Mobile app SaskLander aims to eliminate trespassing problems in rural Sask.

A new app is being tested to change how land owners and recreational users connect for land access.

Hunters, snowmobilers and other outdoor enthusiasts are closer to having that opportunity thanks to the launch of a prototype mobile app called SaskLander.

At a presentation on Thursday afternoon at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) office in Regina, officials gathered to learn more about the application and to view a demonstration.

The app was developed by Saskatoon-based company Western Heritage after they were awarded $10,000 to put together the prototype in four months as part of Innovation Saskatchewan’s Rural Property Access Innovation Challenge earlier this year.

The idea behind the app is similar to Airbnb. People interested in accessing land can check to see which parcels are available, they can send a request, and then the land owner can choose to accept, deny or state that there’s no access to the property.

“Land owners will be to indicate their properties and what the permissions are, and then recreational users will be able to see what is available, what the permission set is, and initiate that contact between the two groups,” said co-founder Aldo Scribante.

Tina Beaudry-Mellor, minister responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan, said she’s excited about the project.

“Obviously they need buy in from the community, but the opportunity here is great,” she stated. “The problem they are trying to solve is a difficult problem – how do we ensure that land owners know who’s on their land and for what reason, and that recreational users still have the ability to use that land.”

When asked if the government will be assisting in promoting the app during its test run, Beaudry-Mellor mentioned they will be spreading the word through social media and other options that are available.

SaskLander co-founder Sauvelm McClean during Thursday’s unveiling in Regina. (Photo: Moises Canales/620 CKRM)

Western Heritage chose the RM of Shellbrook for their testing phase due to its diversity. Co-founder Sauvelm McClean explained that the area sees a variety of activity such as hunters and winter recreationalists, and there are a number of different land types.

The group said they plan to make trips to the area to campaign for the app, provide information to property owners and fix the system’s bugs.

McClean said they have a goal of reaching 75 per cent coverage for their pilot, but land owners and users need to help out.

“Even for those who are less technologically savvy, we want to be able to be there so they can sign up through the system,” he noted. “We still want them to have the opportunity to get the status of their land on there.”

With amendments made to the Trespass to Property Act earlier this year requiring individuals to ask permission from a land owner to access their property, SaskLander’s creators hope people will be interested enough to plug in their information to help grow the project.

The prototype will be offered for free and is set to run from January to December 2020 with commercialization scheduled next fall and beyond.

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