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Resolutions

ISC Fees Cost Barriers to Property Consolidations

Year: 2016

Resolution

Whereas the land base requirements for an improvement to have an addition built on, as set out in the National Building Code of Canada and the municipal zoning bylaw, can be resourced from abutting, separately-titled lands; and

Whereas Information Services Corporation (ISC) can issue a parcel tie in these circumstances, which prevents the sale or use of those lands for other purposes, it is preferable to have those abutting separately titled lands consolidated into one legal parcel, in order to consolidate tax records, minimize legal descriptions, synchronize legal boundaries with ownership and land use boundaries, and neaten maps by reducing excess line work; and
Whereas ISC charges a fee of 0.1% of property value to produce title to a consolidated lot, even where the lots do not change ownership; and

Whereas all improvements and land values must be claimed as the property value for the fee calculation, sometimes resulting in disproportionately high fees for minimal work;

Therefore be it resolved that the SUMA advocate with the Government of Saskatchewan and the Information Services Corporation to reduce fees by having separate line items which identify parcel value (land only), creating a flat fee or a ‘fee per lot’ service, and applying a separate rate structure for transactions where the owner remains the same.

Background Information
A commercial entity has several separately titled lots that the City is requiring to be consolidated into one lot due to a recent building addition. The building is built on only one of the lots, however in order to satisfy the National Building Code and the City of Yorkton Zoning Bylaw, six other titled parcels are tied into the project requirements. The properties requiring to be consolidated into one title are valued close to $10,000,000.00 as the buildings on the properties must be valued and included in the title value, leading to a $10,000 Information Services Corporation (ISC) fee (in addition to the Plan Processing fee, which is approximately $200). The developer is unwilling to pay this price and the City is conflicted over the requirement to consolidate, given the disproportionately high fee.

The City is fully aware that a fee is in order for work performed by ISC, and that title value is an integral system for lenders, insurers and assessors. However, it is our belief that the fee structure of 0.1% doesn’t make sense given the owner is the same and a transfer is not required.

Provincial Response

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the resolution adopted by your membership at SUMA's annual convention.

Information Services Corporation (ISC) became a publicly-traded (TSX-ISV) Saskatchewan business corporation in July 2013. ISC is the exclusive provider of the Land Titles Registry, Land Surveys Directory, Personal Propery Registry and Corporate Registry in the Province of Saskatchewan. These registry services are outlined in a service agreement between ISC and the Government of Saskatchewan.

The Operation of Public Registry Statutes Act provides that ISC can establish feeds in accordance with the service agreement:

Fees 
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(1) Subject to subsections (2) to (5), for the purposes of this Act and the public registry statute for which the contractor is providing services or performing functions, the contractor may, in accordance with the service agreement, establish and charge a fee for any service or function it provides or performs pursuant to the public registry statute or for any other matter governed by the public registry statute. 

(2) The contractor is not required to provide of perform the service or function until:
(a) the fee mentioned in subsection (1) is paid; or
(b) arrangements satisfactory to the contractor have been made to pay the fee mentioned in subsection (1).

(4) Notwithstanding any provision in the public registry statute or in any other Act or law:
(a) the fees stablished pursuant to the service agreement are the fees that must be paid to the contractor;
(b) any fees established pursuant to the public registry statute do not apply; and
(c) the fees mentioned in claus (a) are the property of the contractor.

ISC charges fees in accordance with the service agreement. Under the terms of the service agreement, ISC is entitled to charge fees for registry services and is not obliged to account for such fees to the Government of Saskatchewan. The service agreement includes a schedule of fees that was in place at the time ISC was privatized and represents the maximum fees that may be charged by ISC, adjusted yearly to reflect the change in CPI. Under the terms of the service agreement, fee mitigation policies that were in place prior to privatization continue to be applied by ISC. This includes the reduced ad valorem fee of 1.0% that is applied to parcel consolidation where ownership remains constant.

With ISC operating in accordance with the service agreement and considering fees would be mititgated for the developer in this instance to the reduced ad valorem value of 0.1%, ISC does not believe it is appropriate to provide further fee mitigation.

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