Proponents of a proposed heritage park that would house the historic 153 Mile Store are hoping to enter into a lease for a seven-acre portion of the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds, known as Pinchbeck Hill.
If secured, the lease would enable the Cariboo Heritage Park Society to proceed with infrastructure design and site development plans for Stampede Heritage Park.
Three years ago brothers Roger and Rusty Patenaude and their families made it known they wanted to donate the 153 Mile Store and its priceless contents to the City of Williams Lake.
Roger and Rusty have described the store, which was built in 1914, as a time capsule of the Cariboo because its contents have been kept intact since the store’s owner, Lil Crosina, died of a heart attack behind the counter in 1963.
In January 2018, city council approved in principle the society’s bid to relocate the store to the Stampede Grounds.
At the Tuesday, Dec. 4 regular council meeting, council approved giving public notice of the society’s desire to pursue the lease.
In a report to council, the city’s director of development services Leah Hartley noted the lease would exclude the Pinchbeck grave site, and be for a three-year term with provisions to renew.
“Development of the site will require application to the province for a site alteration permit in order to protect the grave site and to incorporate archaeologically significant features and artifacts found during field work, ” Hartley stated.
Mayor Walt Cobb said with a legitimate lease the society can move forward with fundraising.
Hartley said neighbouring residents have expressed interest in knowing of the park development plan.
Coun. Ivan Bonnell, supported the resolution but amended the motion stating a public information meeting about the proposed used of the site will be needed prior to the lease being finalized.
Council voted unanimously for a public information session.
Last May Sugar Cane Archaeology conducted assessments of the site to determine its historical value.
Kirk Dressler, Williams Lake Indian Band economic development officer, told the Tribune Monday there are features of archaeological significance at the proposed location of the park.
“They are critical to WLIB council who has indicated that they would like to support the concept of the park, but the destruction of these critical sites is not something they can abide,” Dressler said.
“If the proposal could be altered in such a way as to preserve the sites then it is possibly something that could be supported by council.”