New Tombstone Policy Is Just Another Example Of Bylaw Standardization

Robert Kirwan
Valley East Today

Why Do We Need A New Tombstone Policy To Govern Engraving?
When Valley East was amalgamated into the City of Greater Sudbury on January 1, 2001, apparently there was a great deal of concern among municipal administrators about the need to "standardize" policies that were in existence at the time of amalgamation.

Each of the seven municipalities had bylaws that were unique to their own particular situations and which had been in place for many years.

In 2003, a new bylaw was passed to standardize cemetery services in the City of Greater Sudbury.

One of the changes made a bit of sense in that monuments from now on are to be placed back to back in order to give operators more room to cut the grass. Because of this, it was decided that inscriptions would only be allowed on one side of a monument. This means that if a person decides to pay to have a special inscription placed on the back of a monument, he will have to get it shaved off in order to place it in one of the City Cemeteries.  The new bylaw also restricts the size of monuments to a maximum of 48 inches high and 60 inches wide for a double plot. Monument dealers are generally the only ones who are aware of the new bylaw and would inform people when they were selecting their monuments.

A number of residents have expressed concern with this type of bylaw, asking why it is so important to the City that inscriptions only be allowed on one side of the monument.

Al Sizer, the city's manager of Cemetery Services explained that there was a need to standardize the policies at the City cemeteries by regulating the size of monuments and the inscriptions. He claimed that "if inscriptions were allowed on the rear side of tombstones, large monuments could eclipse or obscure smaller headstones."

While it is true that there have been very few complaints about this new policy, the people who have expressed concern have a point. What was wrong with the old policy that stood in place for so many years? What business is it of the City to regulate what is written on a monument?

Others say that this is just another example of the City interfering in a matter that should be none of its business.

Many ratepayers are expected to raise this concern during the upcoming municipal election campaign.




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