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When is a cemetery not a cemetery?
I would like to thank my MLA Gary Holman for his question to Minister Steve Thomson on April 7 about Grace Islet on Salt Spring Island.
The Islet is a Coast Salish cemetery. The site is not accidentally a burial site; it is the equivalent to the Ross Bay Cemetery. Despite its status being known for a long time, it was zoned and permitted for residential development.
Mr. Holman asked Minister Thomson if he would protect the Islet? Thomson responded,
“All of that process was undertaken and reviewed, and the development and the process is consistent with the application of the archaeological and the Heritage Conservation Act.”
Then, Holman asked Minister Thomson if he would halt development. Thomson responded,
“We have followed the process. The permits were reviewed by the archaeological branch. Permits were issued to allow development to proceed, but they were issued in a way that ensured the protection of the First Nations heritage resources on that site.”
You can’t protect First Nations heritage resources by building a house on top them. Minister Thomson defends a process that is offensive and seriously flawed.
This property has no business being zoned for residential. Minister Thomson please use your power to make this situation right. Please protect First Nations burial sites as cemeteries and undertake a review of regulations to protect other similar sites.