Bulletins and policies

Archaeology policies and their supporting bulletins provide direction and clarifications about how to protect and conserve B.C.'s archaeological resources in accordance with the Heritage Conservation Act

Last updated: Nov 16, 2021

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Archaeology Policies 

These policies and procedures protect archaeological sites and artifacts in B.C.

Issued: May 2012

The Archaeology Branch (branch) is the central repository for archaeological information held by the Province of British Columbia. Archaeological information, such as the location and description of archaeological sites, reports on archaeological field work, and maps showing where sites are likely to occur, is available. However, to protect the integrity of archaeological sites, distribution of this information is restricted to cases where sharing this knowledge will facilitate site protection and conservation. The powers to restrict the distribution of archaeological information are found in section 3(3) of the Heritage Conservation Act.

This access policy presents the categories of available information, limitations on distribution, and methods of accessing this information. Access to Provincial Archaeological Information: Appendix A (PDF 345 KB) further describes each information category with the associated distribution limitations and access methods.

Categories of available archaeological information

Four categories of archaeological information are available:

  • Archaeological Site Records consisting of the site form and maps for each protected archaeological site in the Provincial Archaeological Site Inventory Database.
  • Archaeological Permit Reports detailing the results of archaeological impact assessments (AIA), inventories, impact mitigation and research field work authorised under a Heritage Conservation Act permit.
  • Archaeological Non-Permit Reports and Books retained by the branch to support archaeological overview assessments (AOA), preliminary field reconnaissance (PFR) and other archaeological work not requiring a Heritage Conservation Act permit.
  • Archaeological Spatial Data Layers developed by the Archaeology Branch to assist in archaeological resource management.

Limitations on information distribution

The Archaeology Branch (branch) oversees the distribution of archaeological information where disclosure would contribute to the conservation of archaeological sites protected by the Heritage Conservation Act. Conversely, the branch will refuse to distribute archaeological information where disclosure may result in damage to, or interfere with, the conservation of protected archaeological sites.

Several user groups require access to archaeological information:

  • Accredited Archaeological Researchers – Archaeologists on staff at educational institutes and graduate students requiring archaeological information for research. Graduate students must furnish a letter of support from a member of their thesis committee stating that the information is required for their research.
  • First Nations Governments – Staff supporting land and resource management, treaty, and land claims.
  • Industry – Companies active in land altering development and resource extraction activities.
  • Land Title Conveyance Professionals – working on behalf of a registered land title owner or potential purchaser.
  • Local, Provincial and Federal Government Branches – Staff supporting land and resource management planning and authorisations, treaty negotiations and First Nations agreements.
  • Private Property Owners – Registered owners of commercial, agricultural or residential property.
  • Professional Archaeological Consulting Community – Archaeologists who have held a heritage inspection or investigation permit in the past two years or have Professional or Associate level membership in the BC Association of Professional Archaeologists. Other professional consulting archaeologists may be considered on a case by case basis.

Archaeological information is not placed in the public domain and site specific information is not distributed to the general public as this information may be misused to damage archaeological sites. Further, archaeological information will not be released for merchantable products or for avocational research.

Methods of accessing archaeological information

There are three methods of accessing archaeological information held by the Archaeology Branch:

  • Data Requests
  • Self Service Access
  • Direct Access

Data requests

Archaeological site records, archaeological permit reports and Provincial AOA assessment data can be accessed by completing an Archaeological Information Request. To see what kind of information you qualify to receive, see our Request archaeological information page.

Self-service access

Internet access is available to the Remote Access to Archaeological Data (RAAD) theme in iMapBC and the Provincial Archaeological Report Library (PARL). The RAAD theme contains archaeological site records, provincial AOA data and archaeological site locations. Archaeological permit reports and selected non-permit reports can be accessed through PARL. PARL enables users to search, view, and download reports and includes a print-on-demand service.

Access to RAAD and PARL is limited to qualified users of archaeological inventory information requiring repeated access. Identified groups include:

  • Accredited Archaeological Researchers
  • First Nations Governments
  • Local Governments (RAAD only)
  • Provincial and Federal Government Branches
  • Professional Archaeological Consulting Community

Self service users must apply for access to our systems by completing and signing an Archaeological Information Sharing Agreement that details the terms and conditions of website usage, information access, and distribution. To apply, applicants external to the Provincial government must have a Business BCeID.

Direct access

Archaeological site locations are held in secure layers within the BC Geographic Warehouse. Direct access to this layer is governed by a data access agreement. Direct access is only considered for Provincial Government Branches, Professional Consulting Archaeologists, or those with signed usage agreements with the province of B.C.

Direct access will only be considered for provincial government groups that:

  • Support land and resource management planning and authorisations, treaty negotiations, First Nations agreements and consultation
  • Track users and use of archaeological information
  • Do not forward the archaeological information to a third party unless a distribution policy has been developed with the Archaeology Branch

Direct access is provided to Professional Archaeological Consultants using the Archaeological Data Import Facility (ADIF). ADIF allows archaeological site data to be entered directly into the provincial Archaeological Site Inventory database by external users. ADIF will be supported until an online site form has been developed.

Please contact the Archaeology Branch to discuss direct access requirements, or download a copy of the policy (PDF 159 KB).

Issued: April 3, 1996
​Revised: May 7, 1997

Purpose

The purpose of this directive on cultural heritage resource management in Provincial forests is to provide guidance to Archaeology Branch staff, archaeological consultants, and Ministry of Forests (MOF) staff regarding the responsibilities of the Archaeology Branch in implementing the "Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture and Ministry of Forests Protocol Agreement on the Management of Cultural Heritage Resources" (October 1996). Please refer to the protocol agreement for information concerning MOF's responsibilities. The protocol agreement facilitates the requirements of the Heritage Conservation Act (RSBC, Chap. 187, s. 12, 13 and 14), and has been amended to conform with the requirements of the Forest Practices Code of B.C. Act (s. 17(2)(c) and 51) and Operational Planning Regulation (s. 26 and 63).

Mandate

To recognize that cultural heritage resources (archaeological and traditional use sites) are an integral component of Provincial forest lands, and to ensure that these resources are managed in accordance with the provisions of the protocol agreement.

This agreement applies to the Sub-Regional Plan Level (i.e., Land and Resource Management Plans, forestry Management Plans), Operations Plan Level (i.e., Forest Development Plans), and Operations Level (e.g., forestry Cutting Permits and Road Permits).

Authority

The protocol agreement facilitates the requirements of the Heritage Conservation Act (RSBC, Chap. 187, s. 12, 13 and 14), and has been amended to conform with the requirements of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act (s. 17(2)(c) and 51) and Operational Planning Regulation (s. 26 and 63).

Sub-regional plan level

Policy statement

Archaeological overview assessments (AOA's) will be carried out under contract to the Archaeology Branch in conjunction with the development of Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMP's). AOA's determine the archaeological resource potential of areas proposed for forest management activities, and result in predictions regarding archaeological site variability, density and distribution.

Procedures

The Archaeology Branch will:

  • set standards and policies for AOA's;
  • manage the information collected in AOA's (e.g., archaeological resource potential maps);
  • coordinate and fund AOA's in accordance with the LRMP schedule, contingent upon funding availability;
  • present AOA results for incorporation in LRMP's;
  • communicate the results of AOA's to MOF and Inter-agency Management Committees.

Operational plan level

Policy statement

Archaeological impact assessments (AIA's) and Traditional Use Studies (TUS) should be undertaken for Forest Development Plans. AIA's determine impacts to archaeological sites as well as site significance, and assist forest licensees in designing, planning and implementing proposed forest activities while minimizing impacts to archaeological resources.

TUS' differ from AIA's, and focus on the identification, assessment and protection of traditional, ceremonial and sustenance activities of aboriginal groups; thereby assisting the province in meeting its legal obligations as determined in the Court of Appeal's decision in Delgamuukw v. The Queen (1993).

Procedures

The Archaeology Branch will:

  • review the results of AIA's to ensure they meet the standards identified in the British Columbia Archaeological Impact Assessment Guidelines;
  • develop, and provide ongoing review of, methodological guidelines, policies and procedures for conducting TUS;
  • incorporate site inventory data in the Provincial Heritage Register, in accordance with Memoranda of Understanding between MOF and First Nations.

