Evidence of meeting #71 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was places.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Joëlle Montminy  Vice-President, Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate, Parks Canada Agency
Natalie Bull  Executive Director, National Trust for Canada
Richard Alway  Chair, Heritage Designations and Programs, Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Martin Magne  As an Individual
Genevieve Charrois  Director, Cultural Heritage Policies, Parks Canada Agency

8:45 a.m.


The Chair (Mrs. Deborah Schulte (King—Vaughan, Lib.)) Liberal Deb Schulte

I'd like to welcome everybody to the environment committee. Welcome back from the summer. I trust it was a nice summer and that everybody had a chance to have a bit of rest. We have, obviously, a lot of work to do this fall. I'm looking forward to working with everyone to do that.

We have some changes on the committee, and I just want to thank two members who are now no longer on the committee, Martin Shields and Jim Eglinski. I really want to say on the record how very much we appreciated working with them over the year and a half. It was a real pleasure. We got lots of work done and it was nice to have them on the committee.

I now want to welcome back Ed Fast.

8:45 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

It's good to be back.

8:45 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much. It's very great to see you.

Robert Sopuck is now on the committee.

Thank you and welcome. I know you came and sat with us previously on some of the studies, so we're looking forward to having you on the team.

8:45 a.m.


Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

Thank you.

8:45 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Joëlle, you're back, which is great. Thank you.

I know Wayne Stetski is standing in for Linda. We've had you here before on this study. Welcome back.

We have two people standing in right now for our regular committee members on the Liberal side, and they are Geng Tan and Jennifer O'Connell. Welcome. Thank you both very much for being here.

It's important to have our vice-chairs elected. One vice-chair is no longer on the committee, so if we could, maybe the first order of business before we start into the study on heritage would be to just take care of that committee business.

Robert, do you want to make a motion?

8:45 a.m.


Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, MB

I nominate Ed Fast for vice-chair.

8:45 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Okay. We're starting off just fine.

(Motion agreed to)

8:45 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

All right. Excellent.

Welcome and congratulations, Ed.

8:45 a.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Thank you.

8:45 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

We will get in touch with you on the subcommittee meeting coming up soon.

I'd like to start. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Monday, June 5, 2017, the committee will commence its study on heritage preservation and protection in Canada.

I just want to make sure. We definitely adopted this motion on the 5th, and we agreed to the work plan that we're going to follow now for the next three weeks, with the witness list submitted by Mr. Aldag on June 14. We did ask everybody to let us know if there were any other names they wanted us to bring forward. We have not gotten anything else as yet, so we have built the plan based on what we had. We appreciate that.

We're going to start today. I'd like to welcome our guests. We're going to start with, from the Parks Canada Agency, Joëlle Montminy, vice-president, indigenous affairs and cultural heritage directorate. Accompanying her is Genevieve Charrois, director of cultural heritage policy.

We also have, from National Trust for Canada, Natalie Bull, executive director, and Dr. Richard Alway, chair of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. As well, Dr. Martin Magne is the retired director of archaeology and history for Parks Canada.

Welcome and thank you.

We'll start off with Parks Canada. We'll do National Trust next, if you're all right with that. Then we'll do Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, and then Dr. Martin Magne.

When you have one minute left, I will hold up the yellow card. When I hold up the red card, it means you are out of time and I need you to wrap up. It's the same for the members.

Joëlle, the floor is yours.

8:45 a.m.

Joëlle Montminy Vice-President, Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate, Parks Canada Agency

Thank you very much.

Madam Chair and members of the committee, thank you for your interest in the conservation and preservation of Canada's cultural heritage, a subject that is central to the mandate of the Parks Canada Agency.

It is a privilege to be before you today to share the agency's perspective on the current situation in Canada, to highlight Parks Canada's role, and to suggest some future prospects for the field.

Heritage places are of profound importance to Canada. They reflect the rich heritage of our country and provide an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about our diversity, including the history, cultures and contributions of indigenous peoples. Heritage places are a critical part of Canada's historical record and provide opportunities for employment and incomes, support sustainable tourism and contribute to the quality of life of Canadians by providing character and ambience to neighbourhoods, towns and regions.

Built heritage also helps preserve the environment by protecting existing structures thereby reducing construction and demolition waste.

Parks Canada's mandate is to protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage, and to foster public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations.

