When it comes to helping out community groups who maintain cemeteries, M.D. of Lesser Slave River has some grave concerns.

Those were expressed in a policy review session during council’s Aug. 30 meeting.

The Cemetery Grant Funding Policy is brand new for the M.D. It was the last of 10 policies reviewed at the meeting and generated a lot of discussion.

The policy was created “to provide community groups an opportunity to apply for capital and operational support for volunteer-run cemeteries.”

Proposed was $5,000 for capital projects, per cemetery, every five years, and $1,000 for operational expenses, annually.

Councillor Sandra Melzer, uncharacteristically, had reservations about the proposal to provide money for the volunteer groups. She was clearly torn, but said she was worried once money becomes available, volunteerism might dry up. Melzer is part of a volunteer group that maintains the cemetery in Flatbush.

“I don’t want to make it too easy for volunteers not to step forward,” she said.

Councillor Brad Pearson said he leans toward some sort of arrangement that requires the volunteer groups to share part of the costs.

Reeve Murray Kerik might have just been joking when observed that he knows where somebody “is buried out in the bush. You could call that a cemetery and apply for a thousand bucks!”

At that, Pearson, always with an eye on pinching the public penny, suggested the policy should specify the number of eligible cemeteries, and leave it at that.

“The can (of worms) is wiggling,” he said.

Sandra Rendle, making the report, said nine cemeteries have been identified in the M.D. Three are in the Flatbush area; there’s one serving Hondo and Chisholm, one in Smith and one at Moose portage and one at Smoky Creek (east of Smith). In the Slave Lake area there’s the Old Town Slave Lake one and the new one south of Slave Lake.

Melzer said she’d been told there were 13 cemeteries in the M.D.

“How many are coming out of the woodwork when you say $1,000 is available?” said Pearson, pressing his point.

The matter will be discussed further at budget time. In fact CAO Barry Kolenosky suggested when it comes to dollar amounts, it might be just as well to not be specific in the policy, and instead just say ‘to be determined at budget time.’

Council was expected to make a decision on the final wording in this, as in all the other policies reviewed at the Aug. 30 meeting, on Sept. 13.

by Joe McWilliams

This item copyrighted by   AlbertaChat.com / Lakeside Leaader   Slave Lake, Alberta

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