Operations level

Policy statement

Archaeological impact management measures (AIM) are to be implemented for operations authorized through pre-harvest silviculture prescriptions, cutting permits, logging plans, road permits, etc. These measures are intended to prevent, avoid or reduce adverse effects of forest management activities on archaeological resources and include mitigation, compensation, surveillance, monitoring and emergency impact management.

Procedures

The Archaeology Branch will:

  • notify MOF of impact management measures required in forest documents (i.e., permits, prescriptions, plans, licences, etc.) upon completion of the branch's review and acceptance of the relevant archaeological impact assessment report.

Issued: October 3, 1996
Revised: May 2, 2019

Please note, this section is currently under review. 

Purpose

The purpose of this directive on enforcement of the Heritage Conservation Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 187) is to provide guidance to Archaeology Branch staff as to the general procedures to be followed when alleged violations of the Act are reported to the branch.

Mandate

To ensure initiation of appropriate enforcement procedures upon learning of an alleged contravention of this legislation.

Authority

Pursuant to section 36(1) of the Heritage Conservation Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 187), a person who does any of the following commits an offence:

  • contravenes section 13(6), 14(1) or (8);
  • fails to comply with, or contravenes a requirement or condition of, an order or permit under section 12(2)(a), 14(2) or (4), or 16;
  • contravenes section 13(1) or (2).

Issued: September 22, 1999

*Please note, this policy is currently under review.* 

Purpose

The purpose of this directive on found human remains is to provide guidelines to Archaeology Branch staff, archaeologists, other agencies and the public as to branch procedures for handling human remains that may be protected under the Heritage Conservation Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 187), and to facilitate the respectful treatment of these remains.

Mandate

Pursuant to section 12.1(2)(b) of the Heritage Conservation Act, a permit is required under section 12.2 or 12.4 before a person can undertake any actions affecting a burial place of historical or archaeological value, human remains or associated heritage objects.

Authority

The Director of the Archaeology Branch and the Manager, Permitting and Assessment Section, have been authorized to exercise the powers of the Minister to issue permits under sections 12.2(2) and 12.4(1), as well as ministerial orders under section 12.3 where necessary for emergency conservation purposes.

Policy statement

Upon notification of the discovery of human remains that are not of forensic concern, the Archaeology Branch will take steps to facilitate the respectful handling and disposition of those remains within the limits of existing funds and program priorities.

Procedures

The following procedures will normally apply in cases where human remains are discovered fortuitously through various land altering activities such as house renovations, road construction or natural erosion; or during archaeological studies conducted under a Heritage Conservation Act permit:

1. Fortuitous Discoveries

In cases where the branch has been notified that human remains have been discovered by chance, the following procedures should normally apply:

  • the Coroner's Office and local policing authority should be notified as soon as possible.
  • the Coroner's Office should determine whether the matter is of contemporary forensic concern. The branch may provide information and advice that may assist in this determination.
  • if the Coroner's Office determines the reported remains are not of forensic concern, the branch will attempt to facilitate disposition of the remains.
  • if a cultural affiliation for the remains can be reasonably determined, the branch will attempt to contact an organization representing that cultural group.
  • if remains are determined to be of aboriginal ancestry, the branch will attempt to contact the relevant First Nation(s).
  • generally, if remains are still interred and are under no immediate threat of further disturbance, they will not be excavated or removed.
  • if the remains have been partially or completely removed, the branch will facilitate disposition.
  • if removal of the remains is determined to be appropriate, they will be removed under authority of a permit issued pursuant to section 12.2 or 12.4, or an order under section 12.3 of the Heritage Conservation Act, respecting the expressed wishes of the cultural group(s) represented to the extent this may be known or feasible.
  • if circumstances warrant, the branch may arrange for a qualified physical anthropologist or an archaeologist with training in human osteology to provide an assessment of the reported remains in order to implement appropriate conservation measures.
  • analysis should be limited to basic recording and in-field observations until consultation between the branch and appropriate cultural group(s) has been concluded.

2. Permitted Archaeological Projects

In cases where human remains are encountered in the course of a permitted project, the Archaeology Branch should be contacted as soon as possible.

  • the remains are to be handled in accordance with the methods specified in the permit, respecting the expressed wishes of the cultural group(s) represented, to the extent that these may be known or feasible.
  • if the permit does not specify how remains are to be handled and if the cultural affiliation of the remains can be reasonably determined, the field director or permit-holder should attempt to contact an organization representing that group. The permit-holder or field director should advise the branch of the organization contacted, and any wishes expressed by that organization.
  • the branch, in consultation with the appropriate cultural group(s), will determine disposition of the remains.
  • analysis should be limited to basic recording and in-field observations, until consultation between the branch and appropriate cultural group(s) has been concluded.

Issued: January 26, 1996
Revised: March 12, 1999

Purpose

The purpose of this directive on Heritage Permits is to provide guidelines to Archaeology Branch staff and permit applicants as to the information the branch should take into account when reviewing applications, the general procedures to be followed by branch staff in processing an application, and the general procedures that should be followed upon issuance of permits.

Mandate

Pursuant to section 13 of the Heritage Conservation Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 187), a permit issued under section 12 or 14 is required before a person can undertake any actions affecting heritage objects as referred to in subsection 13(1) or affecting heritage sites as referred to in subsection 13(2), or any activities referred to in subsection 14(1) of the Act.

Authority

Pursuant to Section 12(1) and Order in Council 1254 (1995), the Director of the Archaeology Branch and the Manager, Permitting and Assessment Section, have been authorized in writing by the Minister to exercise the powers of the Minister to issue permits under Sections 12(2) and 14(2) of the Heritage Conservation Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 187).

Policy statement

There are three basic categories of activities for which permits are most often sought: academic research, resource management, and alterations to sites to facilitate development. Academic research and resource management activities most often require heritage investigation or inspection permits pursuant to Section 14(2), while alteration permits are sought under the provisions of Section 12(2).

When making a decision or recommendation as to issuance of a permit under sections 12(2) and 14(2) of the Heritage Conservation Act, the Archaeology Branch should take into account the following:

  • the nature and justification of proposed activities;
  • the training, experience and logistical ability of an applicant to successfully complete the proposed activities (inspection and investigation permits only);
  • comments provided by any First Nation known to assert a traditional interest in the area of the proposed activities; and
  • other relevant information.

For academic research permits, the branch will consider all of the following criteria or equivalent information as it applies to the person carrying out the work being authorized (applicant or field director if different from the applicant):

  • BA degree in archaeology, or anthropology with a specialty in archaeology, or is an advanced student (third or fourth year) working under the direction of a supervisor who has previously held a permit;
  • experience conducting archaeological site survey (approx. 20 working days);
  • experience conducting archaeological excavation (approx. 60 working days) that includes approximately 20 days supervising excavations (investigation permits only);
  • compliance with all requirements and conditions of previous permits held (if any);
  • access to facilities and the services of related specialists required to carry out field work, analysis and report preparation;
  • can arrange for the proper curation of recovered cultural materials at a repository that is acceptable to the Archaeology Branch.

For resource management permits, as decisions are often irreversible and can form the basis of subsidiary decisions that may result in the loss of archaeological resources, additional qualifications are desirable. In these cases, the branch will consider all of the following criteria or equivalent information as it applies to the person carrying out the work being authorized (applicant or field director if different from the applicant):

  • MA degree in archaeology, or anthropology with a specialty in archaeology, or BA degree with an equivalent combination of post-graduate training and experience;
  • experience in archaeological resource management (approx. 360 working days) that includes approximately 40 days supervising archaeological impact assessments in the general culture area for which the permit is sought (e.g., Northwest Coast, Interior Plateau, Sub-Arctic/Northern Boreal Forest);
  • experience conducting archaeological excavation (approx. 60 working days) that includes approximately 20 days supervising mitigation projects (investigation permits only);
  • senior author of an archaeological impact assessment report consistent with the reporting guidelines outlined in Appendix A of the British Columbia Archaeological Impact Assessment Guidelines;
  • compliance with all requirements and conditions of previous permits held (if any);
  • access to facilities and the services of related specialists required to carry out field work, analysis and report preparation;
  • can arrange for the proper curation of recovered cultural materials at a repository that is acceptable to the Archaeology Branch.

