Filed for publication with the Mirror
Re: City Considering Changes to Legacy Landmarks Program
I write this letter on my own behalf as an expression of my concerns. In no way do I intend to suggest I am the only one impacted. The specific picnic table is important to all of my parents’ children, children-in-law, grandchildren, siblings, siblings-in-law, nieces, nephews, and other family members and friends. Many of whom still reside in Campbell River. I imagine others with existing dedications under this program would have similar concerns.
I understand the city is considering limiting the duration of the dedication under this program to a 25 year lease. Our family since 2008 have had a single picnic table in the memory of both my mother and father, Bernie and Lolita Doherty. The city`s suggestions as to changes to the program cause me considerable concern for a number of reasons, including the following.
The city would be unilaterally changing an agreement it made with me as executor of my parents’ wills. The city does not have the right to unilaterally change existing agreements; if I am wrong on this point, it would be unethical for the city to unilaterally change existing agreements. If the city wants to change the agreement, or even withdraw the availability of an agreement, for newcomers then that would be a very different consideration. We would have to take that into consideration if we were looking to honour another loved one in the future.
The city comes across as making deaths of loved ones into a commercial enterprise. When the city needed picnic tables and park benches, people were invited to financially contribute. The individuals did it as a memorial to a loved one; the city comes across as having done it for financial reasons only (i.e., people subsidizing the cost of picnic tables and benches so as to make them affordable for the city to install). By unilaterally terminating existing agreements and allowing others to come in to take over the legacy landmarks, the city’s insensitivity is amplified. The city would then come across as preferring a continuing stream of income from the continuing stream of the deaths of loved ones; the landmarks would be but a necessary by-product the city has to tolerate to extract money out of people’s wallets.
My parents were cremated. The picnic table dedicated to their memory serves for us the function a gravesite would serve for others.
The city comes across as having poorly planned the initial program and now wants to remedy its oversights at the emotional and financial expense of those who rightly made use of the program. Any such corrections need to properly come at the expense of the city.
The city had no obligation to make the existing program available; presumably it chose to do so on the basis of a program it designed taking into consideration its resources and obligations. The city has no obligation to make this program available to newcomers (including us in respect of memorials for others in the future). It has to choose whether to do so taking into consideration its present and future resources. Resources it has already committed in relation to existing memorials should not properly be counted as resources available to the city.
Should any steps be taken to remove or substantially alter the dedication to the memory of my parents or to the program which authorizes the dedication to exist, I require that you notify me appropriately in advance. This will allow me to serve such court documents on the city as I believe are warranted. Let this letter serve as notice that if the city makes any changes without allowing this opportunity, I will rely upon this letter in response to any argument the city may make about the costs of then undoing any changes it has made.
I am not so naïve as to believe anything is forever. That aside, the callous manner in which the city has considered unilaterally changing its obligations is reprehensible. For many of us, these landmarks/memorials are the equivalent of gravesites. Any alteration to the duration of the landmarks/memorials should be considered along with a consideration to limiting the duration of gravesites.
This issue impacts me tremendously.
Barbara L. Basi (nee Doherty)