Why Check for Archaeological Data

Archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage Conservation Act. Damage to these sites must be avoided or managed by those who plan to demolish or build on their property, or otherwise alter the landscape. When local governments do work on the land, they too are responsible for avoiding or mitigating any impact on protected sites.

The costs of managing unplanned impacts can be high if a developer must stop construction while required archaeological impact management studies are completed. Poor relations with the developer, negative media coverage and community conflict can also result if an archaeological site is damaged during development. There is also a possibility of charges under the Heritage Conservation Act.

Impact on archaeological sites can be difficult to manage since:

  • Sites are often buried and hard to identify.
  • The locations of known sites are not widely publicized, as this can lead to looting of these fragile places.
  • The locations of many protected sites are unknown.

Despite these difficulties, costs and impact on sites are minimized when builders know about archaeological site concerns early in the planning process.

Taking steps such as revising development plans to ‘work around’ an archaeological site or using less intrusive building techniques may be more cost effective than carrying out archaeological studies to mitigate the impact of development.

The Archaeology Branch’s Local Government Initiative is a program designed to raise the profile of archaeology in local government jurisdictions and partners with local governments to integrate archaeological resource management into the planning and development approval processes.