Arguments over the Cemetery Committee’s mandate arose during the Dec. 8 committee meeting, as several committee members pushed to move forward with the monument designs, while committee member John Gawryluk protested that the organization was initially set up solely to find a monument location.
During the previous meeting, held in October 2014, Gawryluk was told designing the monument would be considered a conflict of interest, as he is an active member of the Cemetery Committee. It was then that Gawryluk came forward and said he would cover the costs of the monument in order to avoid the initial conflict.
During this past meeting however, Gawryluk protested that the committee is not a design committee and designing a monument is not within their mandate. “This is not the committee for that,” he argued. “It is a location committee.”
Former City of Fernie Coun. Randal Macnair noted that it would be within the committee’s purview to bring monument designs forward.
“Lets get this done and find out what’s affordable and how we can move forward,” said Macnair. “We had a lengthy discussion at the last meeting regarding how we were going to proceed.”
He added, “You have more experience with monuments than anyone around this table and I would be perfectly happy to see what you have to bring forward.”
Committee members debated the organizations mandate at length and Coun. Ange Qualizza questioned why Gawryluk had not yet put forward his findings.
“This committee as a group decided that was the action item,” she noted. “We’re three months out and it still hasn’t been completed. You’ve had three months to complete this action item, you’ve also had three months to take issue with the action item and nothing’s been done.”
After further debate, Qualizza suggested suspending any further discussion of the monument designs until the committee determined a location for the monument.
The initial location of the monument was proposed during the October 2014 meeting, however, the committee decided not to proceed with the proposed location, the northeast corner of the ‘Monroe’ Cemetery, until Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) samples had been released.
Unfortunately, according to Chief Executive Officer Jim Hendricks, the GPR results did not cover the proposed location.
Hendricks, however, said that a GPR assessment is not required to put up a monument at that location and that the committee would only be required to fill out a provincial site alteration permit under the Heritage Conservation Act.
However this recommendation brought forward further concerns.
“Are there graves still under there? Have they been scattered?” Gawryluk questioned. “My indication is…there are graves outside that fence.”
Cemetery Committee Vice Chair Daniel Ste-Marie noted that in order to have the monument properly supported in the ground, the site would have to be dug at least four feet down, below the frost line.
Hendricks recommended the committee have an archaeologist on site during the dig to ensure there are no remains in that area.
“If they follow through with everything and it’s determined there are remains in that area, they will have to find another location,” Cemetery Committee Chair Corlyn Haarstad noted.
In concluding the meeting, Qualizza advised that the Cemetery Committee’s recommendations, to place the monument on the northeast corner of the ‘Monroe’ Cemetery after the completion of all archaeological findings, must be brought forward to council before they can move forward.
Following the Jan.14 meeting, Gawryluk also put forward an official letter to the City of Fernie offering to provide the memorial at no cost to the City of Fernie. The letter also stated that over the next few weeks the committee will be selecting the design that will be brought forward to council for consideration. In order to move forward with the implementation of these designs in a timely manner, Qualizza suggested giving Gawryluk 30 days to submit his designs, a request council agreed to.