On behalf of the government, Parks Canada contributes to the protection of our national heritage, pursuant to a variety of legislative and policy documents. Over the years and through a patchwork of heritage commemoration and conservation instruments, the government has formally recognized more than 2,150 persons, places, and events of national historic significance, over 1,300 federal heritage buildings, 164 heritage railway stations, 92 heritage lighthouses, and 39 Canadian heritage rivers. In addition, 18 world heritage sites have been inscribed on the world heritage list. Each of these designations carries a different focus. For some it's commemoration, for some it's protection and conservation, and for some it's a combination of both.

Parks Canada has direct stewardship of a 171 national historic sites, as well as other heritage places recognized at the federal level, including more than 500 federal buildings, 10 heritage lighthouses, six Canadian heritage rivers, 12 world heritage sites, and more than 10,000 archeological sites representing the deep and diverse history of indigenous peoples. These heritage places often overlap with one another. For example, the Rideau Canal is a national historic site, a world heritage site, a Canadian heritage river, and home to 26 federal heritage buildings.

For Parks Canada, management of cultural resources is governed by its cultural resource management policy. The main objective of the policy is to ensure that cultural resources administered by Parks Canada are conserved and that the heritage value is shared for the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Cultural resources covered by our policy include buildings, artifacts in our collections, in situ archaeological resources, cultural landscapes, and engineering works. It is applicable to all Parks Canada heritage places.

Other key resources that help the agency manage its cultural resources include the “Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada”, the cultural resource impact analysis process, and Parks Canada's research permitting system.

I'll say few words on each of these. The “Standards and Guidelines” is a pan-Canadian set of principles and guidelines to guide the conservation of historic places. It is a product of the historic places collaboration under the FPT table on culture and heritage. The cultural resource impact analysis process is used to assess the potential impact of proposed projects on cultural resources under the care of Parks Canada and to identify any mitigation measures that may be required. The agency's research and collection permit system allows us to ensure that all natural, archeological, and social science research proposed to be undertaken in the protection heritage areas adheres to our standards.

Parks Canada also has tools to assist with the conservation of federally recognized heritage places owned by others. The federal heritage buildings review office provides guidance to other federal custodians on the conservation of their heritage buildings. The national cost-sharing program for heritage places provides matching funds to eligible non-federal custodians of national historic sites, lighthouses, railway stations, and federal heritage buildings to support heritage conservation and presentation projects.

All of these tools are what we have in our tool box, but the government does face challenges in the conservation of federal heritage.

As was noted by the Auditor General in 2003, built heritage is at risk because of inadequate financial resources allocated to heritage conservation and the lack of legislative framework. For example, there is no legal protection for terrestrial or underwater archeological resources at the federal level, which can put these resources at risk, the vast majority of which are indigenous in origin. The lack of legislative protection also prevents the agency from meeting international standards, such as the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

At Parks Canada, national historic sites are not protected through specific legislation. Over the years it has often been suggested that a clear framework, established specifically to provide legal protection to national historic sites and other cultural heritage places, would help ensure that cultural heritage conservation is a priority in the context of limited financial resources.

Non-federal owners of national historic sites, heritage lighthouses, and railway stations also face significant challenges to preserve cultural resources. Budget 2016 invested $20 million over two years in the national cost-sharing program, but the allocation is set to return to its permanent reference level of $1 million in 2018. This program has been consistently oversubscribed, with Parks Canada receiving applications for over $107 million in funding since 2009 for a total of just over $40 million in available funding. A decline in funding will create additional pressure on non-federal owners of these important sites and increase risk vis-à-vis conservation of heritage values recognized by the federal government. It could also limit our ability to support development of a heritage plan in relation to the legacy of residential schools as required by the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

There are also external factors that impact on our cultural heritage. The effects of climate change and environmental forces are increasingly being felt by Parks Canada and others, be it the loss of permafrost, extreme weather, or erosion. Some work is currently under way in some Canadian jurisdictions to examine mitigation and adaptation measures to meet the challenges of climate change, including within Parks Canada.

Development pressure also continues to pose challenges for historic places in urban areas. Without legal protection, heritage conservation often takes a back seat to other considerations. While Parks Canada's expertise and leadership is often called upon to help other federal departments manage their heritage places, the federal family would benefit from a more uniform framework of conservation and protection measures for its heritage places, as well as greater definition of roles and responsibilities.

