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Sask. clarifies new crown lease wording

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association solicited feedback from its members on changes.
Lease billing timing and release of lease details has been clarified for Saskatchewan pasture leasees.

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government has clarified a recent notice that went out to cattle producers who lease Crown land.

Producers were confused about changes outlined in the letter, which changed billing dates and addressed the use of personal information.

The notice said the annual rent would be due Oct. 1 from now on and that interest would begin to accrue on unpaid amounts as of Jan. 1 of each year. The confusion stemmed from the next line: “For the purposes of subsection 7-6(2) of The Provincial Land (Agriculture) Regulations, the month following the billing date will be deemed to be Jan. 1, 2023, and Jan. 1 of each successive year.”

Some, at a recent Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association meeting, wondered how that made sense. The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association solicited feedback from its members on the changes.

The province’s lands branch sent out more information about the initial notice, including that the change to Oct. 1 for all billing was due to a new computer system.

Previously leases were billed Oct. 1, Nov. 1 or Dec. 1 with interest charged if the bill wasn’t paid within 30 days.

Now, all lessees are billed at the same time and allowed more time to pay.

“Lessees will now have an average of three months to pay their invoices, instead of 30 days after the billing date, before interest starts being charged on unpaid amounts,” said the updated information.

The other concern from the first letter was that the ministry of agriculture could disclose information about the lease, including legal description, amount of land, purpose, terms and conditions, along with amount payable, to a provincial or federal government agency or to a financial institution. It also said the minister could, without consent, disclose the information to First Nations with treaty land entitlement or specific claims and to development proponents.

But the updated information says that wording in the leases now aligns with provincial legislation “and what we have been doing in practice. This means only the wording has changed and we will not be changing how we acquire or share lessee’s information.”

Lands branch said information would be shared when lessee consent is required, such as requests to develop sand and gravel on that land.

If a lease is deemed eligible for a treaty land entitlement or specific claim by First Nations, information is shared so that the First Nation can make contact with the leaseholder.

“As a lessee, it is 100 percent up to you if you are willing to negotiate with a First Nation community to surrender your lease,” said the letter. “If you are not interested, you are fully within your right to say no, and the sale does not proceed.”

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