BC Heritage Conservation Act Transformation Project: No Amendments This Session

Practice Point

BC Heritage Conservation Act Transformation Project: No Amendments This Session

February 26, 2024

FOLLOWING TWO PHASES OF ENGAGEMENT with First Nations in BC and external stakeholders, the Heritage Conservation Act Transformation Project (HCATP) will not produce legislative amendments in the current legislative session scheduled to end March 16, 2024.

BC’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Action Plan 2022-2027, developed after the 2019 enactment of BC’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) (whereby BC adopted the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)), outlined “significant actions the Province will undertake in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples over the next five years.” Among these actions is

4.35  Work with First Nations to reform the Heritage Conservation Act [HCA] to align with the UN Declaration, including shared decision-making and the protection of First Nations cultural, spiritual, and heritage sites and objects. (Ministry of Forests, Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport)

According to the 2022 HCATP Backgrounder,

The HCA encourages and facilitates the protection and conservation of heritage within BC. The HCA provides tools and mechanisms to establish and maintain the heritage register for the currently known heritage sites (approx. 60,000) as well as authorizing inspections and alterations of heritage sites. The HCA also contains provisions that authorize various compliance and enforcement actions that may be taken against persons who damage or alter sites or objects without authorization.

Following release of several “What We Heard Reports” during the first two phases of HCATP, the BC Government announced in January 2024 that changes “will be developed for future legislative sessions, which will allow time to ensure the proposed legislative amendments are more responsive to First Nations and stakeholder feedback.”

Until then, the Province says its Ministry of Forests’ Archaeology Branch “will be directed by the spirit of feedback outlined in the What We Heard Reports and will continue to work towards government’s commitments to implement the UN Declaration.”

Here are some best practice tips for municipalities and local governments and for resource developers and contractors to prepare for the future, from Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.

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We acknowledge that the land on which we work is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.