Archeology work the latest roadblock to rebuild Lytton, B.C.: Mayor

Archeology work the latest roadblock to rebuild Lytton, B.C.: Mayor
Structures that were destroyed by wildfire are seen in Lytton, B.C., on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Former Lytton, B.C., residents are rallying to protest continual delays that they say have hampered their ability to rebuild more than two years after a devastating wildfire tore through the village in June 2021.

Lytton Mayor Denise O’Connor says costly archeological work is the latest roadblock for residents, and follows debris cleanup, foundation and soil removals and backfilling.

The village was partially built on an ancient archeological site and burial ground and is protected under B.C.’s Heritage Conservation Act.

Village council awarded a provincially funded contract in March 2022 to the consulting firm AEW for archeological and heritage monitoring, which was formed in 2017 by the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal member communities.

A statement from AEW says the “assertion that archeology has delayed the recovery and remediation is a false narrative based on misinformation,” noting that the work has been done concurrently with recovery, remediation and backfilling.

It says the monitoring has resulted in the recovery of more than 7,000 stone artifacts, some dating back as much as 7,500 years, and that ancestral remains were also identified in four locations within the village.


“The mitigation and protection of the ancestors will be determined in consultation with Nlaka’pamux communities and the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council,” the statement said.

“Acknowledging and respecting this heritage is also an important step on the path to reconciliation. Rebuilding from the fire provides an opportunity to do things differently.”

O’Connor said residents recognize the area is of archeological and culture significance to the First Nation.

“The people of the village of Lytton know that and respect that and don’t deny that, but is there not some way that processes can be speeded up?” she asked, noting she had not been informed of the findings.

She said Wednesday’s rally, which was initiated by residents, aims to raise awareness about the slow rebuilding process.

It also comes as other communities burned in more recent wildfires are already starting to rebuild, she said.

O’Connor said many residents in the community feel “totally neglected” since the fire destroyed their homes.

It took a “full year” to begin debris cleanup in Lytton and residents fear other communities will be rebuilt first, she said.

“It was an unprecedented event, and yet they seem to be going through a normal process for everything, like there seems to be nothing to expedite it for the people.”

The mayor said though she is unaware of the number of people who have abandoned their hope of returning to the community, there are still others who want to rebuild.

“I’m afraid there’s going to be others who give up if things don’t proceed.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2023.

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