Province Funds Protection For Portage Park Midden
For Immediate Release
March 1, 2007
Ministry of Tourism, Sport and the Arts
VICTORIA – A First Nations midden in Portage Park that was exposed and damaged by storms and tidal surges during the winter of 2005/06 will be protected from further damage thanks in part to a $40,000 grant to the Town of View Royal, Tourism, Sport and the Arts Minister Stan Hagen announced today.
“Recognition of the importance of Aboriginal history is key to the spirit of the New Relationship with First Nations,” said Hagen. “We all have a responsibility to respect the integrity of archaeological sites.”
The Town of View Royal will spend a total of about $96,000, including $40,000 from the Province, to cover the site with soft fill, a rock and gravel mixture that will be packed into the bank and over the beach area.“As a small community with limited resources, View Royal appreciates the ministry’s understanding and response to the situation,” said View Royal Mayor Graham Hill. “Preserving and protecting heritage values is important to the town, its residents and our neighbours.”
“One of the hardest things that we face as a people is taking care of reburying our ancestors and being able to put them to rest. It has been an important relationship-building process,” said Chief Andy Thomas of the Esquimalt Nation. “We need to find ways to protect our burial sites and old village sites so that they won’t be disturbed again, and I’m glad to see that this has been resolved.”
As soon as the damage was discovered, View Royal began working with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations to address the problems. To discourage relic hunters from vandalizing the site, the town provided security, and in November they built a temporary berm around the site.
Land owners, including local governments, are normally responsible for the cost of mitigation when archaeological sites are damaged. However, in this case the Province decided to help with the cost as the damage resulted entirely from natural causes and not from any action by View Royal.
“The willingness of Mayor Hill and View Royal Council to accept responsibility immediately demonstrates the way goodwill can lead to quick resolutions to potential problems,” added Hagen.