Archaeology Policy

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

Archaeology bulletins provide additional information and clarification of policies.

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 managing heritage trails in Provincial forests is to provide guidance to Archaeology Branch and Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) staff regarding the branch's responsibilities in ensuring protection and management of heritage trails on Crown lands administered by FLNRORD and to ensure that these trails are considered in FLNRORD'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, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) 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 FLNRORD 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 FLNRORD forest planning and operational procedures.

Procedures

The Archaeology Branch will normally:

  • identify and prioritize candidate trails for designation as Provincial heritage sites;
  • secure FLNRORD 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 FLNRORD 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 FLNRORD provides compelling reasons;
  • upon completion of a Management Plan approved by the branch and FLNRORD, recommend delegation of authority to issue permits to alter designated trails to FLNRORD District Managers;
  • review the Management Plan(s) every 5 years, or sooner by mutual agreement with FLNRORD, and amend as required.
  • cooperate with FLNRORD in evaluating and providing recommendations for management of other heritage trails which are not designated as Provincial heritage sites.

Purpose

The purpose of this directive on the archaeological impact assessment process is to provide guidance to Archaeology Branch staff, other government agencies and the public on the process for assessment and management of adverse impacts to archaeological sites. Archaeological impact assessment studies are initiated in response to development proposals that will potentially disturb or alter archaeological sites. The role of the branch is not to prohibit or impede land use and development, but rather to assist the Provincial Government and private sector in making decisions that will ensure effective management of archaeological resources as well as optimal land use.

Mandate

To encourage and facilitate the protection and conservation of archaeological sites, in accordance with the provisions of the Heritage Conservation Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 187), through participation in project reviews under British Columbia's Environmental Assessment Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 119) as well as smaller scale developments referred to the branch by agencies and individuals in both the public and private sectors. Details for carrying out this mandate are expanded upon in the British Columbia Archaeological Impact Assessment Guidelines (Archaeology Branch 1995) available from the Archaeology Branch, and the Guide to the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Process, available from the Environmental Assessment Office.

Authority

Legislative authority derives from the Heritage Conservation Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 187, s. 12, 13 and 14) and the Environmental Assessment Act (1996, RSBC, Chap. 119, s. 7, 19 and 22).

Policy Statement

The Archaeology Branch will take the following courses of action where its legislated and program responsibilities are potentially affected by proposed development projects: (1) review Applications and Project Reports referred by the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO), as well as participate in Environmental Assessment Board hearings convened under the Environmental Assessment Act, and (2) review any other developments referred to the branch from the public or private sector.

Procedures

Upon receipt of an Application or Project Report pursuant to the Environmental Assessment Act, the following procedures will normally be undertaken:

  • the Manager, Permitting and Assessment Section will assign the Application to a Project Officer for screening to determine whether or not branch responsibilities may be affected;
  • in screening the Application, the Project Officer will normally review the archaeological overview assessment report, if it is included with the Application, or utilize available information such as the provincial archaeological site inventory, archaeological permit and non-permit reports, topographic maps, and airphotos;
  • in cases where impacts to archaeological resources are considered unlikely, the Project Officer will normally advise the Project Assessment Director (EAO) accordingly and decline further branch involvement in the project review;
  • in cases where impacts to archaeological resources are considered likely, the Project Officer will normally request membership on the Project Committee established to review the proposed project;
  • following a detailed project review, the Project Committee will make a recommendation to the responsible ministers to: (1) undergo further project review, (2) issue a project approval certificate, or (3) deny a project approval certificate;
  • where a project is to undergo further review, the Project Officer will formulate specifications for an archaeological impact assessment, to be reported in a Project Report;
  • Project Reports are reviewed by the Project Committee, and a recommendation is made to the responsible ministers to: (1) certify the project, (2) not certify the project, or (3) refer the project to the Environmental Assessment Board for a public hearing;
  • where a public hearing is directed and unresolved archaeological resource management issues remain, the Project Officer will address these in the terms of reference for the hearing.

Upon receipt of a development referral, the following procedures will normally be undertaken:

  • the Manager, Archaeological Permitting and Assessment Section, will assign the referral to a Project Officer for review;
  • in reviewing a referral, the Project Officer will normally utilize available information such as the provincial archaeological site inventory, archaeological permit and non-permit reports, topographic maps, and airphotos;
  • the Project Officer will normally respond to the referral within the time period stipulated;
  • in cases where the proposed development is likely to damage recorded or possibly damage unrecorded archaeological sites protected under the Heritage Conservation Act, the Project Officer will normally advise the referral agency or proponent to have an archaeological impact assessment undertaken prior to initiating the development;
  • in cases where there is limited potential for damage, the Project Officer will normally advise the referral agency or proponent of the procedures to be followed in the event that archaeological remains are unexpectedly encountered during development;
  • in cases where damage is unlikely, the referral agency or proponent will normally be advised that the branch does not object to the development proceeding as proposed.

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.

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, BC, 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.

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.

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 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 may be accessed by contacting the Archaeology Branch or completing a B.C. Archaeological Information Request Form.

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 sign an Information Sharing Agreement (PDF) detailing the terms and conditions of website usage, information access and distribution. 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.

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: 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: 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 13(2)(b) of the Heritage Conservation Act, a permit is required under section 12 or 14 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) and 14(2), as well as ministerial orders under section 14(4) 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 or 14, or an order under section 14 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.

The Blanket Permit Policy replaced Bulletin 25 on April 3, 2019.