Although the tourist season does not officially end till September 25, Phase One of a four year, $6.87 million infrastructure project will begin Monday, September 19th.
“The installation of in ground waterlines and building services as well as wildfire and site communication conduits,” Berlin said. “Phase one will cost three
million dollars and our goal is to have the in trench excavation completed before freeze up which will allow us to do the remaining work before our end
date of March 31.
“The area affected extends from the parking lot area outside the gate through the middle and main streets and is a huge undertaking,” he added.
Although definitely not improvements that the public will see or even, in some cases, appreciate, the project will ensure the sustainability and safety of Barkerville as western North America’s largest historic site and a very important part of British Columbia history.
“We are looking forward to the completion of this very important work,” said Judy Campbell, Barkerville’s Chief Executive Officer. “And we are grateful that the provincial government recognized the need and has provided the resources to make it happen.”
The heavy equipment will start rolling in on September 26, the day after Barkerville officially closes for the 2011 season, and the ensuing excavation and construction will render the site unavailable for visitation until the end of November.
“The planning, considerations and implementation of an infrastructure project of this nature is very different when being done in a historic site,” said Bill
Quackenbush, Barkerville’s Curator. “We have hired an archaeologist and two assistants for the term of the project that will be monitoring the excavation and any archaeological evidence that is discovered will be properly recorded.
“Our curatorial staff will also be going through each of our buildings to ensure that displays, artifacts and buildings are safely secured,” Quackenbush added.
Project manager, Rueben Berlin is looking forward to the final outcome of the project.
“We will have a fully modern water distribution system that allows for better winterization of our buildings as well as a completely customized and innovative fire suppression system,” he said.
During the construction and excavation of Barkerville this fall, visitation to the site will be discouraged and Barkerville will be obligated to cancel its planned
annual Halloween celebrations, but the historic town fully anticipates full service restoration in time for Victorian Christmas (December 10th to 12th, 2011) and will definitely be ready to welcome visitors for its 150th anniversary season in 2012.