The survey results of Saskatchewan’s consultation on trespass laws show the majority want mandatory permission to enter rural property.
However, the response numbers were low.
Only 1,601 people participated in the consultation held between Aug. 9 and Oct. 2. Two-thirds of the responses, or 1,039, said anyone who wants to enter privately owned rural property should have to gain consent from the landowner, while 515 were opposed to permission before entry. Forty-seven of the responses were inconclusive.
The government is set to introduce new trespass legislation this fall, and Justice Minister Don Morgan said in a news release that the consultation provided clear direction.
“The responses show that many people see the current onus on the landowner to post their property as unfair, and that instead the onus should be on the person accessing the private property,” Morgan said.
“Respondents also said that responsible hunters and snowmobilers already seek appropriate consent, and that any change would only affect the small number who do not consider landowners’ concerns.”
Trespass is currently regulated by four pieces of legislation: the Trespass to Property Act; the Wildlife Act, 1998; the All-Terrain Vehicles Act and the Snowmobile Act. Landowners are required to post their land to prevent access.
Organizations such as the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities have passed resolutions asking for the burden to be placed on the person wanting to access the land, rather than the owner, citing hunter safety, rural crime and biosecurity.
The government consultation asked how permission should be sought. The survey response was unclear, with some suggesting written permission while others suggesting verbal permission or consent through posted signs.
The survey also asked if mandatory permission would impede activities such as hunting and snowmobiling.
The government said the responses found a “significant minority” indicated that it would affect those activities.