Kamloops South-Thompson MLA Todd Stone said the decision to delay movement of historical paper documents from the Kamloops Land Title Office to Victoria is a good first step, but he said he will continue to push for the plan to be scrapped altogether.
“At the end of the day, we think these land titles records should remain in Kamloops,” Stone told KTW. “There’s absolutely no reason for them to be relocated to Victoria and so we’re pleased that the government has hit pause on their decision. However, what really needs to happen is they actually need to cancel their decision outright and just keep the records here.”
Stone said an email was sent from the Land Title Survey Authority to its employees two weeks ago, indicating a delay in moving to its new Kamloops office by two years, from early 2020 to January 2022. A copy of that email provided to KTW and signed by the registrar of land titles at the Land Title and Survey Authority of BC states:
“After further consultation with our stakeholders, we have delayed plans to move to a new office until January 2022, with records moving to Victoria by December 2021. This new schedule gives us time to gather further advice and feedback from stakeholders on the preservation and accessibility of historic land title records, particularly those related to First Nations.”
The local Land Title Office is located in the Kamloops Law Courts, downtown at Columbia Street and Fourth Avenue.
Whispering Pines Clinton Indian Band Chief Michael LeBourdais said he is “happy with the decision” to delay, but also called for the move to be scrapped in the long-term. He launched legal action to stop movement of the original documents.
A cease-and-desist letter was sent to the province, but LeBourdais said the band has not heard back from government. He said he received a call months ago from the Land Title CEO, attempting to indicate to LeBourdais that the documents would in a safe and secure location in Victoria. That wasn’t good enough for LeBourdais, however. He said band researchers and lawyers require original copies to deal with land claims in the area.
“Take some copies to Victoria and leave the originals here,” he said.
The email sent to land title employees also states the Land Title and Survey Authority of BC will establish a historic records advisory committee to provide ongoing advice on the preservation and accessibility of records in its archives. It will include members recommended by B.C. First Nations and the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.
“Basically, they’ve pulled back on their decision to relocate these historical land title records, which is what Peter and I were calling for, pending proper consultation and engagement with the City of Kamloops, the regional district and area first nations,” Stone said, referring to fellow B.C. Liberal MLA Peter Milobar, who represents Kamloops-North Thompson.
Stone said the province moved “too quickly” and should not have made the decision prior to conversations with those impacted in the Kamloops area.
Stone said his understanding is that some of the records have already been moved out of Kamloops or were in the process of being moved. He said if any records have moved out of Kamloops, they should be returned immediately.
Stone added that between two-dozen and 50 government and private-sector jobs could be lost if original plans proceed.