Searching GATOR

Learn how to successfully search with the Government Access Tool for Online Retrieval (GATOR).

General Search and Wildcards

  • When using a dropdown list key in the first letter of your search term to navigate more quickly 
  • GATOR is not case sensitive
  • The number of returns per page is 50
  • Use wildcards (%) to represent one or more characters in a search string, and they can be used in many search fields
  • Wildcards can be useful when you aren’t sure of the correct name or word order
    • If you're not sure if the correct name is "Dolittle & Steele" or "Dolittle and Steele", searching for Dolittle% will bring back all companies that start with Dolittle
    • If you're not sure of the order of the two names, typing %Dolittle%will find all results containing Dolittle

There are two available BCGS Mapsheet search options

  1. Survey Parcel
  2. Interest

Survey Parcel search

  1. Select BCGS Mapsheet link under Survey Parcel
  2. Enter the mapsheet number to obtain a list of all survey parcels with a specific mapsheet.

Interest Parcel search

  1. Select BCGS Mapsheet link under Interest Parcel
  2. Enter the mapsheet number to obtain a list of all Interests or tenures with a specific mapsheet.
  3. Apply filters as necessary

Search hints

  • Filters will return only the selected tenure type or sub­type, purpose or subpurpose with the selected mapsheet
  • Use the HBC company grant listing file (XLS) for information that can be used to help search for grant details

Survey Parcel menu image

GATOR BCGS survey parcel menu option

Interest menu image

GATOR BCGS Interest menu

To search

  1. Click on Document Number under Interests
  2. Enter the LANDS document number
  3. Click Submit Query

Search hints

  • A document number can be a Crown grant number or a tenure number such as lease or licence, as well as a Hudson Bay grant number
  • Do not use this field to search by PID, PIN, or wellsite number
  • To search for a Crown grant the number must include a / between the grant number (entered first) and the volume number (entered second), for example 1223/653
  • Crown grant document numbers don’t have leading zero place holders, so grant 5556 of volume 0526 must be searched as 5556/526, and the slash must be entered
  • Hudson’s Bay grants are searched as HBC#/VOL#. The wildcard can also be used when searching for a Hudson Bay grant, as HBC%
  • Search for a group of documents using the wildcard % with a portion of the document number, use this when searching for many Crown grant documents, or for a group of Crown grant documents all with the same volume number (make sure to enter the slash with wildcard and volume number for these), so search "%/556" for all grants within volume 556
  • PID numbers can possibly be found in GATOR but cannot be searched

PID numbers

A PID (parcel identifier) is a unique number to identify a parcel of land used by the Land Title and Survey Authority.

To see if the PID number is listed:

  1. Search by legal description
  2. Click on the Yes link to view the Consolidated Parcel Encumbrance Report which provides details for surveys and Interest information
  3. The parcel details page may include the PID
  4. 4 To look up a PID, you will need to use the Land Title Registry online service BC Online, which is pay for use

Document Number menu image

GATOR document menu

To search

  1. Under Interests, select File Number
  2. Enter the lands file number and hit
  3. Click the Submit Query button.

Search hints

  • Don’t search by wellsite number
  • You must search with leading zeros, 087449 will return results and 87449 will not
  • When a search by file number is conducted, the search results page provides an interest summary page and then links, if available, to the interest details page

File Number menu image

GATOR menu for file number search

To search

  1. Under interests, select interested party
  2. Search by first, last name for an individual, or legal company name
  3. Click Select Query
  4. Click on the link provided for the client or interested party which was queried, in order to obtain a summary list of Interests
  5. The interest summary page will note the specific Interests for the specific interested party selected
  6. Clicking on the Interest link will then provide the interest details page

Search hints

  • You can search by first name only
  • Entering only part of a company name followed by the wildcard % will provide more results
  • If the expected results do not appear, then consider using the wildcard twice, like %telus%
  • The client name may be displayed multiple times, if there are multiple addresses.
  • Clicking on a client link will display a list of all the tenures for that client at that address
  • Some legal name entries display the words “Do not use”, and these are generally old entries that were used in a previous version of the database and are no longer in use 

Interested Party menu image

GATOR interested party menu screenshot


To search primary parcel

  1. Click on Legal Description link
  2. Search by either primary or subdivision parcel legal description
  3. Enter your search criteria
  4. Click ‘Submit Query’

Search hints

  • The original crown land surveyed parcel is usually the primary parcel
  • Not all parcels are described in the same way, for other elements of legal descriptions, enter the section or block or township, depending upon the survey of the primary parcel
  • Some primary parcels may cross more than one land district, as in the case of Block 992 Chemainus, Cowichan Lake and Oyster Land Districts 
  • For these kinds of parcels,  search by block number without selecting a land district from the drop down listing
  • One field requires criteria to do a legal description search
  • If the parcel isn’t found, try using a wildcard with the parcel district  lot number or section number, such as 101%. Sometimes parcels have both numbers and letters in the legal description.
    • Many parcels are like this on Vancouver Island, such as district lot 109 E&N, Alberni District or district lot 86G, Comox District or Block 23VL&M, Cranberry District. If no parcel try using one or more wildcard % with the district lot or block number, as %109%. If this does not produce the desired results, try entering your parcel number with the wildcard in the section or block field, rather than the district lot field.  
  • Mineral claim parcels are searched using its name as a search criterion (i.e. the "Blackbird Fraction").  Select Legal Description  and type the mineral claim name in the parcel name field.
  • Search for Indian Reserves:
    • By name using the parcel name field, as well as by legal description
    • By Indian Reserve number by entering the number in the IR number field 

