Consideration of historic resources is important when planning any type of development project in Alberta.
Most types of development activities are required to obtain formal approval under the HRA prior to the onset of activities. This requirement applies to projects on freehold (privately owned) and crown lands, regardless of where they are located in the province. In some instances, a Historic Resource Impact Assessment is required before approval can be issued.
The need to preserve and study historic resources has long been recognized and is officially reflected in the Historical Resources Act (HRA).
Projects that need HRA approval
A key tool for determining if there may be a historic resource concern in a proposed project area is the Listing of Historic Resources.
The Listing identifies lands that have been assigned a Historic Resource Value (HRV) based on the presence of a known historic resource or the potential to contain one. For some project types – those that have a small footprint and/or result in a relatively low level of impact – checking the Listing for the HRV (if any) assigned to the project lands is the primary way to determine if Historical Resources Act (HRA) approval is required. Once the HRV is known, the instructions for use of the Listing or the appropriate Land Use Procedures Bulletin guides further action.
Projects that are large or may result in a high level of impact always require HRA approval. The Listing may inform a proponent about possible historic resource concerns, but an application for approval is still required in all cases.
The following types of projects always require the submission of a Historic Resources Application:
- projects that require the completion of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
- projects that require approval by the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) or Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC)
- projects that are subject to Green Zone historic resource predictive modelling under supervision of Alberta Arts, Culture and Status of Women (primarily forestry activities)
- all developments requiring conservation and reclamation approval by Alberta Environment and Protected Areas or the Alberta Energy Regulator
- projects located within Historic Resource Management Areas, which currently include Dinosaur Provincial Park and World Heritage Site area, Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park area, Fort George Buckingham House area and Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel area
- class I or equivalently sized pipelines
- transmission lines and alternative power projects
- transportation developments
- water distribution and diversion projects (not including small-scale utilities)
- coal and oil sands mines, including related components (for exploration activities, see bulletins below)
- industrial facilities
In addition, project types not covered by a Land Use Procedures bulletin always require Historical Resources Act approval.
Historical Resources Act approvals and approvals with conditions are project specific. They are not transferrable to different projects or activities in the same lands or to different landowners or developers.
Land Use Procedures bulletins
A series of Land Use Procedures bulletins have been developed to help in determining if HRA approval is required for specific project types.
- Ammonite Exploration/Mining Historical Resources Act Exemption and Compliance, 2019
- Complex Project (Areal) Historical Resources Act Compliance, 2020
- Geophysical Programs Historical Resources Act Compliance, December 1, 2013
- Geotechnical Exploration Operations Historical Resources Act Compliance
- Integrity Dig Historical Resources Act Compliance and Submission Standards, 2015
- Oil Sands and Coal Exploration Operations Historical Resources Act Compliance, December 1, 2016
- Small-scale Conventional Oil and Gas Development Historical Resources Act Compliance
- Subdivision Historical Resources Act Compliance
- Surface Materials Historical Resources Act Compliance, July 1, 2014
- Utility Distribution Services Historical Resources Act Compliance, 2015
Apply for Historical Resources Act approval
If it is determined that HRA approval is required for a project, a Historic Resources Application must be submitted through the Online Permitting and Clearance (OPaC) system.
User guides and help buttons within the application form can assist with completing an application.
Finding resource during construction
Even after HRA approval has been issued for a project, of if HRA approval was not required, if a historic find is encountered during the course of development activities, it must be reported immediately.
All activities that may impact the resource are to cease while it is being evaluated.
See the following document for more information:
- Standard Requirements under the Historical Resources Act: Reporting the Discovery of Historic Resources
Connect with the Historic Resources Management Branch:
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