Williams Lake First Nation requests stop-work for housing development

WLFN has archaeological concerns they wanted clarified around Glen Arbor project
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Construction began May 1 on a 36-unit, $15 million addition to the Glen Arbor seniors housing complex in downtown Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake First Nation asked for work to stop at the Glen Arbor expansion project in the city, citing archaeological concerns.

“We have asked in the interim for them to stop work so we can assess what may be happening archaeologically,” Whitney Spearing, WLFN senior manager title and rights, told the Tribune Tuesday, May 21.

Spearing asserted no assessment was done before the development started. She confirmed WLFN is committed to working through the timelines and keeping the project on schedule.

“We just needed some further understanding of what had happened as far as the archaeology goes, if anything.”

City chief administrative officer Gary Muraca said the city has a process asking all developers to fill out a check list and one of the checks is that they have contacted the BC Archaeology Branch to make sure there is no investigation needed at a site.

“In the case of Glen Arbor, that’s exactly what happened,” Muraca said.

“You have areas like Boitanio Mall that has a high potential and require more intense archaeology work to be done and then you have other areas in town that may not require it because they are not in an area of known heritage value.”

Work began on the 36-unit Glen Arbour expansion May 1 and is well underway, with much of the excavation complete.

Spearing said she has been in communications with the city, BC Housing, the contractors and the project management firm about WLFN’s concerns and sent out an initial email on Friday, May 17.

“We have been in discussion over the weekend and had more conversations (Tuesday) morning and sent out another email. It’s top of my radar to keep everything on track. Hopefully they will be back to work in the next couple of days.”

Moving forward, Spearing said WLFN hopes with any sites in the city there will be open communication.

She will be sending another email to the city requesting a formal planning table between WLFN and the city for when big projects come forward.

“It’s not great when things fall through the cracks and we don’t know something is happening. This one proceeded without anyone really knowing.”

The Tribune has reached out to the expansion project manager for comment.