I am writing in response to the article “Town tackles bench issues” (The NEWS, June 5). I appreciated the article by John Harding but felt it was vague and incomplete with respect to my concern and my suggested resolution to the town. In this letter I felt it important to expand and clarify my concerns.
When my mother passed away in 2002 the remaining family members purchased a bench along the water front of Qualicum Beach with a memorial dedication plaque for a cost of $450. Under the terms of the policy at that time the purchaser was in fact buying the bench which the town agreed to repair and maintain for a minimum of 10 years.
After this initial 10 year period, if the bench was unsafe or unusable it would need to be replaced. At the time of replacement the original bench owner would be offered the opportunity to pay the replacement cost and continue to have their memorial plaque affixed to the new bench. Since 2002 the policy for these benches has been modified such that families wishing to purchase a memorial plaque on a bench only buy the plaque.
They no longer purchase the bench itself. Under current policy memorial plaques are only purchased for an eight year term. At which time the purchaser must repurchase their plaque for $1,800 for the next eight years. Under current policy the actual bench remains town property and it is their responsibility to maintain these benches to town standards. To be clear I agree that the town should own all of these benches.
My issue with the town is the nature of their policy which has created a situation where the memorial plaques on these benches are now effectively “rented” for eight year terms. It is my view that these memorial plaques for our deceased loved ones, whether they be our parents, siblings, children or friends, should form a lasting permanent memorial for surviving family members to visit and spend time with their memories.
The suggestions I have made to the town through Luke Sales are to rewrite the policy such that these plaques are deemed permanent memorial fixtures on the benches, to sell these plaques for modest and reasonable rates and to allow many more plaques on each bench. Currently there is one plaque per bench. But as everyone can see, these benches could tastefully and respectably accommodate up to 12 plaques.
Finally, I find the notion of short term rental of memorial plaques distasteful and disrespectful.