Castor council ponders cemetery concern

Written by Stu Salkeld

The Town of Castor will investigate a complaint about how monuments are approved in the municipal cemetery.

The issue was discussed at the regular meeting of town council May 25.

Councillors read a letter from Dean Ross of Parkview Funeral Chapels, who stated his concerns about monument placement on cemetery plots.

“Parkview Funeral Chapels has recently been made aware of a bylaw within the Town of Castor regarding monument regulations,” stated Ross’ letter. “We at Parkview Funeral Chapels do not believe in the validity of this bylaw and have been placing monuments for over 25 years without any size restrictions, unaware of any infringement.

“The bylaw reads as such: ‘Section VIII – Monument Regulations, #9 – No monument may have an overall size greater than 3 feet 6 inches wide, 21 inches deep and 18 inches high (to the top of the monument, including the base and vase). A shared monument may not be placed wholly or partly on the empty grave unless the grave is intended for a cremation.

“Just a few questions.

“To our knowledge, this bylaw has never been enforced. Is the Town of Castor now going to enforce this bylaw?

“If the answer is yes, how is the Town of Castor going to control the install of monuments outside of the bylaw provisions?

“Will there be a permit application in place and if so how are you going to pass on this application to the residents of Castor and monument companies province and countrywide?

“What will be the cost to acquire said permit?

“What is the penalty for bylaw infringement?”

Town of Castor Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Christopher Robblee told councillors the town’s cemetery bylaw was developed by looking at neighbouring municipality’s bylaws and while similar in nature some details differ.

Robblee also stated some exceptions have been made in the past for monuments that did not meet the bylaw requirements, but the town is not going to allow exceptions anymore. He said the cemeteries bylaw will be followed to a “T,” although it was also noted council can approve exceptions if they wish.

Robblee stated fines are used to back up bylaws and generally are intended to discourage a certain activity from happening again.

The option is also available to remove something that violates a bylaw he noted.

Again, if a monument was placed that violates the bylaw the owner has the option of appealing directly to council for an exemption.

Coun. Rod Zinger stated the cemetery bylaw was written to keep the cemetery clear, keep some consistency in the cemetery’s appearance and make it as efficient as possible to maintain, including grass mowing.

Mayor Richard Elhard noted some cemeteries require only flat monuments to make it easier to mow grass.

Robblee stated in the past some monuments have been placed before internment, such as a shared monument for a husband and wife.

He noted the placement of the monument may become a problem when someone is buried much later than someone else and a monument has to be moved.

Issues have also arisen when a monument has been placed on an empty lot.

Coun. Lonny Nelner stated he would like to see more information about shared monuments before making a decision.

Nelner also predicted council will see more issues like this come up.

Councillors eventually agreed to accept Ross’ letter for information.


Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.