By Cole Parkinson
Vauxhall town council has made some slight adjustments to their fees at the Vauxhall Cemetery.
During their regular meeting on March 6, council took a look at the extra fees associated with burials that happen in the winter compared to warmer weather burials.
When temperatures reach freezing temperatures, as they have repeatedly this winter, it creates a bigger challenge to open graves. This year, frost at the cemetery has been more than 14 inches thick and the town thawing equipment can thaw six inches in two to three days with temperatures hovering around minus 20. Due to the extra work associated with this, suggestions have been made to bump the fee up.
“The suggestion was essentially if we have to use a hydro vac to cut the frost out, they should pay a portion of the cost,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Phillips.
While this winter has been incredibly cold at times, in years past it hasn’t been that way. Changing fees to reflect this cold winter may not matter much.
“Its may be a one time thing. If we have another winter where it’s 40 below all winter, it may be a regular occurrence. That’s the only real concern,” said Cris Burns, CAO for Vauxhall.
Some councillors liked the idea of having a summer reserve fund in order to cover winter costs as they felt it wasn’t particularly fair to have added fees for certain months of the year.
“I like the idea of having reserves from summer costs going towards winter costs. Is it fair to think if somebody loses somebody in the winter rather than the summer, it’s an unfortunate extra cost?” said Coun. Kim Cawley.
Another question raised was to either raise both to keep things fair for both summer and winter rates or just simply raise the summer fee.
“I would much prefer not calling it a reserve but simply boosting the summer rate, recognizing that it doesn’t cost as much in terms of man and equipment hours in the summer. Winter, it costs more to open the grave but should they pay more or do we pick a rate that is fair to everyone?” added Phillips. “Right now it is pretty minimal at $150 (hydro vac cost), maybe you keep that but maybe you boost both of those rates by a little bit and say ‘the odd time we’ll have to hydro vac’.”
Council unanimously voted in favour of raising both seasonal fees by $50 for both casket and cremation.