What an Archaeological Impact Assessment Entails

Archaeological impact assessment studies are required where potential conflicts have been identified between archaeological resources and a proposed development.

Sites are located and recorded, and site significance is evaluated to assess the nature and extent of expected impacts. The assessment includes recommendations to manage the expected impact of property development on the site.

These recommendations may include:

  • Avoiding the site.
  • Recovering archaeological site information prior to land altering activities.
  • Monitoring for additional archaeological site information during land altering activities.

Assessments require a heritage inspection permit issued by the branch. Permitted archaeological impact assessments are used to identify site locations, evaluate site significance and determine the magnitude of development related impact when sites cannot be avoided.

The branch reviews the application and permit deliverables, such as a report, manages consultation with First Nations, and provides management direction for the sites.

If the site is found to be highly significant and development cannot avoid disturbing these values, systematic data recovery excavations may be required to retrieve information that will be destroyed as part of development. These studies may answer general questions such as the age of the site, the nature of activities that took place there and the season of site occupation. Detailed systematic data recovery can be expensive, but is relatively rare, as most developments have the flexibility to minimize disturbance to archaeological sites by avoiding them.

If development activities such as harvesting trees, excavating utility trenches, or other ground disturbing activities need to be conducted within the boundaries of a recorded archaeological site, a site alteration permit is required. These permits are issued by the branch, except in the case of some oil and gas projects, which are issued by the Oil and Gas Commission. Permit applications may be prepared by a qualified professional archaeologist on behalf of the developer, and are designed to minimize and mitigate impacts to the archaeological site.

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