While many challenges remain, the recent investment of $3.6 billion in Parks Canada's assets will address much of the deferred maintenance that has accrued over a number of years, including for historic buildings, engineering works, and other cultural resources. As was noted in budget 2017, a medium and long-term plan will also need to be developed to address ongoing financial needs to ensure that cultural resources stay in good condition.

In conclusion, the Government of Canada has adopted, over time, a number of legislative and policy instruments to protect our irreplaceable cultural heritage. Parks Canada is proud of its leadership role in heritage conservation within the federal family and as the steward of cultural resources.

The challenges we face to conserve our heritage are not new: funding, development, uneven protection and environmental forces. An analysis done in 1999 concluded that in one generation, Canada had lost 20% of its built heritage, and much of what remains continues to be threatened. It is therefore critical to continue exploring the best ways to address these challenges to prevent the continuing loss of Canada's heritage.

Surveys have consistently found that heritage protection is important to Canadians. In the context of Canada 150, Parks Canada's national historic sites have experienced a 27% increase in visitation—this serves to reinforce that Canadians care about the nation's history, culture and heritage.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you.

8:55 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much.

We'll hold questions until after we've heard from everyone, but thank you.

The next presenter is Natalie Bull.

8:55 a.m.

Natalie Bull Executive Director, National Trust for Canada

Madam Chair, members of the committee, thank you so much for this opportunity. Thank you for your interest in historic places and for undertaking this milestone study.

I'm here today representing the National Trust for Canada, a national membership-based, not-for-profit, non-government organization and registered charity established in 1973. As part of a global network of national trusts, we provide tools and resources to citizens to help them save places that matter, and we inspire Canadians with great places to live, work, and play. We are a proud partner with government in programs including Young Canada Works and Canada Historic Places Day.

In the 30 years between 1970 and 2000, Canada lost more than 20% of its historic buildings. Losses continue apace today. Provinces, territories, and municipal governments are doing their part. Federal leadership is urgently needed.

In this presentation I will do my best to provide an overview of historic places in Canada, review the challenges faced by those who try to save and renew them, and offer recommendations for federal leadership. We are talking about a broad range of places owned or managed by at least four different types of owners. Taken together, the places owned by NGOs and charities, private owners, provincial and municipal governments, and the federal government make up a potential universe of many thousands of historic places, perhaps half a million or more. Some of these places are already designated, usually by a municipal bylaw established under a provincial heritage act. Thirteen thousand are currently listed on the Canadian register of historic places, an important national databank and reference.

Designation often brings with it some access to financial incentives—grants, tax measures, and other sweeteners—offered as a carrot to compensate for the inconvenience or extra cost associated with heritage compliance. Indeed, the carrot and the stick are at the heart of most jurisdictions' heritage strategies. We know that incentives are rarely available in amounts sufficient to influence an unwilling owner's decision to invest or demolish, and heritage designation generally does not bring absolute protection against demolition. The protection of historic places is a challenging business.

Why would a parliamentary committee be concerned with the state of historic places in Canada? I think there are lots of great reasons. For a start, there is the potential for positive impacts on climate change. Canada's buildings are the third-largest greenhouse gas emitting sector, and the reuse and renewal of heritage buildings capitalizes on materials and energy already invested, reduces construction and demolition waste, and avoids the environmental impact associated with new development.

In addition to climate change benefits, historic places can contribute to a strong economy. Rehabilitation projects generate up to 21% more jobs than the same investment in new construction. They're a great stimulus measure, and they typically use local labour and materials, such that 75% of the economic benefits of heritage rehabilitation projects tend to remain in the communities where these buildings are located. This is a great stimulus measure. A related economic impact comes from cultural tourism. For example, U.S. travellers seeking heritage experiences in Canada are expected to reach 12 million by the year 2025.

These places also matter to our national identity, and they have a social value, often as the last bastions of affordable housing or a low-cost base for start-ups. However, there are many barriers and disincentives that make it difficult for private sector owners to save and renew historic places, including rising land values in big cities that encourage owners to demolish existing buildings in order to maximize development on the site, and an often unpredictable bottom line, which can deter developers and even lenders. There are insufficient incentives to counteract these barriers, so we lose buildings like the 1898 Etzio building in Edmonton's Old Strathcona district, the landmark Stollery's department store at Yonge and Bloor in Toronto, and Ottawa's Somerset House, where we witnessed demolition by neglect.

