Property Rights in Ontario, Canada

September 23rd, 2006

The Ontario Real Estate Board has been actively investigating, among many other issues, the growing concern of property owners in the Province over infringements of their property rights by mineral and mining prospectors under the OMA.

Mining rights are the rights to minerals located in, on or under the land. Surface Rights refer to any rights of the land that are not mining rights. You can look at this stuff online www.mndm.gov.on.ca/MNDM/MINES/LANDS/bulbrd/surface_rights/mrvssr_e.asp or by calling 1-800-667-1940. Please note: I highly recommend that the information provided on the maps and links to that site are to be used as guide (the information may be out of date) and that you should seek professional advice with regard to a specific property. The site itself warns: “Ownership of the various rights in land is a legal question that can only be determined through a “title search,” which usually commences at the appropriate Registry Office.”

Another interesting bit of information has to do with: File No. MA 013-98 as it is published at publicdocs.mnr.gov.on.ca

“L. Kamerman
Mining and Lands Commissioner
Monday, the 1st day of March, 1999.
THE MINING ACT
IN THE MATTER OF
Mining Lands Patents KRL-13521 to 13526, both inclusive, 14115 to 14127, both inclusive, 14109,
14110, 14534 to 14543, both inclusive and 15908, located on Parcels 5976 and 5977, respectively,
in the District of Kenora (Patricia Mining Division) comprising surveyed Mining Claims KRL-19096,
19097, 19107 to 19112, both inclusive, 29054, 29055, 29059 to 29076, both inclusive, 30055 to
30058, both inclusive, 31823 to 31832, both inclusive and 33200, situate in the District of Kenora
(Patricia Mining Division) hereinafter referred to as the "Mining Lands";
AND IN THE MATTER OF
An application under section 79 of the Mining Act in respect of the surface rights located on Werner
Lake Property (hereinafter referred to as the "Surface Rights").
B E T W E E N:
WERNER LAKE DEVELOPMENTS LTD. AND ROBERT W. HOPLEY
Applicants
- and -
AEC WEST LTD.
AQUAFOR BEECH LIMITED
Respondents
(Amended November 25, 1998) “

You really need to check out:
www.environmentprobe.org

here, they talk about:

“The growth-rate of a tree slows as it reaches maturity until it no longer uses the full growth potential of the land it stands on. When this occurs the tree should be cut, since it is preventing the realization of the full growth potential of the site.
Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, 1967(1)
We agree with the [Ontario government's] Green Paper that land should not be allowed to lie idle.
The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, 1989(2) “

Have I got your attention?

How about this one:

http://publicdocs.mnr.gov.on.ca/View.asp?Document_ID=11347&Attachment_ID=21836

“INTRODUCTION
A lawyer without history or literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason;
if he possesses some knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect.
Sir Walter Scott, Guy Mannering, ch. 37, 1815
In 1992, when I was first appointed as Mining and Lands Commissioner, there was no single publication in existence which provided any sort of overview to explain the current nature of this old and important function. Even tracking down the actual jurisdiction for me or anyone wishing to deal with the Office was a challenge, with responsibilities found not only in statute and regulation but even in an Order in Council, something which was not readily accessible or widely known.“

UPDATE: It’s 2006 and I’m googling my head off… and still having trouble finding an explanation.

This, I do know… with relative certainty:

In Ontario, property rights come from the English common law. Common law is made- up by judges, during court cases- as a decision is made; it is recorded and used as a basis for the determination of future court cases. Under common law, people have the right to use and enjoy their property- they also have an obligation to NOT interfere with their neighbour’s use and enjoyment of THEIR property.

Now, from the perspective of environmental issues… for instance, polluting… it means that nobody can disturb anyone else’s property; during the use of their own property.

Anyone who is harmed this way may seek a remedy in the form of an injunction and reimbursement for damages. The amount of reimbursement is decreed by the courts- this means the court allows this to happen and then decides for how much you just sold your property rights.

The most common violations are: 1) trespass: any invasion of someone’s property, placing anything on someone else’s property. The Ontario Mining Act supercedes the laws against trespass. 2) nuisance: an indirect invasion of someone’s property, doing something intangible that interferes with someone else’s property. Neither a prospector nor the ministry is required to inform a landowner that a claim has been staked on his or her land, and a landowner has only one year to dispute a claim. 3) riparian rights: a property owner whose property is beside a lake or river is entitled to having it flow freely without obstruction or corruption or diversion. The Mining Act supercedes the authority of municipalities in many cases, undermining municipal planning exercises.

How many property owners get the whole story on what their rights are? How many citizens know this stuff? Under the OMA you could find someone digging up your yard and as long as they’ve given you notice and as long as they fix up any damage, they might be allowed to do it! You’d have to appear before the Commissioner of Lands and Mines and provide proof of the damages. Get in line!

