What is an archaeological assessment?

Archaeological assessments are required when a property is known to have an archaeological site or has the potential for archaeological resources. There are four archaeological stages and a licensed consultant archaeologist is required to complete them. Archaeological assessments can range from background research to initial property assessments to full site excavation.

Do I require an archaeological assessment?

Municipalities play a major role in land use planning in Ontario. Municipalities make use of many tools to determine how they will develop including official plans, zoning by-laws and infrastructure planning, while keeping in mind environmental, public and economic concerns. Municipalities often determine if a property has archaeological potential or not. If it is determined there is potential for archaeological resources an archaeological assessment will be required by a professionally licensed archaeologist. The approval authority for the project will advise you that an archaeological survey is required.

It is required by-law for anyone wanting to alter or develop land to address public concerns regarding how the development could affect environmental and cultural heritage resources including archaeological sites.

Rules for land use planning in Ontario are set out in the Planning Act and complementary policy document the Provincial Policy Statement.

The following legislation also require archaeological surveys prior to ground alterations; the Environmental Assessment Act, Aggregate Resources Act and the Renewable Energy Approval Regulation (O.Reg. 359/09).

What is a Stage 1 archaeological assessment?

Stage 1 archaeological assessments are the starting point for all Ontario archaeological assessments. This stage includes detail background research on the subject property. The background information is gathered from a number of sources to determine the archaeological potential of a project area. If it is determined that the project area has archaeological potential a recommendation for a stage 2 archaeological assessment is be made.

What is a stage 2 archaeological assessment?

A stage 2 archaeological assessment follows a stage 1 when background research suggests that there is potential for archaeological resources within the project area. Most properties within Southern Ontario exhibit potential and require Stage 2. The Stage 2 archaeological assessment is completed by two main strategies including test pit survey and/or pedestrian survey.

What is a stage 4 archaeological assessment?

Stage 4 archaeological mitigation is recommended for sites of significant value. The preferred Stage 4 method is through avoidance and protection. This can be achieved through a number of different ways to ensure the sites long-term protection. In some case avoidance and protection is not feasible, in which case stage 4 excavations are recommended. The purpose of the stage 4 excavation assessment is to fully document the site and recover all archaeological material.

What is a stage 3 archaeological assessment?

All sites identified during Stage 2 which retain cultural heritage value or interest require stage 3 site-specific assessment. Stage 3 excavations includes the excavation of a series of 1×1 meter test units in order to provide greater information regarding the site including, the limits, confirmation of cultural affiliation and the level of cultural heritage value or interest.

Are Archaeologist licensed in Ontario?

Yes. The Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries issues licenses and regulates licensees according to the Ontario Heritage Act.

What happens once the field work is complete?

Once the archaeological field work is completed a technical report is written and submitted to the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries for review. Upon review a letter will be issued to the licensed archaeologist requiring revisions or noting that is complies with the Ontario Heritage Act and the Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists and that the report has been entered into the Ontario Public Registry of Archaeological Reports. This letter verifies that concerns of archaeological resources within the study area have been addressed.

What do I do if I find human remains?

If you find human remains on your property the appropriate authorities (police or coroner) should be notified immediate as required under the Funeral, Burials and Cremation Services Act and all construction or archaeological fieldwork must stop. Once the coroner has conducted a proper investigation and the Registrar of Cemeteries has been consulted permission will be given to continue work.

I have a tight deadline is there any way to speed up the Ministries review process?

Yes. The Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries has an expedited review process to help accommodate our clients deadlines. We ensure that the Ministry is aware of the deadline and that the letter with supporting documentation for the expedited review is submitted together with the final report.

Am I able to continue with my development if an archaeological site has been found?

Yes. It is possible during the archaeological process to get partial clearance (S&G Standard 7.8.5) which would allow your development to continue. A 20 meter protective buffer would be placed around the site where no ground altering activities can occur and then a 50 meter monitoring buffer beyond the 20 meter protective buffer where a licensed archaeologist would be required to monitor any ground altering activities. Often this is included within the Stage 2 Archaeological report when a site is identified and would require Stage 3 Site-specific Excavation. This allows your development to continue with minimal interruption.