Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Katzie heritage site being bulldozed for bridge

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Brian Lewis reports that a highly significant archaeological site is being bulldozed to allow for a new connector road to the Golden Ears Bridge.

Building the Abernathy Connector will destroy a recently discovered 3,600-year-old Katzie heritage site, which archeologists say is B.C.’s most significant find in years and one that’s capturing global scientific attention.

Unfortunately, due to the construction schedule, archeologists have only been able to recover about three per cent of the 91,000-square-metre site’s artifacts and even this small portion totals more than 200,000 items.

The 10-month excavation ended in April and some artifact types had never been previously encountered.

But its most extraordinary impact is the change in scientific perceptions of ancient native peoples who lived beside the lower Fraser River after the last ice age ended 12,000 years ago — they were not just hunter-gathers.

“Now we have evidence of gardening 3,600 years ago, which turns the whole definition of northwest coastal natives as hunter-gathers on its head,” says Simon Fraser University archeologist Dana Lepofsky, who has followed the “dig” closely.

“This is hugely significant, anthropologically.”

But of course in BC we do not value anything other than the ability to drive our cars, so this site will vanish and the irreplaceable evidence of this ancient way of life will be lost for ever.

It is going to be the same story along the South Fraser Perimeter Road. There are several known sites that will disappear as detailed in the technical report (large pdf file). The SFPR has yet to get its certificate of course, but as the H1PM2 process demonstrated that is merely a technicality. No matter that the demand forecast is known to be wrong and the impact on land use ignored. And that the changing reality of a world past peak oil and well into irreversible and terminal (for us) climate change makes the whole project a whoite elephant.

Simon Fraser University archeologist Dana Lepofsky says other countries go to greater lengths to protect archeological sites that lay in the path of development but that in B.C. we’re not even enforcing existing archeological laws.

“Here, we put a higher premium on pavement than 12,000 years of history that can only be recaptured through the archeological record,” she says.

Hat tip to Rick Green for bringing this to my attention.

Update June 23

There is a good article by Jeff Nagel on this issue in th e Surrey Leader

Written by Stephen Rees

June 22, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Posted in Environment, Gateway

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