The BC Oil and Gas Commission has informed Coastal GasLink that both the OGC and the provincial archaeological branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources and Rural Development have accepted the mitigation plan for Multi-Use Site 9A south of Houston following the report of artifacts having been found at the site.
Coastal GasLink suspended pipeline work south of Houston in February as claims of the discovery were investigated. The Unist'ot'en clan had said its members were combing the company's construction site for a work camp when supporters recovered two stone tools and that archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimated one dated back up to 3,500 years.
“When Coastal GasLink was notified of the artifacts on Feb. 15, work at the site was immediately and voluntarily suspended and our Heritage Resource Discovery Contingency Plan put into place to protect the site,” the company stated.
Coastal GasLink contracted a qualified archeologist to develop an appropriate mitigation plan that would follow strict protocols in the event of further discoveries at the site.
The mitigation plan consists of the following three activities:
Subsurface testing of topsoil pile;
Intensive visual inspection of the disturbed area; and
Ongoing monitoring throughout the construction and reclamation stages of the project.
A full description of the activities is included in the mitigation plan and shared by the OGC with the legal counsel for members of the Unist’ot’en, should they wish to discuss the mitigation with the OGC, CGL said.
In addition, the OGC informed Coastal GasLink that based on the presence of artifacts found at Site 9A, the province has included the site in British Columbia’s archaeology database.
The Archaeology Site Information Form filed by FLNRORD states:
“The small surface scatter was 100 per cent collected and there was strong evidence suggesting that it was not in situ (artifacts were found sitting on top of a frozen slab of clay). Remaining sediments present are considered to be culturally sterile (clay). As such, legacy status is recommended for this site.”
“Coastal GasLink looks forward to continuing to prepare site 9A for construction-related activities in accordance with our permits and archaeological mitigation plan.”
An archeological impact assessment for the site was approved in 2016, but Coastal Gaslink and its archeologists were not able to conduct on-site fieldwork during the regulatory and permitting process due to road access issues.
The OGC order can be read by clicking here.
— with files from the Canadian Press