NGOs and charities working to maintain and renew historic places also face financial barriers. Competition for grant funding is fierce. Just last week, after decades of effort, the building rehabilitation society in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, was forced to accept the demolition of the 1888 Hazel Hill Commercial Cable Building, where the message of the sinking of the Titanic first reached land.

The only federal funding program dedicated to historic places is the cost-share program for national historic sites, federally designated railway stations, and lighthouses, as Joëlle described, but it is limited to just a few hundred places and they're not-for-profit owners. The funding available has ranged from zero dollars for many years to as little as $1 million a year, and the current $20 million over two years has been a really important boon, but we're very concerned about the notion of it returning to just $1 million next year.

What is the federal role in heritage conservation? Canada needs policies that create a strong economy, protect the environment, and avoid climate impacts. Recycling and reusing existing buildings, our largest consumer good, offers a great opportunity for the federal government to achieve these goals. Interjurisdictional collaboration is needed with the province and territories to develop pan-Canadian standards and explore the opportunity for stackable grants and incentives. Many instinctively look to the Department of Canadian Heritage to lead this charge with its many programs that fund, stimulate, and support a vast network of museums, culture, and heritage organizations, but historic places are not generally accommodated in its programs. According to its agency act, it is Parks Canada that has responsibility for historic places in Canada, reporting to the Minister of the Environment. It is confusing for the average heritage advocate, and frankly I would be very happy to see both ministries increasingly embrace the challenges and offer solutions for historic places.

In closing, I would like to offer the Government of Canada a series of priority actions that would do much to support the conservation of historic places inside and outside the federal family, and this is the framework that I think Joëlle referred to as well.

Number one, the federal government can join municipalities, provinces, and territories in offering much needed incentives to attract investment. A range of approaches may be appropriate to reflect the different ownership types and property types. For example, a predictable go-to source of federal matching funds like the cost-share program works well for heritage properties owned by charities and non-profits. Consideration might be given to a mechanism where donations by private individuals and corporations are matched by the federal government as an interesting way to encourage philanthropy. A federal rehabilitation tax incentive like measures recently proposed in Bill C-323 is a proven way to attract corporate investment to revenue-generating historic places, and gives older buildings vibrant, new uses. There's a range of mechanisms available to consider.

Number two, the government can implement two simple federal measures that would have broad benefit for historic places inside and outside the federal inventory. First, a “heritage first” policy requiring government departments to give priority to federal heritage buildings, or even those owned by others, before opting for new construction or leases to fill federal space needs. These measures could help create a new market for heritage buildings overnight. I know a local developer who says that such a measure would really transform the landscape for historic places in Canada. Second, a “do no harm” policy would be interesting to consider the impact of federal actions on all places in the Canadian register of historic places, regardless of ownership. This would help ensure that when the federal government spends infrastructure dollars, for example, they aren't used to the detriment of existing cultural resources. We know that funding for new convention centres, new roads, and infrastructure can sometimes displace important historic places.

Number three, the government can get the federal House in order and be an exemplary heritage steward. Canada is the only G8 nation without laws to protect historic places owned by its national government. As Joëlle mentioned again, in November 2003, the Auditor General of Canada assessed heritage protection practices within several federal departments and agencies and reported that built heritage under federal control will be lost to future generations unless action to protect it is taken soon. Very little has changed since that date. I refer you to the Auditor General's report and urge you to consider a range of measures including statutory protection of historic places on federal lands, national historic sites, and world heritage sites in the federal inventory, and statutory protection of archaeological resources on or under federal lands and waters.

Number four, the federal government can facilitate full participation of indigenous peoples in the identification and protection of their historic places.

Finally, the government can ensure that the Canadian register of historic places and the “Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada” are enshrined in legislation and adequately funded because they are the essential building blocks and underpinning for all of the recommendations listed above.

Thank you so much for your interest and for your action on historic places.

9:05 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much, Ms. Bull.

Now we're going to hear from Dr. Richard Alway, chair of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

9:05 a.m.

Richard Alway Chair, Heritage Designations and Programs, Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I'm sure members of the committee are used to getting a tremendous amount of information in a short period of time, but information overload, I know, is always a problem on these occasions.

