Former Chamber president upset with sales at memorial park

Dear Editor,

In the late summer, early fall of 2008, the Bluffton Commemorative Memorial Park was completely restored by the generosity of the county and many corporate sponsors, including ConocoPhillips Canada, all of whom gave generously of their time, experience, supplies and materials along with hundreds of man-hours of labour, including the supply, transportation and use of heavy pieces of equipment, to make this a very successful project, which was initiated by the Bluffton and District Chamber of Commerce.

On the overcast and foggy morning of Remembrance Day, November 11, 2008, in a ceremony attended by enlisted members and officers from Canada Forces, Edmonton Garrison, representatives of Ponoka County, provincial, and federal governments, and many residents from Bluffton and area, Rev Barry Klassen, of the Evangelical Missionary Church of Hoadley, led us in dedication of this site to the memory and recognition of our early settlers, teachers, military personnel and veterans of all military conflicts.

This newsworthy event was reported in the Rimbey Review and its importance was shared with this community with pictures and a front page story in the November 18, 2008 issue of this weekly newspaper.

At the beginning of this past September, the Bluffton and District Chamber of Commerce began advertising and holding weekly garage sales/flea markets at this park, including expanding the parking lot in anticipation of huge crowds. Upon hearing of this intended misuse of this site for commercial purposes, I immediately contacted the appropriate county and provincial authorities by telephone, and by e-mail and was told that applications for further “improvements/change in usage” of this park had not been received nor permits issued.

To date, I am not aware of any action being taken to intervene in the continued thoughtless unintended use of this park site. With heavy traffic on Highway 20 and the sudden appearance of roadside ‘garage sale’ signs resulting in sudden braking, turning and/or distraction of drivers traveling in both directions, providing another reason why a different location must be chosen.

The selection of this Commemorative Memorial Park for such inappropriate events has been thoughtless and shows disrespect for the memories of those that are being honoured by the restoration of this park – especially after some 40 years of neglect.

I am appalled and disappointed by the thoughtless insensitivity of those responsible for organizing such events at this park when there is a much more suitable location in Bluffton. Will these behaviours be allowed to continue at this memorial site for the remainder of this fall, weather permitting, and perhaps resume in the summer of next year?

We have a very well known community hall with a fenced baseball diamond and area for children to play as well as plenty of off-road parking to handle any number of cars, trucks, and buses. As well, there is a sheltered area outside of the hall building for the setup of sale/display tables and is very visible from Highway 20.

Maeghan Menear

Past President,

Bluffton and District Chamber of Commerce

Bluffton, Alta.

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