Protecting archaeological sites and heritage resources

Together with xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), we are working to educate the public about xʷməθkʷəy̓əm heritage and prevent avoidable impacts to known and undiscovered archaeological sites, wherever possible. 

The city of Vancouver was built upon many archaeological sites that are protected by the BC Heritage Conservation Act, and are further managed by the City of Vancouver and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm.

Archaeological site protection

Archaeological sites in BC are protected for their historical, cultural, scientific, and educational value to the general public, local communities, and First Nations.

There are over 60,000 registered archaeological sites in BC, however, the majority of the province has not been surveyed for archaeological sites. Most archaeological sites have not been formally registered in the Provincial Heritage Register managed by the Archeology Branch (Ministry of Forests).

Just because there is not a formally registered site on or around a property, it does not mean there is not a site present. Sites that are formally registered as well as those that have not yet been formally registered are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act.

Encountering suspected archaeological materials

If known or suspected archaeological materials (For example: belongings or artifacts, human or animal bone, and so on) are encountered during ground-disturbing activities, you must:

  • Stop all work in the immediate area 
  • Contact the Provincial Archaeology Branch for further direction at 250-953-3334

Develop responsibly, respectfully

It's illegal to disturb archaeological sites without proper permits. If you have construction or renovation plans for your property, submit an inquiry to the City of Vancouver to determine what may be required. Disturbance to an archaeological site must be avoided whenever possible, and development near or within an archaeological site should also avoid ground disturbance. 

Penalties for destruction or unauthorized disturbance of archaeological sites may include imprisonment for up to 2 years and fines of up to $1,000,000. Review Section 36 of the BC Heritage Conservation Act

Request archaeological information about your property

Find out if your home is located within or near an archaeological site protected under the Heritage Conservation Act. 

Submit an inquiry to the Provincial Archaeology Branch

Preparing for ground disturbances

Learn more