The Government of Saskatchewan has released its findings from the trespassing survey sent out in the later part of summer.
Out of the 1,601 responses, two-thirds, or 65 per cent, of the rural property owners surveyed, support consent having to be obtained in advance to access privately-owned land.
“The responses show that many people see the current onus on the land owner to post their property as unfair, and that instead, the onus should be on the person accessing the private property,” Justice Minister Don Morgan says in a news release.
“We are now in the process of updating the legislation to clarify the consent requirements for those seeking access to privately-owned land for recreational activities like hunting and snowmobiling. 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 land owners’ concerns.”
When asked about how consent should be obtained, answers were less clear. Some people responded that written permission would be their first choice, while others say consent given by having a conversation would do just fine.
People were also asked if, “all access by members of the public to rural property require the express advance permission of the rural land owner regardless of the activity.” Rural property owners indicated a clear preference for the public to require consent no matter what.
Most respondents said that the existing onus on rural land owners to post their land in a particular manner in order to prevent trespassing was frustrating and unfair, and that the burden should lie on the person seeking access to request permission. Hunter safety, rural crime and biosecurity were most often cited as concerns from landowners who have experienced trespassing.
Respondents were also asked if there should be a difference to trespassing on different types of agricultural property including cultivated land, fenced property, and open pasture land — or if all types should be treated the same. Most respondents who voted in favour of required consent prior to entering the land, felt no matter what type of property they own, it should be treated in the same fashion when it came to permission.
A minority, particularly snowmobilers, supported a legal distinction between fenced and unfenced property that did not require them to ask for consent to snowmobile on unposted, unfenced property.
Property owners sent in their answers voluntarily by mail, email and through an online questionnaire. The survey was active for just shy of two months.
The government expects to introduce legislative amendments to the Trespass to Property Act, The Wildlife Act, 1998, The All-Terrain Vehicles Act, and The Snowmobile Act during the current fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly.