VIDEO: Archeological remains discovered at B.C. park

Archeologists, White Rock, Semiahmoo First Nation studying extent of uncovered shell midden

Semiahmoo First Nation is working with the City of White Rock and its archeological consultants to assess an archeological site discovered at Memorial Park early this week.

SFN councillor Joanne Charles said Thursday that part of a shell midden was found at the southeast end of the site, below the washrooms and adjacent to the stairway leading down to the pier, during digging to locate utility lines at the Memorial Park property.

Contacted by Peace Arch News, the city confirmed “dark, organic sediments with abundant shell, charcoal, and animal bones were discovered on Monday.”

Shell middens, found in coastal zones around the world, are heaps of mollusk shells, combined with other human-created debris, which can be very significant for archeologists tracing the history and nature of human habitation in a specific area.

A shell midden’s high calcium carbonate content creates a zone of increased alkalinity which counteracts normal soil acidity, helping preserve organic materials such as food remnants, tools, clothing and even human remains. On Canada’s west coast they can extend as much as a kilometre and be several metres deep, depending on the length of human habitation.

“They can be very extensive,” said Charles, who said the site now needs to be registered with the B.C.’s Archeology Branch. “There needs to be further investigation and evaluation.”

Archeological inspection of the site – and monitoring by representatives of SFN and a number of First Nations – is being conducted through a Heritage Inspection Permit issued under Section 14 of the BC Heritage Conservation Act, which protects all documented and undocumented archaeological sites in the province.

“My understanding is that the archeologist (employed by the city) has made an application for an amendment to the permit to allow for an additional buffer outside of the permitted line,” Charles said.

Charles said she believes the processing of that application may take a month or longer.

“It’s going to be a bit of a longer process for us.”

Charles said the latest development vindicates the SFN position on following archeological protocols at the site. She, SFN Chief Harley Chappell and councillor Roxanne Charles presented a cease-and-desist order to the city last September at what was to be the city’s groundbreaking ceremony of its Memorial Park upgrade project, halting work until an agreement could be reached on archeological inspection.

“We wanted due process to be followed,” she said. “We knew that this area was of archeological significance – we knew it had been occupied in times past, historically.”

Earlier this month, the city had reported that nothing had been found at the site.

“We’ve done some non-destructive work at the site and the archeological-impact assessment is continuing,” city manager Dan Bottrill told PAN the second week in January.

“As we expected, the archeological impact work is turning up nothing – it’s just fill.”

Thursday, in response to questions from PAN, city communications manager Farnaz Farrokhi released a statement on behalf of the city.

“We have a Provincial Permit to conduct an Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA) in conjunction with the Memorial Park Project,” it says.

“The Permit is held by the archeologist hired by the city and testing is being carried out by the archaeologist together with cultural monitors from local First Nations. As part of the testing, dark, organic sediments with abundant shell, charcoal, and animal bones were discovered on Monday.

“This discovery is being investigated further and additional testing will be carried out next week to determine its’ extent and an appropriate course of mitigation.”

 

The City of White Rock and archeological consultants are studying the extent of archeological remains discovered during digging at Memorial Park this week. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Just Posted

Potential for Greater Victoria sewage project to go over budget

“Our confidence [in meeting budget] is not high”

City of Victoria endorses potential class action lawsuit against fossil fuel giants

Data will be gathered to quantify how much environmental damage the city has faced

Residents push back on downtown Victoria tree removal

The birch tree at the Wharf-Government intersection will be removed to make way for bike lanes

Braves host 2019 Prospects Game, Sunday at Pearkes

- This story was updated to correct the date of the Prospects… Continue reading

Toronto Arrows players take aim at youth rugby clinic

Juan de Fuca team offers get acquainted clinics

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Suspect allegedly armed with handgun robs Island gas station

Incident occurred Sunday night in Nanaimo

MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island

Factors for increase in eagle cases can be anything from lead poisoning to vehicle strikes

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

Most Read