The Village of Port Clements is trying yet again to adhere to provincial law and take ownership of their cemetery. After a lengthy discussion with legal counsel the village is now asking residents what direction to go with the process.
The village has never owned the cemetery and is looking at a large cost just to find family members of the property’s deceased owner. He passed away in 1960 without a will. When the family took care of the estate, the cemetery was not passed along or forgotten about.
The village located an elderly heir of the property, but are required by the province to have more than one sign-off on the property transfer.
“Should the elderly relative we are in contact with pass away it doesn’t change our situation. We will always have to do the search for heirs,” said Kim Mushynsky, the village’s chief administrative officer.
Finding the family members will require a private investigator, which would typically cost a few hundred dollars in B.C. The village is aware of possible family in Britain and Australia, which would make the cost of the investigation much higher.
This potential cost of just finding family and starting the legal process would be upwards of $10,000. “All the money to start is up front,” said Mayor Ian Gould.
If the residents of Port Clements feel that this is something worth carrying forward with, the village would work it into the 2017 budget.
“If the community sees this as important this is certainly worth proceeding with,” said Gould.
The village will be sending a newsletter to residents in the hopes of getting feedback on the costly process. “There are two steps. This is for repatriating it. Then I haven’t even asked the legal question about reopening it for use after we own it,” Mushynsky explained.
The village is not sure of the process it would need to follow in order to reopen the derelict, overgrown cemetery.
Councillor Doug Daugert told village staff that he would like to see some research into grants to assist the village in the process.