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City council defers decision on Lakeview Cemetery staffing woes

City Hall wants to bring staff back to Lakeview Cemetery, but the costs associated have some councillors flabbergasted; 'These numbers to me don’t make sense'
lakeview cemetery
Lakeview Cemetery.

Why is there still no City Hall staff present at Lakeview Cemetery?

As ThoroldToday reported, cemetery support staff has been working out of the Thorold Community Arenas because the building at Lakeview Cemetery has issues ranging from black mold to asbestos.

At an Aug. 2 city council meeting, councillors instructed City Hall to install a trailer on-site so that staff could return and grieving people would have a point of contact.

While the city did install a trailer, it is not operational and there’s still no staff member present at the cemetery.

The issue came to the forefront at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“I was out there myself and no one was there,” Councillor Nella Dekker told fellow councillors. “I think it’s really important. How long is it going to take until we can get staff out there?”

The Director of Public Works and Community Services Geoff Holman explained that the trailer installed at the cemetery was not functional.

“It’s not connected to hydro, it’s not suitable for housing staff or storing valuable records,” he told council members. “We need to do something a little better than that.”

According to a new City Hall report, leasing a proper winterized trailer would cost the city $60,000 a year.

City Hall is also looking to hire an extra staff member to be present at the cemetery, which would cost approximately $73,000 a year.

“Our history and experience has been that working alone in remote locations can be dangerous sometimes,” Holman explained. “If we are going to have a trailer, that has all the amenities we need to perform the services of the cemetery, it needs to be properly staffed.”

Councillor DeRose said that while it is important that someone be present on-site, he is not in agreement with hiring another staff member or installing another trailer.

“The point is to put a face in there,” Councillor DeRose said. “Can we not use the trailer we have there now after it gets hooked up with electricity? Why did we go with a crappy trailer and not get a half-decent one?”

Holman said that there wasn’t enough direction from city council back in August regarding the costs of the project, and because of the election City Hall could not move forward to resolve the issue.

To actually fix up the building at Lakeview Cemetery, City Hall is looking at a design of $50,000. The costs to actually implement that design are estimated to be around $850,000.

“I just find these numbers on behalf of tax payers, and myself being a taxpayer, these numbers to me don’t make sense,” said Councillor Carmen DeRose. “It’s just hard to phantom.”

Councillor Ken Sentance said that it’s an important issue that needs to be resolved, in spite of the price tag.

“It’s a need, not a want,” he said. “If it takes two people out there then we need this. It’s a big complaint that we get from people. At the end of the day when we finalize everything, I fully expect that we should have that building with washrooms with proper staffing, so when people come out at the worst time in their lives they have someone there.”

In the end, Councillor Jim Handley asked for the decision to be deferred until the 2023 budget deliberations. A motion that was swiftly passed 5-3.

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About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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