Res #: 19-06M
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Culture, Youth and Recreation
Resolution No. 19-06M
WHEREAS, municipalities are now required to contact many government departments including the Heritage Resources Branch of Saskatchewan Culture, Youth and Recreation if a road or bridge expansion or upgrade is proposed by the municipality; and
WHEREAS, trying to contact all the various departments is very time consuming and can hold up a project; and
WHEREAS, completion of a heritage study can cost a minimum of $2,500 per project;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that if the Heritage Resources Branch requires completion of a heritage study for a road or bridge project, that the Heritage Resources Branch:
- complete the study at their own expense;
- complete the study immediately upon notification from the municipality of the proposed road or bridge project; and
- if the Heritage Resources Branch cannot do a study immediately, the municipality can proceed with their project and the Heritage Resources Branch can do the study after the municipal project is complete.
Response from Honourable Glenn Hagel, Minister of Culture, Youth, and Recreation:
In response, let me begin by describing the heritage regulatory framework in Saskatchewan which is administered by Culture, Youth, and Recreation.
Saskatchewan’s archaeological heritage, including sites of Aboriginal, Euro-Canadian, or other ethnic origin, is an important and values source of knowledge about the history and development of our province. More often than not, archaeological sites are the only means of understanding the past. I entirely agree with you that all citizens of the province benefit from the protection of these heritage resources.
Heritage resources are protected in Saskatchewan through the various provisions of The Heritage Property Act, including s.63. Section 63 places the responsibility for conducting impact assessment studies, or any other salvage or conservation action, on the person whose activity is likely to result in the alteration, damage or destruction of heritage property. In this regard, an oil and gas developer is responsible for the costs of assessing the project’s impact on heritage sites in the same way that Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation is responsible for assessments related to their road building activity. Every provincial and territorial jurisdiction in Canada has comparable legislation based on the principle of “user-pay.” Like environmental assessment and other regulatory requirements associated with land development, heritage resources impact assessment and mitigation is a normal business cost.
Furthermore, because land developments will disturb or destroy heritage sites located on or with the ground, it is impractical to allow development to proceed and to carry out impact assessment studies afterward. By then, the damage or destruction will have occurred and is irreversible.
The Heritage Resources Branch continues to work with individual rural municipalities to help build their capacity to manager heritage property issues and to streamline impact assessment procedures. One example is creating (rural municipality) heritage sensitivity maps which clarify when heritage needs to be considered in land use and development planning and where no such concerns exist. Rural municipalities are also encouraged to regularly utilize the department’s online self-screening tool when planning new land developments. The Screening Tool will expedite land development review for many rural municipalities. If your members feel that the department can be of any further assistance on any particular municipal land development project, I would further suggest contacting the department as early in the planning process as possible.