It’s taking longer than expected to get word back on the significance of an archeological site unearthed during a watermain replacement project in Saltair, so the project will likely be on hold into the new year.
Excavators at Davis Lagoon came across a concentration of shells, animal bones and some ‘minor artifacts’ and immediately stopped work so the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations could be notified.
“As soon as we come across something like that we have to stop,” said Brian Dennison, manager in the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Water Management Division.
At this stage, it’s not known how significant the midden might be. “It’s not that it’s a settlement site or something like that,” Dennison said. But until an initial assessment is made and plans are in place to supervise the work going forward, the project is on hold.
The CVRD has brought in Madrone Environmental Services to have the site registered, and to obtain the permits needed to continue with the work.
Dennison explained that an archeologist will be monitoring the project when it does get underway again to assess the importance of the site as digging proceeds.
In the meantime, a more durable patch-up job will be needed to make the road safe. “At this point it is unlikely that permits will be in place to allow the work to proceed prior to the end of the year,” Dennison said in a Nov. 23 release.
“As a result the contractor… will be preparing the site for the extended delay, with an emphasis on the safety of temporary patching and trenching within the travelled portion of Chemainus Road between Linton Close and Branksome Road.”
The work is part of a 15 year Saltair rehabilitation program, which will see deteriorating watermains in the network replaced.