Roadwork delayed for months after ‘substantial find’ of Indigenous artifacts including pottery shards, stone tools and First Nation village

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

An archaeological assessment has led to a major discovery close to 1,000 Indigenous artifacts in Kitchener.

The find was made while the Region of Waterloo was preparing for road work on Fischer-Hallman Road.

According to a report from the Region, artifacts were found on the west side of Fischer-Hallman Road between Bleams and Strasburg Creek.

As a result, the Region says it will likely take six to seven months to complete the archaeological assessment and salvage the artifacts or longer – depending what is found.

There is evidence that parts of a longhouse and First Nation village were discovered on the site. Among the findings were a number of ceramics and stone tool fragments.

The region’s plan for improvements from Bleams to Plains Road include widening the roadway, three new roundabouts, constructing new twin box culverts for Strasburg Creek crossing under the road, and installing sewers and water mains to service new developments.

One phase of the archeological dig will require removing the existing road to determine what’s underneath — leading to full closure.

Phil Bauer, director of design and construction, says it isn’t possible to accurately predict how long the road will be closed.

“There is some uncertainty about what we might find under the road,” Bauer said. “We will get the road open as soon as possible,” adding this is the largest archeological investigation he’s aware of on a regional road project.

First Nations representatives will be present during the entire field investigation and clearance will be required from the provincial ministry in charge of heritage and culture before any construction can continue.

Construction, proceeding in four major phases, is expected to start this year with final completion tentatively planned in 2025. The region is working to co-ordinate the dig and roadwork to reopen the road to two-way traffic as early in the fall as possible.

According a report from the Region of Waterloo, the assessment and salvage could cost about $1.6 million. The area was already scheduled for reconstruction but was only supposed to close for about four months.

 

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