Archeological dig set to begin on west Windsor riverfront
The Canadian Transit Company is moving forward with a major step as part of the construction of its new Ambassador Bridge.
Company officials on Thursday announced a partnership with the Walpole Island First Nation to preserve potential indigenous artifacts at the site of the new multi-million dollar span.
The significant partnership and dig is one of 28 conditions the Ambassador Bridge company must fulfill should it wish to construct a new span across the Detroit River.
"It's going to be rich, we just know it,” says Dean Jacobs, a consultant for Walpole Island First Nation. “It's likely going to be the most significant archeological site in southern Ontario, if not all of Ontario."
The archeological dig, pegged to cost $1-million, will be funded by the bridge company. It starts immediately at the banks of the Detroit River and about 2.5 acres around the Villa Maria.
The partnership has been 11 years in the making. The CTC says it first started consulting with Walpole Island First Nation in 2007, as part of the environmental assessment for the new bridge.
Walpole Island's chief Dan Miskokomon says their presence now, and throughout the dig is about protecting their traditional land.
“If we find something, it supports that it's our territory," says Miskokomon, whose First Nation is in the midst of a nearly two-decade-long court case with the Canadian government for a claim to the land.
If successful, the Ambassador Bridge company will need the consent of the Walpole Island First Nations to build the bridge.
Six members of Walpole Island will be part of the dig crew.
Work will take place in phases, starting at a home on Indian Road and then down to the riverfront land behind Villa Maria, and it is expected to take at least five months.
Bridge company spokesperson Stan Korosec doesn’t anticipate the dig will slow down their construction timeline.
“It depends on how much they find,” says Korosec. “If they find a lot, they have to dig up more, they have a methodology they have to use.”
What the bridge company believes could delay the project is the so-called "contrary demolition and preservation conditions" for the original 87-year-old bridge from the U.S. and Canadian governments.
The company has asked the U.S. government to talk to the Canadian government to settle it, and decide once and for all whether the existing bridge will stay up or come down.