Archaeology

What a Site Overview Entails

British Columbia’s heritage conservation legislation protects unknown as well as recorded archaeological sites, so part of the planning process for any development is to identify areas that might contain unrecorded archaeological sites. These areas can be identified through an Archaeological Overview Assessment.

These studies involve a review by professional archaeologists to map out zones of archaeological potential and distribution. Existing knowledge about the archaeological sites and precontact land use in the area is compiled and used to identify similar areas on the landscape. Mapping divides the landscape into areas of high and low potential to contain archaeological sites. Known sites are included among the high potential areas.

Potential mapping does not show the precise location of known sites. These maps may be included in official community plans as a reference for property owners, developers and local government staff.

Archaeological maps do not exist for most of the province. However, there are provincial standards to guide this work and cost-shared funding is available to assist local governments in producing archaeological potential maps of their jurisdiction.

If a mapped area of high archaeological potential overlaps with a proposed development, it is recommended the proponent hire a qualified consulting archaeologist to determine whether an archaeological impact assessment is required. This may necessitate a field visit, also known as a preliminary field reconnaissance.

If an impact assessment is not required, the archaeologist will summarize the findings in a letter sent to the proponent and copied to the branch.

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