51 percent of Sault has archaeological potential. Be careful where you digWednesday, September 12, 2012 by: Jordan Allard
An archeological assessment plan for Sault Ste. Marie’s land was approved by city council at Monday's meeting.
Around half of the city was identified as possibly having remains or ruins from centuries past in a report by Archaeological Services Inc. (Toronto-area field expert) received by council in July.
The study found 51% of the Sault has archeological potential - 60% located in rural areas, 15% in land zoned for environmental management (creeks, wetlands), 9% in existing parkland and 7% around a portion of the airport and various residential, commercial and industrial properties.
In their report to council, city staff noted all areas within the community are already approved for development, subject to the regulations contained in the city's zoning by-law.
An assessment is required when an official plan/zoning by-law amendment, new subdivision or land severance is proposed in an area deemed to have archeological potential.
An official plan amendment setting out an approach to archeological assessments was approved by council.
The amendments require land owners or applicants to conduct an assessment when lands are located within an area of archeological potential, the city will enforce municipal and provincial legislation with respect to the discovery of items with archeological or historic interest and the location of archeological sites will be kept confidential in order to protect against vandalism or removal of resources.
Assessments must be done by a licensed archaeologist at the expense of the property owner.
Don McConnell, planning director, said cost of an assessment is relative to land size, but did say the average price would range between $5-7,000.
The city will also identify, map and maintain an inventory of areas, buildings, neighborhoods, isolated structures and sites with a medium to high archeological potential.
"Tonight's amendment sets out policy and procedures to be followed," said McConnell. "This is the implementation step of the study done by Archaeological Services Inc."
The report was a requirement of a provincial policy statement which sets out land use planning requirements for municipalities in Ontario.
The provincial government feels archeological resources are fragile, scarce and non-renewable so they must be managed in a prudent manner if their significance is to be maintained for future generations.
The city's process for archeological assessment is broken down into four stages.
Stage one consists of background research on the land use history of the property, stage two features a field survey, stage three includes a more detailed site investigation and stage four sees extensive excavation and preservation of artifacts found on site.
"It's done in various stages because each stage determines if there's sufficient reason to proceed to the next stage," McConnell said.
He confirmed the amendments are in line with Ministry of Culture and Tourism guidelines.
Regulations from the provincial government have been known for some time and McConnell feels given that - combined with assessment procedure flexibility - industrial development in the city isn’t being discouraged.
Originally, under recommendations from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, new development in more than 90% of the community would have been subject to an archeological assessment, but based on work done by Archaeological Services Inc. this total has been reduced to 51%.
The report by Archaeological Services found 36 registered archeological sites within the city limits, dating from over 10,000 years ago to the early 20th century.
The overall purpose of the study was to identify those areas of archeological potential within the city.
New development approvals within these areas will require an archeological assessment as a condition of approval.
The darkened portion of the above map is area determined to have archeological potential.