plan is rejected, the applicant will be provided with a clear written explanation. The applicant can challenge that finding, with the registrar making a final decision, subject only to an appeal to the courts.

New offences for fraud, false representation or tampering with records are also introduced under the Act. And finally, the Act contains modernized language so that it is clearer and easier to follow.

All of these changes add up to a modern, streamlined and more efficient land titles system which will benefit all Yukoners.

To learn more, visit: http://www.justice.gov.yk.ca/prog/ls/lto/

9-1-1: Improving public safety across Yukon

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, August 29th, 2014.

by Brad Cathers, Minister of Community Services

An ongoing commitment of your government is to improve emergency response capabilities in the territory. One initiative that has been the focus of much work is the introduction of 9-1-1 services to rural Yukon.

We recently made a significant stride in bringing this service to all Yukon communities, with an application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

If the CRTC agrees to the proposal, an interim solution could be in place within months of approval, followed by a permanent, full 9-1-1 implementation territory-wide in the near future.

A number of steps must be taken to expand fully-functional 9-1-1 services to all communities. Northwestel, which owns and operates Yukon’s telecommunications infrastructure, must apply to the CRTC for approval to establish and operate the proposed system.

The CRTC will seek public comment, then review that input along with technical and cost information provided by Northwestel. From there, a cost for the service will be established, which will then be reflected on residents’ telephone bills. In Whitehorse, this current cost is 32 cents per month.

If the CRTC agrees to the proposal, Northwestel would then need to install equipment and get the system running.

At the heart of 9-1-1 service is the Public Safety Answer Point (PSAP). Under a fully-functional system, all calls to 9-1-1 are directed to a central answering point and then forwarded to the appropriate emergency service for response. In Yukon, this centre is managed by the RCMP, with operational costs borne by the Yukon government. Further discussions between government and stakeholders will need to occur on how to accommodate the increased calls to 9-1-1 once the service is expanded to all Yukon communities.

Until basic 9-1-1 services are ready across the territory, the Yukon government has proposed an interim emergency response auto-select solution. This will allow callers in rural communities to dial 9-1-1 and then press “1” to call police, “2” to call the fire department and “3” to call an ambulance. This short-term solution will simplify the process to call emergency services from rural communities for both residents and visitors alike. Callers will no longer need to remember – or find – the seven-digit numbers for different emergency services, although the seven-digit system will remain in place as well.

The expansion of basic 9-1-1 services to rural Yukon communities reflects the work of an interagency committee, which includes Northwestel, the Association of Yukon Communities, the Association of Yukon Fire Chiefs, the RCMP and the City of Whitehorse. We value the contributions of these partners who are working with us to improve emergency call and dispatch services for rural Yukon, and thank them for their commitment to make 9-1-1 services across our territory a reality.

We hope to see this application approved, as we continue to invest in our commitment of improving public safety for Yukoners and visitors.

Brad Cathers

Minister of Community Services

From Source to Tap- ensuring all Yukoners have access to safe drinking water

Brad_Head3As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, August 1st, 2014
by Brad Cathers, Minister of Community Services

The way in which Yukoners access drinking water can vary significantly depending on where they live. In larger Yukon communities, water may be accessed through a municipal water supply and piped distribution system. By contrast, Yukoners living in rural areas may access drinking water through a trucked water delivery system, private wells or self-haul from community wells or rivers.

Today, Yukon government operates and maintains public drinking water wells in seven communities with new water systems soon to come on line in Tagish and Deep Creek.

Providing Yukoners with clean drinking water that meets or exceeds current Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines is a government priority. In recent years, work has focused on meeting the new reduced limits for naturally occurring arsenic in water sources. As the guidelines are regularly reviewed, levels for other or new elements will change, and we will continue to work to meet those new standards as well.

Managing drinking water in Yukon is a cooperative effort between all levels of government, industry and stakeholders, including individual Yukoners. Like safe drinking water, reliable wastewater infrastructure is a commitment we continue to deliver. Replacing or repairing aging infrastructure is costly, but is also critical to ensure public health and protect access to clean water.

We have identified $5 million as a planned investment to modernize Watson Lake’s aging drinking water infrastructure. The modernized system will provide improved treatment and disinfection, as well as upgrades for the removal of iron and manganese in compliance with regulation.

This follows the recent upgrades that provided the town with 800 metres of new water mains, 50 new sewer manholes, seven fire hydrants and 3000 metres of new sewer lines to replace infrastructure that predates 1980.

Other communities which have benefited from government support in upgrading water systems include the Village of Teslin, which is accessing $14,375 for an assessment of its sewage lagoon operations, and $4.1 million water treatment system is nearly complete, which includes a new pump house. The new system will reduce arsenic, iron, manganese and nitrate, as well as address turbidity, alkalinity and hardness issues.

The Ross River Dena Council is accessing $238,000 to build an addition to the town’s garage to accommodate a fuel and sewage truck. The $6.3 million public works building in Ross River, which houses the water treatment system and fire truck, is now complete.

Faro’s wooden water pipes and aging sewer system built in 1969 has been updated. This $8.6 million project includes new water and sewer lines and a pump house. A new well-house motor has also been purchased to improve energy efficiency and reliability of the water system.

At Mendenhall, a project valued at $2 million is underway to upgrade community water supply to meet regulatory requirements as a public fill point. This year, $250 thousand was spent on drilling new wells.

Work that includes well upgrades, storage tanks, filtering systems and an addition to the facilities to house new equipment, will be undertaken in 2014.

Working with our partners, we are doing what we promised to do by continuously developing and improving community infrastructure to provide access to safe drinking water for all Yukoners, for now and future generations.