By: Donna Wilson, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture will be selling vacant agricultural Crown lands through an online auction this fall, with sales opening on October 23, 2017, and closing between November 6 and 9.
Selling agricultural Crown land is not new for the Ministry, with the first sales programs dating back to the 1960s. However, the online auction format is new, replacing the previous bi-annual tender process whereby parcels of land were advertised for sale and eligible buyers were invited to place confidential bids.
The online auction format is simpler and more transparent, allowing more producers the opportunity to purchase land.
The auction format was first piloted in the fall of 2016. Then, working in partnership with Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, 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 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 was able to successfully sell 68 parcels of land totalling 10,000 acres.
The Ministry believes, in many cases, Saskatchewan producers are in the best position to manage land in the province – they are stewards of the land and passionate about soil and range health.
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 considered. If the Duty to Consult and Accommodate is triggered, government will fulfil those obligations when the sale has the potential to adversely affect Treaty and Aboriginal rights and traditional uses of First Nations and Métis communities.
In some cases, it is in the public interest to maintain ownership of Crown lands. But in cases where the land provides no public benefit, the Ministry looks to put that land into the hands of producers.
Through the fall auction sale there will be approximately 48 lots available for purchase, totalling more than 11,000 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.
The Ministry plans to host auction sales three times per year, with the next sales scheduled for March and June 2018.
For more information visit Saskatchewan.ca/crownlands.