/MH councillors ask for careful cemetery upkeep

MH councillors ask for careful cemetery upkeep

By Sue Tiffin

The following are brief reports of items discussed at a May 26 meeting of Minden Hills council, held in-person and broadcast via Zoom and YouTube. 

Cemeteries are now open, and the township has begun soliciting quotes for grounds maintenance, reported Craig Belfry, community services director. 

He said there are a few interested contractors he has been in discussion with, and that the community services department is interviewing and trying to hire parks students.

“The community services department is down 3.5 positions which is affecting our grass-cutting ability and being able to keep up with everything,” he said, noting the department is short one full-time operator, one part-time casual operator and two student positions.

Mayor Brent Devolin commented on cemetery maintenance, which in the past has been criticized by residents.  

“I don’t seldom tread into this territory, in terms of council directing priorities of staff, but it’s a cautionary tale, both from the perspective of a politician and on behalf of staff,” said Devolin. “I know in these times with limited human resources that we can’t do all the things that we wish to do in a timely fashion, but I would tell you after seven-and-a-half years, that the shape of our cemeteries – to say that the feedback can be nuclear at times – we’re on the edge of this again, and just we need to do better and apply those efforts. That’s just a comment, not a direction. That season is upon us again.”

Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell agreed, saying, “Definitely those cemeteries.” She said she had opened an email from a concerned citizen that morning.

“I understand it was the first cut probably of the season but there is quite a mess left behind and it’s kind of, it’s embarrassing, I guess,” she said. “I know you’re short-staffed and this isn’t a poke at you but this is something that, as council members, we control the budget – if more money needs to be put towards this then that’s the kind of thing that needs more money put towards it.”

Rollerskating nights could return

As she has before, Schell asked if with the ice out of the arena, it might be possible to have a rollerblading/rollerskating Friday night event, similar to a public skating event.

“It was huge when I was a kid here many years ago, and I think people would be interested,” said Schell. “It might be some way to get the community out, using the community centre, and basically it could be run the same way as public skating, you bring your skates and there’s a little bit of music playing in the background.”

Belfry said he would ask staff to look into what kind of program might be able to take place. 

“I would really, really, really love to see that happen this summer if we could,” said Schell. “I might even come because I just got a pair of new roller skates.” 

A return to in-person council

Minden Hills council met in-person on March 26 for the first time since the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been over 800 days since we’ve been in the chambers together,” said Devolin.

Minden Hills council will be using a hybrid model similar to other local councils, in which council members, the municipality’s CAO and some staff will meet in-person in the chambers, while department heads and members of the public continue to participate virtually. Meetings are available on YouTube for viewing live and for up to a week after the meeting occurs.

“Look forward to this new chapter,” said Devolin.