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Christina Lake heads to the polls over cemetery referendum

Although the job of area director for Christina Lake, B.C. was filled by acclamation, the area still needs to cast their votes for school trustee and a referendum question – does the area need a cemetery service?
Grace McGregor enters her third term as regional director with the support of her community, but faces a tough vote nonetheless.
“It is my honor to have the confidence of the Christina Lake electorate as their acclaimed area director,” McGregor commented.
“Our primary concern for the coming year is milfoil. We continue to collect information from other regions, price out the rental of harvesting machines, figure the cost of additional divers and search out the possibility of grants and other removal options. It is, however, obvious that we will need to increase our milfoil service.”
But the focal point this election is the cemetery service referendum issue. A dedicated group of volunteers recently cleaned up the historical Cascade Cemetery off Stewart Creek Road.
This renewed interest for the community triggered a study to look at the viability of a service for the small area. Following that study, and with continued local support, the region is now asking the electorate of Christina Lake if they would like to pay into a cemetery service.
“The service we are proposing would be an eco-cemetery service which would lean towards a more environmentally friendly type of internment and possibly a memorial wall where ashes of the deceased could be stored,” McGregor added. “The overall direction and planning would be done by a cemetery committee comprised of volunteers who live at Christina Lake.”
The referendum asks for the community to support the service to a maximum of $70,000 annually. At the maximum it would mean a cost of $24.03 for property valued at $250,000; $28.84/$300.000; or $43.26/$450,000.  
But the service would not start at the maximum levels, McGregor continued, as they intend to start at a much smaller scale.
“Rarely have we ever used the ceiling amount on a service – even with milfoil. But you have to have a top number. It is our intent to ramp up this service slowly.  We would start with fixing the road access to the current site, applying to the provincial government for the land surrounding the old cemetery, and involving the community in the overall plan of the new portion,” she said.
McGregor has already received a lot of feedback from the non-local residents about the vote for the cemetery service with most centered on the lack of mail-in voting.
“I know people are frustrated because the summer residents say they can’t vote, well they can, they have to drive,” said McGregor. “Am I preventing the democratic process? No I’m not preventing anybody from driving. When you think about the people who live here all year round and do all the volunteer work, asking for a referendum, it’s fair to put that referendum there.”

Christina Lake heads to the polls on Saturday, Nov. 19 to elect one school trustee and have their say on the cemetery referendum.