A residential school memorial in downtown Peachland will be removed every time it pops back up.
That is the decision the district’s council made on Tuesday (July 13) night
The move comes after painted rocks and ornaments were found along Beach Avenue as a way to honour the 215 remains found in a former residential school site in Kamloops two months ago.
District staff first received a complaint about the pop-up memorial on June 14. Staff who went to the site saw three benches covered with flowers, a tree and a shrine decorated with ornaments, as well as painted rocks on the beach.
Staff then removed the memorial items, but they immediately received a complaint saying the area was actually being used as a memorial for the Kamloops children.
During the Tuesday night meeting, director of community services Cheryl Wiebe said since the memorial was set up without communication with or permission from the district, which was why the makeshift memorial fell under the graffiti category and treated as such.
“If people come to us in advance and talk about creating a memorial, perhaps we can create parameters,” Wiebe said.
“But when we have popup memorials on our beaches, some people love them and some people don’t. And so we’re just looking for some direction from council.”
She said council can either leave the parks regulation bylaw as is, which doesn’t allow for popup memorials on district property, or councillors can decide to have the bylaw amended.
Currently, the only place where a memorial can be put up is on the bench dedicated to Ashlee Hyatt, who was killed at a house party in Peachland in 2010.
Coun. Keith Fielding said he wasn’t in favour of making changes to the bylaw.
“My preference is to leave the bylaw as it is and to respond to complaints as part of our bylaw enforcement process,” he said.
“I think if we think about amending the bylaw, it’s going to be a very slippery slope and personally, I don’t really want to see our beachfront or public areas turned into shrines of some kind.
Maybe there is a need for some organized way of allowing people to express their condolences and concerns in some other fashion, but I personally don’t believe it’s a good idea to try to do anything with our bylaw that might encourage or suggest that it’s ok to do this kind of thing.”
Fielding was echoed by the rest of council.
Wiebe said district staff know who has been painting the memorial rocks and setting them up along Beach Avenue, and they will reach out to that person to explain the situation.