Give Me Back My Island! – A Queen’s Bench Decision that Should Involve Pirates…


Arrrgh, mateys!  It’s time to plunder that island!! 

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There are many times when wish that I could include a pirate reference to this blog, and this case presents such an opportunity.  While I am not suggesting at any time that either party is in fact a pirate, it is just the imagery that immediately came to mind when I read this decision involving a dispute over an island.  The decision of TCRT Investment Inc. v. City of Saskatoon is located here: retrieved on 2015-01-20
Just to the southwest of the City of Saskatoon, there is a chunk of land called Yorath Island.  As Wikipedia tells me, Yorath was a city planner that envisioned having bypasses around the whole of the city. He released this plan in 1913, only to see that vision completed a hundred years later.  But I digress.  I would suspect that the chances of buried treasure are minimal in an island named after a civic planner.
The island was not really an island when the land was surveyed.  As far as I can tell, the land was intact but over time water eroded the banks, and the island was formed.  The island was used by the federal government until the early 60s, granted to the Province of Saskatchewan at that time, and then the land was transferred over to the City of Saskatoon in 1963. 
The problem is that there was another owner that was disputing the ownership of the whole of the island.  TCRT Investments Inc. claimed that they owned a portion of the island.  The claimed this as a portion of the island would be included in the original grant of land they currently owned. It appeared that a portion of the island was owned by both parties.  
ISC originally determined that TCRT grant meant that they owned the portion of the property in dispute, but would not change the titles under their own direction.  They required an order of the court.  TCRT brought the application which resulted in this decision. 
The challenge for the court was this:  The original grant of land now owned by TCRT defined itself in two ways: (1) by reference to a natural boundary, being the west bank of the river, and (2) by reference to a survey which detailed a portion of what was now an island.  These two interpretations by themselves contradicted each other.
After a detailed analysis of the Land Titles Act, and a review of this historical progression of this tract of land and the island, the court determined that the original title would be defined by the west bank of the river.  Accordingly, the City of Saskatoon was declared the owner of Yorath Island, and ISC was instructed to amend the titles accordingly.
No details on when plank walking would return, if ever.  As no pirate laced summary could be complete in Saskatchewan without a reference to “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate”, please enjoy!

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