By Chad Ingram
Published June 14 2018
Community members frustrated with the state of the cemetery along Bobcaygeon Road in Minden took matters into their own hands during the weekend cutting the cemetery’s grass and cleaning up debris
One Minden resident told the paper she’d emailed the parks department regarding the condition of the cemetery after a March ice storm that brought down a number of tree branches including some that had fallen on graves and had received either no response or a generic one.
Then as spring unfolded grass at the cemetery went uncut until finally on Sunday June 10 a group of residents did it themselves.
Lisa Schell Ward 1 councillor thanked community members in a social media post adding she was very sorry embarrassed and hoped that it would never have to happen again.
On Monday the Township of Minden Hills released a statement.
“Council and staff of Minden Hills would like to express a heartfelt thank you to all of the individuals who volunteered their time on the weekend to assist in the maintenance of the Minden cemetery” it read. “Thank you for helping out – it is very very much appreciated. We sincerely apologize for the current maintenance requirements. We understand the importance of all of our cemeteries parks and facilities and appreciate your understanding and patience as we pursue all avenues to rectify the situation.”
Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin told the paper it was “kind of a perfect storm” that led to the unkempt condition of the cemetery.
“Our lead hand and another operator had left the municipality” he said adding that a lack of response to postings for seasonal and part-time positions within the community services department had also contributed to a shortage of staff. He also pointed out the township was compelled to act according to its collective agreements and said that a lingering winter had led to a late spring.
“From the municipal side we’re not happy we’re embarrassed to say the least” he said adding he’d even toyed with the idea of going and cutting the grass himself but again referred to the municipality’s collective agreements.
Devolin did say however that until it can increase staffing levels or perhaps for the balance of the summer season the municipality may have to look at contracting out the cemetery work.
“We’re currently experiencing staff shortages in the community services department particularly for student part-time/casual and seasonal positions” Minden Hills chief administrative officer Lorrie Blanchard wrote in an email to the paper. “We’ve had to place additional postings and as well we’ve set up interviews only to have applicants decline or not show up. We’ve pulled resources from other departments (where we can) and we’re looking at temporarily outsourcing some of the work – several of the companies contacted so far are either too busy experiencing their own staff shortages or simply didn’t respond. We’re very grateful for the volunteer help this weekend – it was really nice of them to see the need and give us a hand. Such a great community.”