Archaeological assessment in Ontario is mandated and regulated by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS). The MTCS organizes the assessment process into four incremental stages, each culminating with a report and recommendation for further investigation. Every project is different, and the full process will not always be necessary. With this in mind, AS&G strives to offer a complete and custom tailored solution to meet the needs of each of our clients. Our process is as follows:
Stage 1: Background study
Our team reviews the geographic, land use, and historical information for all lands that are part of the development proposal and the relevant surrounding area through a background study in order to determine archaeological potential for your property. Where necessary, this may be supplemented by a property inspection.
Stage 2: Property assessment
We will conduct a field survey to identify all archaeological resources that may be present. The Stage 2 assessment consists of walking a ploughed field looking for artifacts lying on the surface of the ground or test pitting unploughable areas at regular intervals and screening the soil for artifacts. Special conditions such as brownfield properties or deeply buried archaeological resources may require alternative strategies. If archaeological sites are identified, Stage 3 assessment is required.
Stage 3: Site-specific assessment
Archaeological sites discovered during Stage 2 assessment may require additional Stage 3 assessment. The goal of this stage is to accurately determine the spatial extent of the archaeological sites, to more completely evaluate their cultural heritage value or interest and, where necessary, to make recommendations for conducting Stage 4 strategies to mitigate development impacts. We will conduct a Stage 3 assessment by excavating a number of test units and/or test trenches.
Stage 4: Mitigation of development impacts
Stage 4 includes implementing long-term protection strategies for archaeological sites to be impacted by the project. If protection of the site is not a viable option, the archaeological sites will require excavation to document the site and remove the artifacts before construction begins.
Cultural Heritage Assessments
Cultural heritage resources comprise archaeological sites, built heritage, and heritage landscapes. Cultural heritage, especially built heritage, is defined by the Ontario Provincial Policy Statement (2005, policy 2.6.1) as “one or more significant buildings, structures, monuments, installations, or remains associated with architectural, cultural, social, political, economic, or military history and identified as being important to a community. These resources may be identified through designation or heritage conservation easement under the Ontario Heritage Act, or listed by local, provincial, or federal jurisdictions.” A Cultural Heritage Assessment is undertaken to establish the possible impacts of proposed development on heritage resources, and any recommendations to preserve any heritage value a property may contain. Heritage assessments can be required for municipally designated structures or properties, properties adjoining previously designated structures, properties determined to have possible cultural heritage value, or part of an Environment Assessment. AS&G offers the expertise to determine the cultural heritage value of a landscape, and can offer recommendations to mitigate any effects on said heritage value.
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) is the regulatory body for archaeology in the province of Ontario. In 2011, the MTCS published the Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists, a technical document that includes the requirement for Aboriginal engagement in archaeological investigations where Indigenous cultural heritage and interests have been identified. This requirement was further expanded on in the publication of a Technical Bulletin entitled Engaging Aboriginal Communities in Archaeology (Draft 2011).
AS&G’s engagement process is designed to not only fulfill but exceed these requirements as our staff have developed excellent working relationships with key representatives from many of Ontario’s descendant Indigenous communities.
It is our belief that mutual respect and the willingness to listen and learn are the building blocks of an amicable long-term relationship between consultant archaeologists and Indigenous communities. Using these two tenets, our staff continue to cultivate our existing relationships with descendant communities on each project that we undertake. Our strong record of experience in the consulting industry coupled with understanding of the needs of both the client and the Indigenous community enables us to customize the engagement process as required for each project.
Respect and recognize descendant Indigenous communities’ interests with respect to their cultural heritage
Build amicable long-term relationships with members of Indigenous communities
Understand the needs of the Indigenous communities with respect to each project
Develop customized engagement process for individual projects
Fulfill the requirements of the provincial standards and guidelines
Zooarchaeology is the study of animal remains at archaeological sites and is a necessary component of a Stage 4 compliance report. It is a requirement of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) that such analysis be performed by a specialist in the field of zooarchaeology. AS&G offers this expertise on staff. Whether you are a landowner looking for the complete solution to the compliance process or a fellow consultant with a faunal collection that needs analysis, we provide the answer to one of the most difficult facets of archaeology.