Archaeological excavation of Baker District redevelopment site: May 11

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Guelph, Ont., May 11, 2022 – We’re transforming a former municipal parking lot into a compact district nestled in Guelph’s historic core that will create a renewed area of activity, commerce and civic space for the local community and city. The Baker District is a landmark city-building initiative that will bring more visitors and residents downtown, create more jobs and enhance the vitality of our downtown.

Before any underground construction can begin, we’re conducting a required archeological clearance of the Baker District redevelopment site including streets adjacent to the site. The City and archaeological subconsultant, Archaeological Research Associates Ltd. (ARA) are excavating the area for the required archeological clearance of the Baker District redevelopment site.

Clearance work continues

In April, a tent structure was installed on-site to allow crews to continue working during any unpredictable spring weather. Considerable progress has been made clearing the area beneath the tent structure and crews are preparing to remove the structure in the coming weeks as weather and ground conditions improve.

Crews will begin clearing Baker Street roadway on or about May 26. These activities will start at the north end of Baker Street and will continue south until the road has been cleared. The schedule for clearance activities on Chapel Lane and the southern portion of Park Lane will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Construction is fluid and the current schedule is highly dependent on several factors including watermain commissioning, archaeological findings, and the complexity of working around existing utilities in the rights of way.

To date, 96 grave shafts have been identified and 68 distinct discoveries of human remains (bone fragments) have been unearthed. About 70 per cent of the site has been excavated to date. The expected completion date for the archaeological clearance is June 2022.

The City and ARA are following an established process for handling discoveries of human remains. including notification to appropriate agencies such as Guelph Police Services, partner Indigenous governments and Provincial ministries.

Once the archaeological clearance work is done, all remains found during the excavation now underway will be documented and reinterred at Woodlawn Memorial Park.

Baker District project updates

Construction activities are increasing in the Baker District redevelopment site. To streamline information about this project, we will issue regular project-wide updates that include details about archaeology clearance and other general project updates. These updates will be posted on the Baker District redevelopment webpage.

Respect and dignity for human remains

To ensure that human remains are treated with respect and dignity the City does not take or share photographs of any remains found. The City requests that media and the public also follow this direction for the respectful treatment of remains.

Site history

The triangular block that is the currently Baker Street parking lot was the site of an all-faith cemetery from 1827-1853. The Public Burying Ground was established by the Canada Company in 1827. The site was used as a cemetery for 26 years. In 1853 the Town of Guelph passed a new bylaw banning human burials within town limits. The property continued to be owned by the Canada Company for another 24 years, until it was purchased by the City for use as a public park in 1879. When plans were made to move the remains from the old Public Burying Ground to a new cemetery (Woodlawn Memorial Park), family members moved some burials but others, especially unmarked graves, remained.

About the Baker District redevelopment

This welcoming and publicly accessible integrated civic hub—known as the Baker District—is anchored by a new central Guelph Public Library and includes outdoor urban squares, residential units, commercial space and public parking.

As a landmark city-building initiative, the Baker District redevelopment further revitalizes Guelph’s downtown and—by extension—improves the entire city’s economic and social prosperity.

The Baker District redevelopment project supports multiple priorities of the City’s strategic plan, Guelph. Future Ready.:

  • Sustaining Our Future through net-zero carbon targets
  • Powering Our Future through helping to grow downtown business and the local economy
  • Building our Future through the inclusion of affordable housing
  • Working Together for Our Future through innovation and strategic partnerships

The redevelopment also supports the themes of Guelph’s Community Plan to love where we live, protect our environment, create value, and play and explore.

Resources

 

For more information about the Baker District redevelopment

Stephen Gazzola, Project Manager
Facilities and Energy Management
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3886
[email protected]