Just to identify myself more completely, I'm actually president of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies at the University of Toronto. It was sort of my retirement project when I retired as president of the University of St. Michael's College after almost 20 years, which is federated in and with the University of Toronto. I was asked to do the research institute as a retirement project, but after nine years, I think it's more of a second career.

From your point of view, my role as chair of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada is the relevant one. The board advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, who is the minister responsible for Parks Canada, and the Government of Canada, therefore, on the commemoration of places, persons, and events of national historic significance. It has done this since 1919, when it was founded by an order in council.

I also, at the moment, serve as vice-chair of the advisory committee on the official residences of Canada at the National Capital Commission, and previously I had two terms as CEO and chair of the Ontario Heritage Foundation, now the Ontario Heritage Trust, which is that province's lead agency for the protection, preservation, and promotion of cultural and natural resources of significance.

First of all, I want to congratulate the committee on undertaking this work. It's a great opportunity. I think a report that is broad, comprehensive, yet practical, and that might even have recommendations that would need to be phased, is really what is called for if one can hope for such an outcome. I think it's important to recognize that it was—and it's been mentioned twice already this morning—the 2003 report of the Auditor General that gained the attention of Canadians and focused it on heritage and the threat to Canada's built heritage that existed. It indicated very strongly that two-thirds of Canada's national historic sites in federal ownership were in fair-to-poor condition, many in poor condition. It was very critical of the federal government's described neglect in the area, and it advocated very strongly for a reinforced legal framework for protection, in other words, for legislation.

When the report came out, you may recall, it got a lot of attention. There was a flurry of interest. It didn't last terribly long because there was a lack of a coordinated, coherent response on the part of individuals across the country. Indeed, surveys taken more recently indicate that there is still broad support among Canadians for built heritage generally, but that when it's placed against competing interests from time to time, that's where it loses out.

I think this committee has a chance to be able to promote and analyze the role of heritage within the general cultural framework of the country.

What was the Auditor General's report really based on, and what is the narrative for historic heritage protection in Canada?

Beginning in 1908, the national battlefields of Quebec act was a piece of legislation dealing basically with the Plains of Abraham. In 1919, there was an order in council that founded the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, which started the program of federal commemoration of nationally significant persons, places, and events. In 1953, the Historic Sites and Monuments Act provided a statutory basis for the federal government to commemorate with plaques and occasional acquisitions—that hasn't happened very often recently—places, persons, and events of national significance.

In 1973, Natalie's organization, Heritage Canada—its original name—was founded by a federal government order in council. In 1982, the federal heritage buildings policy was founded, which does deal with federally owned structures. It asks for a heritage evaluation for all buildings 40 years old and older and for the production of a statement of heritage significance for each building, but there are two things here: one is a sort of registration of buildings and one is classification. For registration, there is basically no significant protection involved, and nothing of significance regarding conservation of the resource. If the building is classified, there is some degree of protection, in that demolition is made fairly difficult, but it's very incomplete.

In 1985 to 1988, as we've heard, the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act came in, and then the lighthouses in 2008. Both were private members' bills, which is very interesting, but I would note for the interest of the committee that neither involved significant a federal outlay of money, and none involved diverting federal revenue in any way. The finance department is always interested in this. Both those pieces of private member's legislation went through.

Bill C-323, which is very current, of course does involve a tax incentive. It will be interesting to see what happens with that. I certainly would advocate that kind of approach, but I think it's much more difficult to do, particularly as more or less a first step.

What would make great sense today?

First of all, I would say that the legislation to protect federally owned national historic sites, 171 owned by Parks Canada and 65 by other federal departments, should include protections for UNESCO world heritage sites. We go to a great extent to try to add to the Canadian list in this area, as it's thought to be a very good thing, but we offer no guaranteed protection once they're on the list. We're really the only G8 country that doesn't have federal legislation protecting nationally significant places. I think this is a huge gap that could be filled fairly easily, and I suspect the government would be open to that type of recommendation.

It also should ensure any legislation measures to prevent adverse federal action on the over 730 national historic sites that are owned by somebody other than the federal government, some by provinces and most by private individuals. There is only so much one can do, as property rights in Canada, through the BNA Act and the Canadian Constitution, are assigned to provinces and territories. There's a limit here to what the federal government can easily accomplish. I think it is important to have protection for archaeological resources on federal lands and under waters as well.

