Archaeology

Archaeological Impact Assessment Process

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.

Top

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.

Top

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).

Top

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.

Top

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.