By Dave Junk, P.Ag Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture will be selling vacant agricultural Crown land through an online auction platform this spring. Bidding opens the week of Feb. 26, 2018 with staggered closing dates of March 12, 15 and 20, 2018.
Disposing of agricultural Crown land through sale is not new for the Ministry, with the first sales program dating back to the 1960s.
The online auction was first piloted in the fall of 2016. Working in partnership with Ritchie Bros., the Ministry held its first full-scale online Crown land auction in March 2017. There were more than 42,000 views on the lots advertised on the Ritchie Bros. website, exposure that would not have been possible through the tender format. This interest led to 2,200 bids and, as a result, Saskatchewan Agriculture successfully sold 68 parcels of land totalling 10,000 acres. The online auction format is simpler and more transparent, allowing more people the opportunity to purchase land.
Saskatchewan producers are stewards of the land and are in the best position to manage land. They are passionate about soil and environmental sustainability.
However, there is a delicate balance to knowing when it is in the province’s best interest to sell land. Before any parcel is sold, it undergoes a thorough evaluation. The Ministry looks at whether the land has heritage value, if it is ecologically important, or serves as important wildlife habitat. Future government resource needs, such as sand and gravel reserves or the potential for oil and gas development are also considered. When a proposed sale has the potential to adversely impact Treaty and Aboriginal rights to hunt, fish and trap for food and carry out traditional uses, government will fulfill its legal duty to consult and accommodate obligations, consistent with the Government of Saskatchewan’s First Nation and Métis Consultation Policy Framework.
In some cases, it is in the public interest to maintain ownership of Crown lands. But in cases where there is no higher public good from an ecological, environmental, heritage or economic perspective, the Ministry looks to put those lands into the hands of producers.
Through the spring 2018 auction sale, there will be approximately 39 lots available for purchase, totalling more than 8,700 acres. Lots not sold in this main sales event will be re-posted in a secondary sale immediately following sale close. Following that, any lots still available for purchase will be made available in an e-catalogue – similar to an online real estate listing.
For more information, visit our Purchase Agricultural Crown Land web page.