June 26, 2019

Innovation Challenge Winner Aims to Connect Land Users to Rural Property Owners

Western Heritage, based out of Saskatoon, has been selected as the winner of the Rural Property Access Innovation Challenge.

The Innovation Challenge, led by the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), with support from Innovation Saskatchewan, was announced in March by Premier Scott Moe.

The challenge was launched to address changes to The Trespass to Property Act; specifically, looking to find a solution that would allow hunters, snowmobilers, and other land users to more easily ask property owners for permission before entering their land.

Western Heritage’s winning proposal is a mobile application that allows users to request land access from verified landowners, and for landowners to manage access to their property by providing approvals.  The application aims to maintain user anonymity and enable a two-way rating system, similar to Uber and Airbnb.

Safety is also a priority, and the app will use auto-notifications during high-risk land use, by notifying users when there are multiple hunters in the area.

“Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities is eager to work with Western Heritage to develop a comprehensive solution that will enable communication between rural property owners and would-be land users,” SARM President Ray Orb said.  “It is our hope this solution will help maintain safe and robust recreational activity use in rural Saskatchewan.”

Western Heritage will receive funding of up to $10,000 and a 16-week residency to develop their solution in collaboration with SARM and the provincial government.  Work has already begun, and a prototype is expected to be introduced this fall.

“We use Innovation Challenges to crowdsource ideas from our entrepreneurs to solve real-world problems,” Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan Tina Beaudry-Mellor said.  “By tapping into our problem solvers, we are able to use their creativity and tech expertise to enhance citizen experiences.”

Innovation Challenges encourage Saskatchewan technology companies to find quick and inventive solutions to public issues.  One such challenge in 2017 resulted in BeeSecure, an application that alerts rural landowners about irregular activity on their properties.

There is currently a second challenge ongoing, where the two winners are working with the Ministry of Environment and Innovation Saskatchewan to develop technology solutions to monitor the amount of solid waste generated and disposed of in the province.