Site C prep work could alter 100 archaeological sites

About 100 archaeological sites along the Peace River will be altered by preparation work on Site C as early as December.

The information is found in BC Hydro court documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court last week related to an injunction sought by West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations.

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The two groups and Hydro are in court today as two days of hearings begin on the injunction application.

In its submissions, Hydro confirmed the archaeological sites would be altered, but say the impacts from site preparation activities "is very restricted."

"All these (archaeological) sites are lithic scatters, consisting of clusters of stone artifacts, fragments, and flakes," the documents read.

Hydro defines lithic scatters as dispersals of stone tools, or chipped stone flakes from making these tools above or below the ground.

Ten of these sites are considered complex, which will be recovered and documented. Hydro also says one possible Aboriginal burial site was discovered and will be avoided.

However, further details about that burial site and how it will be avoided were unclear, as well as the alterations that were to occur.

On Monday, a Site C spokesperson deferred comment.

“These questions are directly related to our filing with the Court," said David Conway.

"As such I am unable to comment any further."

A 2009 report commissioned by BC Hydro found Site C would have impacts on 337 archaeological sites. About 227 of these sites were lithic scatters or lithic artifacts.

There would also be 27 historical sites--historic forts, cabins, three miscellaneous occurrences of historic remains, and one historic graveyard. Four of these sites would require a provincial permit to be disturbed, while the other 23 would not.

There would also be four paleontological sites, consisting of bison remains, and two cultural sites consisting of surface-excavated pits that may represent food cache pits or features that indicated people lived there at one point, that would be impacted.

First Nations have said that former Doig River First Nation Chief Peter Attachie's remains are within the Site C area, but this would not be impacted by the site preparation activities, according to Hydro.

Construction work on the dam began July 27, and while Hydro hopes to continue with work, First Nations hope for a ruling in their favour.

Allisun Rana, a lawyer representing the two First Nations, said the two-day hearing will wrap up on Wednesday.

"It is quite possible that the court will reserve judgment (until a later date), but given the nature of the relief being sought we wouldn't expect it to take too long," Rana said.

"We don’t have any comment (about Hydro’s application response) other than what we will provide to the court tomorrow," she added.

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