City of Whitehorse staff have been tasked with asking regular winter visitors to Grey Mountain Cemetery for input as they look at improving winter access to the cemetery.
At Whitehorse city council’s March 28 meeting, members voted 6-1 in favour of referring the issue back to administration for further analysis that will include consultation with regular winter visitors to the cemetery.
Mayor Laura Cabott was the only member of council to vote against moving forward with it, stating her thoughts that the city had the information needed to move forward with opening the cemetery to vehicles on Remembrance Day and Christmas Day, the two highest days in demand.
“I think that what we’ve come up with here seems to be a workable solution,” Cabott said after both the parks and operations departments confirmed the costs of staff to be on-hand and snow removal for those two days could be absorbed into their department budgets.
Other members, however, argued it was important to reach out to the families that make requests through the winter for vehicle access into the cemetery before making any changes.
“I think if we’re trying to improve services for people, we should at least ask them what kind of services they think or how do they think these services can be better improved? For me, that’s just common sense,” Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu said.
The decision came a week after council was presented with a delegate presentation calling for improved access and a report from city parks manager Landon Kulych, highlighting the steps the city currently takes to provide access to the cemetery through the winter.
To get into the cemetery with a vehicle during the winter months, residents must make a request to parks for the gates to be open. While the parks department asks for 48 hours’ notice to accommodate such requests, Kulych said often requests are accommodated with less than 24 hours notice. He also noted staff is willing to rebook scheduled times if a family is unable to make their originally requested time.
Delegate Marney Paradis told council during her presentation she would like to see the city open the gates to vehicles on a regular schedule through the winter months in addition to also allowing for requests when the gates aren’t open.
Such a move, she argued, would take the onus off those with mobility challenges to have to call and make arrangements to be there at a certain time.
She highlighted her own family’s situation where they have stopped requesting visits to her father’s grave through the winter because they never know if a family members’ chronic pain will flare up and force them to cancel.
As it was highlighted in a summary at council’s March 28 meeting: “(Council) Members indicated they would like to explore more options to accommodate citizens who wish to visit the places of loved ones during the winter months, including providing snow removal services for accessibility on specific days, weekly or monthly, along with the current ‘on request’ process.”
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