An archaeological assessment of Fischer-Hallman Rd. unearthed 995 Indigenous artifacts along the road’s west side in early February. The city-contracted company in charge of evaluation, Wood Environment & Infrastructure, stated that many ceramics and stone tool fragments were among the findings.
“[Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions] found evidence that a First Nation village and longhouse extends across the west ditch line and appears to extend further under the paved road towards the east ditch line,” reads a Waterloo Region report on the assessment.
The report was presented to the Region’s planning and works committee on Mar. 4.
Committee Chair Tom Galloway, said the discovery was a “pretty significant finding,” noting that it is required for the site to be excavated and documented. However, he raised concerns regarding high costs and setbacks.
“[The archaeological assessment will have] some significant cost associated with investigating it and significant closure of the road which is going to be difficult,” Galloway said.
The assessment will require excavating the area by hand to identify, document, and recover all of the artifacts; artifacts with an estimated price tag of $1.6 million, depending on the quantity uncovered.
Indigenous representatives will also be present during any field investigations of the road. The Region will require clearance from the provincial ministry in charge of heritage and culture before any construction can begin.
Fischer-Hallman Rd. will be closed between Bleams Rd. and Seabrook Dr. for nearly seven months, from May until Sept. of this year.
“There is some uncertainty about what we might find under the road for the archaeological study. We’re hoping it might be less, but it could potentially be longer,” Phil Bauer, Region Director of design and construction, said.
Construction alongside the assessment is planned for four phases, expected to start this year and the final stage scheduled for 2025. The Region is working to coordinate construction and assessment initiatives to reopen the road to two-way traffic as early as fall 2020. The city is looking into ways of mitigating any inconvenience presented by closing the road, one of which is reconstructing a twin-box culvert alongside the assessment.
“At the same time the Region is going to use this time to do the box culvert that needs to be done, the replacement of the box culvert that is nearby that is required to be done prior to the widening of Fischer-Hallman which is currently planned for the next three years,” Regional Councillor Tom Galloway explained.
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic is looking into ways the assessment time of the road can be reduced, one of which is asking regional staff to contact construction firms, checking for potential alternative staffing options.
“I just think we need to rethink, where we can, our approach to some of these projects and consider impact on the broader community,” Vrbanovic said.