Ontario has two property registration systems, Land Titles and Land Registry. Parts of the province, particularly the north, have always been under the Land Titles system, while much of the province was under the older Land Registry system.
An unfortunate feature of lands under the Land Registry system is that the titles of abutting properties held in exactly the same name or names are merged. Despite this merger, the owner continued to receive separate tax notices, under separate roll numbers. Only when it came time to sell one or both parcels would it come to light that the titles were merged. Not every farmer, who bought the farm next door, ended up with the titles merged, competent legal advice would alert the buyer to the means to avoid merged titles.
For farmers with merged titles, the process to “unmerge” them can be time-consuming, and costly. In some instances, their efforts are unsuccessful, particularly if the municipality has established a minimum farm lot size in its Official Plan or Zoning By-laws.
Merged titles have been discussed at OFA. OFA has called on the Ontario Government to change the Land Registry System under the Planning Act so that the practice of automatic merging is discontinued.
In 2019, the Honourable Doug Downey (MPP for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte) introduced Bill 88 to amend the Planning Act. His Bill would allow the original lot fabric to be kept in the case of properties that merged due to the death of an abutting joint owner. Bill 88 was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs but that is where it sits.
OFA encourages all Ontario farmers to write the Clerk of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to request that the Committee hold public hearings on Bill 88 as soon as possible, so that Bill 88 can proceed to Third Reading and is hopefully passed into law. Letters can be directed to:
Julia Douglas Clerk – Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
99 Wellesley Street West Room 1405 Queen’s Park Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A2
OFA would appreciate being copied on any letters sent to the Committee so OFA can reference them in our further advocacy efforts on this issue.