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Price tag for Debert digs continues to rise

Geologist and project supervisor Lindsey Parker makes notes while checking out a hole at the Debert archaeology site.
Geologist and project supervisor Lindsey Parker makes notes while checking out a hole at the Debert archaeology site. - Harry Sullivan

TRURO, N.S.

The Municipality of Colchester is anticipating spending approximately $1.3 million this year to continue the archaeology efforts in the Debert Air Industrial Park.

So far, the county has spent $3.8 million since it assumed responsibility for the Debert archaeology program in 2012.

The majority of that total, or $1.2 million, was spent last year on an 18-acre dig just north of Tim Hortons on McElmon Road, where deep sand deposits take longer to analyse.

“The challenge with Block 1 was the depth of digging required to reach bedrock or glacial till,” a staff report to council says. “Due to the deep sand deposit, testing generally exceeded the 1.2-metre depth and hand auguring was required. This extra step lengthens the testing of each pit.”

The cost to clear two other smaller blocks of land last year totalled $167,000 for a total cost in 2017 of $1.367 million.

Another 18-acre section of land just north of the Tim Hortons is planned for archaeological digging this year along with two other smaller blocks on Dakota Road.

The larger section is expected to cost about $1.2 million with the other smaller blocks (3.8 acres total) is expected to be in excess of $100,000.

Some of the land in question is considered prime for development but the province has put a restriction on selling any of the property until the archaeology digs have been completed on each section.

Nothing of significance was found on the 18-acre section completed last year although two fragments were discovered on smaller digs on Lancaster Crescent.

Given the extent and the expense of the project, Mayor Christine Blair said the municipality will be looking to both the provincial and federal government for financial assistance.

“I think everybody at the (council) table, with Debert being one of our priorities, sees value in this,” she said.

Any of the property that is sold has the cost of the archaeological dig for that sector added to the purchase price.

“So, we go into deferred payment until such time as the land is sold,” Blair said. “The big thing is keeping ahead of the archaeological work.”

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