City of Prince Rupert and cemetery committee create cemetery maintenance policy

City staff and the cemetery committee have come up with a policy to address upkeep concerns at Fairview Cemetery in Prince Rupert, but before adopting the policy, City Council wants to ensure that all of the community’s churches and faiths have been consulted.

City staff and the cemetery committee have come up with a policy to address upkeep concerns at Fairview Cemetery in Prince Rupert, but before adopting the policy, City Council wants to ensure that all of the community’s churches and faiths have been consulted.

A report from Public Works described broken glass often scattered on and about gravesites when grave site adornments are destroyed by wind and rain.

That along the with the sheer number of adornments placed at some sites, contributes to making the place look messy and interferes with maintenance and the safety of employees and volunteers working there, staff reported.

A number of municipalities have taken steps to address similar issues and City Manager Gordon Howie told council Public Works has contacted the Cities of Cranbrook and Prince George and reviewed Terrace’s bylaw to see how those communities are tackling similar issues.

“This report has come from the staff and the advisory committee and there has been considerable time and energy by both groups put into creating a much more clear set of rules,” Howie said.

Howie has heard concerns that all ethnic and religious groups should be satisfied with the way they are allowed to commemorate at the cemetery.

“I think we are applying something that is universal in scope that will apply to everyone and I think that we would have to look at special circumstances as special circumstances,” he said.

Some of the policy highlights include the fact that immediately following a funeral, floral arrangements, both fresh and artificial, with the plastic wrapping removed, must be placed in non-breakable containers and securely fastened at the gravesite.

They will be allowed to remain there for up to 30 days.

Immediately following a funeral, items such as wreaths, tributes, stands, baskets and pictures will be permitted to remain for one week.

And if people want to commemorate special occasions, they can place items at a grave for one week and will need to notify the cemetery caretaker or staff beforehand.

After hearing the report council unanimously passed a motion to postpone accepting the policy until the cemetery committee and staff has consulted with all the religious groups in town.

The motion was prompted by Councillor Joy Thorkelson who asked how broad the makeup of the committee is and heard they are a group of local residents from various ethnic groups an denominations.