Review Procedures

Upon receipt of an application for permit in the Archaeology Branch, the following procedures will normally be undertaken:

  • the Manager, Permitting and Assessment, assigns the application to a Project Officer for internal review (a peer review may also be conducted if appropriate);
  • the Project Officer reviews the Application for completeness of information; if found incomplete, additional information is requested from the applicant;
  • complete Applications are referred by the Manager to First Nations asserting traditional interest in the proposed study area, with a request for comment, preferably in writing, within a reasonable time, usually 15-30 days;
  • written comments that identify concerns over the study methodology are referred by the Manager to the applicant for response;
  • the Manager makes a decision as to permit issuance, or makes a recommendation to the Director, Archaeology Branch, with respect to issuance, based on the review comments provided by both the Project Officer and First Nation(s).

Permits will be issued from the Archaeology Branch in a standard format and, pursuant to section 12(3) of the Act, may include specific requirements, specifications or conditions the issuing authority considers appropriate. Generally, the following terms and conditions will apply to all heritage inspection and investigation permits involving archaeological activities:

  • permits shall only be valid for the term stipulated on the permit form, unless otherwise cancelled. Extensions will be considered upon submission of an application at least 30 days prior to the expiry date of the permit;
  • permit-holders shall provide the branch with one bound copy of a written report outlining the work carried out under the terms of the permit;
  • a person designated by the branch may at any time inspect work authorized by permits, including records and materials recovered;
  • upon completion of any inspections or investigations involving excavations or other site alterations, permit-holders shall make all reasonable efforts to restore sites as nearly as possible to their former condition;
  • permit-holders must utilize any recording forms, formats or systems required by the branch;
  • archaeological impact assessment and management studies must conform with the British Columbia Archaeological Impact Assessment Guidelines (Archaeology Branch 1998);
  • prior to permit issuance, permit-holders must arrange for a secure repository to curate any materials that may be collected under the authority of the permit.

Permit reporting procedures

Generally, the deadline for submission of written reports to the branch shall be four months after the completion of field work, unless otherwise agreed to by the branch and the applicant during the application review process.

Upon issuance of a heritage inspection permit for a site survey (inventory or assessment), the following reporting procedures will generally apply:

  • only temporary site numbers are to be used in the field - permanent site numbers will not be assigned by the branch until completed site inventory forms have been submitted;
  • British Columbia Archaeological Site Inventory Forms must be submitted to the branch, prior to or at the same time as the permit report, for all sites recorded during the survey and should contain 1:50,000 scale NTS map inserts with site locations accurately plotted;
  • permit reports submitted to the branch must be accompanied by 1:50,000 scale NTS map inserts with site locations accurately plotted if not submitted with site forms;
  • the provenience of all excavated and surface collected archaeological materials must be recorded where possible.

Upon issuance of a heritage investigation permit for systematic data recovery or extensive research excavations, the following recording and reporting procedures will generally apply:

  • establishment of horizontal base lines related to a permanent reference point or datum;
  • establishment of a permanent vertical datum from which to calculate all depth measurements;
  • preparation of an accurate site map delineating all reference points and ground contours;
  • use of a field journal to document all pertinent site information, e.g., location of site map reference points, excavation unit selection criteria, etc.;
  • keep accurate records of artifact provenience, and natural and cultural associations;
  • record provenience for, and objective descriptions on, natural and cultural matrices (aids such as Munsell soil colour charts should be utilized);
  • submission of updated site inventory forms with preliminary reports.

Purpose

The purpose of this directive on interim permit reports is to provide guidance to Archaeology and Registry Services Branch and Oil and Gas Commission staff, permit applicants and development proponents as to the information required by the Archaeological Permitting Section of the Archaeology and Registry Services Branch or the Oil and Gas Commission in order to make timely decisions regarding impact management requirements. This directive applies where permit holders are reporting the results of archaeological impact assessments (AIAs) as the field work is completed for parts of multiple component developments, e.g., oil and gas wells, forestry cut blocks.

Mandate

To provide a process whereby the results of AIAs can be reviewed and impact management decisions made prior to the submission of a final permit report, thereby enabling developments to proceed where adverse impacts to archaeological sites are unlikely or can be effectively managed.

Authority

The Archaeology and Registry Services Branch may require permit holders to provide satisfactory reports of the results of AIAs, as provided in sections 12(3)(c) and 14(5) of the Heritage Conservation Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 187).

Policy statement

When making a decision or recommendation that will enable a development to proceed prior to submitting a final permit report to the Archaeological Permitting Section or the Oil and Gas Commission, the interim permit report should minimally contain the following information (considerable practical experience has shown that these interim reports need not exceed three pages of text plus location maps), which may be submitted in tabular form. Information items 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 (georeference only), 10, 11 (number of protected and unprotected sites only), 14 and 15 must appear on page 1 of the interim report(s). You must also leave a 4x8 cm blank space on page 1 for use by the Archaeological Permitting Section.

  1. Management Summary.
  2. Permit number.
  3. Oil and Gas Commission reference number, if applicable.
  4. Archaeological Permitting Section or Oil and Gas Commission contact person.
  5. Permit holder: name, address, email, telephone number and fax number.
  6. Proponent: company (if appropriate), contact person, telephone number, fax number and email.
  7. Development type, facilities and schedule: e.g., 6 forestry cut blocks (include Forest District) and a 3-km. haul road - road construction November 1996, harvesting December 1996; sump, wellsite and access, and borrow pit development December 2003. Include 1:20,000 scale and larger scale construction maps, if available.
  8. Location: general description of the geographic location, topography and vegetation cover, e.g., located at the outlet of No Name Lake, approximately 26 km. northwest of Somewhere, B.C., on a gently sloping river terrace covered with a mix of lodgepole pine, spruce and aspen.
  9. Potential assessment: based on the results of any previous overview assessment(s) or impact assessment(s) and the current field survey, describe the potential of the area encompassed by the development facility to contain archaeological sites. Include a description of the criteria used to assess archaeological potential.
  10. Field survey: describe methods used for each development component (e.g., linear transects, shovel tests at 50 m. intervals), attach general location maps (include 1:50,000 map number), maps delineating survey coverage, and archaeological site maps; identify personnel conducting the survey; and identify dates on which the survey was undertaken.
  11. Field survey results: indicate whether or not archaeological sites were identified during the survey; list sites recorded by Borden number; describe site types and dimensions; georeference site locations, e.g., UTM coordinates; and assess the reliability of the survey results.
  12. Impact assessment: assess the impacts from the proposed development on archaeological site(s), and evaluate the significance of recorded sites.
  13. Recommendations: for further survey and/or site evaluation, and for managing adverse impacts.
  14. Report author.
  15. Report submission date.

Interim reporting procedures

Upon issuance of a Heritage Inspection Permit (inventory or impact assessment), the following reporting procedures will generally apply:

  • Interim reports are to be submitted to the Archaeological Permitting Section or the Oil and Gas Commission (see permit condition #2) upon completion of the field work for each component of multiple component developments, e.g., several cut blocks or gas wells in a company's operating area. Borden numbers must be obtained for all new sites identified during fieldwork prior to interim report submission. Site inventory forms must be submitted to both the Archaeological Permitting Section and the Oil and Gas Commission prior to or at the same time as the interim reports.
  • The staff archaeologist responsible for the permit file(s) will review the report(s) and provide written comments conveying impact management decisions to the permit holder, with a copy to the proponent.
  • The permit holder will summarize and collate individual interim reports in the final permit report.

The Multi-Assessment Permit Policy (PDF 262 KB) (April 20, 2020) updates and replaces the previous Blanket Permit Policy (April 3, 2019).

Issued: January 15, 1997
Revised: May 7, 1997

Purpose

The purpose of this directive on recording petroglyphs is to provide guidance to Archaeology Branch staff, rock art researchers, consulting archaeologists and the public as to the considerations that should be taken into account and the general procedures to be followed when recording this type of site.

