Councillor wants to hold off on cemetery crackdown

Campbell River is asking cemetery plot owners to remove anything other than flowers that they may have on their loved one’s grave sites

Coun. Ron Kerr wants the city to delay removing mementos from grave sites at the two city cemeteries and doesn’t believe it’s just the adornments that are generating complaints.

Kerr, at Tuesday’s council meeting, said he was not in favour of supporting the cemetery clean-up plan along with the rest of council.

“I can’t support the motion,” Kerr said. “I believe the status quo should be retained and no major changes made until we have a new cemetery.”

Starting this month, the city is asking cemetery plot owners to remove anything other than flowers that they may have on their loved one’s grave sites. Objects not removed before July 1, 2014 will be removed by the city and stored at the Dogwood Operations Centre for six months.

But Kerr disagreed with removing anything without first consulting the community.

“I just cannot support moving in and removing those without more consultation with the public,” Kerr said.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said the city is implementing the clean-up because of concerns from funeral directors and the maintenance contractors at the cemetery that the objects are tripping hazards.

But Kerr hinted that there’s more to the problem than the adornments.

“To me the problem with the cemeteries is not so much the appearance of the plots themselves or the fields,” Kerr said. “To me, it’s more the overall appearance of the entryways and also the fact the (Elk Falls) cemetery’s so far out of town.

“If we’re hearing negative feedback that’s more than just the issue of the flowers on the grave plots,” Kerr added.

Coun. Samson agreed with Kerr but worried that the city was letting the cemeteries get out of control.

“I think I saw a picture here in my agenda where people are putting up park benches for seating,” Samson said. “While I agree with Coun. Kerr, my concern is where do we draw the line? I think if we don’t take some sort of action to try and control what goes in our cemeteries we’ll start seeing things like seating and I’m afraid we have to control it.”

The rest of council, with the exception of Kerr and Mayor Walter Jakeway, agreed and voted to enforce an already existing bylaw that bans adornments other than flowers on grave sites. Council also voted in favour of in the future considering alternative memorialization at the cemeteries such as a scattering garden, niche wall, or a section for upright grave markers.

Campbell River Mirror

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