Windsor Archaeological Management Plan (WAMP)

Archaeological tools in a dig site

The City of Windsor is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the Windsor Archaeological Management Plan (WAMP). The City has retained Archaeological Services Inc. (ASI) to prepare and consult on the WAMP.

Learn about our public engagement sessions that were held on June 16, 2021.

About the WAMP

What is an archaeological management plan?

An archaeological management plan is a tool that supports the implementation of municipal policies anTwo archaeologists working together to map in artifacts using a gridd procedures for identifying and conserving archaeological resources. An archaeological management plan includes detailed maps of areas of archaeological potential, known archaeological sites, and archaeological areas, as well as processes and procedures for implementation and direction for Indigenous engagement. The plan ensures that important archaeological sites are conserved during land development activities and decision-making processes.

The City of Windsor has a long cultural history. For thousands of years, the Detroit River served as a corridor for both Indigenous people and later early European settlers, leaving behind a vast array of archaeological resources. 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.

What statutory mandate does the City of Windsor have to establish and maintain the WAMP?

The Ontario 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 Provincial Policy Statement (2020), issued by Ontario under the Planning Act, encourages municipalities to prepare archaeological management plans to promote the conservation of archaeological heritage resources. Provincial policies and the City’s Official Plan policies also direct municipal staff to work with stakeholders and Indigenous communities when identifying, protecting, and managing cultural heritage and archaeological resources. The City of Windsor has been a leader in archaeological management planning, having finalized our AMP in 2005 and receiving Council approval in 2006. This remains an important element of the City’s Official Plan.

What is the WAMP update that Windsor and its team of consultants is undertaking? What will the update include?

To best conserve and protect Windsor’s rich cultural heritage and archaeological features and sites and to address the above-noted legislative requirements and policies of the Province and the Official Plan, the City is undertaking a review and update of the WAMP which includes the following components:

  • A database update of known/registered archaeological sites, site leads, and archaeologically sensitive areas, including marine archaeological sites and all known existing and closed cemeteries;
  • A review and update of the current archaeological potential model and mapping system to meet current standards, conditions, and new information;
  • An update of the list of applicable legislation, modernization of relevant Official Plan policies, and recommendation of best practices for managing archaeological resources;
  • A revised implementation strategy and recommendations for planning process improvements to ensure a standardized and consistent approach for all affected stakeholders;
  • Direction regarding Indigenous community engagement in the archaeological planning, assessment, and management process; and
  • An increase in public awareness and stewardship of archaeological resources.

Please note that the WAMP is a land-use planning exercise and does not involve the preparation of a detailed history of settlement for Windsor or any field investigation or other physical archaeological site assessment.

Using the WAMP

What is the WAMP used for?

The WAMP is often a useful tool for development professionals, archeological consultants, Excavation of a unit on a site in Windsorland owners, and the general public. For land development activities, the WAMP helps to determine the potential need for an archaeological assessment. The mapping components of the WAMP help to identify if a subject property is located within the high archaeological potential zone. An archaeological assessment may, for example, be required as a condition of planning approval for applications that lie within the high archaeological potential zone.

Areas of high archaeological potential generally encompass lands along waterways, in the vicinity of known archaeological sites, in historic areas of Windsor and Sandwich, and along historic roadways. Whether a proposed development will be subject of an archaeological investigation will depend on factors such as the size of the development, whether the site has been previously disturbed, and whether it lies in an area of special interest (waterfront, historical Indigenous settlement, etc.). The archaeological potential map will, however, indicate if there is likely to be archaeological interest in the property. Areas of high archaeological potential are depicted in yellow on the current Archaeological Potential Map.

If the WAMP triggers an archaeological assessment for a development application, what does that entail?

An archaeological assessment entails the development proponent hiring a licensed archaeologist to investigate the subject property. This typically involves background research (Stage 1) to evaluate property-specific archaeological potential as well as a field investigation (Stage 2) to look for archaeological evidence. The consultant submits a copy of their report to the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries (MHSTCI) as a licence requirement and to provide recommendations regarding next steps. Archaeological review officers at MHSTCI review the report for compliance with provincial archaeological standards and guidelines. If MHSTCI accepts the report, and no significant archaeological resources were found, the proponent and the City of Windsor will be notified. City planning staff will then record that the subject property warrants no further archaeological concern. If the consultant finds archaeological resources on the subject property that warrant further investigation, their report will include a recommendation for Stage 3 archaeological assessment. A similar process to that outlined above ensues leading to a recommendation for either no further work or Stage 4 mitigation. If an archaeological site deemed to warrant Stage 4 mitigation is identified, the development proponent can choose to revise their development plans to avoid and protect the site or pay for a salvage excavation of the entire site by a licensed archaeologist. Once any archaeological concerns have been addressed to the satisfaction of MHSTCI, the City of Windsor can move forward with approval of the development application.