Submitter responds to Oct. 13 letter re: sales at Bluffton Memorial Park

Dear Editor,

Does a market in a parking lot adjacent to a Centennial landmark, equate to a “thoughtless…disrespect for memories of those being honoured,” or is it sensitivity for the needs of the community? – Quote from Oct. 13 letter to the editor re: Bluffton Memorial Park.

When you drive across Canada, you can’t help but notice the variety of landmarks erected outside towns and villages. I’ve seen everything from the biggest sausage to a blue buffalo, and more. These have grown in number in the last 20 years. It would seem the group of citizens who took on the project of erecting the rock at the Bluffton Rock Site on Highway 20 in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday were ahead of the times. From that day forward, local citizens have volunteered to attend to the “care and feeding” of the rock site.

The history of the rock site might be even more interesting than some other markers. For example, where did it come from, who moved it and how was it moved? Newcomers to the area may not know that the site was once a portion of the old Highway 12, or that highway 12 became Highway 20 when 12 was redesigned. ‘Word of mouth’ history is that the land was returned to the landowner who then donated it to the Centennial Committee.

Over time, the Centennial Committee disbanded and some members, who were also members of the local Legion #203, shouldered the responsibility of mowing the area as a service to the community.

Over the life of the Chamber, a number of leaders have brought their personal styles to the organization. Some had produced low maintenance blueprints for upgrades to the rock site but had found the costs prohibitive. Under the direction of the past president, an upgrade was undertaken that still requires weeding and mowing. I believe the past president volunteered to maintain the site, and did so this past summer.

Volunteers play a major role in all communities and all too frequently do not receive the recognition that their efforts deserve. They are Canada’s unpaid workforce in schools, hospitals, youth groups, parks, for seniors, etc. What kind of a society would we be without them?

Under the leadership of the current president, as a Chamber of Commerce, we are focusing on the economy of the area. During these tough economic times, we offered the opportunity of a market to local entrepreneurs, small businesses or individuals. Free of charge and voluntarily run, the market was well received and requests to repeat it are under consideration.

The choice of location was due to the site being operated, if not owned, by the Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. Due to the Centennial Rock Site being situated on a now non-existent highway, the Department of Highways continues to assert authority over the area although, to my knowledge, they have not contributed financially or in-kind, for more than 40 years.

I believe that the accumulated years of volunteer effort by many demonstrates respect, not only for the dead, but also for the living community. Having lived in the Bluffton for only 20 years, much of my information comes from longtime residents and I apologize for any errors.

Regards,

Irene Kurta-Lovell

President,

Bluffton and District Chamber of Commerce

Bluffton, Alta.

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