Archaeologists are combing through the future site of the new Walterdale Bridge, looking for relics from the city’s past.

"We'll be touching things that have been buried for thousands of years and for me that's magical," said archaeologist Gareth Spicer while unloading his tools Thursday.

Spicer’s focus is on a deep dirt pit on the south side of the Walterdale, where he is hoping to find things like stone tools, used for hunting along the river by the Aboriginal societies that lived in the area.

Before construction of the replacement bridge can start next spring, the city has to get permits to show that it is protecting anything historically important in the area.

si-walterdalte-dig

Archaeologist Gareth Spicer is hoping the dig might turn up stone tools and other artifacts that would reveal more about how Aboriginal groups lived. (CBC News)

Spicer is hoping that anything found would shine new light on how people lived on the land, where evidence shows human activity as far back as 8,000 years.

"If there's different types of tools or projectile points or lots of different types of tools that'll be great as well," he said.

"You can speak to the different activities people were occupied with when they were living here."

Officials are also meeting with 21 Aboriginal groups whose ancestors lived in the area in advance of the construction.

Many First Nations members, like Chief Calvin Bruneau, say that the history of the area makes it a poor place to build a new bridge.

He’s concerned about what it will mean for the burial ground on the north side of the river, where some of his ancestors rest.

 "Let's move the bridge over east of here away from the burial ground, the less disturbance the better," he said.