Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | June 1, 2011

Digging Into The Past

Archaeological sites are the physical remains of past human activity. In British Columbia, archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage Conservation Act and that applies both to private and Crown land. The Province estimates that there are about 8,000 properties containing protected, recorded archaeological sites.

From personal experience this number is increasing at an alarming rate.

One such instance is a privately owned acreage located on the water in the Parksville area. As the owner of this land preceded to excavate for a new irrigation line, a member of the First Nations just happened to be walking in the area and took it upon himself to report to the authorities that it was his belief the land held the remains of First Nations activity preceding the current owners occupation of the land.

The administrators of this Act were quick to provide the owner with a formal letter, halting all work and declaring the owner responsible to employ a specialized firm qualified in the identification of archaeological remains plus a single member of the First Nations to monitor and endorse the progress of their evaluation. To date this discovery is now in its third year and owner of the land has faced with in excess of $45,000 in costs with no end in sight. To date, the discovery has uncovered a single arrow-head and an ice cream bucket full of sea shells.

Protection of an archaeological site means the site cannot be altered without a permit issued by the Archaeology Branch of the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations. Alteration includes building, ancillary construction such as a swimming pool, subdivision and underground utility connections.

When it comes to purchasing any property, you need to give reasonable consideration to whether or not the land may or in the future may, come under a claim by the First Nations as land contained outside one of the many original European land claims dating back to the mid 1800’s. You also need to research whether or not there is an Archaeological Site registered on the property to which you will become indebted following acquisition of the land.

If you feel you may be subject to such scrutiny, you can request additional information via the online site www.archdatarequest.tsa.gov.bc.ca/

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