Stan and Judy Hagen made the first donation to Courtenay’s memorial bench program in 1997. In 2008, the program was put on hold. Since then, more than 100 people have asked to be put on a waiting list in case the program is reinstated.
“The administrative impacts of memorial programs are often underestimated,” Dave Snider, director of recreation and cultural services, states in a report to Courtenay council.
He notes a memorial bench program requires a comparatively higher service level due to donor expectations for maintenance and upkeep. While some may consider a bench to be sacred, some park users have said public memorials add morbidity to public space.
Snider also notes a greater number of people are being cremated since the program’s inception, which places additional strain on memorial programs. If the program was active, the demand would exceed available spaces.
Council was asked to consider if a public memorial, besides a cemetery, is a core service to Courtenay’s citizenship. City services benefit a large number of people or serve marginalized populations. If a service doesn’t meet this threshold, it should be a cost-recovery service.
“The program is far from cost-recovery at this point,” Snider said at the April 1 council meeting.
Staff recommends discontinuing the memorial program, but council deferred a decision to the May 6 or May 21 meeting.
•The Courtenay Museum board has requested continued discussion with the City about its goals for expansion. The hope is to take steps towards an extension of the building at 4th and Cliffe. Directly west of the museum is the Pouss property, which the City purchased in 2010. Council will continue discussions with the museum board about possibilities to develop land.
•Council agreed to write a letter to support the Immigrant Welcome Centre, which is working on the Call for Proposal for Settlement Program Core Services. Services include language instruction and settlement services.
•Over the coming year, the Comox Valley RCMP will collectively focus on the following priority issues: traffic/road safety, and crime reduction/prolific offenders. Coun. Doug Hillian questioned the purpose of adding issues to the list, considering police do what they can with the resources they have. Nevertheless, he mentioned problem houses, which council has discussed with police. Coun. Wendy Morin said areas that need attention include domestic violence, sexual assault and organized crime.