Hmm, I just noticed today is the first anniversary of this blog. Mind you, it was a slow and intermittent affair at first but with more regular posting has come steady increase in readership.
But you know who else had a birthday on April 20th?
With that in mind, what better way to celebrate than by checking out the firestorm brewing on the Englishman River, where some landowners, perhaps wilfully ignorant, have had an unfortunate series of events transpire regarding an archaeological site on their property. The Archaeology Branch has responded to the story with a terse memo.
A little background to start:
All archaeological sites in B.C. dating to before 1846 A.D. are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act. This is true whether or not they are known to the Archaeology Branch or unknown and unrecorded. In some ways, then, it is not relevant that the site under these people’s house was first recorded, I am told, in 1975. Even if it was first discovered by the application of a backhoe in April 2010, it would be accorded the same protection under the law. The fact that the landowners claim to have not known about the site until recently is an interesting issue that does not really materially affect the facts of this case. And, under the standard procedures in place, they are indeed responsible for paying the costs of the archaeological investigations, in this case reported to be $35,000. Whether or not they have the money also doesn’t affect the facts of the case – incidentally, these people who self-portray as poor and unemployed are finding archaeology because they are building a new house on their property, which must be costing them several hundred thousand dollars.
So, these facts may not actually alter the legal responsibilities, but they do however very strongly affect the way this issue is seen to be unfolding.