A petroglyph is an aboriginal rock carving. Petroglyphs are protected under the provisions of the Heritage Conservation Act. Any recording technique involving direct application of materials to the surface of petroglyphs should only be undertaken when other methods of recording are not adequate for research or resource management purposes. Casting and making rubbings of petroglyphs are two methods of recording and replicating the physical characteristics of rock carvings. However, both methods may cause the loss of surface rock, lichen and rock varnish (surface patina), and have the potential to significantly damage carvings on soft stones such as sandstone.

Mandate

To facilitate the protection and conservation of rock art sites of historical or archaeological value.

Authority

Under section 13(2)(c) of the Heritage Conservation Act (1996 RSBC, Chap. 187), a person must not damage, alter, cover or move an aboriginal rock painting or carving that has historical or archaeological value. A permit issued under section 12 or 14 of the Act is required before a person can undertake any actions affecting petroglyphs.

Pursuant to section 12(1), the Director and Manager, Permitting and Assessment Section, of the Archaeology Branch have been authorized in writing by the Minister to exercise the powers of the Minister to issue permits under sections 12(2) and 14(2) of the Heritage Conservation Act.

Policy statement

A permit, pursuant to section 12 or 14 of the Heritage Conservation Act, will be required for casting or making rubbings of petroglyphs unless the Archaeology Branch is provided with a report from a professional conservator stating that the proposed activity will not alter (i.e., change in any manner) the petroglyph(s).

Operational procedures

When proposing to record petroglyphs utilizing techniques involving the direct application of materials to the surface of the rock, the following procedures will normally be undertaken:

  • a professional conservator must have examined the petroglyph(s), and provided a written opinion as to whether or not the recording technique is likely to alter the petroglyph(s);
  • a permit must be obtained from the Archaeology Branch only in cases where a conservator has determined that the proposed recording technique(s) is likely to alter the petroglyph;
  • a permit application is to be submitted to the Archaeology Branch for review in accordance with branch permit application review procedures.

Issued: October 15, 2008
Revised: November 17, 2008

The British Columbia Archaeological Site Inventory and the Provincial Heritage Register The Archaeology Branch contributes to a centralized listing of protected heritage sites and objects by collecting, maintaining and distributing information for:

  1. Provincial heritage sites (i.e., land that is designated under Section 9 of the Heritage Conservation Act) that are archaeological in nature
  2. Heritage sites and objects that are included under an agreement with First Nations (under Section 4 of the Act)
  3. Known heritage sites that are protected under Section 13(2) of the Act. These would include: a.
    • Burial places
    • Aboriginal rock paintings or carvings
    • Sites that contain artifacts, features, materials or other physical evidence of human habitation or use before 1846
    • Heritage wrecks

The Archaeology Branch stores these records in the British Columbia Archaeological Site Inventory. This inventory and other records contributed by the Heritage Branch for buildings, structures and other non-archaeological sites are combined to form the Provincial Heritage Register.

Collecting archaeological site information

There are three common sources of information for the British Columbia Archaeological Site Inventory:

  1. Information submitted by the general public
  2. Site information collected by a qualified professional archaeologist working under a Heritage Conservation Act permit
  3. Non-permitted submissions by archaeological researchers

The Archaeology Branch encourages archaeological site information to be submitted by the general public for inclusion in the inventory. Observations regarding individual sites may be reported to the Archaeology Branch. Archaeological Site Inventory staff will assist in gathering the required site documentation.

Specific requirements for permitted or non-permitted submissions by archaeological researchers can be found in the Minimum Content and Format Requirements for Recording Archaeological Sites bulletin. Briefly, archaeological site information is collected using the British Columbia Archaeological Site Inventory Form and the contents of the form are prescribed by the British Columbia Archaeological Site Inventory Form Guide. Heritage shipwreck information is collected using the British Columbia Shipwreck Recording Form and Guide.

Archaeological site records may be submitted to the Branch via mail or email. If authorized, archaeological researchers can directly enter their site information into the database using the Archaeological Data Import Facility. 

Maintaining archaeological site information

Archaeological site information records submitted to the Archaeology Branch are reviewed by staff for accuracy, completeness, and consistency with the British Columbia Archaeological Site Inventory Form Guide, applicable permitting methodology and conditions, and relevant bulletins. Upon acceptance of the site form, a unique identifier for the site is issued (the Borden Number). In the case of permitted work, the Borden Number is transmitted to the permit holder.

British Columbia Archaeological Site Inventory records containing both textual and spatial data are stored electronically in the Heritage Resource Inventory Application. A paper copy of the record is archived on site. Borden numbers are issued within 10 working days of receiving an acceptable site form, and all site data is entered into the database within 45 working days.

Distribution of site information

Archaeological site information is sensitive as releasing this information into the public domain may result in looting and destruction of a site. Therefore, the Archaeology Branch controls and releases information on a “need to know” basis pursuant to Section 3(3) of the Heritage Conservation Act.

The different methods of accessing information, the types of information disclosed to various client groups, and limitations concerning data use and distribution are detailed in the Access to Archaeological Site Information policy. Briefly, archaeological site information may be requested by:

  • Personally completing a data request form at the Archaeology Branch
  • Submitting a data request form by fax
  • Mailing a data request to the Archaeology Branch
  • Submitting an online data request via the Archaeology Data Request Form

Records for specific archaeological sites are provided where it can be shown that distribution of the records will benefit the management or conservation of these sites. Site specific archaeological information is not provided to support general research, avocational interest or any merchantable product.

Purpose

The purpose of this directive on managing heritage trails in Provincial forests is to provide guidance to Archaeology Branch and Ministry of Forests (FOR) staff regarding the branch's responsibilities in ensuring protection and management of heritage trails on Crown lands administered by FOR and to ensure that these trails are considered in FOR's forest planning and operations.

Mandate

To recognize that heritage trails performed an important role in the development of British Columbia and have a significant place in its history, to provide for designation of the most significant trails as Provincial heritage sites under authority of the Heritage Conservation Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 187), and to provide for the preparation of Management Plans to ensure heritage and recreational values of such trails are maintained for the enjoyment of all British Columbians. Details for carrying out this mandate are expanded upon in the Memorandum of Agreement noted under "Authority."

Authority

Legislative authority derives from the Heritage Conservation Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 187, s. 9 and 13(2)(d)). Operational authority derives from the Memorandum of Agreement on Heritage Trails between the Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture and the Ministry of Forests that was updated on May 24,1995.

Policy statement

The Ministry of Forests (FOR) will recognize significant heritage trails through designation as Provincial heritage sites pursuant to s. 9 of the Heritage Conservation Act, and will allow for their subsequent management by FOR following development of a mutually approved management plan.

When making a decision to designate a trail, the following factors should be given consideration:

  • the amount of evidence of the original route on the ground;
  • existence of reasonable historical documentation;
  • associated recreational values;
  • the degree of local public support;
  • compatibility with other use in the area;
  • support of other agencies having jurisdiction over the land; and
  • the need for protection

Heritage trails that are not designated shall be considered through normal FOR forest planning and operational procedures.

Procedures

The Archaeology Branch will normally:

  • identify and prioritize candidate trails for designation as Provincial heritage sites;
  • secure FOR agreement of select trails, or sections of trails, for designation and prepare the necessary Order(s) in Council for approval;
  • upon designation of a trail as a Provincial heritage site, with public and First Nation(s) input, work with FOR to jointly develop and approve a trail Management Plan;
  • prior to completion of an approved Management Plan, consider issuing permits to alter designated heritage trails in cases where FOR provides compelling reasons;
  • upon completion of a Management Plan approved by the branch and FOR, recommend delegation of authority to issue permits to alter designated trails to FOR District Managers;
  • review the Management Plan(s) every 5 years, or sooner by mutual agreement with FOR, and amend as required.
  • cooperate with FOR in evaluating and providing recommendations for management of other heritage trails which are not designated as Provincial heritage sites.

 

 

Archaeology Bulletins

These bulletins provide up-to-date information about archaeology policies and procedures to a variety of interested parties including professional archaeologists, First Nations, development proponents, and government agencies.

