Items mistakenly removed from Summerland cemetery

Municipal cleanup efforts at Summerland’s Canyon View Cemetery results in outcry from those who had left items at graves

Flower pots

Flower pots, ceramic angels and other items placed on graves at Summerland’s Canyon View Cemetery were removed earlier this month and taken to a nearby municipal property.

The removal, which was done as part of a larger maintenance and cleanup effort at the cemetery, resulted in an outcry from the public, especially from those who had left the items at the graves.

At a meeting of Summerland council on Monday, several of those affected by the decision asked why the items had been removed from the cemetery.

“I was absolutely shocked,” said Pat Horner, whose father, Steve Dunsdon, is buried at the cemetery. “It used to be such a serene place to go. This is a violation.”

Donna Waddington was also disgusted by the removal of the items.

“I find it very disrespectful for the living and the dead,” she said. “It hurts.”

Margaret Lynum, whose husband is buried at the cemetery, said the items had been placed on the cement pad, not on the grass.

“Why can’t we do what we want with this piece of cement?” she asked.

“This decision was ill-advised to say the least,” said Chris Beaton.

Alicia Jelen said she could not understand why the decision to move the items had been made.

“I just can’t understand how someone could do this,” she said.

Members of council were outraged by the removal of the items.

“The kind of cleanup you’ve seen has never been done before,” said Mayor Janice Perrino. “We know what happened was wrong. We know it was a mistake.”

Dave Hill, public works superintendent for the municipality, said he is responsible for the decision to remove the items.

“There wasn’t even a thought in my mind we would have such an outpouring of sadness,” he said. “How we can resolve this I’m not quite sure.”

He said the cleanup was advertised on March 22 and March 29. Notices were also placed at the cemetery.

More than 2,000 people are buried at the cemetery and the municipality does not have a complete database with contact information for the next of kin for each of them.

Perrino said the notice could have been handled more effectively and should have been included in the municipality’s monthly newsletter.

Hill said Summerland and other communities have regulations restricting what may be placed at a grave. Summerland’s bylaw was revised in 2007.

Members of council want to ensure a similar incident does not happen in the future.

“Isn’t it possible to have a little more flexibility?” asked Coun. Lloyd Christopherson. “I think somewhere along the line, we have to come to a compromise here.”

Coun. Orv. Robson said the removal of the items makes the cemetery look bleak.

“It looks like a moonscape right now,” he said. “We need to have some beautification there.”

Coun. Peter Waterman apologized for the lack of sensitivity shown and asked council to revisit the bylaw.

“Perhaps we should be examining what we do in beautification and who’s responsible for it,” he said. “It’s extremely meaningful to the families what’s put there.”

“My heart goes out to the public and also to the staff members who had to do the job,” said Coun. Martin Van Alphen. “I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant. I personally think the bylaw needs to be readdressed.”

A resolution to revisit the bylaw was passed unanimously.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Naramata Slow is almost at its goal of raising $850,000 to save Centre Beach from being sold.
Final push is on to save Naramata beach by Oct. 31 deadline

Village has already raised 90 per cent of the $850K goal

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media file)
Penticton RCMP cleared of wrongdoing after man seriously injured in custody

B.C.’s police watchdog found no evidence of harm caused by police in Sept. 21 incident

Apex Mountain Resort received 35 centimetres of fresh snow over the weekend, prompting some to head out for some early season turns. (Apex Mountain Resort / Facebook)
Stay off the mountain: Apex warns of early season dangers

Recreational use of the mountain before opening day comes with serious risks

The Penticton Indian Band is opposing any hunting of local big horn sheep which are an at-risk population. (submitted photo)
Penticton Indian Band oppose big horn sheep hunts

Local big horn sheep are an at-risk population

A house on Highway 3A caught fire Sunday evening, Oct. 25, 2020.
House fire on Highway 3A in Keremeos

Neighbours acted quickly to help save home

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Kelowna Secondary School. (SD23 photo)
Second case of COVID-19 confirmed at Kelowna Secondary School

Interior Health has confirmed the new case is unrelated to the one announced Sunday

Summerland’s fallen soldiers and nurses are displayed on banners displayed around the community prior to Remembrance Day. (Contributed)
Remembrance banners depict Summerland’s fallen soldiers

Efforts to create banners began in 2000

The Stuart Park ice rink in January 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Popular Kelowna outdoor ice rink will open amid COVID-19 pandemic

City council approved COVID-related changes to the Stuart Park ice rink’s operations

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health sees 31 new cases of COVID-19 over record-breaking weekend

Eighty-six cases remain active and one person is hospitalized with the virus

Salmon Arm RCMP responded to a seven-vehicle chain reaction collision early Monday morning, Oct. 26. (File photo)
One person injured in seven-vehicle chain-reaction collision in Salmon Arm

Snow packed to ice, speed contributing factors behind collisions

RCMP responded to a single-vehicle collision on Highway 1 east of Salmon Arm early Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (File photo)
Salmon Arm man killed in collision on Highway 1

RCMP say slippery road conditions contributing factor behind collision

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Parents not giving up, after official search for Manning Park hiker suspended again

‘We are determined, but eventually the money is going to run out.’

Most Read