Removal of graveside items by B.C. cemetery staff deemed ‘disrespectful’

Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. Some are bagged and now collecting condensation and insects inside. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. Some are bagged and now collecting condensation and insects inside. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)

If you visit the Hope Cemetery today, you will find there are no flowers, no teddy bears, no mementos of any kind on most of the headstones.

They’ve all been removed, much to the surprise of several people who have loved ones buried there. A handful of them have contacted the Hope Standard to bring attention to the matter, and let others know there have been changes at the cemetery.

District staff posted a sign at the cemetery advises that the removal would be happening, with 14 days notice.

But one concerned resident, who asked that their name not be used, said a better effort should have been made to inform the community that this would be done. That would have given people the opportunity to go and collect cherished items, they said.

Instead, staff collected the items and put them into a large wooden bin in the back of the cemetery, by the maintenance building. In it, there are countless bundles of flowers, notes and cards, photographs, flower stands and more, and none of them are tagged with a plot number or name. There are also flower bundles that have been set aside that are now grown over with weeds between the landscaping bins.

Other items have been put in clear bags and set at the side of the maintenance building. In at least one of those bags, dozens of small insects were crawling over blue fabric hydrangeas. In all of them, condensation is building.

One person who contacted the Standard said that some families spend small fortunes on designer flowers, and ensure they are tasteful and kept in season. Many of the fake flowers in the bin are in perfect shape, and in season.

Mayor Peter Robb said he wasn’t aware of any of these complaints until contacted by the Standard. But when he spoke up with staff he learned that they were following up on other complaints that maintenance wasn’t being done, including mowing and weeding. And to get that work done, he said, staff needed to remove all the adornments.

“It was becoming very difficult to do the maintenance,” Robb said. “Some of them (adornments) were there for years and some gravestones were not being kept tidy.”

The cemetery uses only flat gravestones that are flush with the ground, so any adornments will limit workers from moving around them to weed and cut the grass.

Adornments are allowed, according to the bylaw (No. 1269). But that same bylaw also notes that all adornments will be removed when “their condition is considered to be detrimental to the appearance or beauty of the cemetery.

“Staff was following through on some of the bylaws in place already, they wanted to clean up the cemetery, making it difficult to complete maintenance tasks and distracting from the appearance,” Robb explained.

Everyone who has contacted the Standard has called the way this has been handled “disrespectful.”

“I find this to be so disrespectful to the families,” said Greg Anderson, who comes from Delta to visit his son once a month. “A cemetery is more than just a place to put the people we cherish, it’s a place to come and be with them.”

The mayor agrees that there should have been better notification of the work being done, and is working at directing staff to do better in the future. He was also planning to visit the site himself to have a look.

“I think it could have been handled better, with better communication,” Robb said. “My recommendation to staff was that they should have used other avenues for notification.”

He said there will be a notice forthcoming through the Standard.

municipal politics

Just Posted

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

An Armstrong family that lost their home to a fire on Wednesday still hasn’t found their cat as of Friday, June 18, 2021. (Facebook photo)
Family cat still missing, days after fire destroys Armstrong home

There were no injuries from Wednesday’s blaze, but two days later there’s still no sign of the white feline

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Most Read