City council wants to see the memorial bench program continue in Williams Lake, as well as some other options.
During the Tuesday, May 21 committee of the whole meeting council received a report from public works manager, Matt Sutherland, in which he suggested the program be discontinued and suggested memorial walls.
“The purpose of this report is to week Council’s approval to discontinue the memorial bench program due to lack of appropriate locations,” Sutherland noted.
Sutherland was not at the meeting, but Cindy Walters, municipal services co-ordinator, told council one of the issues is people want the benches installed in prime areas and those areas are used up, mainly Scout Island, Kiwanis, Gardner, Boitanio parks and the cemetery.
“Aside from that there is a lot of maintenance,” Walters said. “The installation, cost of the bench and plaque is all included in the $700 cost and then we maintain them for 10 years.”
Walters said the area around the benches also requires a lot of maintenance with weed whacking around them and picking up cigarette butts.
“We do have lots of room in the city for our memorial trees because they can go anywhere and we are always happy to put trees in,” Walters said.
In his report Sutherland proposed a memorial wall as an option.
Coun. Smith said he was not “big” on the wall because he knows how expensive they are.
Coun. Scott Nelson said the new trail the City is building at the RC Cotton Site will open up more spaces for benches.
He referred to Quesnel and the fact they have plaques mounted along the river trail.
Coun. Marnie Brenner suggested there could be more than one plaque on a bench.
Coun. Ivan Bonnell said he would like to see the program expanded suggested the item be referred back for further consideration.
In Calgary, said Coun. Sheila Boehm, a friend of hers purchased a bench and every five years pays another maintenance fee, which is maybe that is something the City should consider.
“It needs to be cost recovered and I think people get that,” Boehm said, adding she also liked the idea of the memorial wall. “I don’t think $700 is enough to cover it.”
Mayor Walt Cobb said maintenance is a big issue.
“I know the ones up by my place have boards and missing and that vinyl is not lasting,” Cobb said. “I don’t know what people do with the boards because they can’t use them for campfires.”
Council voted in favour of referring it back to public works for further discussion.