The County of Simcoe has a long cultural history which began approximately 13,000 years ago. Archaeological sites, which are the physical remains of this lengthy settlement history, represent fragile and non-renewable cultural heritage resources that need to be protected.
The Planning Act requires that municipal decision makers and planners be aware of all lands containing known archaeological sites or areas of archaeological potential, and that all planning decisions are made in accordance with provincial policies and regulations.
The Cultural Heritage and Archaeology policies of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe 2017; Provincial Policy Statement 2014, and the County of Simcoe Official Plan 2016, encourage municipalities to prepare archaeological management plans and consider them in their decision-making. Provincial policy also directs municipalities to work with stakeholders, as well as First Nations and Métis communities, in developing official plan policies and strategies for the identification, wise use and management of cultural heritage resources.
To conserve and protect this area's rich cultural heritage and archaeological features and sites, and to address the above-noted legislative requirements and policies of the Province and the County Official Plan, the County is undertaking the preparation and completion of an Archaeological Management Plan (AMP).
Once complete, the County of Simcoe AMP will:
- Create a confidential inventory of registered and unregistered archaeological sites, including all existing and closed cemeteries;
- Prepare an overview of the County's settlement history for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples;
- Develop Geographic Information System (GIS) based mapping that identifies areas of Indigenous and colonial period archaeological potential;
- Recommend County Official Plan updates relating to cultural heritage conservation and archaeological features and sites;
- Recommend improved planning processes to ensure a standardized and consistent approach to integrating the archaeological assessment process into the municipal planning and development review process;
- Recommend an engagement and consultation protocol with relevant Indigenous communities; and,
- Recommend a Contingency Plan for the protection of archaeological resources in urgent situations (i.e., deeply buried human remains discovered during construction).
The preparation of an AMP is also particularly important for the County of Simcoe and the Simcoe Sub-Area which is expected to grow to 796,000 residents and 304,000 jobs by 2041. The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2017 sets out regional level responsibilities and comprehensive, integrated planning requirements. Through the undertakings of the County's Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR), the County will be working with local municipalities, stakeholders and Indigenous communities to determine where growth and development should be directed to support the development of complete communities. Having a clear understanding of the location of known archaeological sites and those areas of archaeological potential throughout the County will assist the County in determining where the projected growth can be accommodated while conserving and protecting the County's archaeological features and sites.
We do wish to point out that the Archaeological Management Plan is a land use planning exercise and will not involve the preparation of a detailed history of settlement of the County or any field investigation or other physical archaeological site assessment. It should also be noted that comprehensive mapping and inventories of built heritage resources is beyond the scope of the AMP Project and may be completed in the future.