The Yukon government has confirmed the vast majority of waterfront properties on Marsh Lake have proper land titles, says a senior Yukon government official.
Colin McDowell, the director the lands branch, explained Tuesday that as a result of a concern raised by a professional surveyor almost two weeks ago, they looked into the matter and have found that most properties are in the clear.
They still need to check 13 properties on Army Beach, but they expect that research to be wrapped up in a couple of days, he said.
McDowell said they’ll also be looking to confirm that other lake front properties across the Yukon have proper land titles.
In a briefing last Friday, Tim Koepke said lake front property owners may not own what they think they own, and that their home or a portion of their home may not be sitting on titled land.
Koepke is a qualified Canada land surveyor, as well as a professional engineer. He was also a chief federal land claim negotiator for some 25 years and was at the forefront of negotiating the territory’s modern day treaties.
He said he held the briefing to put people on notice about what he felt was a large degree of uncertainty around the title to Marsh Lake waterfront properties and waterfront properties in general.
Under normal circumstances, he explained, waterfront properties are not allowed to encroach within 30 metres or 100 feet of the natural high water mark unless they have approval through legislation by the federal or Yukon government.
Koepke said while recently assisting a Marsh Lake neighbour in reviewing his land title for other reasons, he noticed there was no evidence indicating the surveyed property had received the required waiver through legislation.
It prompted him to randomly check a couple of other files, and he found the same thing, he explained during the briefing.
He said without the legislation waiving the 30-metre requirement, it remains in effect. If a home is located in whole or in part within the 30 metres, it is sitting on public land and the homeowner does not own it, despite what the title survey and mortgage say, Koepke explained.
McDowell said in researching the concern raised by Koepke, they confirmed a 1985 order issued by the Privy Council of the federal government did grant the required waiver for most of the lake front properties on Marsh Lake.
The 13 lots on Army Beach were not included in the 1985 order for one reason or another, he explained.
McDowell said they want to determine why they weren’t included, and if the required legislative waiver was passed in earlier or subsequent years.
He said once they’ve wrapped up the Marsh Lake issue, they’ll begin looking at other waterfront properties in the Yukon to see if there is an issue.
The April 1985 federal order cites waivers for waterfront properties on Marsh Lake, the Tagish (Six Mile) River, Lake Laberge and Jackfish Bay, Crag Lake and Watson Lake.
Jesse Devost, the director of communication for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, said today there are other waivers on record for waterfront properties in the Yukon.
The exercise going forward will be to research what lots have been included in those waivers, he said.