Removal of graveside items by B.C. cemetery staff deemed ‘disrespectful’

Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. Some are bagged and now collecting condensation and insects inside. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. Some are bagged and now collecting condensation and insects inside. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Flowers and other adornments left at Hope Cemetery have been moved off to a back storage and maintenance area. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)

If you visit the Hope Cemetery today, you will find there are no flowers, no teddy bears, no mementos of any kind on most of the headstones.

They’ve all been removed, much to the surprise of several people who have loved ones buried there. A handful of them have contacted the Hope Standard to bring attention to the matter, and let others know there have been changes at the cemetery.

District staff posted a sign at the cemetery advises that the removal would be happening, with 14 days notice.

But one concerned resident, who asked that their name not be used, said a better effort should have been made to inform the community that this would be done. That would have given people the opportunity to go and collect cherished items, they said.

Instead, staff collected the items and put them into a large wooden bin in the back of the cemetery, by the maintenance building. In it, there are countless bundles of flowers, notes and cards, photographs, flower stands and more, and none of them are tagged with a plot number or name. There are also flower bundles that have been set aside that are now grown over with weeds between the landscaping bins.

Other items have been put in clear bags and set at the side of the maintenance building. In at least one of those bags, dozens of small insects were crawling over blue fabric hydrangeas. In all of them, condensation is building.

One person who contacted the Standard said that some families spend small fortunes on designer flowers, and ensure they are tasteful and kept in season. Many of the fake flowers in the bin are in perfect shape, and in season.

Mayor Peter Robb said he wasn’t aware of any of these complaints until contacted by the Standard. But when he spoke up with staff he learned that they were following up on other complaints that maintenance wasn’t being done, including mowing and weeding. And to get that work done, he said, staff needed to remove all the adornments.

“It was becoming very difficult to do the maintenance,” Robb said. “Some of them (adornments) were there for years and some gravestones were not being kept tidy.”

The cemetery uses only flat gravestones that are flush with the ground, so any adornments will limit workers from moving around them to weed and cut the grass.

Adornments are allowed, according to the bylaw (No. 1269). But that same bylaw also notes that all adornments will be removed when “their condition is considered to be detrimental to the appearance or beauty of the cemetery.

“Staff was following through on some of the bylaws in place already, they wanted to clean up the cemetery, making it difficult to complete maintenance tasks and distracting from the appearance,” Robb explained.

Everyone who has contacted the Standard has called the way this has been handled “disrespectful.”

“I find this to be so disrespectful to the families,” said Greg Anderson, who comes from Delta to visit his son once a month. “A cemetery is more than just a place to put the people we cherish, it’s a place to come and be with them.”

The mayor agrees that there should have been better notification of the work being done, and is working at directing staff to do better in the future. He was also planning to visit the site himself to have a look.

“I think it could have been handled better, with better communication,” Robb said. “My recommendation to staff was that they should have used other avenues for notification.”

He said there will be a notice forthcoming through the Standard.

municipal politics

Just Posted

Members of the Langley Christian High School donated blood to mark their milestone year. (Left to right) Kiera Hummelman, Camryn Visscher, Jayde Campbell, Grace Bennett, Danae Vanderveen, Cynthia McCarthy (teacher), Carson Foster, Josh Nelson, Carsen Grim hope to inspire others to donate. (Grace Bennett/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley Christian grads roll up their sleeves to donate blood

Students went to a mobile clinic and hope to inspire others to donate

Share your opinion via email, through our website or in a posted letter. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Religion doesn’t have a lock on morality, Langley resident writes

People must ultimately decide for themselves how to act

A letter from a senior RCMP officer in Langley said Mounties who attended a mayor’s gala in January of 2020 used their own money. Controversy over the event has dogged mayor Val van den Broek (R) and resulted in the reassignment of Langley RCMP Supt. Murray Power (L). (file)
Langley RCMP officers used ‘own money’ to attend mayor’s gala, senior officer says

‘I would not want there to be a belief that the police officers had done something untoward’

On June 3, the <strong>Langley Advance Times</strong> published a two-page poster for the public to put up in their windows. A local parent is calling on all businesses with signs to take part in a sign challenge and post messages to local grads.
LETTER: Langley mom hopes to incite sign ‘war’ to send messages to grads

Students finishing high school have missed out on so many rites of passage, letter writer says

Cloverdale – Langley City MP Tamara Jansen produced a video that argues a proposed law against so-called conversion therapy would have forbidden a young man from seeking church counselling. (file)
VIDEO: Cloverdale Langley City MP Tamara Jansen produced video opposing ban on conversion therapy

Claims law would have forbidden man from seeking counsel from the church

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read