Environment Probe has been telling us (for a long time) that “government policies that harm not only Canada's forests, fisheries, waterways, and other natural resources but also the economy.”

Since 2001, the Federation of Ontario Cottager’s Associations has been fighting for changes to Ontario mining regulations. After incidents in and around the Sharbot Lake area, the group has advocated that potential purchasers should be informed, and ready to ask appropriate questions of their lawyer regarding mineral versus surface rights. They have a website, too!

Now, let’s back up to:

http://publicdocs.mnr.gov.on.ca/View.asp?Document_ID=8313

“Findings… There is a common law right to those holding an interest in property, which includes an unpatented mining claim holder, to be notified of activities which may affect their rights. Therefore, it would be expected, in the normal course of events, a mining claim holder, or in this case Mr. McCombe, should have been notified of the Application for Provisional Certificate of Approval and had the opportunity afforded by that process to raise any environmental concerns. “

So wait a minute, does that mean that mining claims holders have to be told… but the property owner doesn’t?

And

:”Evidence and Submissions… Barry McCombe or his agents to be given right to cut for profit or personal use and without cost any timber including pine on the surrendered surface rights."

Huh, timber rights? You mean that the property owner doesn’t always own the right to cut down trees?

AND

“Surface Rights and Mining Rights Under the Mining Act…As we have noticed, minerals are the only resource that can be appropriated and exploited under a title that is obtained from the Crown as the result of one's own acts. Timber rights, oil and gas rights, fishing rights and trapline and outfitting rights are all issued by government only after a discretionary decision to do so.”

Oil rights, gas rights, fishing rights, trapline, outfitting?????? What are people buying?

How many urban dwellers are sitting on property that has some archaic but active limitation to what the owner believes to be his or her rights? How many of them even think about mining in their back yard?

Let me reiterate: Potential purchasers should ask appropriate questions of their lawyer to determine the specific rights that are included in every transaction.

Hot Stuff

September 22nd, 2006

Today’s blog isn’t about www.giftsforyourwife.com although that is a really cool site.

I was reading about the Oil Sands economy and something about how it is causing an extreme labour shortage out west and has increased homelessness in the area by over 30% in the past two years.

The workforce has had to shack up in hotels and motels or RVs or tents, which is turning the area around Calgary into shantytowns. Money isn’t the problem, it’s finding space. In the past year, the area’s population has grown by some 25,000 and the supply of housing is sparse. The old laws of supply and demand apply and presto, prices are way up!

10 years ago, in Fort McMurray, the average first time buyer was looking at a 1000 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home at an average cost of $46,000 (about $42 per square foot). Today, in that market, the average first time buyer is looking at an average cost of $285,000 (about $237 per square foot).

Most cities are up. The stats for Calgary show that 10 years ago, the average first time buyer was looking at a 1300 square foot bungalow with 2 bedrooms and 1.5 baths and an average cost of $90,000 (about $69 per square foot) and now, a 1200 square foot, 2 bedroom and 2.5 baths for $180,000 (about $150 per square foot).

In Toronto, the 1200 square foot bungalow or condo (a bit smaller), with 2 or 3 bedrooms that was popular 10 years ago and cost about $220,000 (approximately $183 per square foot) is now offering a 700 square foot, 2 bedrooms with 1.5 baths for $196,000 (approximately $280 per square foot) to the same market group.

Montreal: a 1500 square foot duplex or condo with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths goes for about $265,000 ($177 per square foot) when ten years ago, the market was looking at a 1200 square foot townhouse with 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms for $125,000 ($104 per square foot).

Vancouver: That 1 bedroom condo with 1.5 baths and a den in the west end was going for $150,000 ($240 per square foot) and now a 650 sq foot, 1 bedroom with 1 bathroom in Yaletown will run $250,000 (about $385 per square foot).

Yikes.

CBC Marketplace reported (Dec/05) that the estimated increase in home prices for the past decade was 50%. They also suggested that Buyers needed to be well informed and should select an agent that they felt they could trust and develop a good working relationship with- NOT necessarily an agent with the most fabulous sales record.

Good advice!

Scotiabank Group economist Adrienne Warren says household wealth "has reached unprecedented highs, thanks to years of solid, uninterrupted economic growth accompanied by falling unemployment and rising home and stock prices." She says that slower growth is coming and may require households to start saving more money, but that "by current metrics, the finances of Canadian households are in good shape."

Craig Alexander, VP and deputy chief economist for TD Bank Financial Group predicts that Toronto and Vancouver will see larger than average price gains because of their attraction to immigrants. Calgary and Edmonton are also expected to "break away" from their historic performance, he says. Benefiting from high oil prices, a low provincial tax rate and a younger population.

