Preliminary Field Reconnaissance
Preliminary Field Reconnaissance (PFRs) are unpermitted field studies which are designed to assess the potential for archaeological sites protected under the Heritage Conservation Act to be present within an area.
For this kind of study, an archaeologist walks over an area or specific property where development is proposed, and assesses the potential for archaeological sites to be present based on their observations, the type of terrain, and their knowledge of the area. A PFR will also make recommendations regarding the necessity for additional archaeological work, such as an Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA). While PFRs are useful for planning purposes, they are not a requirement in terms of the archaeological impact assessment process. PFRs should be conducted under the supervision of someone recognized by the Archaeology Branch as a Field Director, to ensure that all work is done to established standards.
PFRs cannot determine the presence of buried sites, as a permit under the Heritage Conservation Act is required in order to dig shovel tests or conduct other subsurface work, where the objective is finding, altering, or defining sites. In situations where the presence of archaeological sites is suspected (for example, due to the nearby presence of sites on similar terrain), it may be prudent to proceed directly to an AIA, which is a permitted study and is used to establish the presence or absence of a site, and their scope, prior to any impacts to the site from development.