Archaeological Master Plan FAQ's

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What it Means for You

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What is archaeology?

Archaeology is the examination and recording of human cultures in the past. Ontario's archaeological history extends back over 11,000 years.

Where are archaeological sites located?

Most archaeological sites are below the ground and are not often visible. Archaeologists have developed a methodology to identify archaeological potential, including:

  • Nearness to water
  • Slope and elevation of land
  • Soil type
  • Past land use
  • Historic maps
  • Nearby archaeological sites

What is the Archaeological Master Plan?

The Archaeological Master Plan is a document that includes maps of known archaeological sites, built heritage resources, traditional land use patterns and areas of archaeological potential. It is developed specifically for a community using local information and reflecting local circumstances.

Why does the City of Kingston need one?

Kingston's archaeological heritage extends back thousands of years and has a diverse history due to its natural resources and strategic location to rivers and Lake Ontario. Our archaeological resources are entrusted to our community, and we are responsible for understanding their value and properly managing them.

The requirement to properly manage archaeological resources is established by the Ontario Heritage Act and the Provincial Policy Statement which require the proper management of archaeological resources.

Municipalities are required to incorporate archaeological conservation objectives and policies for local archaeological resources and areas of archaeological potential into their official plans, land use planning documents and related development approval processes.
The Archaeological Master Plan will allow the City of Kingston to do all of these things.

What is an Area of Archaeological Potential?

An area of Archaeological Potential is where the area's geography and history is such, that there is a reasonable possibility of archaeological resources.

What is an Archaeologically Sensitive Area?

An Archaeologically Sensitive Area (ASA) refers to an area where there are several, known archaeological sites in the immediate vicinity and the probability of finding another site is very high.

What are some recommendations of the Master Plan?

There are many areas in Kingston that are identified as having archaeological potential.

The Master Plan defines areas of potential as approximately 66% of the entire City and areas of Archaeologically Sensitive Areas (ASA), such as the old City of Kingston, as well as other early settlement areas, such as Kingston Mills.

What does this mean for my project?

If your project requires

  • planning approval (such as a Committee of Adjustment application)
  • Ontario Heritage Act approval,
  • or you require a building permit
  •  AND your project entails soil grading or ground disturbance,

Then your proposal will be reviewed by City staff to see if it has the potential to impact archaeological resources. If your property is in an Area of Potential or in an ASA, you may be required to obtain an archaeological assessment of your property as a condition of the planning approval or in support of your application or permit. Special requirements are in place for lands located in Archaeologically Sensitive Areas (ASAs).

Early consultation with the City of Kingston will allow you to incorporate this possibility in your project planning.

Archaeological Assessments: What's Involved?

Stage 1 - Background Research - The archaeologist assesses the geography and history of a parcel of land. In this process certain aspects of a site, such as nearness to water or a historical body of water, known natural resources, historic use or known nearby archaeological sites, identifies an area as having archaeological potential. At this stage, it may be determined that a property that has been significantly disturbed from previous land use activities to contain archaeological resources. A Stage 1 also determines whether further assessment is necessary.

Stage 2 - Field Assessment - This stage consists of an on-site field survey to identify, confirm and document any archaeological site that may be present on the property. This may be achieved by pre-plowing an empty field and/or test pit digging - the archaeological consultant will recommend the best method for your property.

Stage 3 - If an archaeological site or sites are identified on a property, a Stage 3 assessment is done to determine the nature and approximate area of the site. This may involve a surface collection of artifacts as well as exploratory excavations.

Stage 4 - Excavation is done on a metre by metre basis. During this stage, a site may be completely or partially excavated and a full site report will be generated to include artifact and soil analysis and an interpretation of the findings.

Do only private developers have to obtain archaeological assessments?

No. They are required of public and private property owners as well. Archaeological assessments are an integral part of the environmental and planning process.

Who is qualified to do an Archaeological Assessment?

In accordance with the Ontario Heritage Act, an archaeological assessment can only be done by individuals who hold a valid archaeological license. For a list of practicing archaeologists in Ontario, please see the website of the Association of Professional Archaeologists of Ontario

How much will it cost?

Archaeologists bid on jobs like any other consulting firm. Costs will depend on the size of the property and the level of assessment required.

How long will it take?

The time required will depend on the scale of review required. Some field survey methods can only be done at certain times of the year. For that reason developers and property owners should consult with the Planning & Development Department and an archaeological consultant as early in the development/planning process as possible.

Will this delay development of my property?

Once the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport is satisfied that the property has been mitigated by either protecting resource in situ or documentation (i.e. excavation), and copies of the assessment and Ministry letter are filed with the City, there are no further archaeological constraints on development.

Who do I contact if I have more questions?

Planning & Development
613-546-4291, ext.1844

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