I think cost-sharing has been mentioned before. The federal provision here was as much as $6 million or $7 million going back to maybe 15 years ago. It declined to $1 million for several years just a few years ago. Now we've had two years at $10 million, but that's about to expire. I think it's important to recommend an extension of cost-sharing, and let's say for five years at a $10-million level. That's as close as one gets to making a program permanent, and I think it's well merited.

Tax incentives would complete the picture of tools here, but I think it's harder to achieve that and I think we need to be practical. I would hope that the committee would sketch out broad recommendations that could carry this area forward into the future in a comprehensive manner, recognizing that some of the recommendations might have to be phased in their execution.

I wish the committee well. You have an important task. I thank you for the opportunity to say my piece.

9:15 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much. We appreciate that.

Now we'll hear from Dr. Martin Magne.

September 19th, 2017 / 9:15 a.m.

Martin Magne As an Individual

Thank you, Madam Chair, and I thank the committee for inviting me to speak to you today.

I'll just give you a little bit of my background so you understand my perspective. I was with Parks Canada for 24 years. I retired as director of the archaeology and history branch. Prior to that, until 1992 I was with the Alberta government. I was head of the Archaeological Survey of Alberta and I oversaw the archaeological research and resource management program with a staff at one time of up to 24 people. I also worked as a private archaeology consultant for five years, mainly in western Canada, and I practised field archaeology everywhere west of Quebec.

I'm here today to speak to you about archaeological resource management in Canada. I first want to give you a broad perspective on provincial and territorial programs. Then I'll focus on federal programs and where I believe there are opportunities for improvement. I won't address shipwrecks and underwater archaeology too much. It's a complicated subject and beyond my ability to speak to you on today.

By archaeology I mean the material remains of human activities in the past, including the indigenous past going back some 20,000 years. It's a non-renewable record. Therefore, that's why archaeologists require high-resolution recovery and recording methodologies. Archaeological sites vary a lot. They can be a single stone artifact. They can be large aboriginal villages. They can be remains of industrial buildings, fur trade forts, and so on. They can be under the ocean, under lakes, on mountain tops, anywhere in the country they can be found.

They can be also given different levels of significance and that's a key way of looking at resource management. There are different scales of assessing significance. You can have qualitative assessments. You can have highly quantitative metric types of assessments for what is scientifically significant, what is historically significant, what is culturally significant. That's something to keep in mind.

All provinces and territories have legislation that protects archaeological resources and the management of those—because they occur mostly below ground but not all below ground—is facilitated by requiring assessments of developments that will disturb the ground such as dams and roads, subdivisions, parking lots, harbour improvements, etc.

The proposed projects are reviewed by the government bodies for the potential to impact those resources. Some types of geographic positioning are more likely to contain archaeological resources than others. If it is prime real estate today, it was prime real estate 20,000 years ago too.

The field assessments then are undertaken under legislation, regulatory requirements, by the proponent, whether it's the provincial government themselves or private industry, at their cost to assess whether there's something there and what its relative value is and then that assessment can lead to more intensive developments to further explore the nature of those resources and to gather those in the interests of the province or territory and the Canadian public. Of course, the artifacts coming from those resources are then curated by those government agencies as well.

The federal situation is different. First, as has been noted by my co-presenters here today, there is no federal legislation, no single statute, that protects archaeological resources other than possibly the Indian Act, which at one time protected only highly specific sites such as historic graves, totem poles, and rock paintings. I do not honestly know whether those provisions are still in place. There was a very strong push for federal archaeological legislation in 1989-90. It was drafted but it did not come to pass.

The push was accompanied by a three-year program called access to archaeology that was administered by the Department of Communications at the time, which provided funding for public archaeology. It was very popular. In particular, that program targeted indigenous community involvement in heritage and archaeology work.

There was another drafting of federal archaeology legislation some 15 years ago with the historic places initiative, which resulted in some expanded protective measures and incentives for built heritage in co-operation with the provinces and territories. However, the archaeological component was not completed.

Parks Canada is the only federal agency that is active in archaeological resource management. At one time, what is now the Canadian Museum of History was funded by the northern oil and gas program to undertake archaeological research in the Arctic, but that was principally a research-driven program and not a resource management one.

Federal lands, of course, are of a much smaller scale than what is contained in the provinces and territories, and those federal lands are unequally distributed. For comparative purposes, with about 440,000 square kilometres in area, federal lands equal approximately two-thirds the size of Alberta. Approximately 93% of federal lands are administered by Parks Canada.

