Position Profile

Job Title:  Manager, Historic Places Research and Designation

Work Unit:  Heritage Division, Historic Resources Management Branch / Historic Places Stewardship Section

Ministry:  Alberta Culture and Tourism

Competition Number:  1041722

Date:  April 2017

Position Summary


Working within the legislative framework of the Historical Resources Act, the Manager of the Historic Places Research and Designation Program is responsible for the development and implementation of policies, procedures and strategic initiatives to identify, evaluate, protect and promote Alberta's historic places. The position directs a group of professionals who conduct research and make recommendations on the protection and documentation of historic places and the assignment of geographic place names in the province. The Manager of the Historic Places Research and Designation Program is responsible for coordinating the review of applications to several of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation's grant programs, managing Alberta's heritage markers program, and directing research on aspects of Alberta's heritage. The position manages the work of the Alberta Heritage Survey and Geographical Place Names Programs. Additionally, the position fulfills a number of essential duties related to wider branch and divisional goals and objectives.

Specific Accountabilities


Significant historic places are protected by:

  • managing the evaluation of sites for designation as Provincial Historic Resources (PHRs) or Provincial Historic Areas (PHAs), including chairing the Designation Committee
  • overseeing the process of designating sites as PHRs and PHAs under the Historical Resources Act
  • discussing and meeting with property owners, municipalities and special interest groups to explain the designation process and the implications of designation
  • coordinating thematic research studies to identify and pursue protection of certain types of historic resources of provincial significance
  • initiating and managing Historical Resources Impact Assessments for undesignated built heritage resources threatened by development and managing the review of development activities for potential impacts to historic structures
  • working with other departments to advocate for the protection of historic resources

These activities ensure that Alberta's most significant historic resources are properly identified, evaluated and designated.


An awareness and understanding of Alberta's history is effectively promoted by:

  • ensuring that the Alberta Register of Historic Places (ARHP) is maintained and that all designated historic resources are listed in a timely manner
  • acting as the principal liaison with the Canadian Register of Historic Places (CRHP) and ensuring that all eligible historic resources from the ARHP are properly listed on the CRHP
  • ensuring that the HeRMIS database effectively serves its function as the primary data management tool for the ARHP, and, through its web interface, the public means of disseminating information contained within the Register
  • performing outreach and cultivating public appreciation of historic places through workshops, radio and TV, and publications
  • coordinating research on Alberta's Provincial Historic Sites and on other special projects exploring Alberta's heritage
  • coordinating the reviews of several of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation's categories of grants

These activities ensure that information on designated historic places in Alberta conforms to pan-Canadian standards and that designated places in the province are properly recorded and promoted.


The Historic Places Research and Designation Program's Alberta Heritage Survey Program (AHSP) records data on the province's heritage properties and offers valuable information to both government officials and members of the general public by:

  • overseeing the maintenance, development and usage of the AHSP's database of records on over 110,000 historic structures in the province
  • ensuring that the TMS database effectively serves its function as the primary data management tool for the AHSP, and, through its web interface, the public means of disseminating information generated by the AHSP
  • employing AHSP data in the management of Alberta's historic resources, particularly in the identification and evaluation of potential PHRs and PHAs
  • integrating sites documented through the Online Permitting and Clearance (OPaC) system into the AHSP

These activities assist in the evaluation of the significance of sites considered for Provincial Historic Resource designation and offer an essential tool for researching the built heritage of Alberta's communities.


Geographical places in Alberta are assigned proper names under the Historical Resources Act by:

  • directing research on new and existing nomenclature and preparing name submissions for consideration by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation Board and the Minister
  • ensuring that all program work is consistent with the legislative framework for geographical naming set out in the Historical Resources Act and the nationally-accepted standards of nomenclature
  • liaising with the Geographic Names Board of Canada

These activities ensure that Alberta has a formal naming program for geographical features that responds effectively to suggestions from the public.