London-St. Thomas board president Costa Poulopoulos said a prolonged strong market tends to exhaust the inventory of available homes and drives up prices, leading to an inevitable collapse as homes become unaffordable. He also said that although the housing market in the United States has seen a sharp downturn, he is expecting a "soft landing" in Canada.

Lawrence Yun, a senior economist for NAR (National Association of Realtors), is more optimistic. He claims that the market has returned to more earthly figures after a period of unsustainable growth. "Any decline will be very short-lived," he said. "By the spring of 2007, the market will begin to see increased sales and strengthening in home prices."

Others are less willing to prognosticate an end date for the slowdown, due to a host of unknowns, including future interest rates and job markets. One reason for the holdup is a disconnect between buyers and sellers, said director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, Edward Leamer.

Many property owners are reluctant to cut their prices. Unlike builders, who are so desperate to sell their properties that some are throwing in extras like upgraded countertops and one-week vacations, many sellers are willing to wait. Their logic is simple, Leamer explained: "A lot of owners figure, 'My idiot neighbor sold his home for $1 million, and I'm not taking a penny less.' "

On the other side of the equation are the buyers, equally strong-willed. Unwilling to fork over those sums in a wavering market, they are watching from the sidelines, waiting for prices to drop. "Buyers are holding back currently to see how long and far this cooling will go," said NAR's Yun.

What's more, two key sources of housing demand are locked out of the market- the first-time home buyer, who can't afford to buy given the mix of rising interest rates and still-high home prices and speculators, who can no longer benefit from dramatic appreciation by flipping real estate.

Of course, real estate is a highly fragmented market and what happens in one area, may be completely different from what is taking place in another. Not everyone benefited equally from the boom, and not everyone will suffer the same in a bust. And in Alberta, there may not be one… not for a very long time!

Gu Gu

September 21st, 2006

A drunken Chinese tourist bit a 6-year-old Panda, named Gu Gu, at the Beijing Zoo yesterday. Apparently, he was just biting it back. Zhang Xinyan said that he had only wanted to cuddle the sleeping Panda but roused it from sleep, causing a scuffle.

Pandas are such a symbol of the People's Republic of China that pro-Beijing Americans are called "panda-huggers" by their critics. In March of 2005, there was pandamania when China offered Taiwan a cuddly pair of Giant Pandas. The Pandas went through a stringent vetting process, judged by cuteness, psychological compatibility and genetic composition to help ensure that they'll mate and have attractive, healthy offspring.

Turns out that the one-year-olds earmarked included a male offspring from the Pandas that American President Nixon received when he visited the communist country in 1972. Taiwan, dubbed “Chinese America”, reacted with cynicism- seeing the gift as a Trojan horse of sorts. The media saw the gesture as a charming effort to trick Taiwan into trading away its freedom.

Tensions between Taiwan and China began in 1949, when Communists (led by Chairman Mao) took control of the mainland. In 1950 U.S. President, Harry Truman, ordered a fleet of ships into the Taiwan Strait to defend possible Chinese attacks on the island. Over the years, politic changes have caused issues of independence to flair and subside.

Beijing has found that its proposed unification on the basis of 'one country two systems' has increasingly less appeal to people in Taiwan. As a consequence, some believe that Beijing has used coercive tactics to prevent separation.

Now, the gifting of Pandas (sometimes referred to as “Panda Diplomacy”) dates back to the Tang Dynasty (624-705 AD), when the Chinese Empress gave a pair of pandas to Japan’s Emperor as a goodwill gesture.

While Pandas spend most of their lives asleep, they are known to bite and to be extremely inept at sex. But in the realm of diplomacy, giant pandas have few rivals. The pandas' role in the recent dispute was not merely symbolic. On the contrary, accepting the pandas as a gift could be interpreted as accepting Beijing's claim that Taiwan belongs to mainland China.

According to the 1975 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Beijing can make an outright gift of pandas to any zoo it likes within China. Foreign zoos are different: they can get the animals only on loan, in the form of a scientific exchange.

The Chinese argue that Pandas symbolize peace and friendship and the gesture has had nothing to do with politics. Skeptics see the animals as a perfect symbol for Beijing as no matter how friendly they look, watch out for their claws. Perhaps Pandas are being trained for combat?

Maybe Mr. Xinyan could shed a little light on that possibility?

Cuchi Cuchi

September 20th, 2006

Has anyone noticed the recent television commercials, featuring Charo? You know… the over-the-top Spanish blonde who could talk faster than you can think and was a regular on Hollywood Squares? She was married to Xavier Cugat from 66-78. The woman was born in 1941. I think she looks amazing. She still has the legs of a thirty year old!

