Saskatchewan tightens up powers on Crown land

New legislation giving the Saskatchewan government more powers to prevent misuse of Crown land, and more leeway in dealing with leaseholders, is now in effect.

The province on Monday announced its new Provincial Lands Act and related regulations, introduced in the legislature last June, have been formally proclaimed and are now in effect, updating rules it said had been “largely unchanged” since the 1930s.

“This revised legislation is part of a government-wide effort to modernize the legislative framework, provide better environmental protection and keep our province and processes current and forward-looking,” Environment Minister Scott Moe said in a release.

The amended Act, for example, gives the province “the ability to respond and take action when land is being misused, such as issuing immediate stop work orders.”

It also increases the time period of certain long-term leases where “significant investments” are possible, such as for wind power development, and lays out a framework under which provincial Crown leases through the agriculture ministry may be used as security.

Related regulatory amendments also give the province the ability to work with lessees during “extenuating circumstances,” where previously the province’s only option would be to cancel a Crown land lease.

The regulations also provide a new “clear annual deadline” by which a leaseholder must surrender a lease to avoid further rental charges, and authorizes the cancellation of a lease on municipal tax arrears of one year.

The new regulations also clarify what leaseholders can and can’t do to control access on leased Crown land, the province said.

“These updates will help facilitate economic growth and reduce administration processes to improve client service,” Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said in the same release.

The Act, which the agriculture and environment ministries administer jointly, was “originally drafted to accommodate the settlement of the West” and has gone largely unchanged since then, the province said. — Network

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