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Grieving father asks to keep gravesite adornments
The father of a Port Coquitlam woman killed in an alleged hit-and-run accident last year is asking Coquitlam city council to have more compassion for mourners who want to adorn the grave sites of their loved ones.
Last week, Colin Ogilvie told the city's council-in-committee he wants more flexibility around the cemetery bylaw pertaining to the amount of flowers, candles, photos and other memorial objects as well as the length of time the items are allowed to be at the final resting place.
Ogilvie's daughter, Charlene Reaveley, a 30-year-old a mother of four young children, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver Feb. 19, 2011 as she and her husband stopped to help two people who had been in an accident. Lorraine Cruz, a Vancouver Community College student from the the Philippines, was also killed in the collision, which happened at Lougheed Highway near the Pitt River Road.
Cory Sater, 37, of Coquitlam, has been charged with two counts of impaired driving causing death and one count of impaired driving causing bodily harm; his trial is due to start early next year.
Ogilvie said he and his family regularly visit his daughter's grave at Coquitlam's Robinson Memorial Park (they also have a roadside memorial with candles lit almost nightly). And he showed the committee a photo of the grave site, which he said the park caretakers have inferred is excessive and "unsightly."
Ogilvie countered the display is well-maintained by the family, which shouldn't be given a time limit for grieving.
"That is my daughter's front room," he said of the grave, adding, "From Day 1, the last thing you concern yourself with is bylaws."
Cemetery Bylaw 3909 states: "No part of any cemetery or lot may be adorned in any manner by any person other than a caretaker without the express authority of the administrator" after the seven-day burial period. It also states the city has the right to remove or destroy any adornments that appear to be untidy or unsightly to the park.
At Monday's meeting, Mayor Richard Stewart expressed his sympathy to Ogilvie for his loss and said he would speak with city staff about the issue.
But Kathy Reinheimer, Coquitlam's manager of parks and facilities, reaffirmed that the city prohibits permanent adornments at the graveyard and "we have been working with the family all along to scale it back so it can be closer to our bylaw requirements. We feel we are doing a great job in bringing them along."