My grandfather (who was the Executive Chef at the Royal York Hotel for a number of years) counted her among his favourites of all the celebrities he had met. He said that Charo was charming and delightful, sweet to everyone- no matter their position in the hotel.

In 1982, she had a son (named Shel) with her second husband, Kjell Rasten. During the 80s and 90s she focused on her role as mother and settled in Hawaii. When her son started in college, she went back to work in Vegas. She had a platinum album in 1995.

Speaking of platinum, how about Beth Chapman- Duane (the Dog) Chapman’s wife? She is another bold, beautiful blonde!

Am I rambling? I have a horrible cold, courtesy of my darling daughter and I’ve been a sloth for the past two days. Last night, I curled up in a blanket and watched the glorious tribute to Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter and fought back tears when his daughter Bindi spoke. He was insane and he was intoxicating. I will never forget him, “Crikey”!

Then, I watched the Family Speaks. Beth Chapman explaining how Duane had been arrested on charges stemming from his 2003 capture of the notorious Andrew Luster (who had run to Mexico and was guilty of poisoning and raping a number of women in the United States). Apparently, the posse had neglected to get the Mexican Judge’s permission and bounty hunting is against the law, in Mexico.

Dog has offered to capture Bin Laden, but there are some people that worry about his rough and wild, hero-cowboy persona and think that he is a liability at the least and an embarrassment to the professional bondsman. I dunno. I do think Ozzie Osbourne wrote a kicking theme song for the Dog’s TV show.

Now he’s on house arrest until this Mexican mess gets sorted. There are people that think Dog should’ve known better. There are people that believe Dog thinks he’s above the law. As much as their bios read like something from a Jerry Springer episode, the extended Chapman family conveys a sense of reality that is palpable. Anyone who wants to help the cause can check out the official home page www.dogthebountyhunter.com.

I’ve caught Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels a few times, too. There’s another idiosyncratic family that seems to border on the pleasantly, mundanely, normal, too.
It must be the decongestants.

Words and Language: Where it all began (for me at least)

September 19th, 2006

Have you ever noticed that “Nonchalant” is a word that almost everyone has slipped into conversation at some time or other? My question is: Have you ever heard any say they were chalant? In fact, if I type chalant into my Microsoft Word, it quickly gets underlined in red and a spell check offers to change it to “chalet”. Nonchalant doesn’t set off any alarms. Hmmm… not really all that ironic.

The going definition of language includes symbols, gestures, voice sounds and just about any other system used to convey information- and it seems that language is constantly evolving.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say “irregardless”- which is, a huge redundancy! However, I know a lot of people that de-thaw their food, too. Sometimes you have to accept it and move on.

I don’t claim to be an expert on grammar or anything even close! Although, I was raised in a house where slips were immediately corrected and vocabulary was a much-respected trove- and no, Pirates didn’t raise me.

Although I must admit that I have always enjoyed a good Swashbuckler flick. How about that Errol Flynn? I sometimes wanted to be Maureen O’Hara, when I grew up!
I kind of liked Gladiator films, as a child, as well. Of course, in my teens, I graduated to foreign films, adored subtitles and the Toronto Film Festival…. And who didn’t love B Monster movies?

Count Dracula was probably my first introduction to sexuality in film! Bela Legosi swooped into my heart with over-the-top facial contortions and he certainly didn’t have to speak to get his message across. Then later, came Lon Chaney Jr.- he was okay but sadly, not as good as Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein but Gary Oldman really nailed it, in the 1992 Bram Stoker’s film directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

It’s funny how certain movies, books or plays stick make an impression. Everyone has their own, most memorable. I had a real fixation on film noir in my early teens. Mystery was never sexier than Phyllis Deitrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) with her fatal charm and clicking stiletto heels- man, she could handle a lipstick!

Lauren Bacall is another classic gorgeous, cool, sultry, wonderful actress. Her films with Bogart are extraordinary. I wanted to be her, too!

I remember being totally excited and absolutely mad about Topal, after seeing Fiddler on the Roof, in the early seventies. I fell for Giancarlo Giannini after “Swept Away” and Kris Kristofferson after “The Sailor Who Fell from Grace” in the early 70s. I began to be very conscious of film making, beyond the acting, from the mid-seventies and I am, to this day.

I was seriously into reading science fiction, during my teens. Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C Clark, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert and others. Sometimes, I would take a break and read a biography, on some celebrity or person of historical significance.

In my teens, I was fortunate to have a friend whose mom had some affiliation with the Toronto Ballet and I saw many performances at what was then called “The O’Keefe Centre”. It’s now called the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts.

I also remember concerts at Massey Hall, Maple Leaf Gardens and many productions at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Among my favourites were Debbie Reynolds in Irene and Yul Brynner in the King and I- even from the last balcony; both of these performers seemed to look straight at me and I chalantly hung on their every word.