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North Cowichan pledges to enforce gravesite memento bylaw gently

North Cowichan rules state all flower/plant arrangements and wreaths may be removed at the discretion of the Mountain View Cemetery staff - Ashley Degraaf/file
North Cowichan rules state all flower/plant arrangements and wreaths may be removed at the discretion of the Mountain View Cemetery staff
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf/file

A bylaw limiting personal items left at gravesides was passed at North Cowichan council Feb. 5 regarding the Mountain View Cemetery site at Somenos Road.

North Cowichan staff and councillors chewed on the issue leading up to the regular council meeting and reminded folks the bylaw is a gentle reminder of rules already in place at the cemetery.

“I have been on record already to say that staff should use their discretion,” North Cowichan mayor Jon Lefebure said during discussion before the bylaw was passed. “If something is placed on a gravestone, it’s not like we’re rushing out to remove it.

“This is not meant to be a hammer coming down.”

Parks and Recreation director Ernie Mansueti also reminded those present there is already a set of regulations listed on two signs at the site.

The signs state: “artificial wreaths, or potted plants on the grave plots are permitted from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28, that planted shrubs, flowers or use of glass containers are not permitted and all flower/plant arrangements and wreaths may be removed at the discretion of the cemetery staff.”

And essentially the bylaw is there way of formalizing the rules so they can take action if there’s say an item left that’s causing safety or aesthetic concerns, for example broken glass, shrubs with roots growing into other plots etc.

All items are left in a shed at the site for about 30 days to be claimed.

Although councillor Kate Marsh agreed with the intent of the bylaw, she sympathized with those grieving the loss of a loved one.

“I feel a lot of empathy for the folks who felt upset and hurt by this proposed bylaw,” she said, noting better communication with the public might have helped ease their intentions.

“I hope that those people who struggle with loss know that there’s a community organization of hospice care, that can help deal with losses and they can connect with them.”

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