Rotary Club of Powell River has made a bid to assist keeping Powell River Regional Cemetery tidy.
At the July 15 qathet Regional District (qRD) committee of the whole meeting, Rotary Club of Powell River member Joyce Carlson said the club tries to undertake projects that enhance the community. She said she and her family members visit the cemetery in Cranberry quite regularly, on ancestors’ birthdays and other occasions.
“We go up there because it is really important to remember the people who went before us,” said Carlson. “We’ll take some clippers, some water and some cloths and we’ll kind of clean up the graves, around the markers. The staff does a great job of cutting the grass and keeping things looking nice, but there are some graves that don’t have people’s families like we do.”
Carlson said she was up there with one of her great-nephews and he commented: “Auntie Joyce, there’s a lot of dead people here. Look at this grave, you can’t read it because it’s all dirty or the grass is growing over it and we fix ours up. Maybe we could fix up other people’s as well.”
She said she keeps remembering that.
Carlson said Rotarians could take on the task. She said they could go outside and still be COVID-19-friendly.
“We would just go up and clean up some of the markers and clip the grass away,” said Carlson. “It would be a great project. It’s a community service. Rotary would like to participate.”
Carlson said she had spoken to regional district staff about the prospect and they recommended she come to the regional board and speak about what Rotary would like to see happen.
She said the Rotary club realizes qRD has a union and the club wants to make sure it’s okay with members of the union and the regional district.
Regional district manager of operational services Patrick Devereaux said the procedures Carlson was talking about are done by families quite often. He said he has some concerns about organized groups coming in because there is a relationship with the union that would have to be figured out for that to happen. He said there is also the matter of whether the regional district is covered when groups come in and do work like this.
“Other than that, it’s a great idea,” said Devereaux.
Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said his concern was with Canadian Union of Public Employees relations.
“We don’t want to have any kind of labour dispute,” said Gisborne. “That being said, I was speaking with elected officials from other regions and some of them pointed me to the City of Nanaimo, which has a volunteers in parks program. Maybe that’s something our staff can take a look at.”
City director George Doubt said he appreciated the delegation’s request and the staff concerns so he wanted to make a motion that the committee direct staff to investigate and come back with a report to the regional board on the Rotary club’s proposal regarding cemetery grave marker maintenance.
Gisborne recommended that staff also look at volunteers in the parks program in Nanaimo, which might help deal with union issues or labour relations.
“They’ve already blazed the trail and it might make things a little easier for our staff,” said Gisborne.
The committee carried Doubt’s motion.