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Artifact uncovered at White Tower Park

Work stops pending full archeological assessment
Gibsons has located a significant Indigenous artifact but has more work to do to confirm where it originated.

In a Sept. 14 press release, the town announced that a five-centimetre-long triangular volcanic stone item described in an archeologist’s report as a “distal portion of a bifacial projectile point” had been uncovered. The item was unearthed Sept. 13, the first day of excavation work for a stormwater detention pond in White Tower Park, located behind the Gibsons Aquatic Centre. 

Work at the site was halted the same day and will not resume until a full archeological assessment takes place. Security fencing has been placed around the project area.

The report from In Situ Archaeology states the artifact “was located within a soil layer that had been highly disturbed and contained modern refuse, including bricks, glass, and asphalt pieces.” 

Dave Newman, Gibsons’ director of infrastructure services, told Coast Reporter that it’s unclear at this point whether that fill was deposited by a single party and whether it was all placed within a short time span.

“Staff will be using historical air photos to try to narrow down the approximate time that the fill was deposited, will be researching old files about the site and will be talking to current and retired staff who may be able to shed some light on the history of the site,” Newman said.

The excavation site in the park was not previously identified as one of archeological significance. At the request of the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), the town had archeologists monitoring the work when the discovery was made. The town has consulted with the nation since starting the design phase for the pond and the two parties will continue to engage on appropriate next steps.

“We’re happy to work through this process and see if there are any additional materials there,” said Mayor Bill Beamish.

In July 2020, the town was awarded a federal-provincial grant of $955,000 to construct an additional storm water pond at White Tower Park. Newman wrote in an email that the cost of the full archeological assessment has not been determined but that there is a contingency fund within the budget for the project.

The work being done on the pond will reclaim wetland for storage of runoff water and help protect approximately two kilometers of Charman Creek’s natural watercourse and habitats. This is intended to help manage flood risk to downstream infrastructure and properties. The project will also add outdoor recreational space, as the site will be fully landscaped with native plant species and include walking trails.  

Beamish said the discovery of the artifact may help the town move forward on investigating White Tower Park as a site for the establishment of British Columbia’s first Healing Forest. These forests are part of a national initiative that encourages communities to create green spaces to honour residential school victims, survivors, and their families, as well as murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, and First Nations children who have been removed from their families.