Cemetery bylaw passes first reading

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

Peace River’s new cemetery bylaw has passed first reading, but councillors decided not to pass it completely due to some questions about a proposed “Field of Honour” for veterans.

The new bylaw is set to replace three older bylaws and will now include not only a columbarium but mausoleums.

“The ongoing thing with the cemetery is to make sure that we are trying to align and standardize with the way cemeteries are administered not only in the province but across Canada and that’s something we have tried to achieve with this bylaw,” says town engineer Jim McCuaig.

The “Field of Honour” as defined in the bylaw so far allows any former members of the military to be interred in a special area of the cemetery. It defines who is eligible based on the War Veterans Allowance Act. It follows the guidelines of multiple other municipalities who have now included Fields of Honour in the own cemeteries due to the conflicts in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

Currently, veterans and former members of the military are interspersed between civilians.

Mayor Tom Tarpey asked if spouses could be interred. McCuaig says only if they choose a “double depth” burial rather than a separate plot.

The Town plans to set aside 10-15 plots for the Field of Honour, although the final number may change. The section may be indicated by a Canadian flag, or could be separated by fencing or some other way to designate the section.

CAO Chris Parker and McCuaig point out neither of them qualify for the Field of Honour despite their own service.

“Technically, I was a reservist for seven years, so if you’re looking strictly at the veterans getting a pension, I wouldn’t qualify,” Parker says.

Parker says Rangers and reservists are more common in the Peace River area.

Councillor Colin Needham says, “There is no cost to the Town, no cost to the municipality. It’s another service and another option.

“I still think it’s a good idea,” he added.

Administration will clarify who is eligible to be interred in the section. The bylaw will then be brought back for second and third reading.

Deputy mayor Elaine Manzer has also asked for some clarification on the hours of cemetery workers before the bylaw is passed.

Cemetery fees have been removed from the new cemetery bylaw and included in a new fees bylaw instead. Councillors will review fees again on Feb. 22 after directing administration to update the fees. Once the fees are decided they will be reviewed annually.

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