Headstone restrictions require couple to modify monument

A Rimbey couple wants council to pick up the tab for a sizable chunk of change they were forced to dole out to modify a tombstone

A Rimbey couple wants council to pick up the tab for a sizable chunk of change they were forced to dole out to modify a tombstone to meet conditions set out in the town’s cemetery bylaw.

Russ and Alice Picketts purchased joint plots at West Haven Cemetery in 1999 but were not told about the headstone restrictions.

“At this time we purchased two plots and there was no mention of any restriction of any kind,” Alice Picketts told council when she and husband Russ appeared before them Oct. 22.

The Pickets recently purchased a monument to be placed at the plots they had purchased but were distressed to learn the monument did not meet the required restrictions set out in the cemetery bylaw.

The couple had already paid almost $5,000 for the monument but paid more than $1,500 to have it modified to meet bylaw requirements.

However, when the company from whom they purchased the monument went to the cemetery to put it up, they discovered another monument already in the cemetery much larger than their own.

The Picketts were assured by town staff this was an oversight and the other monument would be modified as well. However, this was several months ago and no action was taken.

“We realize that it would be hard to approach the family of the loved ones that they had to uproot their stone,” said Picketts, “but we felt we needed to bring this to the attention of the town council as this could affect many people in the future if changes are not being made in the way that these plots are being sold.”

The Picketts told council they believed they should be reimbursed for the $1,628 it cost them to modify their headstone.

“The only fair thing now is that the town be responsible for the upgrade. We should be reimbursed for what it has cost us, not only in heartache but money. We will leave it with you guys. It’s is not the right thing.”

CAO Tony Goode, who recommended council deny the request for reimbursement, said the bylaw states all monuments shall be placed on the foundation provided by the town. All monuments shall be confined within the boundaries of the respective lots and all monuments shall not exceed 40.5 centimetres above the foundation, or not be within five centimetres of the edge of the foundation provided by the town. Goode said the company who installed the headstone that doesn’t meet the requirements of this bylaw has been notified and modifications were to be completed by Oct. 26.

He said the company the Picketts purchased the monument from should have looked at the bylaw prior to construction.

“We believe Legacy Monuments should have contacted the Town of Rimbey before the construction of the monument, at which time they would have been advised of the monument restrictions. Our current practice is to provide a copy of the cemetery bylaw to persons purchasing a cemetery plot.”

Council agreed to take the issue to the cemetery board before making a decision.

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