Commission supports ‘alternative memorialization’ at Campbell River cemetery

Discussed other possible options to the clean-up plan such as having one area in the cemetery set aside for adornments

A city advisory group has put its seal of approval on the city’s plan to remove adornments from grave sites at the city’s two cemeteries.

Council last month requested the clean-up plan be presented to the city’s Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission to ensure the plan reflects the community’s values.

The commission agreed that an already existing bylaw that prohibits objects other than flowers, should be enforced.

The group also, however, discussed other possible options to the clean-up plan such as having one area in the cemetery set aside for adornments; offering memorial garden beds that plot holders could contribute to instead of putting objects on graves; and inviting plot holders and the public to brainstorm further solutions.

The commission also recommended that “alternative memorialization be considered along with future expansion of the Elk Falls Cemetery.”

Sandy Poelvoorde, funeral director and owner of Boyd’s Funeral Services, has been championing for an addition to the cemetery for years.

“If the city wants to start a clean-up, we’re 100 per cent behind them and hopefully this will lead to the city having more options for families,” Poelvoorde said earlier this month. “I’d love to see a scattering garden, a water feature, or niche walls or a green burial space; I’d love to see an upright marker section.”

Right now only flat grave stones are allowed in both the Elk Falls Cemetery and the cemetery on Highway 19 towards Painter’s Lodge.

And as of this month, the city is phasing out all objects other than flowers on those grave markers.

Items that will be no longer permitted include: ceramics, statues, lanterns, candles, fences, glass, benches, rocks, trees, shrubs, and plants. The city’s reasoning is that the objects are safety hazards, particularly when the wind blows and the adornments scatter.

Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture said the objects are a tripping hazard to burial parties, and present safety issues to the maintenance contractor at the cemeteries.

Letters are being sent to cemetery plot owners advising them that as of July 1, 2014 city staff will begin removing prohibited items that are still in the cemetery. Items that are removed by the city will be stored at the Dogwood Operations Centre for up to six months to be claimed by family members.

“The city requests that plot holders remove all non-conforming items from the cemetery prior to June 30, 2014,” reads the letter. “All items remaining after the date are subject to removal by the city.”