2020 FCSNW logo

Archaeology on Contaminated Sites: Protocols and Procedures to Avoid Project Impacts

Henry Cary and Michael Teal
Golder Associates Ltd.

The objective of this presentation is to summarize the legislation and policies governing the protection and preservation of cultural resources on federal lands; outline the protocol developed to address unexpected archaeological finds made during a large-scale remediation of unexploded ordnance; and, illustrate how cultural resources should be considered in project planning and the potential this will become increasingly critical in the future.


In 2015, explosives management contractor Notra were remediating unexploded ordnance (UXO) at the former Department of National Defence (DND) Niagara Ranges training ground in the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, when they uncovered a large iron cannonball and fragment of a bayonet. The 18-pounder calibre cannonball had been fired from a naval vessel supporting the American invasion of Niagara on May 27, 1813, while the bayonet was probably lost at some point during the American occupation between June and December 1813. As both finds were unanticipated and the property was part of the Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site, the remediation work ceased immediately and the landowner, Parks Canada, was contacted.

In the absence of clear guidance for how to proceed, DND contracted Golder Associates Ltd. (Golder) to develop a protocol to manage any subsequent archaeological discoveries. Using principles found in the Parks Canada draft Reference Guide for Archaeological Work on Federal Lands and Lands Underwater, Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, Cultural Resource Management Policy, and A Guide to Working with the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office (FHBRO), Golder outlined a communication plan, detailed field procedure, and the reporting requirements to ensure all stakeholders were kept informed, archaeological remains were conserved, and responsibilities under federal legislation were met. DND and Notra implemented the protocol for the remaining remediation work, which ultimately resulted in no time lost to the project. This result was achieved despite the complexities involved with UXO clearance, a limited historical understanding of the American assault and the ephemeral nature of battlefield remains, and the number of contractors and stakeholders involved.

Using the Niagara Ranges project as a case study, this presentation will highlight the challenges involved when archaeological remains are unexpectedly encountered on contaminated sites on federal lands, and describe the relevant heritage legislation, policies for archaeology and heritage conservation, and duty to consult under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It will then suggest some cost-effective measures or approaches to address stakeholder concerns and avoid adverse impacts to project schedules and cultural resources. These include rapid assessment of the types of archaeological remains that could be present, identifying areas of potential and level of risk for future discoveries, and tailoring the strategy to the specific archaeological conditions and the remediation methods being employed.

The key message is that screening for archaeology and cultural heritage should be undertaken early in the project lifecycle, but even then, project managers need to identify who to contact to ensure an unexpected discovery does not derail schedules, budgets and stakeholder relationships. Increasingly, local communities are demanding that archaeology and cultural heritage be considered in remediation projects, but the responsibilities and process under federal legislation is often unclear. This presentation therefore hopes to demystify mitigating for archaeological resources on contaminated sites and illustrate the ways they can be proactively managed.

Henry Cary, Senior Cultural Heritage Specialist/Archaeologist, Golder Associates Ltd.

Dr. Henry Cary has over 18 years experience directing cultural heritage and archaeological projects in urban, rural, Arctic and Sub-Arctic environments in Canada. He specializes in the historic architecture and cultural landscapes of North America, including industrial and military heritage. In addition to providing cultural heritage evaluations, heritage impact assessments, documentation reports and conservation and management plans for a wide range of clients and resources, Henry is skilled in the analysis, digital survey and mapping and other documentation of complex, multi-component properties, structures and landscapes. Prior to joining Golder, Henry served as archaeologist and cultural resource management specialist for Parks Canada’s Fort Henry National Historic Site Conservation Program and Western Arctic Field Unit, and as Heritage Manager for the Town of Lunenburg UNESCO World Heritage Site. He has also worked as a consultant for private-sector and research projects in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, the Republic of South Africa, Italy, Portugal and France. Henry is a member of the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP) and Register of Professional Archaeologists (RPA), and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Saint Mary’s University.

Improving Sustainable Federal Contaminated Site Management through GBA+

Alexandra Mitsidou, Wood

The objective of this presentation is to demonstrate how the application of GBA+ can enhance the sustainability of the federal contaminated site management process, by integrating community-specific perspectives into custodian decision-making. In particular, it will highlight how GBA+ can improve impact mitigation, benefit maximization and local participation.


