Letters - Is anyone asking the right questions about perpetual care?



Neepawa Banner & Press

I may no longer have a dog in the fight, but seeing the direction the Perpetual Care issue is taking compels me to write.

First and foremost; The Perpetual Care Trust Fund isn’t supposed to cover the full cost of cemetery operations! Never was, never should be. Cemeteries require meticulous upkeep regardless of whether a perpetual care program is in place. The people of Neepawa (and area) need to fight this idea that all costs should be covered by the trust fund and cemetery plot sales.

The Perpetual Care Trust Fund is not intended to be used for capital expenditures either. It’s in place in to support the continued care of the grave sites of those who paid the fee to receive the service. None of the Trust Fund is for the care and maintenance of any grave that didn’t pay the fee! For most who paid the fee, they were of the understanding they would have flowers planted and maintained on the graves.

Neepawa has a beautiful cemetery, no doubt about it... but is anyone asking questions as to how it is being run? Has anyone asked why cemetery operations are separate from Public Works? Do townsfolk realize how much overlap in personnel and equipment there is? Will anyone ask why (for so many years) there was a full time cemetery staffer? Perhaps justified in summer months when tasks are significant. But in winter? Does the cemetery need its own operations equipment when it’s the same type of equipment and operation as Public Works already has? Can town staff not find efficiencies by combining operations?

Years ago I proposed a way to bolster the trust fund. I suggested the Town have a summer student go through the list of grave site names and endeavour to reach out to living individuals with similar surnames.

Photograph each grave marker to use as a reminder to potential relatives that their loved ones need a little help.

• Make up a one page letter with the picture and a note explaining the situation.

• Use digital and physical outreach.

• A reminder of what each originally paid and what today’s costs amount to might help open some wallets.

Look, this doesn’t require perfection. If a reach-out falls on an unrelated person of similar surname so what. Maybe they’d have it in their hearts to help anyway. Good grief, Go Fund Me raises money for all kinds of things these days. This may be a daunting task but surely an effort could be made, perhaps volunteers could be empowered.

The direction Council has proposed is ill conceived and lacking in true effort to resolve a perceived problem. I say perceived because at the outset Council could realize a cemetery costs a community money, period. Before the community accepts any of their proposals I hope someone raises more pertinent questions. The true cost of perpetual care should be narrowly limited to the specific service that was paid for and must be provided. The rest of the cemetery’s maintenance is a community obligation.

Monty Simon

Standard, Alberta