Summerland cemetery 'defaced'
Jun 14, 2012 / 11:08 am
Emotions are running high at Canyon View Cemetery in Summerland after District staff decided to enforce a loosely worded by-law and removed all of the items left behind by family and friends to honour their friends and loved ones.
On Wednesday the cemetery was bare, all of the ornaments gone and most of the flowers removed.
An email to Castanet says that on Wednesday evening around 6:30, they drove by and noticed people had gathered at the cemetery. Some could be seen crying as the reaction to the District's decision continued.
Leonard Carter rushed to the cemetery after getting word that it had been cleaned out, looking for a lamp he had placed at his Uncle's grave.
Carter arrived to find the lamp is gone.
"They've stolen it as far as I'm concerned, they've defaced the gravestone," says Carter. "They're just as bad as people knocking gravestones over."
Frank Cox and his family showed up to see if the flowers he had placed at his wife's headstone had disappeared.
"They took the flowers, the vase, everything."
Cox later found flowers tossed in a garbage can and wonders if the flowers he left behind found the same fate.
"Some of them don't even look like they're that badly deteriorated and yet they're all sitting in the garbage can. To me, that's wrong," says Cox.
One Summerland resident tells Castanet that she and her husband are destined to be buried at Canyon View but now are having second thoughts.
"That they would do a thing like that to a cemetery," she says.
"If they don't get this straightened out, I almost think that yes, we won't be buried here."
District of Summerland staff are taking the heat for the decision, now called a mistake by Don Darling, Director of Engineering and Public Works.
"It was a mistake, we admit it. It was solely our department's decision to do it. Council was not advised ahead of time and usually on political decisions we make sure they are," says Darling.
"In this case we didn't and that was another mistake. I'm sure if we had given them the opportunity for comment it never would have happened, but we didn't and it just compounded the problem."
Darling says a new by-law is in the works that will add more flexibility to what can be placed at the cemetery, but the damage has been done.
The removed items were left stacked up on a property across the street and many have since been picked up.
If anyone has photos or video of the event last night at the cemetery please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
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