 Current Archaeology Bulletins

Updated: December 9, 2019

This Bulletin replaces the version of Bulletin 3 posted October 10, 2002, incorporates Bulletin 9, posted January 12, 2004, and Bulletin 20, last amended May 22, 2009, and replaces the client certification previously available on the Archaeology Branch’s website.

The Archaeology Branch (Branch) requires client consent and disclosure of personal information to process Heritage Conservation Act (HCA) permit applications. This bulletin clarifies how and why consent is obtained, what information is collected, and how this information is managed. Permit applications also seek copyright in order to allow the copy and distribution of final reports summarising permitted assessments.

Obtaining client certification and endorsement

1. Permits issued under Section 12.2 of the HCA (heritage inspection and heritage investigation permits) require a representative of the proponent to sign the client certification. This ensures clients understand and concur with the proposed work and the application’s terms and conditions. Section 12.2(3) of the HCA states “The person named as a proponent in an application for a permit under subsection (2) is liable to pay for a heritage inspection or heritage investigation authorized by the permit.”

At the time of permit application submission, the application must identify at least one proponent. The Client Certification Form (DOCX 113 KB) can be used to add additional proponent to an existing permit; each new proponent must sign the client certification.

The HCA was amended in 2019 to allow the Archaeology Branch to require an assessment of known sites under Section 12.2, where appropriate, to inform a decision whether or not to issue a Section 12.4 permit to authorise alterations to archaeological sites. The Branch requires a client endorsement in certain circumstances to assert the proponent has commissioned the archaeological study of their own accord, to support land-use decisions. The endorsement is required where there are no recorded archaeological sites, or where assessment is not required by another agency or under a HCA Ministerial Order. The endorsement is not required where the Province is the proponent (e.g., Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure) or a Crown Corporation (e.g., BC Hydro).

2. Permits issued under Section 12.4 (alteration permits) may be applied for by an individual seeking authority to alter or impact an archaeological site protected under provisions of the HCA. By signing the permit applicant certification, applicant(s) certify they understand and consent with the proposed work and application’s terms and conditions.  

Download the Client Certification Form (DOCX 113 KB) or find it on the Archaeological Permits page.

Collection of personal information

Permit applicants and their clients must consent to the Branch’s use of personal information, as names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses are included in permit applications, site inventory forms, and/or permit reports. The collection, management, and distribution of personal information is subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Consent is not required of corporations, if only business contact information is used throughout applications, site forms, and reports. Business contact information is not considered personal information. Property owners who are not corporations must consent to the use of this information if the application applies to private property.

Permit applications include the following:

I consent to the Archaeology Branch’s use of personal information contained in this application, as well as the personal information contained in the resulting site inventory form and permit report, for contact and verification purposes. I understand this information will be retained in the provincial archaeological site database and permit report. I also understand this information may be disclosed to researchers, consulting archaeologists and other users of the database and permit report. Database users must identify themselves and the purpose of their information request, and are precluded from distribution of the information they obtain with unauthorised parties. The permit report will be available on the Provincial Archaeological Report Library (PARL) once it has been accepted as meeting permit terms and conditions.

For large projects which overlap numerous private properties, the Branch may apply the following condition:

Due to privacy concerns, the final report and site record(s) shall not contain the name of any private land owner whose property may be considered under this study.

Obtaining permit report copyright

The Provincial Archaeology Report Library (PARL) allows authorized users to search, view, and download archaeological reports. To allow the Branch to place digital copies of reports on PARL, copyright owners must grant a license to the Province of British Columbia that enables the Province to copy and distribute these reports. The original copyright owner retains copyright ownership; the Province will simply have a license to copy and distribute the reports. Permit report copyright owners are encouraged to grant copyright licenses to facilitate access to archaeological information. Copyright may also be granted for non-permitted reports to encourage data sharing.

Permit reports for which a license is not granted to the Province cannot be included in PARL, as the Branch cannot legally copy and distribute those reports.

Consequently, copyright owners who refuse to grant a license to the Province may be restricted from accessing other licensed works on PARL and photocopying reports. Individuals working on behalf of a copyright owner who has refused to grant a license to the Province may also be restricted from accessing Branch records. Refusing to grant a license does not affect permit eligibility.

Copyright ownership (©) must be identified on the title page of each final permit report, or on the second page if there is insufficient space on the title page.

The copyright owner may be the corporate employer of the report author, the client for whom the report was written, the actual author, or the Province of British Columbia if written while employed by the Province. The Grant of License reads:

Grant of License

I ________________________ confirm that I am the copyright owner (or a copyright owner) of this permit report, and for good and valuable consideration I irrevocably grant a non-exclusive license to the Province of British Columbia, for a term equal to the life of the copyright commencing on the date of execution below, to make copies of the reports, including all appendices and photos, and to provide such copies to anyone, at the discretion of the Province, either at no charge or at the cost incurred by the Province in making and distributing the copies. All parties, except the party for whom the report was prepared, acknowledge that any use or interpretation of this report is at the sole risk and liability of the subsequent user(s).

Executed this ___ day of ____________, 20XX, by

____________________________________
Signature of Copyright Owner

____________________________________
Affiliation

____________________________________
Permit Number
 

Thank you for ensuring informed consent is obtained prior to applying for permits and collecting personal information, as well as obtaining copyright licence to allow the Branch to share access to archaeological information through PARL.

Record of the version history

Version Date

Noted changes

November 10, 2002

Creation of Bulletin 3, regarding the collection of personal information

January 12, 2004

Creation of Bulletin 9, regarding client certification

May 22, 2009

Creation of Bulletin 20, regarding permit report copyright

October 2010

Client Certification provided for additional proponents

December 9, 2019

Combines Bulletins 3, 9, and 20.

Clarifies requirements for the client endorsement, following the 2019 HCA amendments.

Clarifies requirements when the client is a corporation

Provide possible condition for projects with numerous private properties

Modernization with respect to PARL, new website address; clarify grants of license may be provided for non-permit reports

Client certification based on current application templates

 
 

Bulletin 5: Winter methodology 

Issued: December 7, 2016

Applications for permits to conduct archaeological impact assessments of oil and gas developments in northeastern British Columbia have included provisions for inspections to be conducted when the ground is snow-covered and/or frozen since 2003. Winter testing methods and results have been considered since Bulletin 5 was initially issued. As a result, winter methods are seen as an approved approach, regardless of sector, to subsurface testing in northeast B.C., where lithic sites are the most prevalent site type. Such inspections are authorized as discussed below.

Furthermore, subsurface testing may be conducted in locations elsewhere in the province, provided the locations were previously visited under snow and frost-free conditions and evaluated to contain archaeological potential for subsurface archaeological resources.

Applications which provide for evaluative units and systematic data recovery under winter conditions must provide the proposed methods (including artificial heating to produce snow and frost-free conditions) for review and approval .

Applications for permits to conduct inspections under conditions of snow-covered and/or frozen ground which deviate from the current templates must outline methods that include:

  • Criteria for the identification of landforms to be tested
  • Specification of conditions, such as deep snow cover, that make identification of the relevant landforms unreliable, and winter inspections inappropriate
  • An effective method of removing adequate samples of frozen soil from subsurface tests
  • Appropriate test dimensions
  • Appropriate test intervals or frequencies
  • Methods for controlled excavation of optional evaluative units
  • Methods for maintaining provenience control
  • Provision for facilities for transporting and processing the collected samples
  • Methods for the analysis of cultural materials identified in collected samples

Issued: October 1, 2003

The Archaeology Branch has received correspondence from permit-holders seeking clarification with respect to the circumstances under which report review comments are copied to their clients.

Taking the concerns expressed into account, the branch has decided not to provide detailed review comments to clients, unless they request them. However, clients may be notified when deficiencies in permit reports result in delays in the provision of management direction, the processing of applications for site alteration permits, and associated development or resource extraction activities. This notice will be sent to clients in cases where permit reports persistently fail to provide sufficient information for the branch to formulate archaeological resource management requirements or determine whether permit terms and conditions have been met. Detailed review comments will not ordinarily be included in these notifications, but may be provided to clients who request additional information.

Development permitting agencies such as the Ministry of Forests and the Oil and Gas Commission may, depending on their information requirements, be provided with notifications and/or detailed review comments on a routine basis.