The broader goals of the Historic Resources Management Branch are promoted by:

  • supervising staff, interns, and contractors to meet the needs of the section
  • representing the unit as required on Section and Branch committees and ensuring collaboration with other programs and sections within the Heritage Division
  • managing land files for properties administered by the Heritage administering leases on these properties
  • composing Action Requests and contributing to branch planning documents

These activities ensure that the program functions effectively and completes necessary tasks in a timely, professional manner.

Knowledge / Experience

  • Detailed knowledge of the Historical Resources Act and its application and jurisdiction.
  • Knowledge of the Municipal Government Act and the Land Titles Act.
  • Expert knowledge of at least one of Western Canadian history, architectural history, heritage planning, or historic resources management. A Master's degree in one of these or a related discipline is preferred.
  • Specialized knowledge of historic resources management principles, practices, and legislation at municipal, provincial, and federal levels, as well as in other Canadian provinces and territories, and in other countries.
  • Specialized knowledge of planning and regulatory processes and procedures within the provincial government setting. Specialized knowledge of the standard principles and practices of geographical place naming in Canada.
  • General knowledge of the range of disciplines involved in the management of historic resources, such as archaeology, history, architectural history and heritage preservation.
  • Specialized knowledge of Alberta Land Titles SPIN II system, the Government of Alberta's Land Status Automated System, the Corporate Registry system, and the OPaC system.
  • Advanced knowledge of the HeRMIS database program.
  • A minimum of five years of progressively responsible experience in a regulatory planning or heritage resource management environment.
  • Strong leadership, planning, project management, consultation and organizational skills. Strong mediation and negotiation skills.
  • Advanced written and verbal communication and listening skills. Ability to explain complex concepts and situations in plain language.
  • A valid Alberta driver's licence and the ability to travel.

Leadership and Business Know-How


The position:

  • designs and implements the program vision, strategies and goals, ensuring they are consistent with section, branch, divisional, departmental and governmental priorities. At the branch, divisional, and ministry levels, the position is often required to contribute to business plans, compose Action Requests, and collaborate on cross-ministerial initiatives. On a program level, the position is required to chair the Designation Committee; coordinate the reviews of applications for grants, scholarships, and heritage markers; and craft policies related to designation, historic structure recording, and Alberta Historical Resources Foundation grants. The position was recently responsible for revising workflow processes to enhance the designation evaluation and Alberta Historical Resources Foundation grant review procedures.
  • ensures program policies and protocols are consistent with legislative frameworks, particularly the provisions of the Historical Resources Act. The position frequently conducts research and liaises with government legal staff to determine how certain sections of the Act should be interpreted and applied.
  • works with stakeholders, employees, and federal / provincial / territorial partners to ensure that proposed geographical place names are properly researched, adjudicated, and presented to the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation and the Minister, and that paper and digital records of Alberta's place names are maintained.
  • works with other ministries within the Government of Alberta to ensure that historic resources owned by the Crown can be identified and protected and that broad, cross-ministry legislative and policy frameworks take into account historic resources. The position coordinates the review of Alberta Infrastructure sites flagged under the Mature Buildings Policy.
  • develops strong working relationships with the public, media, heritage property owners, municipalities, and other stakeholders. These skills will be particularly important as the position will be responsible for researching, documenting and evaluating Residential Schools as potential historic places, including any associated cemeteries.
  • provides strategic planning for future budgetary, policy and communications initiatives. The position has worked with the section's communications advisor to develop a series of tools to promote the program's work, including plaque presentations, media releases, and publications.

Problem Solving


The Manager of Alberta’s Historic Places Research and Designation Program encounters complex problems requiring creative solutions. The position directs the work of a variety of professionals who conduct complex evaluations on a wide range of historic places and geographical place names. Formulating strategies to protect and promote the province’s built heritage and geographical place names often requires the position to engage multiple stakeholders to formulate and implement novel solutions.

The position's role in coordinating the evaluation of historic resources, the assessment of proposed geographical place names, and the study of Provincial Historic Sites requires considerable discernment and a dedication to rigorous research. In each case, the position directs program staff to undertake research and produce well-reasoned conclusions. This requires a thorough understanding of Alberta's heritage and a capacity to both define appropriate issues / questions and track down relevant resources. This can necessitate primary and secondary source research, as well as contacting academics and local historians. The position is assisted in this work by the historians and architectural historians in the program.

