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Most survey respondents support changes to Saskatchewan trespassing legislation – CP

by ahnationtalk on November 16, 201826 Views

Source: The Canadian Press
Nov 15, 2018

REGINA _ The Saskatchewan government says it will introduce changes to trespassing laws this fall after a survey showed support for updated legislation.

The results, released by the province Thursday, showed 65 per cent of respondents said people should ask landowners for permission before they go onto private land.

Officials said they received 1,601 responses by mail, email and through an online questionnaire from Aug. 9 through Oct. 2.

The survey was meant to gauge Saskatchewan residents on potential changes to trespassing laws.

“Most people will be aware there is an onus on the landowner in rural property to sign the property if you don’t want hunters or people coming on your property,” Justice Minister Don Morgan said.

“The survey strongly supported reversing that onus so they would no longer have to do that.”

Saskatchewan’s Trespass to Property Act already states it is an offence to enter posted or enclosed lands without the consent of the landowner, to enter land after being asked not to do so, to engage in prohibited activities without consent of the owner and to fail to leave when asked. The maximum fine is $2,000.

Other laws, such as the Wildlife Act, All-Terrain Vehicles Act and Snowmobile Act, also regulate access to private land by hunters, ATV users and snowmobilers.

The province said different rules might be confusing to some groups so new legislation will update those laws and make them consistent with other provinces, particularly Alberta.

Morgan said the government will continue to meet with hunting groups, agricultural producers and Indigenous leaders who have all raised concerns about the changes.

He said the survey showed that responsible hunters and snowmobilers already seek permission to go onto someone’s property. Any change would only affect the small number who do not consider landowners’ concerns, he said.

Morgan said some agricultural groups are worried about the transport of crop or livestock diseases by people in vehicles or on foot.

The province suggested rural crime has also undermined landowner support for public access.

At the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities convention in Saskatoon on Thursday, an RCMP officer who works with rural municipalities said addressing crime remains a big challenge for police and residents.

Cpl. Mel Zurevinsky said landowners should consider the consequences before confronting thieves on their properties

“Is your safety, taking the law into your own hands, worth a quad, worth a truck?” he asked. “Sometimes leaving things be makes the most sense.”

Some Indigenous leaders have said changes to trespassing laws aren’t likely to stop crime but could increase racial tension.

Earlier this year, a jury found Saskatchewan farmer Gerald Stanley not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Colten Boushie. Boushie was killed after he was shot in the head on Stanley’s farm near Biggar in August 2016.

Boushie was a passenger in an SUV with several other young people who had driven onto Stanley’s property. Stanley testified at his trial that the gun accidentally went off after he had fired some shots to scare them away.

“I would hope that we work out some better protocols or some better understanding so that when people come on the land, a homeowner doesn’t feel threatened and, if you do have a breakdown or you need help, you are able to go and ask for help,” Morgan said.

He said he’s trying to set up a meeting with Bobby Cameron, chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.

“We don’t want to do anything that challenges or diminishes First Nations or treaty rights. Those are all things that should be important to everybody in the province.”

_ By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton. With files from CJWW in Saskatoon.

INDEX: JUSTICE POLITICS

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