Subdivide for burial site approved

FortisBC officials said Tuesday they were pleased with the Penticton City Council decision to allow them to subdivide their property at the Huth Avenue electrical substation.

Fortis recently applied to the city to subdivide the property where First Nations remains were found in 2011 and return that parcel to the Penticton Indian Band.

“We thank the city council for having the vision and foresight to ensure this valuable historical site is properly preserved and protected for future generations,” said spokesman Neal Pobran.

With the approval of the variance application from the council, the company’s priority is now to work on transferring title of the lot to the Penticton Indian Band.

This requires the survey to be registered and the land transfer documents to be prepared and registered, said Pobran.

Mayor Dan Ashton said Monday's decision was easy to reach.

"I cannot say enough about Fortis and the effort they put behind this," he said. "It is their property and they understand what it means to the Penticton Indian Band."

In 2011, workers doing upgrades to the substation on Huth Avenue came upon ancestral remains from early Okanagan residents.

Upon discovering the remains, work was halted at the site and the Penticton Indian Band was notified,

A team was assembled including the contractor for the site, band members and an archeology firm to conduct further investigation into the remains and determine the extent of the find.

In addition to the remains, close to 100,000 artifacts including flints, fish hooks and various tools were discovered, indicating the location was most likely the site of an early village.

The artifacts have since been removed and are now stored at the Penticton Museum & Archives for cataloging and preservation.

The human remains will stay at the site for cultural reasons. The area has been fenced off but can be accessed by band members.

Councillor Travis Kruger, the lead person for the band on the excavation project, said the council decision is the best case scenario.

"This is a happy ending to the whole thing, because in the end we wanted our ancestor to stay there at their final resting place," he said. "We will put up a plaque to commemorate the site, honoring our ancestor and will turn it into an interpretive site where people can come to learn about our history and culture."

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