The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP) calls for the sustainable management of contaminated sites, which includes the analysis of the “environmental, social and economic impacts of a project to ensure an optimal outcome, while being protective of human and environmental health.” That calls for site managers to choose approaches that “not only manage or eliminate contamination risk but also maximize the overall environmental, social and economic benefits associated with those approaches” (ECCC, 2018).

Local communities involved in or affected by contaminated site management projects are not homogeneous units. Rather, they consist of diverse population groups: girls, boys, women, men and gender-diverse people, each of which has various intersecting factors that further influence their identity, for example age, disability, culture, ethnicity, income and location. These differences in identity often result in differences in assigned social roles, access to decision-making processes and the ways in which the impacts of development and remediation projects are felt.

Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) is an analytical process that helps us assess how projects may impact different population groups differently. GBA+ is gaining increasing visibility and traction in Canadian public policy, as evidenced by its inclusion in the new Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Gender Budgeting Act.

This presentation will demonstrate how the application of GBA+ can enhance the sustainability of the federal contaminated site management process by considering more than just technical aspects, integrating community-specific perspectives into custodian decision-making. In particular, it will highlight how GBA+ can: a) better mitigate and manage risks and impacts by considering diverse population groups; b) maximize benefits by considering the unique needs and capacities of diverse groups; and, c) improve buy-in and participation from affected stakeholders by considering the concerns and knowledge of diverse population groups in the site management process.

The presentation consists of three parts:

  • Introduction of GBA+ as a concept, its framework and examples of its application;
  • Illustration of the importance and relevance of GBA+ to federal contaminated site management; and,
  • Sharing of a proposed roadmap for integrating GBA+ in the 10-step Decision-Making Framework (DMF) of the FCSAP, from planning to long-term monitoring, with an emphasis on best practice and lessons learned in federal contaminated site management and other related disciplines.

Alexandra Mitsidou, Chargée de projet – Évaluations d’impact et authorisations, Wood

Alexandra Mitsidou, M.A., est chargée de projet en évaluations d'impact et autorisations chez Wood. Anthropologue et spécialiste en résilience communautaire, elle compte neuf ans d'expérience dans les secteurs de l’industrie, de l’aide humanitaire et du développement international. Son expérience comprend des projets sensibles au genre et à la diversité en Amérique centrale, dans les Caraïbes, en Afrique et en Asie du Sud-Est. Son travail actuel au Canada est axé sur l'évaluation des répercussions environnementales et sociales de projets dans les secteurs du pétrole et du gaz, de l'infrastructure, des mines et des énergies renouvelables.

Stakeholder Roadmap: A Guide to Effective Active Engagement using Social Methodologies

Reanne Ridsdale1 and Melissa Harclerode2
1Ryerson University
2CDM Smith

The objective of this presentation is to share a long-term international collaborative research project which set out to demystify the link between purpose and process of engagement, and present guiding principles in a framework to effectively guide project stakeholder engagement process.


Stakeholder engagement is thought to be elusive, complex and expensive. There are several misconceptions of what stakeholder engagement entails, including the fundamental misunderstanding of what “engagement is”. Additionally, since no “one-size-fits-all” approach exists, or is appropriate, each project will need to be tailored to the community, which creates more complexity and uncertainty. This presentation is based on a long-term international collaborative research project which sets out to demystify the link between purpose and process of engagement, and present guiding principles in a framework to effectively guide project stakeholder engagement process.

This roadmap is developed using the best social methodological tools known within the remediation industry, academia and other environment related fields. The authors of this presentation collaborated with international Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF) organizations, policy-makers networks, academia and standardization committees. The authors regularly teach professional development sessions to gauge the applicability of their roadmap through peer-feedback. The authors illustrate each step in the roadmap with known tools and methodologies that have been used in other remediation projects.

This roadmap outlines six guiding principles to active stakeholder engagement: global focus; factors to consider; engagement process; appropriate engagement timing; levels of engagement; and, models of engagement. These guiding principles set a firm context for the proponent, by demystifying those complexities that muddle effective public input. Next, the roadmap is presented in a simple four-step process: 1) stakeholder identification; 2) understanding context and complexities; 3) identification of drivers; and, 4) using social methodology and decision support tools. This roadmap encourages thoughtful pause for each step, and to have a continuous circular feedback with the community, as this will ensure no step is redundant or excessive in their needs. This means, the project should run smoother, by reduced conflict, and quicker, meaning less delays and financial setbacks.

