Spear point could set ECO Depot back four months

An ancient artifact discovered more than 22 years ago near Shawnigan Creek was not, in fact, found at the controversial ECO Depot site, CVRD chairwoman Gerry Giles clarified Monday.

However, what appears to be an 8,000-year-old spear point, will definitely slow the proposal.

The emergence of the ancient tool means an archeological impact assessment of the site, which could push the ECO Depot proposal back 120 days.

“This arrowhead that was found, was found several properties away from the site. It was found near Shawnigan Creek and it was found 22 years ago,” Giles clarified Monday.

“If there are artifacts found on the site — and there haven’t been to date — then that would certainly be taken into consideration by the board,” Giles said.

“Rare archeological sites have tremendous historic value for our community and our region.

“Having an 8,000-year-old artifact found within one kilometre of the site 22 years ago means that it’s definitely in the interest of the greater community to preserve the integrity of this property for further study. A historic site isn’t something you can simply pick up and move somewhere else.”

In a letter sent to the CVRD from the Ministry’s archeology branch, archeologist Alexander Mackie requests the CVRD conduct an AIA and also notes “two culturally modified trees” found onsite.

“These were reported, I understand, by the Cowichan Tribes and confirmed by the archeologist. Both observed trees are considered to be less than 80 years old, so these features are not protected under the (Heritage Conservation Act). However, they may be indicative of an Aboriginal or treaty right and are likely to be considered culturally significant by the Cowichan Tribes.”

Mackie confirmed there are no “archeological sites directly in conflict” but the area hasn’t ever been systematically examined.

He refers to the “knife or spear point” documented by the Royal B.C. Museum (RBCM) in 1988 as well as an email sent from RBCM curator Grant Keddie.

“He is ‘certain that Shawnigan Creek would have been a hunting area traversed by First Nations over thousands of years – resulting in a potential for archaeological sites in the area.’”

Cowichan Tribes Land Research Director Dianne Hinkley reiterated the importance of the ancient arrowhead.

“Our elders have always told us that tools like this and bones are like our markers, our fence posts to our history,” she said Tuesday.

Site visits from archeologists and Cowichan Tribes were conducted during the CVRD’s due diligence, Giles said.

“We followed an extensive process that involved a number of stages of investigation as part of a feasibility study for the ECO Depot site,” she said.

Four scheduled open houses regarding the ECO Depot have been postponed, as previous site studies not related to the artifact aren’t complete and haven’t been available to directors and the community, Giles said.

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