Sask. reviewing trespass laws

Saskatchewan residents have until Oct. 1 to have their say about the province’s trespassing laws.

Following justice minister Don Morgan’s comments earlier this year, that the government would be willing to look at current laws, the province is seeking further input.

Organizations such as the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities and Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan have long called for changes to address rural crime, crop damage and other concerns. Many say they should not have to post their land.

At last spring’s convention of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, Arlynn Kurtz, reeve of the RM of Fertile Belt, said the laws had to be stronger to protect property and people.

“If I want to enter somebody’s property I should go down the driveway, I should go to the door and state why I’m there and what I need,” he said at the time.

Landowners say many other people ignore signs on posted property, cut fences, leave gates open and dump garbage.

Several pieces of legislation currently address trespassing, depending on the situation, and that leads to confusion, the government said.

The Trespass to Property Act, The Wildlife Act 1998, The All-Terrain Vehicles Act, The Snowmobiles Act and The Provincial Lands Regulations all contain different access and posting rules.

The government has set up an online questionnaire about the issue. In particular, it wants to know if all types of public access to rural property should require permission ahead of time, and how that should be done.

Some people have noted that it can be difficult to find the owner or manager given that farms are so large now.

Hunting and fishing rights accorded to First Nations under treaties and the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement of 1930 will remain.

A government news release said the current view is that these rights are not affected by the existing Trespass to Property Act “as it neither creates a right of access to privately owned land nor takes those rights away” and possible amendments would not change this.

Similarly, Metis hunting and fishing rights will continue as determined by court decisions that have interpreted their rights.

The questionnaire can be found at www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/justice-crime-and-the-law/review-of-trespass-related-legislation.

Written comments can be sent to the justice ministry’s legislative services branch at lsbquestionnaire@gov.sk.ca.

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