Issued: August 17, 2016

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide permit holders and other report‐writing clients with a clear set of standards and methods for submitting reports in electronic format. Minimum standards for the submission of electronic files are defined so that electronic versions of reports have the same utility and conform to a similar layout style.

Advantages

  • Electronic reports can be made available online for searching, viewing, downloading, printing, and ordering through the Provincial Archaeological Report Library (PARL).
  • Electronic reports will thus be readily available to archaeologists, resource managers and other researchers, in a wide range of computing environments.
  • Access to reports can be controlled to protect sensitive information.
  • More efficient use of reports is possible, with text searchable formats and standardized bookmarking.
  • Report writing and preparation of management direction is faster when quotes can be extracted from online reports.
  • The report review process can be simplified when files allow attachment of comments that are available to the authors.
  • Multiple reports can be stored on a single compact disc or small hard drive.
  • A common standard for reports “levels the playing field” for report producers.

Hardcopy report submission rules

  • Effective immediately, all hardcopy final permit reports do not need to include interims as appendices. That information is available electronically; it will cost less to produce hardcopy reports, and require less storage space.
  • Non‐permit hardcopy reports may be submitted with all appropriate appendices.

Electronic report submission rules

  • All final permit reports, including site alteration permit reports, must be submitted both electronically and in bound hardcopy. Since 2010, the Branch has required all interim and final reports prepared by the archaeological consulting community to be submitted directly into APTS, with a bound hardcopy of final reports sent as well. Final reports submitted directly into APTS do not need to be submitted on a CD ROM. Such final report submissions must include all the associated interim reports even if the interim reports were submitted previously to APTS. This is because only the final reports (including the appended interim reports) will be available in PARL.
  • Final non‐permit reports may also be submitted electronically along with a bound hardcopy.
  • Electronic files not uploaded directly into APTS must be submitted on a compact disc (CD ROM). The disc is to be enclosed in a “sheet protector” or similar insert (like that used for photographs) that is bound in with the pages of the report. Discs are not to be stuck on with glue, tape or adhesive pockets as these all fail with time.

Standard electronic format for reports

(Reports that are not submitted to a satisfactory standard will be returned for revisions. Returned reports are not considered as satisfying terms and conditions of permits.)

  • File Type: The required format is a Portable Document Format (PDF) file generated directly from document files. They should be compatible with Acrobat Versions 8.x. (the higher the version, the greater the ability to reduce file size). Scanned images of report text are not acceptable, as the text cannot be searched.
  • File Naming: Final permit report file names must start with the word “Report,” followed by the permit number (Report yyyy‐nnnn), with no other description. Interim report file names should also start with the same “Report yyyy‐nnnn” designation, and additional project‐specific description may also be included after the permit number. Non‐permit report files should have a short descriptive name without spaces.
    • Use letters, numbers and short dashes only (as in the example), do not use other characters such as slashes, number signs or parentheses.
  • Font: Use commonly available fonts, such as Times New Roman or Arial. Other fonts may not be recognised by APTS nor readily open or print from all computers. Less common fonts (for instance ESRI symbols or linguistic alphabets) must be embedded in to allow printing in all environments. Some characters may not be accepted by the APTS database into fields such as title and abstract. These characters will not be searchable or displayed fully in the APTS or online library databases, but will display in the pdf files.
  • Security Settings: Password protection must be turned off and all other security settings must be set to “Allowed." This is necessary in order for the PARL search engine to index each document in the online library during searches.
  • Resolution: Maximum resolution should be 200DPI for graphics and text. The minimum is 96 DPI, though maps that might need to be magnified on screen should stay at 200 DPI, if file size restrictions allow.
  • File Size: maximum file size for the compiled final report is 40MB, but smaller than 10MB is strongly preferred. For permits that will have interim reports attached, it is very important to have the interim reports as small as possible (less than 1MB, and <0.5MB is preferable).
    • File sizes for maps can be greatly reduced by conversion of the files from programs like Autocad to lower resolution jpeg files before importing them into a MS Word document. It may also help to compress images in documents prior to creating the PDF (the “format image” function in MS Word has a “compress pictures” option).
    • If compiled final report files must be larger than 40MB (after doing everything possible with resolution, image compression and removal of hidden data to reduce file size) then contact the Archaeology Branch for direction.
    • If interim reports are very long then exceptions may be made to the 1MB file size restriction in consultation with the Archaeology Branch.
  • Cartography: Information on maps should be easily understood when reproduced in black and white. Colour used alone to convey information results in maps that cannot be faxed or legibly printed in black and white. Where colour is necessary or useful, combine it with techniques like line‐coding and patterned fills, to ensure that all users can extract the information. This also applies to labels and other layers added to images. Please refer to the Mapping and Shapefile Requirements.
  • Bookmarks: Larger reports should have bookmarks to help navigate from one section to another.
    • Bookmarks should follow the relevant published guidelines for content of reports in the BC Archaeological Impact Assessment Guidelines and the BC Archaeological Inventory Guidelines
    • Where appendices contain interim reports, a bookmark should be provided for each interim report that involves a protected site(s).
    • These interim report bookmark names should include the final Borden number(s) to assist with use and review of reports.
    • Short reports (under 20 pages) will not usually require bookmarks.

Issued: November 26, 2003

Effective immediately, permit report citations in the Bibliography or References sections of newly submitted interim and final permit reports must include the relevant Heritage Conservation Act permit number. Also, the Act permit number (and no other) must be included in the title of newly submitted reports. These measures are intended to facilitate access to cited reports.

Issued: March 23, 2004

The Archaeology Branch operational procedures for interim permit reporting have been revised to reflect the revised protocol agreement between the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management and the Oil and Gas Commission. Download Bulletin 10 (PDF 103 KB).

Updated: December 27, 2019

During the 1980s, the Archaeology Branch worked with the then Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to develop and implement a referral process for oil and gas exploration and development projects in northeastern British Columbia. This process recognized and accommodated the needs of the oil and gas industry with respect to both short turnaround times and the fact that these activities must largely be undertaken during the winter season due to operational and environmental constraints. At the same time, it was recognized that satisfactory methods for conducting archaeological impact assessments (AIAs) under winter conditions had not been developed. Given these considerations, it was decided that the only practical approach was to conduct post-construction AIAs provided that negative impacts to archaeological sites would be offset through the systematic recovery and analysis of archaeological data as a compensatory measure.

Over the last couple of years advances have been made in winter methodologies, thereby enabling AIAs to be conducted under frozen ground and snow covered conditions in advance of oil and gas developments. Methodologies for conducting AIAs during the winter season are the subject of Information Bulletin Number 5. As noted in that Bulletin, conducting pre-construction AIAs is advantageous in that some sites that would otherwise be impacted by development activities can be identified and avoided.

While it is now possible to conduct AIAs prior to the initiation of most oil and gas activities, it is recognized that uncertainties exist in terms of the timing and location of seismic programs. It is also recognized that there is a need to consider exceptions for other development activities on a case-by-case basis. In light of these considerations, permit applications for seismic programs must now be submitted separately from applications for other oil and gas projects. For other projects, a one time exception will be made to the general rule to enable permit applicants to conduct post-construction AIAs where they have made commitments in permit applications prior to 2005. In those cases, applicants may submit a multi-assessment permit application to complete the AIAs. In other cases where a post-construction AIA is thought to be warranted, permit applications must be submitted individually for each project. Therefore, no more multi-assessment permits will be issued for post-construction AIAs of oil and gas exploration and development projects in northeastern British Columbia with the exception of seismic programs.

Record of version changes

Version Date

Noted changes

March 31, 2005

Creation of Bulletin 14, Post-construction Association of Industry Analysts for Oil and Gas

December 27, 2019

Change wording to change the term 'blanket permit' to 'multi-assessment permit'

Issued: June 14, 2005

The need for consistent advice on permit requirements when working within the boundaries of an archaeological site protected under section 13(2)(d) of the Heritage Conservation Act was raised at a workshop held in March 2005 between Archaeology Branch staff and the archaeological consulting community.

