Oops!Lands branch bungles Whitehorse Copper surveys

The owners of 52 new Whitehorse Copper lots can’t get title to their land. “There were some survey issues,” Energy, Mines and…

The owners of 52 new Whitehorse Copper lots can’t get title to their land.

“There were some survey issues,” Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Archie Lang said during Wednesday’s question period.

Without title, landowners can’t get bank financing.

“We’ve already heard from some very distressed purchasers who are being held up by the government because the lots weren’t properly surveyed,” said Liberal MLA Gary McRobb on Wednesday.

“As a result they’re not able to get bank financing to proceed with the construction of their home on their new lot.”

Contractor Michael Herdes has lived in the territory for the past 25 years. His daughter owns one of the new Whitehorse Copper lots.

“My family is investing in that subdivision” that’s been in the works for up to 12 years, he said on Thursday

“It’s never taken so long to get land out,” he said.

“The bill they sold us was that they can do a more thorough job” if they take the time.

But the thoroughness hasn’t panned out.

“And here we go, for the first time in my knowledge, they’re entering into legal agreements before they even have the right to do so.

“It’s not very good performance.”

In 2002, the Yukon Party promised a continuous supply of lots,” said McRobb.

“It failed to do so — it caused a lot shortage in the city of Whitehorse.”

To deal with that shortage, Lang rushed this process before having “all the ducks lined up,” added McRobb.

“It’s another debacle that could have been avoided had the government done the proper planning.”

In September, Doug Badry walked into Yukon Housing to pay off his lot in full.

“We were looking for title,” said the Whitehorse Copper resident.

“And they told us they couldn’t grant us title based on problems with the surveys.

“They didn’t try to hide anything — they came out and told us immediately.”

Luckily, it wasn’t a big deal for Badry.

“But if we had required bank loans, I’m sure it would be affecting us,” he said.

“I’m just surprised they didn’t have all their ducks in a row before they let everything go.”

Badry is more concerned that the new lots still don’t have phone service, he said.

David Black was out clearing his Whitehorse Copper lot and noticed one of the corner posts had been moved about one metre.

It made it a little smaller, said the Association of Yukon Communities policy planner.

Badry didn’t realize his lot might shrink once the surveying is re-jigged.

“I haven’t seen evidence, at least around our place, that they’ve moved anything,” he said. “But it would be a concern, especially if they’re making me smaller.”

Like Badry, Black is not in trouble with financing. He doesn’t plan to build until 2009.

“As long as the issue is resolved in the next year and a half,” he said.

But some new purchasers aren’t so lucky, said McRobb.

“Some of them have had to find renting accommodation to endure the period of delay, and they lost bank financing.

“And they’re distressed.

“They’re in a state of shock that the government who sold them lots is delaying the transfer of title due to surveying problems.”

The News approached Lang about the Whitehorse Copper issue outside the legislature during a fire drill on Thursday afternoon.

“I won’t talk about it during the fire,” said Lang, as government spokesperson Albert Peterson skidded to a stop in the snow-slick parking lot, placing himself between the reporter and Lang.

Peterson insisted all interviews be directed through him.

Lang hasn’t called.