To search subdivision parcel

  1. Click on Legal Description
  2. Search by subdivision parcel legal description
  3. Enter your search criterai
  4. Click Submit Query

Search tips

  • If the subdivision parcel is not found, then try searching for one component or part of a legal description at a time until the parcel is located
  • Consider using the search by legal description substring field, to search by any unique elements of a legal description
  • Example: Enter the word block with the block number and two wild cards, as in %BLOCK 10% in the legal description substring field
  • Not all fields need to be filled search and entering just one field may return more results
  • It is possible to search with one or all these descriptors without selecting a land district
  • To refine the search, enter a plan number, as well as an entry in the legal description substring field 
    • The plan number can also be entered in the legal description substring field as %1234%, for instance, and this is useful when the plan number appears in the body of the legal description and not at the end 
    • If the subdivision parcel lot number is known, enter it in the subdivision number field

Legal Description menu image

Screenshot of the legal description search in GATOR

There are two available PIN search options

  1. Survey Parcels
  2. Encumbrance Report

Search by PIN – Survey Parcels

To search

  1. Click on PIN under Survey Parcels
  2. Enter the PIN
  3. Click ‘Submit Query’

Search results will have links to the consolidated parcel encumbrance report and a link to the survey parcel details page.


Search by PIN – Encumbrance Report

To search

  1. Click on PIN under Encumbrance Report
  2. Enter the PIN
  3. Click ‘Submit Query’

Search hints

  • A PIN is a unique identifier used by Crown lands to identify a parcel of land. It is different than a PID
  • Not all PINs are seven digits
  • Searching  for a primary PIN will return results for the primary parcel and any subdivision parcels and an interest summary
  • Searching for a subdivision PIN will return information the subdivision only
  • The results page will have links to a number of other types of details pages and provides a consolidated listing of both survey and interest details for a primary parcel and its subdivisions
  • To filter or reduce a large number of subdivision parcel returns, enter the primary parcel PIN and some filter elements in one or both of the filter options, such as a plan number or block number (in the legal description substring field) to obtain a partial report 
  • A single or double wild card % can be entered in the either of the filter fields, as in %1234%, or 10% for instance
  • For parcels where the plan number appears in the body of the legal description and not the end of the description, enter the primary PIN and the plan number, with wildcard % in the legal description substring field, as %1234% rather than in the plan number field
  • This legal description substring query may provide more returns than just entering the plan number in the plan number filter field
  • A filtered Consolidated Parcel Encumbrance Report query may return no results other than the primary PIN details, when a particular filter that was part of the search and is not contained in any of the subdivision parcels

Survey Parcel PIN menu image

GATOR menu for PIN survey parcel

Encumbrance PIN menu image

GATOR menu for PIN search

Search by Survey Details

Tube or Tray

To search

  1. Select Tube or Tray under Survey Details
  2. Enter tube or tray number
  3. Click Submit Query
  4. Click on a search result to view the plan details page

Tube or Tray search hints

  • Use this search to find Electronic Plan Crown (EPC) images. Use the wildcard to search for all of these plans by using epc%
  • Search for either tube or tray number but not both at the same time
  • Search for the number without spaces
  • Enter part of the number with the wildcard for more results

Land Title Office (LTO) Plan

Search for Land Title Act plans.

To search

  1. Select LTO Plan option under Survey Details search option
  2. Type the LTO Number (e.g. 8888)
  3. Click Submit Query

Admin Area

To search

  1. Select Admin Area under Survey Details
  2. Select admin area from the drop-down list
  3. Enter the name
  4. Click Submit Query

Admin Area Search hints

  • To search for a plan of a park, protected area, or OIC ecological reserve by name search by admin area. You do not need to select an admin type area
  • Not all administrative areas are searchable or available in GATOR

Tube/Tray Menu image

Menu image of GATOR tube/tray search

LTO Menu image

GATOR LTO menu image

Admin Area menu image

GATOR Admin Area menu image

Note wellsites are petroleum and natural gas industry wellsites and not water wells.

Location is a wellsite legal description and there are two types of wellsites

  1. Peace River Block (PRB) type
  2. Petroleum and Natural Gas (PNG) type

To search

  1. Select File, Name, Location under Wellsites heading 
  2. Search by file number, wellsite name, or location
  3. Click Submit Query

Search Hints

  • Wellsite plan numbers must be entered in the location field with a dash between each letter and number, such as 7-8-79-18-W6M
  • The numbering system used in GATOR might differ slightly from the order of the numbering system used by the wellsite operators
  • To search for wellsites using a name as the search criteria, select Query by Wellsite Name, then enter a portion of the wellsite name followed by the % wildcard sign, as in %star or %blue% and submit query
  • Wellsite file number is a unique seven­digit file number generated by Front Counter BC regional offices or the Oil and Gas Commission
  • PRB wellsite number:
    • Example: 787918W6M
    • Based upon the Dominion Township survey system within the Peace River Block area
    • The number is composed of:
      • The first number is the legal subdivision
      • The section number
      • The township number
      • The range number
      • The meridian number
  • PNG number:
    • Example: 93P1F3C
    • Based upon the Petroleum and Natural Gas (PNG) grid referencing system
    • The number is composed of:
      • The first number and letter are the national topographic system (NTS) grid number
      • The mapsheet number
      • The block letter
      • The unit number
      • The quarter unit letter

Wellsite menu image

GATOR Wellsite menu image