Archaeology Bulletins

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

For more information, browse related:

A list of archived bulletins can also be found at the bottom of this page.

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


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.


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 BC, 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


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.


  • 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.

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:


  • 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.


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 (XLS, 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)
  • 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 & 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.


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. 


Archived Archaeology Bulletins