Kelly Gostick joins us today at the Beehive (remember that's old slang for a railway yard office and a fun name for our field office at the proposed industrial development site!) to fill us in on what archaeological work has happened and continues on-site. We hope to get Mike out in the field for a more detailed update with Kelly soon!
Archaeological assessments must be carried out by licensed archaeologists and are required when the land has either:
- a known archaeological site
- the potential to have archaeological sites
Stages of an assessment
During the first three stages, the consultant archaeologist will:
Not all stages will be necessary for all projects.
Stage 1: background study and property inspection
The archaeologist determines whether there is potential for archaeological sites on the property.
They review geographic, land use and historical information for the property and the relevant surrounding area, visit the property to inspect its current condition and contact the ministry to find out if there are any known archaeological sites on or near the property.
A Stage 2 assessment is required when the consultant archaeologist identifies areas of archaeological potential.
Stage 2: property assessment
The archaeologist surveys the land to identify any archaeological resources on the property.
For a ploughed field, they will walk back and forth over it looking for artifacts on the surface. In forests, overgrown pasture areas or any other places that cannot be ploughed, they will dig parallel rows of small holes, called test pits, down to sterile subsoil at regular intervals and sift the soil to look for artifacts.
They may use other strategies if properties are paved, covered in fill or have deeply buried former topsoils (such as floodplains or former sand dunes).
The archaeologist will determine whether any archaeological resources found are of sufficient cultural heritage value or interest to require Stage 3 assessment.
Stage 3: site-specific assessment
The consultant archaeologist determines the dimensions of the archaeological site, evaluates its cultural heritage value or interest and, where necessary, makes recommendations for Stage 4 mitigation strategies.
To this end, they conduct further background research and fieldwork that expands the information gathered in Stage 2.
They map the spatial limits of a site and acquire further information about the site's characteristics by excavating one-metre by one-metre square test units across the site.
Based on circumstances, some sites (for example, ones that have been paved or are deeply buried) may require specialized methods of assessment.
The archaeologist will determine whether any archaeological sites have sufficient cultural heritage value or interest to require Stage 4 mitigation of development impacts.
Stage 4: mitigation of development impacts
This stage involves implementing conservation strategies for archaeological sites.
Determining the best approach for conserving the site may include reviewing possible strategies with the development proponent, the municipality or other approval authority, Indigenous communities, and other heritage stakeholders.
Conserving archaeological sites does not mean stopping development.
Conservation can involve putting long-term protection measures in place around an archaeological site to protect it intact. The site is then avoided while development proceeds around it. This is called protection in situ and is always the preferred option for mitigation of development impacts to a site.
If protection is not viable, mitigation can involve documenting and completely excavating an archaeological site before development takes place.
Long-term avoidance and protection
Unless long-term protection measures are in place, an archaeological site is not considered truly protected.
The archaeologist will recommend an avoidance and long-term protection strategy. Ontario's Heritage Tool Kit outlines long-term protection measures, such as:
If circumstances do not allow a site to be protected in situ, the site may be excavated before construction begins.
The purpose of excavation is to remove artifacts while documenting the site through measurements, maps, drawings and photographs.