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Canadian woman appeals for $600,000 for mandatory archaeological dig

Buy a home, get a swarm of archaeologists

Vancouver resident, Wendi Mackay purchased her parent’s home and rather than remodel, she had the house moved off site and began plans to build a new home, permits and all. The foundation was poured and she learned that there may be aboriginal artifacts on the site and that on the off chance that were true, she would be required to obtain a permit under the Heritage Preservation Act.

In order to get clearance for the permit, she would be required to hire archaeological consultants. After three months and a $62,000 bill, she was told they were only halfway done and now, the $600 trench required under the foundation had turned to an $8,000 ordeal.

Three months later, no permit, drained bank

Mackay scrapped plans for a basement, shelled out $70,000, had no report to produce to the government, was losing time and was getting frustrated, feeling there was no accountability in the process, that they could dig infinitely.

At this point, bone fragments were found which were deemed to be of possible aboriginal origin and the government stated that people should rest in peace and this build site prevented it.

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“Dear lady, sorry about your bad luck. Love, Gov’t”

The government suggested that having an archaeological survey prior to purchasing a home is like an inspection and that Mackay should have (but was not legally required to) have one prior to purchasing the land.

It seems unfair, given that there was already a home there that passed inspection, but when she heard there “might” be artifacts, instead of digging first and begging forgiveness later, she stepped up. It is unclear as to whether she has been given the final building permit to continue building or not.

Mackay filed a $600,000 lawsuit for her losses but lost. She is now filing an appeal with the B.C. Court of Appeal for the same amount.

Similar issues in America

In America, we deal with a similar issue in respecting Indian burial grounds and developers often look the other way when they hear of possible historical remains, as when they don’t, it is extremely costly to hire a full archaeological dig.

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