Section 13(2) of the Act states in part that: “Except as authorized by a permit issued under section 12 or 14, or an order issued under section 14, a person must not…(d) damage, excavate, dig in or alter, or remove any heritage object from, a site (emphasis added) that contains artifacts, features, materials or other physical evidence of human habitation or use before 1846…” Alter is defined in the Act as “…to change in any manner…”

An archaeological site consists of the physical remains of past human activity for which the scientific study of these remains, through the methods and techniques employed in the discipline of archaeology, is essential to the understanding of the pre- and post-contact periods in British Columbia. Archaeological sites occupy a space on and within the ground, and are normally delineated by a site boundary.

If work is to be conducted within the boundary of a protected archaeological site, and if the ground or protected above ground features such as culturally modified trees are to be altered, then a permit is required. Should it be possible to work within a site boundary without disturbing the ground or protected above ground features, then a permit is not required. Examples of the latter case include:

  1. Conducting forestry operations in sufficient snow cover and frozen ground conditions within the boundaries of an archaeological site containing buried deposits and no surface features, and
  2. Harvesting either non-culturally modified trees or culturally modified trees post-dating 1846 with a feller buncher stationed outside a site boundary or with a helicopter.

However, in both cases soils must be stable and protected culturally modified trees must be wind firm.

Issued: February 6, 2015

The Archaeology Branch’s Heritage Permits policy describes the criteria the Branch requires a permittee (or Field Director if different from the permittee) to meet when conducting work that is authorized under a resource management permit, i.e., heritage inspection permits for archaeological impact assessments or heritage investigation permits for systematic data recovery, or when conducting work that is authorized under a site alteration permit where an archaeologist is a co-permittee. The purpose of this bulletin is to clarify the requirements for a Field Director who is not the permittee. In this context, a Field Director is defined as the person authorized in the permit to direct the permitted work in the field so that appropriate expertise is available to make key methodological decisions.

For an individual who is a Field Director but not the permit holder, the following requirements and conditions apply:

Requirements

  • MA degree in archaeology, or anthropology with a specialty in archaeology, or BA degree with an equivalent combination of post-graduate training and experience. (upon request, and where extenuating circumstances are presented, the Branch may consider exceptions to this requirement);
  • experience in archaeological resource management (minimum of 360 working days) that includes a minimum of 40 days supervising archaeological impact assessments under the authority of a Heritage Conservation Act permit in the general culture area for which the permit is sought (i.e., Northwest Coast, Interior Plateau, Sub-Arctic/Boreal Forest). This experience must present a demonstrated ability to supervise archaeological impact assessment studies, including the ability to identify, record, report, and provide management recommendations for the range of archaeological site types found in the culture area as indicated in the application. The applicant's experience should inlcude AIAs in a number of locations and for a variety of development sectors.
  • experience conducting archaeological excavations (approx. 60 working days) under the authority of a Heritage Conservation Act permit that includes site alteration permits where an archaeologist is a co-permittee;
  • When calculating the above noted 40 days' experience supervising AIAs, days during which a supervisor is in the field in the presence of a permittee or Field Director may be counted provided: 1) the supervisor is in charge of the crew, 2) the permittee or Field Director is acting in a mentoring capacity only (i.e. providing guidance, advice and correction as necessary), and 3) the number of training days will be reported in interim reports.

Conditions

All fieldwork being conducted under a Heritage Conservation Act permit must be directed by the permittee and/or authorized Field Directors. Permittees and/or Field Directors must be in the field and able to reach all of the fieldwork locations they are directing on the day the work is being done.

The Archaeology Branch will consider exceptions to these requirements that would allow a permittee or Field Director to direct work at more than one location under more than one permit, if the permittee can demonstrate that adequate direction will be provided (for example because the project locations are close together and/or because key methodological decisions are not likely to be required at some locations).

Please see the detailed rationale (PDF 37.3 KB) for the above changes to conditions.

  • All permit applications should include the ability to replace or add Field Directors. Where there is no such provision in an application, a permit amendment, involving referral to a First Nation(s), is required;
  • Where a permit application provides for the addition or replacement of Field Directors, the permittee must submit a written request to the Project Officer responsible for the permit file for a change in Field Director(s), and must include information demonstrating how the new Field Director(s) meets the above noted academic and experiential qualifications;
  • Field Director applicants should complete the Experience Summary Spreadsheet (XLSX 12.2 KB) and submit a current Curriculum Vitae with three professional references. Parties may be contacted to verify or comment on the documented experience in the application;
  • Field Director applications must be accompanied by a written request from a permittee or permit applicant to add a new Field Director and a completed Certification for Field Director Applicants, located at the bottom of the Experience Summary Spreadsheet;
  • All reports cited in the Experience Summary Spreadsheet must be received by the Archaeology Branch and the Oil and Gas Commission, where applicable. Supervisory days listed in reports that have been rejected and where satisfactory versions have yet to be submitted may be excluded from the total number of supervisory days counted. A cursory review of some reports may be conducted in order to verify the number of supervisory days claimed and determine whether the work meets Provincial Standard and requirements (this verification may not be taken as final acceptance of these reports for archaeological site management purposes); and
  • Permit reports (interim and final) must describe how the permittee or Field Director(s) participated in the fieldwork on a day-by-day and project-by-project basis.

The use of unapproved field directors is a breach of permit, and may affect the permittee’s ability to hold future permits, as well as the Branch’s ability to provide impact management direction to the permittee's client(s).

*Note: The Archaeology Branch will continually review an individual’s ability to maintain his/her Field Director status and determine, on a case by case basis, whether or not an individual is qualified to direct work as described within a Heritage Conservation Act permit.

Field Director status may be revoked at the discretion of the Archaeology Branch. Examples of reasons for revocation include, but are not limited to: dishonesty, plagiarism, fabrication and/or misrepresentation of results, and a demonstrated inability to conduct work in accordance with Provincial standards and requirements. The permittee and Field Director will be notified, in writing, of the Archaeology Branch’s intention to revoke status. The notice will provide the parties with an opportunity to comment and, depending upon the severity of the infraction(s), will detail the remedial action, if any available, that may be taken to regain status.

Any application for Field Director that is found to contain falsified or fabricated information will be rejected immediately and kept on file. The Branch may refuse to consider any reapplications for status.

A map presenting the culture areas of the Interior Plateau, Northwest Coast and Subarctic/Boreal Forest "culture areas" in British Columbia has been created. The map is solely for operational purposes to do with assessing the relevancy of field experience for archaeologists seeking to be Field Directors or Permit Holders.

Issued: November 29, 2010

Effective immediately, site alteration permit holders are to submit one (1) bound copy, and one (1) electronic copy in PDF format of a written report (regardless of length) outlining the work carried out under the terms of the permit. This measure is intended to provide researchers with better access to these reports as the branch moves to establish a centralized website. Unbound reports are currently kept in permit files that are not accessible to researchers.

Issued: November 8, 2007

The Ministry of Transportation (MoT) uses the Remote Access to Archaeological Data (RAAD) website to identify protected archaeological sites that may lie within a proposed subdivision. If a site is identified, MoT may require the site area to be placed under a restrictive covenant as a condition of subdivision approval. 

These restrictive covenants are agreements between the land owner and the Province that define activities that may or may not be allowed in a specific portion of the subject property. The covenants are drawn up by the subdivision proponent and reviewed by the Province.

The Archaeology Branch, in co-operation with MoT, has written guidelines to develop covenants for the protection of archaeological sites. Central to these guidelines is the requirement to engage a qualified archaeologist to ensure that the boundaries of the restrictive covenant area and list of controlled activities allow the archaeological site to be effectively and efficiently protected. The following points outline the process for the archaeologist:

  • In cases where there is an existing description of the archaeological site boundary (e.g., the site is recorded and mapped in RAAD), the accuracy and currency of the site boundary information must be confirmed by the archaeologist before the boundary is surveyed by a British Columbia Land Surveyor. For inaccurate records, it may be necessary to determine the boundaries in the field. If such work requires subsurface testing or any other method that may potentially alter a protected site, the work must be carried out under a Heritage Conservation Act permit. The permit application should state that the work is at the inventory level to determine site boundaries so that the site may be protected under a restrictive covenant, consistent with the Archaeology Branch Memorandum “Development of Restrictive Covenants for the Protection of Archaeological Sites.” (PDF 136 KB)
  • The archaeologist may also determine the need for a buffer around the site for adequate protection. 
  • The archaeologist should confer with the British Columbia Land Surveyor to ensure the site boundaries are appropriately marked in the field for the surveyor.
  • The archaeologist must submit a letter to the land owner which confirms site boundary accuracy and currency and may include other comments pertinent to site protection, such as the recommendation for restricted activities beyond those listed below (which will already be included in the restrictive covenant). The listed restricted activities will be adequate in most situations to protect the site. Occasionally, however, additional terms may be required (e.g., a site with preserved organic remains will have to be protected from drying out).
  • The Archaeology Branch, upon receipt of the letter as part of the draft restrictive covenant, will review any recommended restrictions and conditions to determine if they will achieve the goal of site protection.

