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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen recently photographed the town’s original cemetery — now completely overgrown — among the trails behind the Vanderhoof Museum and Visitor Centre. (Gerry Thiessen photo)
Mayor, historical society examine ways to mark Vanderhoof’s original cemetery

“It is a part of our history and we don’t want that history to evaporate,” Thiessen said.

Northern Health saw 14 cases in one day earlier this week, the highest in one day since the beginning of the pandemic. (Image courtesy CDC)
Northern Health sees highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

There have been 23 cases of reported cases of COVID-19 in the Nechako Lakes Health Area

’Herbert’ Shane Hartman with his daughter Isla. (Shane Hartman Facebook photo)
Love for daughter and drumming leads to author’s first book

Shane Hartman spent very spare moment writing and illustrating Isla’s New Drum

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read