Ontario Construction News staff writer
Once a mainstay of the province’s real estate conveyance system, provincial land registry office counters at courthouses will be permanently closing to the public permanently just before Thanksgiving.
In a July 6 letter to the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors, Ken Wilkinson, examiner of surveys, wrote that the counters at all 54 of the province Land Registry Offices (LRO) will close to the public on Oct. 13, the day after Thanksgiving. The last day of counter service will be Friday, Oct. 9.
The registration and document processing system will continue digitally. “Land registry staff will continue to provide customer service support, documentation certification and processing work across the province,” Wilkinson wrote.
“Land registration is a segment of government services where many of our customers have already adopted the digital channel as their preference. Data shows that 99 per cent of documents are registered online, 87 per cent of searches are conducted online and 98 per cent of surveyors submit plans for pre-approval via email,” he wrote.
“This shift has happened organically as a result of lawyers, law clerks and surveyors visiting the LROs less frequently because of preference to conduct business online. Government has already made great progress in offering digital services and the time is right to continue this evolution in the way we deliver services.”
Wilkinson said that “in some cases where customers need to submit hard copies of plans and some paper documents, ServiceOntario will have exception-handling processes that will be in places until longer-term solutions are launched.”
Access will continue to be available through the “Contact us” page on the OnLand.Ca website and phone communication will be possible by calling (888) 278-0021 or, in Thunder Bay, (844) 209-3741. “The government is also working with Teranet to enhance OnLand’s functionality to allow for increased online transactions to save customers’ time and money,” he wrote.