Other federal land managers are the Departments of National Defence, Fisheries and Oceans, Transport, and Indigenous Affairs. Transport, for example, oversees airport lands, and I was heavily involved at one time in helping with the archeology in the Vancouver International Airport. The size of the land area, of course, is only part of the equation in estimating the archaeological resource management needs, since, for example, many DND and DFO lands are in strategic harbour locations and some Indian reserves are in areas that are rich in economic resources.

Again, for comparison, Parks Canada right now has a record of about 10,000 archeological sites. The Province of Alberta has a record of, say, 35,000 to 40,000 archeological sites, and British Columbia has about the same level. Most of those inventories were gathered by resource management from industrial development.

Parks Canada has a staff of archaeologists that undertake resource management principally for park purposes, both in resource management and for the purposes of public history and public education. Parks Canada maintains site records, curates artifacts, informs and engages the public, and works closely with indigenous communities. However, Parks Canada archaeologists also assist with the management of archeological resources on other federal lands.

In other federal lands, archeology is administered in the following manner. Under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, archaeological resources are to be considered in determining whether a project will have an environmental effect. Parks Canada is listed as an expert department that is available to assist the relevant department with that determination and with pursuing further action. However, there is no compulsory requirement for that consultation with Parks Canada experts. CEAA is fairly effective for large projects, but it is definitely not effective in capturing archaeological impacts in the case of smaller-scale projects where environmental effects, largely spoken, are negligible.

In any case, it remains the responsibility of the land manager itself, the Department of Environment, for example, or DND, to determine whether an archaeological issue has any possibility. Some CEAA archaeology projects—many, actually—take place without Parks Canada's knowledge. Some projects, such as CN's large Prince Rupert harbour development, take place in a regulatory grey zone largely administered by provinces, but again, they don’t recognize that as their lands.

Outside of CEAA, under federal archaeology policy, Parks Canada has a mandate to provide advice to other departments as well. At the present time, Parks Canada provides support only to some five to 10 federal projects per year, but Parks has no authoritative role nor any proactive role in reviewing federal projects ahead of development, unless requested to do so by the responsible department.

I suspect that there are many projects impacting archaeological resources on federal lands of which Parks Canada is not aware. I base this on some work that I did in the nineties, assisting various government departments when there was a period of government downsizing and changes to Indian reserve management administration. I had contacts with many departments, principally DND, Public Works, DIAND, and DFO in B.C. and Alberta, to assist them with assessments for National Defence base closures, harbour privatizations, logging, infrastructure, and housing developments on Indian reserves, etc. Overseeing private consultants and working on a fee-for-service basis at the time, by 2005, my staff were overseeing up to 40 projects a year. We learned at the time that many more were not being captured in our loosely framed net at the time.

In 1999, that work led to Parks Canada creating a document for DND, a reference manual for land archaeology, which laid out procedures for them for archaeological assessments, including consultations with indigenous communities and identification of appropriate repositories. When these works take place on federal lands these days, the materials that result from them are deposited in repositories identified by the province.

I want to say one thing. Since the 1970s, indigenous communities have become greatly aware of the value of archeological heritage in their territories, and there have been some very good programs, particularly in British Columbia. There is a resource inventory program called RIC, which has trained aboriginal people to participate in forestry impact developments.

I believe that federal archeology legislation would be very welcomed among the professional community in Canada and would be applauded internationally. I think it would benefit from some level of provincial and territorial involvement as well at some scale. Careful thought would need to be given to the curation of collections.

Finally, I believe that meaningful engagement with indigenous communities with respect to archaeology, including consultation at drafting stages, would be a very positive sign of government's intent to responsibly manage the material remains of their history in this country.

I thank the committee for inviting me today.

9:25 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

Thank you very much.

You've all been excellent with your time management, and you've given us a lot to think about. I'm sure there are lots of questions around the table.

I want to remind people that this committee works slightly differently from some other committees. We have our first round of six minutes for everybody and then the second round is six minutes each until the last questioner, who has only three minutes. We have Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Liberal on the first round, and Conservative, Liberal, Conservative, Liberal, and NDP on the second round. We're slightly different from some of the other committees, and I just want to make sure that you're aware.

They were very good with their time management. Please keep an eye on me. I'll be waving at you. I really don't want to interrupt. I know the questioning is important.

