He’s been visiting his father at Vernon’s Pleasant Valley Cemetery for 18 years now.
And it used to be, for Wayne Gondor, “a peaceful, tranquil experience,” where he could have a conversation with his late dad Gerald (Gerry), among the rows and rows of flowers.
But that all changed in 2022 when the City of Vernon implemented changes to its cemetery management bylaw regarding floral tributes and other memorial items at gravesides.
Among the changes were only fresh-cut flowers can be placed on plots between March 15 and Oct. 15; potted plants, wreaths and artificial floral tributes are only allowed between Oct. 16 and March 14, and must be removed by March 14; and you can’t place any trinkets on any plots.
Gondor visited Vernon council at its regular meeting Monday, Aug. 14, with pictures and a proposal. One of his pictures showed a lack of flowers among many headstones.
“I’ve received a lot of feedback about how the cemetery looks now. It’s devastating,” said Gondor. “A lot of people are wondering what has happened to the cemetery.”
Gondor showed a picture of his father’s headstone which is made of stone and a vase for flowers is part of the monument. It’s made with a drainage hole in the back so water and snow won’t collect and damage the vase. This was acceptable, said Gondor, when the plot and monument marker were purchased in December 2005. His father died Dec. 3, 2005.
The vase, he said, was meant for artificial flowers and was, at the time, in accordance with the city bylaws.
To put real flowers in the monument would require using plastic water picks, which Gondor said do not hold well in the vase.
“Because of the need to use water picks, the water is limited and this now has multiple plastic containers in order to have fresh flowers,” he said. “This is an example where the (new) bylaw has created a possible danger because of the plastic and glass.”
Real flowers, he added, are not holding up well in the Okanagan heat.
“I placed roses from my garden in the monument. The next day, they were dead from the heat,” he said, adding a visual component to his council presentation with a photo of the wilted roses.
Gondor’s proposal to the city is to consider allowing the use of a specially made monument vase from a company called Oasis, along with floral foam to securely hold the thickest of flower stems.
“The proposal will bring the tranquility and respect back to the cemetery,” he said.
Council thanks Gondor for his presentation. Staff will prepare a report for council’s deliberation at its next regular meeting Sept. 11.
The city has come under criticism from residents in regards to the cemetery changes. A petition on the changes has garnered more than 2,600 signatures.