Most of Alberta's historic resources fall into one of 4 categories:
- archaeological sites (buried artifacts and other evidence that tell us about human life in the past)
- palaeontological sites (fossilized remains of plants and animals)
- historic buildings and other structures
- Aboriginal traditional use sites
The need to preserve and study historic resources has long been recognized and is officially reflected in the Historical Resources Act.
Modern life and historic resources
Historic resources are susceptible to the effects of time and can be damaged by the various development activities aimed at accommodating growing populations and modernizing society.
In recognizing the valuable and non-renewable nature of historic resources, Section 37 of the Historical Resources Act provides the framework for Historic Resources Impact Assessments (HRIAs) and mitigation studies.
Because many historic resources are not visible on the surface, the potential for a proposed development to impact these resources may not be apparent. For this reason, a development proponent (land owner, planner, developer) may be required to submit project details for review by subject-area experts.
The impact assessment process
If an activity is likely to result in the alteration of, damage to or destruction of a historic resource, the person or company undertaking the activity may be required by the Province to:
- conduct a Historic Resources Impact Assessment (HRIA)
- submit a report of the HRIA results
- avoid any historic resources endangered by activity
- mitigate potential impacts by undertaking comprehensive studies
- document historic structures
- consult with First Nations
Project-specific requirements are issued in response to a Historic Resources Application, but all assessments must comply with some standard conditions.
See the following Standard Conditions document for details:
In most cases, the assessment work must be completed before the onset of land disturbance, but occasionally studies can happen in conjunction with certain development activities.
HRIAs and mitigative studies are paid for by the person or company undertaking or proposing to undertake the development. Professional, private-sector archaeologists, paleontologists, historians, and traditional use consultants perform the required impact assessment work and prepare reports on the results of this work.
A list of qualified historic resource consultants is provided below.
Finding a resource during construction
Even if an HRIA is not required, if a historic find is encountered during the course of a development project, it must be reported immediately.
Activities that may impact the resource must cease while it is being evaluated.
See the following Standard Requirements document for more information:
- Standard Requirements under the Historical Resources Act: Reporting the Discovery of Historic Resources
See the list of Alberta historic resource consultants.
To contact the Historic Resources Management Branch:
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-431-2300 (in Alberta)
Toll free: dial 310-0000 before the number
8820 – 112 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2P8