Controlled activities included in restrictive covenants are:

  • depositing on the land, or any part of it, any earth, fill or other material for the purpose of filling in or raising the level of the land;
  • removing, destroying, damaging or disturbing any Heritage Conservation Act protected archaeological object;
  • removing or displacing any soil (or beach material) from the land;
  • constructing, erecting or placing any building, modular home, mobile home or unit, improvement or structure on the land.

A copy of the MoT guidelines for establishing a restrictive covenant may be found in the Development of Restrictive Covenants for the Protection of Archaeological Sites (PDF 136 KB).

Issued: January 14, 2015

Archaeological impact assessments associated with major projects or blanket permits may involve the examination of numerous locations per year. For multiyear studies, this can generate a large body of knowledge not reported until the end of the permit term. Likewise, long term systematic data recovery or research projects can result in significant insight into the site(s), area and region. The inability to access this information impacts the efficiency and effectiveness of resource management decisions for the project and archeological activities in the general area of these studies. Therefore, at the discretion of the Archaeology Branch, multiyear permits and amendments issued after the date of this bulletin may contain the following permit condition:

"Permit deliverables will be submitted to the Archaeology Branch following the intervals specified below:

  • Interim Reports - to be specified during application adjudication
  • Site Forms - to be specified during application adjudication
  • Study Area Shape Files - Annually, on the anniversary of permit issuance
  • Summary Reports - Annually, on the anniversary of permit issuance

Submissions will follow the content and format guidelines found in this bulletin. Permits administered by the Oil and Gas Commission may not be subject to this Bulletin.

Submission guidelines for Archaeological Impact Assessment studies

For archaeological impact assessment studies, the key deliverables are new and updated site forms, interim reports, a shapefile of examined areas and a summary report of project progress and results.

All site forms for sites identified or re‐recorded during field work must be submitted within the interval stated in the permit. Best practices are to submit site forms within 6 weeks of recording the site in the field.

A shapefile containing the areas examined in the field during the year must be submitted by the anniversary date of the permit. 

Interim reports for areas inspected during field year where a management decision is required must be submitted within the interval stated in the permit. This includes areas inspected in the field where no protected archaeological sites are found but development is proceeding. Best practices are to submit interim reports within 12 weeks of completing the field inspection. Interim reports must be consistent with the Interim Permit Reporting Procedures policy.

A summary report submitted by the anniversary date of the permit. Reporting is not intended to be onerous. The report may be uploaded to the Provincial Archaeological Report Library to inform work conducted in the vicinity of the permitted study areas. The report may be reviewed by the Archaeology Branch; however these reports do not replace reporting procedures where a resource management decision is required. The summary report may be a letter report similar to a management summary for a final report. The report addresses:

  • Project description and location
  • Areas surveyed and proposed for survey
  • List of sites identified or revisited within the study area.
  • Brief description of sites identified or revisited within the study area, including
    • Site function, site dimensions; nature and amount of artifacts; significant artifacts; features including presence of human remains; faunal remains; chronological and other important information.

Please include permission to distribute the report, per Bulletin 20: Permit Report Copyright.

Submission guidelines for research studies:

For research studies, the important deliverables are new and updated site forms and a summary report of project progress and results.

All site forms for sites identified or re‐recorded during field work must be submitted within the interval stated in the permit.

A summary report submitted by the anniversary date of the permit. As interim reporting is not a component of these research studies, some of the detail normally found in interim reports must be included in the summary report instead. The report may be uploaded to the Provincial Archaeological Report Library to inform work conducted in the vicinity of the permitted study areas. The report briefly addresses:

  • Research goals and parameters
  • Methodology
  • Areas surveyed and proposed for survey
  • Short description of sites identified or revisited within the study area, including
    • Site function, site dimensions; nature and amount of artifacts; significant artifacts; features including presence of human remains; faunal remains; chronological and other important information.

Please include permission to distribute the report, per Bulletin 20: Permit Report Copyright.

Updated: December 9, 2019

This Bulletin replaces the version issued March 22, 2017​

An important objective of archaeological investigations is to understand the context and association of materials with each other and in situ materials. Objects recovered from archaeological sites are the only remaining material evidence from past human activities. Material must be preserved as part of the archaeological record through appropriate means as necessary. Ultimately, cultural material must be stabilised to support delivery to a repository in the best possible condition and supports possible future analysis.

Bulletin 26 provides general guidelines for the field collection, initial inventory, and stabilization of cultural material and samples.

This bulletin is intended to address conservation methods only. Principles of this bulletin are also applicable to the handling of ancestral remains and grave goods, which may be subject to First Nations cultural protocols.

Know your limitations and seek advice from specialists as appropriate.

This bulletin does not provide prescriptive direction but defines expectations on the outcome of the treatment of cultural materials under permits authorized by the Heritage Conservation Act. Activities under consideration include:

  • Excavation;
  • Recording;
  • Transport;
  • Cleaning;
  • Analysis; and
  • Storage.

General principles of conservation:

  • Planning: Anticipate potential cultural materials likely to be identified. Research conservation techniques prior to recovery and have a plan to deal with cultural materials.
  • Timeline: Do not delay treatment; have a plan prior to recovery and implement as soon as required.
  • Extent of Conservation: Use the simplest procedures with the least intervention to stabilise the material or answer the research question, only increasing as necessary.
  • Environment: Consider environmental settings. For example, storage of organic materials for extended periods of time in humid conditions (i.e., sealed containers) or saturated materials in dry conditions can result in adverse impacts.   
  • Cleaning: Consider an appropriate cleaning regime specific to materials on a case by case basis. Dirt may provide stability and protection. Conversely, handling, transporting, and storing dirty materials can have disastrous effects. Meanwhile, aggressive cleaning can remove residues and affect surface modifications. 
  • Transportation and Security: Receptacles and packing materials must maintain integrity of material during transportation and interim storage until final submission to the repository. Consider appropriate ventilation, temperature, saturation, and stability to minimise or avoid damage. Permanent storage must address protection and access to cultural materials. Sensitive items (e.g., human remains) may require additional considerations and consultation.
  • Documentation: Document all excavation and conservation procedures including application of labels, photographs, drawings, notes, and analyses for reports and submission to repositories.

 

The permit holder is responsible to ensure a specialist oversees osteological, lithic, and faunal analysis, and directs excavation of sensitive materials (e.g., ancestral remains) or scientifically significant deposits (e.g., wet sites, highly stratified features). A specialist can demonstrate work experience, specialised courses. or related learning opportunities, and has access to comparative collections, reference materials, mentors, and/or other qualified experts to support assessments.

 

Record of version changes

Version Date

Noted changes

March 22, 2017

Creation of Bulletin

December 9, 2019

Clarifies how specialists can demonstrate their expertise, and clarifies the intent of this Bulletin (i.e., focus on conservation, not cultural protocols and indigenous knowledge)

Issued: March 22, 2017

The purpose of Bulletin 27 – Culturally Modified Tree Guidelines is to provide a compilation of current Archaeology Branch (the ‘Branch’) policy and guidelines regarding the assessment and analysis of culturally modified trees. This supplemental bulletin summarizes key information from several sources, provides additional guidance, and presents opportunities for future research. Consult the Branch’s Culturally Modified Trees Handbook (PDF 39 MB) for additional information and illustrations.