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A special survey under Part 23 of the Act is an extraordinary solution because it contemplates the complete reconstruction of deteriorated or non-existent survey evidence. At the outset, it is important to realize that Part 23 provides a legislative framework for resolving survey issues incapable of resolution by any other means. It is not a program or service provided by the land title office. The owners of land affected by the survey, or who derive a benefit from it, share all costs of the survey.

As the minister rarely orders a special survey, this Manual does not contain detailed practice notes on the various sections within Part 23. However, the following observations are a guide to those considering employing the process to resolve a survey issue.

The minister’s decision to order a special survey is a discretionary one. Apart from the criteria in s. 323 of the Act, the minister considers the benefits of the survey against the financial burden imposed on owners in the area affected by the survey. For example, if a survey problem has only a direct effect on one or two owners and the survey solution involves a multiplicity of owners who do not support a special survey solution, the minister weighs the benefits of the survey against the costs to be assessed against those owners.

Clearly, the minister is not inclined to order a special survey if other solutions are available. If, for example, a solution could be achieved through a boundary adjustment agreement among a few owners, as opposed to a special survey that involves additional lands, the minister may not be inclined to order a special survey in the absence of other compelling reasons.

Furthermore, the magnitude of the survey problem and the area affected by it may not be known until the minister has ordered the survey and appointed the surveyor, and the surveyor has reported under s. 331. At this juncture, it may be necessary to extend the special survey area to address the original problem.

Anyone considering a special survey solution should consult with the registrar and the Surveyor General before approaching the minister with a request. Anyone who decides to make a request should direct the request to the attention of the Director of Land Titles and should provide sufficient information regarding the scope, benefits, and costs of the survey for the assistance of the minister in the exercise of his or her discretion.