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More remains inflame dispute between developer, Musqueam band

Louise Point from the Musqueam Indian band stands outside of a condominium development on ancestral burial grounds of the Musqueam in Vancouver on March 13, 2012.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

A confrontation between a condo developer in south Vancouver and the Musqueam Indian band has heated up after archeological work on the site this week turned up intact ancestral remains of two infants and another body.

The discovery comes three months after archeologists first found intact ancestral remains on the site that the Musqueam say was an ancestral burial ground dating back thousands of years.

The additional remains adds extra urgency to efforts to stop the development, Musqueam spokesman Wade Grant said Wednesday in an interview.

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However, Bob Ransford, a spokesman for the developer, said the developer intends to continue its work on the site. The developer has permits from the provincial and city governments to demolish buildings on the site and complete archaeological work.

The condominium development is adjacent to the Marpole Midden, a stretch of land on South Marine Drive by the Arthur Laing Bridge recognized as a Canada Heritage site. The developer, Gary and Fran Hackett, have received approval to build a five-storey condominium.

The developer had agreed in March to temporarily stop work on the site following a protest and picket by several Musqueam members. However, talks involving the developer, the Musqueam band and government officials failed to resolve their differences and work resumed in April.

Two weeks ago, the Musqueam issued an open letter in which they offered to resolve the conflict by trading lands they were expecting to receive in settlement of claims elsewhere in Metro Vancouver for the South Marine Drive site. Mr. Grant said Wednesday the Musqueam were still waiting for a response to their proposal from the B.C. government.

Mr. Ransford said the developer has not seen a proposal from the Musqueam. He described the open letter outlining the suggestion as "ideas floated to the media."

The Musqueam band was planning to hold a rally and protest picket on Thursday that they hope will once again stop work on the site.

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