Major Kitchener road faces extended closure after ‘significant’ find of Indigenous artifacts

Fischer-Hallman Road will close in May and is not expected to reopen until October. Getty Images

A major Kitchener, Ont., roadway will likely be closed for months, due, in part, to a “significant” finding of Indigenous artifacts.

A Waterloo region staff report says that 965 Indigenous artifacts were discovered along the west side of Fischer-Hallman Road during a recent archaeological assessment.

The report says the company contracted to conduct the assessment, Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, “found evidence that a First Nation village and longhouse extends across the west ditch line and appears to extend further under the paved road towards the east ditch line.”

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The report was presented to the region’s planning and works committee on Wednesday.

Committee Chair Tom Galloway described it as a “pretty significant finding” but also noted that the next phase of the archaeological assessment will have “some significant cost associated with investigating it and significant closure of the road which is going to be difficult.”

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Fischer-Hallman Road will be closed between Bleams Road and Seabrook Drive from May until September as a twin-box culvert is reconstructed alongside the archaeological assessment.

It also comes with an estimated price tag of $1.6 million.

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Galloway says area retailers are not stoked by the idea while also expressing concerns about the detour.

He asked staff whether seven months was an accurate measure of how long the road needed to be closed.

“There is some uncertainty about what we might find under the road for the archaeological study,” Phil Bauer, Region director of design and construction said. “We’re hoping it might be less but it could potentially be longer.”

He says that both the dig and the culvert work “require road closure which is why they are being done at the same time.”

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Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic asked Region staff to contact the construction firm to see if there were alternative staffing options which would lessen the time that Fischer-Hallman Road is closed before the report is presented before council next week.

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“I just think we need to rethink, where we can, our approach to some of these projects and consider impact on the broader community,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story initially stated that the closure was between Bleams and Plains roads but is actually between Bleams Road and Seabrook Drive.

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