First phase of upgrades approved for Westbank Cemetery

After getting significant feedback from residents, the district is beginning phase one of improvements to Westbank Cemetery.

After getting significant feedback from residents, the district is beginning phase one of improvements to Westbank Cemetery.

The district will put $300,000 from its reserves toward the construction of three mausoleums, three columbariums, bases and wheelchair ramps.

Ingrid Laube spoke to West Kelowna council in September to express her displeasure with the state of the cemetery. Council unanimously agreed to approve the Westbank Cemetery Strategy and work toward the improvement of an area one councillor described as “a devastating place to visit.”

A public meeting was held Oct. 1—43 people attended to share their views. One hundred and sixteen residents filled out the online survey.

“I was very surprised at the number of people and the enthusiasm for the discussion as well. This is something that kind of captured the imagination of a lot of people,” said West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater.

Chief financial officer Jim Zaffino said the first phase of upgrades will essentially pay for the second phase of upgrades, which will include upgrading the cemetery grounds, installing a new sign and implementing a cemetery donation policy.

The second phase will begin as soon as the debt is paid off from the first phase.

“One of the things that I got very clearly both from online and from the public meeting, is do not fund this project from taxes,” said Zaffino.

Zaffino said the district shouldn’t have an issue generating revenue as several residents have already shown interest in purchasing tombs in the mausoleums and niches in the columbariums.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com