Reanne Ridsdale, étudiante au doctorat, Université Ryerson

Reanne Ridsdale est étudiante au doctorat à l’Université Ryerson et a reçu une bourse de recherche universitaire Ryerson pour la période 2016-2019. Ses recherches portent principalement sur la revitalisation des friches industrielles, la régénération des collectivités dans une optique de justice sociale et la gestion des terres contaminées sur les terres autochtones. Elle a récemment donné plusieurs cours à l’Université de Brandon. En 2018, Mme Ridsdale a reçu une subvention de Mitacs Accélération en partenariat avec le Canadian Brownfields Network, qui a mené un projet de recherche pour la 15e  année de la Table ronde nationale sur l’environnement et l’économie. En 2018, elle a reçu le prix Vision CBN HUB (Hero’s Underpinning Brownfield). En 2015, Mme Ridsdale a terminé sa maîtrise à l’Université de la Saskatchewan. Ses recherches portaient sur la façon dont la durabilité contribue à l’assainissement durable et son efficacité dans la prise de décisions. Cela inclut notamment l’examen des composantes d’un cadre durable, qui comprend une participation solide des intervenants, le maintien d’objectifs intergénérationnels et l’atteinte d’un équilibre socioécologique. Elle a été stagiaire auprès du Saskatchewan Research Council dans le cadre d’une subvention de Mitacs Accélération. Elle a participé à la mobilisation des intervenants et à l’intégration d’une communauté exhaustive en tant que stagiaire en planification à PrairieWild Consulting. Elle est membre active du Canadian Brownfields Network, SuRF Canada, et a coécrit un article avec l’équipe internationale de l’Initiative SuRF.

Engaging with First Nation Communities to Reduce their Environmental Footprint for Waste Management

Michelle Uyeda and Deacon Liddy

The objective of this presentation is to provide participants with an understanding of First Nation communities and their challenges to waste management due to the remoteness of their location and building working relationships to provide innovative solutions.


GHD works with over 60 First Nations in BC providing waste management solutions and assisting them with socio-economic development in their communities. GHD supports the BC Indigenous Zero Waste Technical Advisory Group through projects which help remote First Nations community divert wastes from going to the landfill and be responsible stewards of managing household hazardous wastes, thereby extending the life of landfills, reducing their community waste footprint and environmental impact, and reducing waste management costs. Working with communities to provide solutions to fit their local needs and resources to solve their environmental issues provides community learning, independence and ownership, and positive economic and environmental impact to the community. The engineering services are provided as part of the collective team including government agencies and the First Nation, attaining local sustainable innovative solutions. We co-create the solutions with our First Nation clients.

In this presentation, GHD will identify:

  • Details of the BC Indigenous Zero Waste Program and Project Stages; and,
  • Case studies implementing waste management solutions through the program.

One of the profiled projects is for the Klemtu community, located in the heart of the pristine Great Bear Rainforest area, where a feasibility study was completed for the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais First Nation to manage residential and commercial organic waste, including the Klemtu fish processing plant waste. GHD helped develop the conceptual design including process, operation and infrastructure for the proposed solution to their organic waste issue. The proposed solution is a biovator, an industrial composting system enabling the community to re-use the generated materials within their community.

Michelle Uyeda, Senior Environmental Engineer, GHD

Michelle Uyeda is a BC Contaminated Sites Approved Professional with over 25 years' technical expertise on contaminated sites, waste management, and environmental projects, 20 years of which have been in British Columbia. She is a Senior Environmental Professional Engineer with GHD in the Vancouver office and completed a Masters in Hydrogeology at Universite Laval.

She has a solid understanding of BC Regulatory environment and provides senior technical and regulatory review of environmental projects, including site assessments, remedial planning and design and hydrogeological assessments. Michelle has worked with a wide range of clients, including federally regulated clients, provincial and municipal governments and private commercial and industrial clients, both in urban settings and remote areas of BC.

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