Kamloops home builder in legal battle after unearthing artifacts

Kamloops home builder in legal battle after unearthing artifacts

Greg Ferguson was in the midst of building his dream home when he received a call that derailed everything.

Excavators digging into the ground uncovered remnants of First Nation artifacts.

A representative from the archaeology branch of the B.C. government who was on the other end of the phone told Ferguson to stop excavating.

"He said I could be facing up to a year in prison or a million dollars in fines," said Ferguson.

The government had been contacted by a Kamloops archaeologist who had previously discovered lithic scatter at the site. Lithic scatter are the remnants left behind when First Nations made stone tools.

"I didn't know what was going on. I had no idea what I had to do," Ferguson said.

He was told he needed to hire an archaeologist to screen and salvage a sample of the artifacts.

Twenty-six thousand dollars and several months later, Ferguson has hired a lawyer and is preparing to sue the property developer.

"I think the responsibility should rest on the shoulders of whoever is doing this development," Ferguson said. "They can't leave [the archeological impact assessment] at the very end for the homeowner to do. It shouldn't be like that."

Joanne Hammond, a Kamloops-based archaeologist, agrees. She says this type of situation isn't uncommon and that too many historical sites are being bulldozed for development.

She would like the City of Kamloops to work heritage concerns into development planning in advance of ground being broken so that the financial risk and liability for the sites doesn't fall exclusively on the homeowner.

Hammond said, "I think the city has a lot of good sustainable planning around environmental responsibilities and heritage is an area that's just been overlooked."

Ferguson still plans to go ahead with building his dream home.

The blades and arrowheads that were dug up at the site were dated to be 7,000 to 8,000 years old.

They are now the property of the Secwepemc Museum.

With files from Daybreak Kamloops.