Want to make some money fast? Want to do it without any effort? Want a good return on your investment?
These are statements usual associated with con-men who are looking for profit from dis-honest folk. You can think of the St. Thomas city council as the reverse of that. Rather than giving a grant of $59,000 as in previous years, they are seeking to spend more money by denying the grant and having to take over the running of the cemeteries run by the St. Thomas Cemetery Company which spent nearly $200K last year in running the two cemeteries.
That is 3.4 times more than the grant that is currently being denied. That is not a financially sound idea. It simply doesn’t make sense. It isn’t logical. Elementary students just starting mathematics would look at that equation and question why this is a good idea.
Apart from the financial impact this decision will have, what about the emotional impact? Choosing a cemetery is not like choosing a pet or a car, it will be the last resting place of a dearly loved, departed person. Refusing such a small grant doesn’t only seem picky but rather disrespectful to those interned at either West Ave or South Park.
If you have ever visited the West Ave cemetery to see the cemetery manager Lesley Buchanan will know that their office is small, cramped, and not a modern facility in the slightest. It is clear to see that whatever money is spent goes towards the care of the graves. This isn’t a company who wilfully wastes money or spends it pointlessly, it seems that every penny is tightly controlled. How the council expects the cemetery to save money is unclear but any cuts would directly impact the care of the cemeteries themselves.
Is there a solution that will allow everyone to save face? There are always a myriad of ideas and suggestions but how many of them are practical? With four high schools located in the city, could a history class spend time tending the graves as part of their lesson? What about students gathering community hours taking care of the cemeteries? These are just ideas off the top of our heads but there are much smarter people who could come up with better ones.
It seems that while hockey arenas and churches can be the hearts of communities, cemeteries provide connections, not only with the living but with those who have gone before us. That alone should be worth the city council taking another look at a decision that bears no sense at all.