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Kanata Beaver Pond supporters see hope in 10,000-year-old tools

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Author Topic: Kanata Beaver Pond supporters see hope in 10,000-year-old tools  (Read 269 times)
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« on: December 19, 2010, 07:30:39 pm »

Kanata Beaver Pond supporters see hope in 10,000-year-old tools
2005 survey found artifacts nearby
By Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen December 14, 2010 Comments (2)

Opponents of development in the Beaver Pond forest of Kanata say they have found new tools for the fight -- stone tools carved about 10,000 years ago and found in an archeology survey.

The area's councillor isn't so sure these artifacts will help them, but she's going to do some legal checking.

The newest wrinkle is based on a 2005 survey of nearby land -- not the Beaver Pond forest itself, but a neighbouring site at the same elevation.

After the last ice age, when most of Ottawa was under the Champlain Sea, the South March Highlands formed a rocky island. Early hunters are believed to have lived there, possibly hunting seals and whales in the shallow sea.

Urbandale Corp. and Richcraft Homes, which own the land as a partnership called KNL, did an archeological survey that concluded there was nothing special about the site. KNL filed that with the provincial government, and got permission to build homes there.

Not so fast, says Steve Hulaj, president of the Kanata Lakes Community Association. He says the thousands of sharpened stones found on the nearby Broughton Lands show the Beaver Pond's archeological significance was dismissed too quickly. And he points to a written opinion this year from prominent archeologist Robert Mc-Ghee, which concludes that "the rocky upland areas of the proposed development ... should be considered to be of high potential" as a site of early human settlement.

"Archeology 101 class would have told (the developers) that it's above the Champlain Sea level, and you need to look," he said. The Broughton Lands survey shows more than 16,000 artifacts "only a few hundred yards away."

Those artifacts are classed as cutting tools, scraping tools, adzes and also thousands of fragments left from shaping the sharp edges.

Now Hulaj says it's the city's obligation to approach the provincial Ministry of Citizenship and Culture and suggest that the original archeological survey was incomplete, and the site should be surveyed again before any trees are cut.

"It will only be dealt with if the city asks for it to be dealt with," he said. "The city has the ability to say: 'Sorry, new information has come to light, let's have another look at this.' "

The city can ask for another survey, "but it won't save the land," said Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, who represents the area. "They (the landowners) are required to do an archaeological survey prior to developing, but once they've got it and it's approved, they can develop.

"If they (opponents of development) want to buy the land, somebody's got to get the money, because I know I'm not going to get it from council," she added

Wilkinson said she has asked the city's planning and legal departments for their opinions.

The developer says another survey is not necessary.

KNL completed a "very detailed" survey that found nothing significant, though it is still responsible for reporting artifacts if it finds something major, said Mary Jarvis, Urbandale's director of planning, land development.

"The standard practice for the archeologist is to walk the site in a very detailed and controlled manner. They're looking for stuff, so they wouldn't walk as you and I would, just sauntering through a field."

She said the author of that survey will return to the site -- although the conditions in winter are not good -- and have another look.

"I want to make clear we're not ignoring it."
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