In Ontario, where I live, there are several municipalities who have commissioned Archaeological Master Plans of their municipality. The idea is to readily identify areas of high archaeological potential, so that when a parcel of land is under consideration for development, a municipality can ensure that an archaeological assessment takes place. It's a planning tool that has grown in frequency over the last three decades, particularly as pieces of legislation such as The Planning Act, and the Ontario Environmental Assessment Act(OEAA) increasingly regulate how developments must be regulated.
In both Acts, human heritage is something that is recognized as being valuable and worthy of consideration when a new development is being assessed. And its the Ontario Heritage Act that identifies what is considered heritage in Ontario - archaeology, built heritage and landscapes- and therefore worthy of protection.
Of course project and developments don't often happen on a solely provincial level. In fact most developments must go through the municipal planning offices for approval. It is the municipality that can insist on an archaeological assessment prior to project approval, as well as agree to waive that requirement. A municipal archaeological master plan, helps them to make that decision.
The odd thing is (in my view), is that no one appears to have looked how these archaeological master plans have worked or how they are used. Even though Ontario is the world "leader" in commissioning them for future planning.
And I'd like to know. I'd like to have a look at one and see what information it provides and how often it is used and what it is used for.
To do this, I've taken courses in land use law, policy analysis, resource management, impact assessment, heritage planning - on top of my undergraduate degree in archaeology. I've read policy, legislative drafts, and technical reports. Not to mention lots of journal articles on how other countries do it, how in Ontario we can address the issue of First Nation ownership (even as we ignore the truth that the province does not claim ownership and doesn't take responsibility for artifacts), and angst about the lot of the private consultants who do most of the archaeological work in the province, yet claim to be powerless.
The one perspective I don't have is how a municipal planning office approaches the thorny question of archaeological resource management in their land use policy. And I'd like to know.