Tougher Sask. trespass laws in limbo

Changes made to Saskatchewan’s trespass laws in 2019 are not yet in effect.

That means hunters and others are not legally required to ask for permission to be on private land, even though the government and wildlife organizations recommend that they do.

The changes, when enacted, will put the onus on those who want to access land to snowmobile, pick berries or hunt to obtain permission, rather than requiring landowners to post their land to keep people out.

The amendments came about after increasing concerns about rural crime and crop damage. They were passed in May 2019 but not proclaimed.

Agriculture minister David Marit said he hopes that can happen after the current election.

Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities president Ray Orb said he understood the delay was due to the development of a web-based app.

SaskLander is still in the pilot phase in the Rural Municipality of Shellbrook but is intended to connect land users and land owners.

Hunters and others said it would be cumbersome for them to have to use RM maps to locate owners to get permission. There was also a concern about how to find land owners who aren’t local.

Others wondered about the advisability of walking up to strangers’ doors to ask for access and what they could do if the person wasn’t home.

The app will not display private information and the parties will communicate through the app, not directly.

Landowners will be able to rate users so that others are aware of any concerns and can decide which permissions to allow. For example, some may allow snowmobiling but not hunting.

“I think a lot of people think the law is in place already,” said Orb, adding that might not be a bad thing because they are already thinking in terms of how to gain proper access.

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