We'll begin with John Aldag. Thank you.

9:25 a.m.


John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Good morning, everybody.

Thank you to the witnesses for being here this morning and for your excellent testimony. I think for our first session on this heritage study, it paints a really good picture of where we're at right now with heritage protection in Canada and some of the successes, as well as some of the challenges, we face.

I also want to thank the committee for agreeing to dedicate some time in this fall session for this study. Hopefully you've seen, through the discussion already this morning, why there is such a need for some interest in perhaps revisiting where we're at with heritage protections in the country.

I have so many places to start. I'd like to thank Parks Canada for the very realistic comments, the accurate picture you portray, that we have a system of national historic sites. I guess where I'm going is that I see there are two pieces we're talking about. One of them is what I would term getting the federal house in order: the things the federal government owns and is responsible for, from historic sites owned by Parks Canada to other historic sites and archeological resources. Then there's the federal leadership outside of the federal piece, and those are the things that Natalie and her organization were able to talk about.

I want to start with the federal house in order piece, looking at some of the legislative requirements and processes. To begin with, looking at national historic sites, I think we said there are 171. We did a study earlier this year on national parks and looking at systems plans. Could Parks Canada provide a comment—perhaps Dr. Alway as well—on how the current designation process works, how it goes from kind of a grassroots program, looking at persons, places, and events of national significance, and who determines at what point those may move over to federal ownership, either by Parks Canada or under federal departments?

I think we have an existing collection, but is there any opportunity for the addition of new ones? Perhaps in your response to this systems plan piece, you could comment on what's happened over the last, say, 20 years related to new sites. Maybe Dr. Alway could start.

9:30 a.m.

Chair, Heritage Designations and Programs, Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada

Richard Alway

Parks Canada owns 171 national historic sites. There are 65 owned by other federal bodies. That's the universe we're talking about.

Nominations come to our board for the designation of a place as a national historic site. There are certain criteria and policies that we operate within. There's a screening process by staff. If something is thought to have at least some merit and warrant discussion, it will come forward to the board. We get extensive documentation in advance of the meeting. We look at it and reach a determination as to whether to recommend designation or not. The minister then acts, currently, in her wisdom, to do that.

What does this mean? It means that at some point a bronze plaque, consisting of 640 spaces or a certain number of words within the 640 spaces, in the two official languages, will be erected to commemorate that place. We also determine the extent of the place. What are the boundaries that should be considered and that bear on this national historic significance directly? In other words, it may only be part of the overall site that we determine. That is then adopted by the government and that becomes a national historic site.

In early days, the government many times would commemorate through acquisition. From 1919 probably through the late 1930s, there was a lot of acquisition of national historic sites, often in conjunction with the formation of national parks, because a certain number of these national historic sites are within parks. That's how that occurred.

Basically there's very little addition at the current time because, of course, it brings with it considerable financial obligation.

9:30 a.m.


John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

That's where I was going to jump in. The six minutes goes really quickly, so let's move from the designation process to parks.

How do things get into the federal stewardship, and has that happened in the last 20 years? Can you make any sort of comment on that?

9:35 a.m.

Vice-President, Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate, Parks Canada Agency

Joëlle Montminy

As Dr. Alway was saying, the federal government is no longer looking at acquiring new sites. The last time the government was considering acquiring national historic sites was in the 1990s. We acquired some sites, for instance, the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. It was part of the 1990s green plan.

Since then, the acquisition of new historic sites is no longer the approach, given the significant cost associated with the maintenance of those sites. The focus right now is to expand the system through the designation process and to support owners, whether they are other federal departments or non-federally owned sites through our—

9:35 a.m.


John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

It would be fair to characterize it almost as a legacy program, where there are properties that we own and are responsible for maintaining. Ensuring we have legislation that we've heard doesn't exist would be important in order to make sure those places are maintained. Then, moving forward, as new sites are designated but not owned by the federal government, there would need to be some sort of program in place to provide support. That may not mean legislative protections, but it could be—as was mentioned—financial support. That would be the kind of relationship you would see moving forward.

9:35 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Deb Schulte

You have less than a minute. Be quick.

9:35 a.m.


John Aldag Liberal Cloverdale—Langley City, BC

Okay, I'll take advantage of it.

Martin, really quickly, on the archaeology piece, you said there was legislation in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Do you know if that ever was tabled?