Sask. trespassing law takes effect July 1

Saskatchewan's new trespassing law — hailed by some farmers but also the subject of some criticism by the NDP — goes into effect Wednesday.

Saskatchewan's new trespassing law — hailed by some farmers but also the subject of some criticism by the NDP — goes into effect Wednesday.

The Trespass to Property Act makes it an offence for people to enter someone's property if there's a "Do Not Trespass" sign or if the resident tells them to stay off.

It will also make it an offence to stay on someone's property once told to leave.

"If you're a property owner and you've had a recurring problem with a neighbour or somebody who goes onto your property or a commercial property owner as well, and you ask them to leave [and they don't], you'll be able to call the police," Justice Minister Don Morgan said.

Police can then give the trespasser a ticket, although that person won't get a criminal record, Morgan said.

When the legislation was introduced last year, radio call-in shows and online forums were flooded with people who said it was about time something was done to keep unwanted snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles off their properties.

However, other people — including NDP Opposition MLAs — are worried the new law may cast too wide a net and catch people who are not being harmful, such as protesters who gather for a peaceful demonstration.

"Theoretically, they could be charged with trespass," NDP justice critic Frank Quennell said. "I don't think, ultimately, that charge would stand up, but it should be set out clearly in the legislation."

The onus shouldn't be on citizens to go to court and prove the rights that are guaranteed under the Charter of Rights an Freedoms, Quennell said.

The government should have enshrined them in this new law, he said.

Morgan said his new trespassing law doesn't take those rights away and police will have to ensure they respect them when they apply it.

The maximum fine under the Trespass to Property Act is $2,000.