MYPAC/PLANit Speaker Series
Archaeology & Heritage in the Planning Process: An Ontario Perspective
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
MYPAC/PLANit Speaker Series at the Faculty of Environmental Studies launched on January 24th with Heidy Schopf (MES 2011) – Cultural Heritage Specialist and Peter Popkin – Senior Archaeologist from Stantec, a global design and delivery firm. Schopf and Popkin engaged with students in a presentation and discussion about what archaeology and heritage look like in Ontario’s current landscape, and the legislation and policies involved when conducting assessments, surveys, and evaluations of properties that may have archaeological and or heritage value.
Popkin spoke about the great progress in the field of archaeology. Boasting more than 225 professionally licensed archaeologists in Ontario today, archaeology has grown into a robust field to meet the demands of ethical construction and development. Popkin’s presentation eluded to the notion that “the province is really one big archaeological site” and provincial legislation, such as the Ontario Heritage Act, Environmental Assessment Act, and the Planning Act, as well as municipal policies, play crucial roles in creating a planning environment, within which the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s standards and guidelines for archaeology are enforced. As a senior archaeologist, Popkin expressed gratitude that the City of Toronto requires archaeologists follow both the archaeology standards and guidelines (rather than just the standards) for planning projects – showing that the city is proactive and committed to maintaining cultural and heritage value amidst all of its construction and planning projects.
Schopf spoke to the misconception that heritage and the preservation of structures can get in the way of innovation, improvement, and modernization. Schopf emphasized that it needs to be seen differently. At its core, heritage does not “freeze things in time” rather, it “identifies ways forward that respect design, historical, and contextual value” says Schopf. A famous example she gave is the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in downtown Toronto, fan or not, Michael Lee-Chin’s Crystal entrance, which opened in 2007, features the integration of the deconstructivist architecture with existing heritage buildings and is an example of how heritage can be protected while meeting contemporary thought. Schopf stressed that the guiding conservation principles in Parks Canada’s Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places should be followed when planning or designing heritage sites – new additions and renovations to existing heritage structures must be easily distinguishable from the original structure to avoid creating a false sense of history. Whether it is as simple as changing the colour of a brick or as grand as the ROM’s crystalline structure, heritage preserves history and cultural value by requiring higher levels of design.
“The protection of the environment, heritage, and archaeology go hand in hand” says Schopf and while “archaeology and heritage are not usually directly linked to planning, it should be – especially early on”.
Written By: Abigael Pamintuan
Edited by : Heidy Schopf and Peter Popkin