Making land available to Yukoners is a priority for this government

Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale NorthAs Submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, April 22, 2016
by Scott Kent, Minister of Energy, Mines & Resources

A key component of the Yukon Party’s 2011 platform, part of our vision for achieving a better quality of life, is providing land for Yukoners.

In that platform, we promised to make land available for community, residential, recreational, agricultural, commercial and industrial purposes, while respecting the interests of existing land owners.

We also promised to modernize the legislation related to the land titles process, and to use technology to improve the timeliness of transferring land titles.

As we approach the end of our five-year mandate, I’m very proud to say that we’ve kept these promises, and will continue our work in the months ahead to ensure that more land is available for development.

Over the past several weeks, my department has made several announcements about new opportunities for Yukoners to purchase recreational and residential lots.

Later this summer, eleven new recreational lots at Dutch Harbour on Kluane Lake will be made available through a land lottery.

This development project is moving ahead as a result of the excellent working relationship between the Kluane First Nation and the Yukon government. Our two governments are continuing work to explore other recreational and residential land opportunities in the Kluane region.

The project is inspired by the success of our recent development and sale of 19 recreational lots on Bennett Lake and Tagish Lake, which were created as a result of an economic development agreement between the Yukon government and the Carcross/Tagish First Nation.

The Yukon government is working closely with the City of Whitehorse to make land available in the city, so that Yukoners can build homes and raise their families. This year we have committed more than $15 million in funding to move forward with additional phases of Whistle Bend, which is now a vital and growing neighbourhood.

We’re also partnering with Whitehorse to develop a vacant parcel of land at Fifth Avenue and Rogers Street. This important community project has the potential to provide a mix of affordable housing and commercial space in the city core.

And we are also working with the municipalities of Mayo and Dawson on land development and planning. As many as 16 rural residential lots and five agricultural parcels will be developed just north of the Village of Mayo, and a joint plan will be created for future development in Dawson’s north end.

Since 2011, we have also made residential lots available in Teslin, Grizzly Valley, Destruction Bay, Dawson City, Haines Junction, Carmacks and Watson Lake.

New agricultural land is a priority for our government, as we look toward strengthening Yukon’s food security. Over the past two years, we have sold approximately 130 hectares of Crown land for agriculture, and are currently preparing another 370 hectares of land for sale in Ibex, Sunnydale, Marshall Creek, Golden Horn and Watson Lake.

Our work to modernize land titles legislation and processes took a big step forward last fall, with the passage of the Land Titles Act, 2015. This act is a key component of our Land Titles Modernization Project, which began in 2011.

The act allows for registration of First Nations Settlement Land with the Yukon Land Titles Office, while safeguarding Aboriginal title to that land. We believe this is a first in Canada, and yet another example of Yukon leading the way in its relationship with First Nations.

Earlier this month, we announced a commitment of $1.1 million to further advance the modernization project. This phase will improve the operation of Yukon’s Land Titles Office, its computer systems and business processes.

From these funds, $513,000 will go towards buying and installing a new electronic database and land titles registration system. This will provide Yukoners with more accessible land titles information and improved, modern registry services.

As our economy grows, and more and more Canadians realize that Yukon is the best place in the country to live, work, play and raise a family, the demand for land is sure to continue. Making that land available to those who need it will continue to be a high priority for our government.