The Manager of the Historic Places Research and Designation Program is required to coordinate the review of applications to the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation for heritage awareness grants, Roger Soderstrom scholarships, and heritage markers. This requires directing the work of numerous reviewers and ensuring that reviews are consistent and defensible. In many cases, this requires an ability to identify issues with applications, determine appropriate questions, and track down answers. It also requires an ability to make judgments about the allocation of resources.

Devising strategies to protect historic places is perhaps the most demanding responsibility of the position. In this work, it must engage multiple stakeholders -including municipal officials, members of the private sector, owners of heritage properties, and/or personnel from other government ministries -to find ways to protect Alberta's significant historic resources within defined legislative and policy frameworks. For example, the position often responds to requests from the general public, elected representatives and/or municipal administrators to have a particular - and often threatened -place designated as a Provincial Historic Resource, sometimes against the wishes of the site's owner. Such situations require diplomacy, discretion and the careful balancing of competing interests. Assistance in these situations is provided by other members of the section and by the Executive Director of the Branch.

The position may seek assistance on policy direction and specific issues from the Director of the Historic Places Stewardship Section, the Executive Director of the Historic Resources Management Branch, the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Heritage Division, and from provincial, territorial and federal partners in the Historic Places Collaboration and the Geographical Names Board of Canada.

Relationships / Contacts

Clients Frequency Nature and Purpose of Contact

Section Director


Advice / recommendations / budget talks / problem resolutions

Other Program Managers


Advice / recommendations / problem resolutions

Program staff


Consultation / coaching / assigning tasks

Section staff


Coordinate work of the Designation Committee and contribute to work of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation

Branch Executive Director


Discuss matters of policy and urgent and/or significant files

Assistant Deputy Minister


Discuss matters of policy and urgent and/or significant files


Heritage property owners


Discuss issues related to designation

Municipal council and administrators


Education on issues like compensation, documentation, incentives, zoning, and other concerns related to historic place conservation

Officials from other provincial ministries


Discuss designation and conservation of significant historic places on Crown lands, contribute to cross-ministry initiatives such as the Land Tools Stewardship Committee, coordinate review of sites under the GoA's Mature Buildings Policy

Federal / provincial / territorial partners


Discussion on common issues, including geographical names protocols, designation policies and practices, and strategic initiatives

Impact and Magnitude of Job (Scope)


The Manager of Alberta's Historic Places Research and Designation Program is directly responsible for the evaluation and designation of sites as Provincial Historic Resources. It directs a team of professionals who craft research reports and site assessments that evaluate the eligibility, significance and integrity of historic resources proposed for designation. The position defines program standards for the evaluation of historic resources for designation and is also responsible for articulating to the Section Director, Branch Executive Director and Division Assistant Deputy Minister the rationale for the approval or rejection of sites for designation. As designation enables site owners to apply for funding through the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation (AHRF) and obligates them to receive approval from the Ministry prior to initiating any significant site changes, stakeholders are directly affected both financially and legally by the recommendations of this position.

Similarly, the position's work to ensure significant but undesignated historic resources are given proper consideration in the course of development has significant legal and financial implications. Recommendations made by the position can result in significant shifts in the plans of developers for their sites, with substantial financial and planning implications. The position also oversees the requirements levied on industry to document historic structures before they are demolished in the course of development. These requirements have direct impacts on the timing and cost of developments.

The position also coordinates the review of applications to the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation for heritage awareness, research, and publication grants, as well as for the Roger Soderstrom scholarship and the heritage markers program. These reviews provide the foundation for decisions which result in the disbursement of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to promote greater awareness of Alberta's heritage. The recommendations put forward by this position largely determine whether the heritage awareness projects proposed to the Foundation proceed or not.

The strategies and policies developed and implemented by this position have a significant impact on the overall accountability of the Ministry, and contribute to the GOA's priority to promote strong and vibrant communities by ensuring that the richness and variety of our historic resources are protected and promoted in keeping with the wishes of local communities.

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