A massive Southwestern Ontario wind turbine project is uncovering ancient signs of the region’s first people, findings that could affect future projects.
Archeological studies required before wind turbines can be built have turned up evidence of First Nations’ activity just after the glaciers retreated at the end of the last Ice Age.
In what’s considered a rare find, archeologists working on the K2 Wind Farm project north of Goderich found hand-fashioned stone tools and artifacts in Ashfield Colborne Wawanosh Township from the so-called Paleo-Indian period – 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, when the area had a harsh, tundra-like environment.
Other archeological work in preparation for wind farms has turned up later native artifacts and items from early European settlement.
“This speaks to the use of our homelands for thousands of years. It’s a piece of the historic record,” said Dean Jacobs, director of the Walpole Island First Nation Heritage Centre.
The archeological discoveries also build the knowledge base about First Nations people, how they survived, their economies and way of life, he said.
Under a Supreme Court of Canada ruling, the government is required to ensure First Nations are consulted on projects that affect their traditional territories and that measures are taken to reduce any effects.
A $900-million joint venture of Capital Power LP of Edmonton, Samsung Renewable Energy Inc. and Pattern Renewable Holdings Canada ULC, the K2 Wind Farm is one of the largest under development in Ontario, with 142 wind turbines planned.
The government requires all areas where construction will take place be investigated by archeologists as part of the approval process.
Jacobs said the K2 Wind Farm proponents have consulted with Walpole First Nation.
Though the archeological work yields important information about the area’s history, Jacobs said it’s costly for companies and something many would like to avoid.
If artifacts are found on one location, some wind farm companies will consider moving the turbine to a nearby site to save the cost of further investigation, he said.
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