The Village of Pemberton this week approved an archaeological impact assessment process for four airport land parcels chosen for development.
Stemming from a $11,120 proposal put forth by Mount Currie Band and Lil’wat Nation, the assessment will be conducted between May 5 and 9 this year.
“I think that council would like to move ahead on making land accessible to both public and private interests at the airport,” said mayor Jordan Sturdy. “As part of that process, the archaeological assessment is a critical component to moving forward.”
There are four parties currently interested in developing airport lands. Three of the four lots are located to the east of the terminal building; these parcels have been surveyed, and lease agreements are underway. The fourth parcel is at the west end of the runway. It has been surveyed, and a lease agreement is under consideration.
Currently, runway expansion is not on the table.
“The idea is to provide land for private businesses to locate on,” said Sturdy. “The Pemberton Flying Club, for example, would like to be able to put up some small hangars so people can store their aircraft. In order for them to do that, we need to understand what’s there in terms of archaeological aspects. If there are artifacts found, how will we deal with that? There’s a variety of things that could happen. It could be something that stops any further development of the airport, or it could be something we could work through. We don’t know, but we have to start somewhere.”
The village has a permit to develop the whole airport, something the mayor said is presently being studied. Proposals will come forward in the near future, he continued, but terminal and runway expansion are not a part of the May assessment.
The process, meanwhile, will become standard procedure for sensitive lands — like the airport — slated for development.
“In the valley itself, there’s evidence it’s been settled for thousands of years, and there’s a high likelihood of finding artifacts virtually anywhere in the valley,” Sturdy said.
The valley’s European roots date back more than 100 years, when the area was settled for its agricultural promise. Before the Old World found its way there, Pemberton Valley was home to Salish people, who settled at the base of Mount Currie and along the shores of Lillooet Lake.