06/15/2012 11:54 EDT | Updated 08/15/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. offers cash for land to protect Marpole Midden

The B.C. government is stepping in to help settle the Marpole Midden dispute with a cash-for-land offer, according to the Musqueam First Nation.

Band Councillor Wade Grant says they received a letter from the B.C. government on Wednesday that it would allow the band to alter a previous deal and swap some land for cash to buy the property.

Grant say the government is offering to give the band $4.8 million cash, instead of land owed to them under previous deals negotiated for the Gateway Project's South Fraser Perimeter Road, the expansion of the Port Mann Bridge and the Evergreen Line.

"Musqueam was supposed to get the land at a future date, but now they're saying they're going to convert the land value into cash, as well as the land value we would have been receiving for the accommodation of Evergreen into cash, so we can use that money to purchase the midden site."

Negotiation to resume

Century Group spokesman Bob Ransford said the condo developer and the property owners welcome the start of fresh negotiations with the first nation.

"It's dragged on for a long time and it's been frustrating for everybody on all sides and I think we're all happy now that we're seeing some movement."

Construction of the riverside condo project has been stalled since human remains were uncovered at the 3,000-year-old heritage site in January. Last month, the band blocked traffic during morning rush hour on the Arthur Laing Bridge to protest the development at the site in the Marpole area of South Vancouver.

The Musqueam First Nation does not own the land in question, but the Marpole Midden was designated as a Canadian Heritage Site in 1933. While the federal government has recognized the importance of the historical site, it has been left to the provincial government to protect it.

Previously, the site's owner has said the land has been in his family for more than 50 years and the soil has already been disturbed by the existing structures on the site.