Ancestral remains have been exhumed from West Victoria Street and the major road project continues downtown, with the first phase expected to wrap up on schedule at the end of July.
City of Kamloops capital projects manager Darren Crundwell said the remains were exhumed last week. An anthropologist from Vancouver arrived to work with archeologists, with the remains handed over to Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, likely to be reburied on the reserve.
Crundwell said the project went according to plan.
“Good. That’s why we planned the way we did,” he said. “We’re working with Tk’emlups and the archeologists. Yes, there was an impact to construction — we couldn’t work in that area — but we kept building and dealt with everything properly, which is the most important thing.”
The remains were discovered on June 26 by construction crews working in the area as part of the $13-million West Victoria Street reconstruction project, which includes repaving of the road, utility replacement and pedestrian upgrades.
The area is among the oldest in the city. Work on the section of road where the remains were discovered was halted immediately, following archeological protocol, and the remains were determined to be “unmodern,” dating to pre- European settlement in the area.
Crews had skipped over the area and continued labouring farther along West Victoria Street, to ensure work continued on the project, which is impacting traffic and businesses in the area.
As a result of the discovery, Crundwell said some of the infrastructure has moved, to prevent further digging and disturbance of potential artifacts. The city doesn’t actively look for more artifacts. Instead, crews screens soils in the area dug up and moves along.
“The preferred option of dealing with the archeology from the province’s perspective and the First Nations perspective is to leave it alone,” he said.
With the remains exhumed, the black barricade has been removed and crews have returned to the area.
“I think Tuesday morning, it was confirmed everything was out of there,” Crundwell said. “And we had done what we needed to do. They’re likely working in that area right now, installing Silva cells and infrastructure.”
The archeological site has been registered into a provincial database.