Reporting and artifact collections management requirements

The Ontario Heritage Act requires licensed archaeologists to hold in safekeeping all artifacts and records of archaeological fieldwork they carry out under their licence. This includes all artifact collections, field notes, photographs, maps and diagrams. If an archaeologist wants to transfer an artifact collection to an appropriate public institution they must complete an Archaeological Collection Transfer Notification form and submit it to the ministry's Archaeology Licensing Officer.

Licensed archaeologists must also report all archaeological fieldwork carried out under their licence to the ministry.

Project Information Forms/Contract Information Forms

A Project Information Form (PIF) provides the ministry with information about a planned archaeological fieldwork project and the names of licensed archaeologists supervising the fieldwork. Licensed archaeologists must submit a PIF to the ministry through Ontario’s Past Portal before the archaeological fieldwork begins.

Archaeological reports

Archaeological reports document fieldwork activities and results and the consultant archaeologist's recommendations for next steps. They are filed with the ministry after the archaeological fieldwork is completed. Reports are entered into the Ontario Public Register of Archaeological Reports to inform the public record of archaeology in Ontario.

Site forms

There are two types of site forms (also referred to as Borden forms):

  • Archaeological site record forms provide information about new archaeological sites
  • Archaeological site update forms provide information about subsequent visits or changes to known archaeological sites

Both are filed with the ministry as part of the archaeological project report package prepared by a licensed archaeologist and are entered into the Ontario Archaeological Sites Database.

Review of archaeological reports

The ministry’s report review process is a modernization measure and is part of our continuous effort to improve our service.  It will allow us to provide timely and effective reviews and to help ensure the protection, conservation and preservation of archaeological resources, including First People’s heritage.

How the ministry addresses reports prepared by licensed archaeologists

The ministry may review reports prepared by licensed archaeologists to ensure that they have met the Terms and Conditions for Archaeological Licences. This is to help ensure the conservation of archaeological resources.

When determining which reports will receive a technical review, the ministry takes into account the potential risk of negative impacts to archaeological resources as a result of land development activities.

The ministry undertakes a full technical review of higher risk reports, including all reports that document archaeological resources, in order to oversee licensed archaeologists’ compliance with ministry requirements for fieldwork and reporting. For archaeological assessment reports, this includes compliance with the 2011 Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists.

Lower risk reports are entered into the Ontario Public Register of Archaeological Reports without a technical review. All report packages are subject to a completeness check. The ministry reserves the right to review any report and will audit lower risk reports to ensure licensed archaeologists’ compliance with the Terms and Conditions for Archaeological Licenses, including requirements for fieldwork and reporting.

Mandatory standards for Aboriginal engagement remain unchanged, and related reporting is subject to ministry review. This review includes a look at whether community feedback was considered when engagement informs the development of a mitigation strategy.

How the results of a report review are communicated to the licensed archaeologist

Once the ministry has addressed an archaeological report, either by undertaking a technical review or entering it into the report register without review, the licensed archaeologist is sent a letter. 

  • When a report is not reviewed, the archaeologist is notified that the report has been entered into the register without review. The ministry’s letter does not cite the recommendations of the report, nor indicate whether or not the report and its recommendations meet ministry requirements.
  • When a report is reviewed and complies with the Standards and Guidelines, the archaeologist is notified that fieldwork and reporting standards have been met and the report has been entered into the register. The letter will cite the recommendations made by the archaeologist in the report with regard to:
    • further archaeological fieldwork;
    • further actions to be taken in regard to a specific archaeological site; or
    • the fact that there are no further concerns for a specified archaeological site(s), as per Section 48 of the Ontario Heritage Act.
  • If the report does not comply with the Standards and Guidelines, the archaeologist is notified of the ministry’s specific concerns with the report and is given an opportunity to address the concerns by a deadline.

The ministry will terminate its review of a report in cases where a licensed archaeologist has not filed a revised report before the assigned deadline, or the revised report does not address the concerns identified to the ministry’s satisfaction. The archaeologist can re-submit a new project report package once all of the ministry’s concerns have been addressed.

The ministry will deem a report non-compliant when it contains severe standard violations and the ministry has determined that no additional fieldwork or reporting revisions will be able to resolve the issues. The ministry will not accept further reports submitted under the associated Project Information Form number.

How the results of a report review are communicated to development proponents and approval authorities

The ministry provides report review status updates to development proponents and approval authorities throughout the report review process:

  • Proponents and approval authorities are copied on letters issued to consultant archaeologists when a report is entered into the register.
  • Proponents and approval authorities are notified by email when a report is incomplete (and the ministry’s review has been terminated) and when a report has been deemed non-compliant.

Providing timely updates on the results of the report review process will ensure that proponents and approval authorities are able to make informed decisions about land development activities in instances where there continues to be concerns for archaeological resources.

What development proponents need to know

The ministry’s technical review of an archaeological assessment report ensures that appropriate recommendations for archaeological sites are documented before any land development approval decisions are made by an approval authority.

Most archaeological assessment reports filed with the ministry comply with the fieldwork and reporting requirements in the Standards and Guidelines for Consultant Archaeologists. However, in a small number of cases, reports are non-compliant. In these instances, approval authorities may decide not to accept the archaeologist’s recommendations in an archaeological assessment report for the purposes of either approving a proposed project or clearing/meeting a condition they placed on an approval.

In seeking development approvals, proponents may need to have non-compliant archaeological assessments redone. This is to ensure that concerns for archaeological resources on the lands to be developed have been addressed. Depending on the non-compliant work, this may mean that one or more stages of assessment must be redone.

The proponent will need to contact the consultant archaeologist for further information and will have the opportunity to hire a new consultant to redo the assessment.

Any new consultant archaeologist hired may contact the ministry to confirm the scope of work that is required for a stage of assessment that is to be redone. Requirements may vary based on the individual circumstances.

To assist proponents, the ministry will expedite the review of any new reports filed for projects that have been redone.

The ministry’s priority for addressing archaeological assessment reports

The ministry has established a system for prioritizing the review of archaeological reports.  

When determining priority status, the ministry considers both the risk to resources of cultural heritage value or interest as a result of land development activities as well as pressures on proponents to obtain development approvals.

The ministry’s priority for addressing both original and revised reports is as follows:

  • archaeological projects considered to be part of broader Ontario Government priorities:
    • Proposed renewable energy projects that have been awarded Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) contracts (e.g., projects associated with Renewable Energy Approvals, Waterpower Class Environmental Assessments);
    • Provincial infrastructure projects (e.g., transit projects, highways, pipelines)
    • Municipal infrastructure projects (e.g., transit projects, sewer and water lines)
  • stage 4 preliminary excavation reports;
  • stage 3 archaeological assessment reports;
  • all other reports.

As part of the ministry’s commitment to good customer service, expedited reviews of reports may be granted where consultant archaeologists can demonstrate that the proponent or approval authority for the development project is facing an impending deadline

A consultant archaeologist may submit a request for the expedited review of a report associated with a government priority, as listed above, if the project is facing an impending deadline. Depending on the volume of requests, it may take a minimum of 20 business days from the time the ministry grants the request for an expedited review to be completed. 

For more information on the ministry’s review of archaeological reports, refer to Archaeological Reports: Protocols and Support for Licensed Archaeologists Using Ontario’s Past Portal and the Incomplete and Non-Compliant Reports fact sheet.

Contact

For more information contact:

Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport
Archaeology Programs Unit
416-212-8886
Email: Archaeology@ontario.ca