All archaeological sites in B.C. are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act (HCA). This applies whether sites are located on public or private land, and whether the site is known or unknown. Protected archaeological sites may not be altered or changed in any manner without a permit.
Archaeological Site Protection
Archaeological sites are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act through:
- automatic protection by virtue of being of particular historic or archaeological value under Section 12.1 - Heritage Protection, or
- designation as provincial heritage sites under Section 9 - Heritage Designation or Section 11.1 Provincial Heritage Properties.
The Act affords discretionary authority in determining if, and under what conditions, permits are granted:
Obtaining Archaeological Information for a Property
Sites can be impacted by landscaping, renovations, building, infrastructure upgrades or development, or natural resource extraction, so it is important to be aware of any available archaeological information about the land before you start.
Archaeological information is available in certain situations to specific individuals or groups like private property owners, industry or land title conveyance professionals, and government. It can be obtained by submitting an online Archaeological Information Request Form.
The Archaeology Branch does not charge fees for permits issued under the Heritage Conservation Act.
Note that licensees, property owners, and/or developers may require other approvals unrelated to the archaeological work – such as forestry cutting permits and municipal development permits – in addition to permits issued under the HCA.
Permit Guidance & Applications
Professional consulting archaeologists must get certification that clients have read and concur with the content of the permit application.
All permitting and assessment maps and shapefiles submitted to the Archaeology Branch must meet certain requirements.
Summaries and clarification of permit amendment requirements and expectations.
Submitting & Tracking Permits with the Archaeological Permit Tracking System (APTS)
Professional consulting archaeologists can complete and submit a permit using the Archaeological Permit Tracking System (APTS).
To request APTS access, users must submit a copy of the latest Archaeological Information Sharing Agreement to the email address indicated on the last page of the agreement.
- Archaeological Information Sharing Agreement (PDF, 1.5 MB) for APTS access
- APTS program link
- APTS Permit Application Guide (PDF, 64 KB) for help completing your permit once you have access
Heritage Inspection Permits & Heritage Investigation Permits
Heritage Inspection Permits and Heritage Investigation Permits are issued under section 12.2 of the HCA after the archaeology branch reviews the application:
The purpose of a heritage inspection is to assess the archaeological significance of land or other property. The inspection determines the presence of archaeological sites which warrant protection, or are already protected, under the Act.
- Heritage Inspection Permit Application (DOCX, 195 KB) - Updated Jan 14, 2020
A heritage investigation is undertaken in order to recover information which might otherwise be lost as a result of site alteration or destruction.
The site alteration permit authorizes the removal of residual archaeological deposits once the inspection and/or investigation are completed. Alteration permits are issued under section 12.4 of the HCA after the archaeology branch has reviewed and approved the application:
- Site Alteration Permit (SAP) Application (DOCX, 145 KB) - Updated Feb 6, 2020
- Site Alteration Permit (SAP) Application with specific instructions for Registered Professional Foresters (DOCX, 144 KB) - Updated Feb 6, 2020
Permits took an average of 93 days to issue in 2019. This allowed for initial Branch review, referral to First Nations, the Branch's consideration of comments before determining whether to issue a permit, and administrative tasks. Please note seasonal variations may affect timelines (e.g., most applications are submitted to the Branch between January and May).
Oil & Gas Project Permits
Some archaeology permits for oil and gas developments are issued by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.
- Oil and Gas Commission Application Template (DOCX, 161 KB) - Updated January 16, 2020