Seymour Cemetery struggles to secure funds for toilets


Pioneer Park Cemetery: Seymour Cemetery Trust is fighting for funding. Photo by Chalpat Sonti

Seymour Cemetery had to suspend construction of a sanitary block in order to accommodate a new lawn burial area, as the current space could be filled in as little as two years.

The cemetery can only apply for funding from the Ministry of Health in March and November of each year and may be forced to wait months for this funding.

She is not able to finance projects on her own, her income coming entirely from the purchase of burial grounds.

Seymour Cemetery Trust president Angela Willis said installing a toilet block has been a priority for the trust for some time, but obstacles continued to stand in the way.

Just before the last round of grants in November 2021, the irrigation system ruptured, with massive leaks that skyrocketed the cemetery’s water bill and cost thousands of dollars in plumbing repairs.

The trust drew up its master plan for development in 2020 which included a toilet block, as well as the expansion of burial grounds and other maintenance projects valued at over $ 200,000, and requested a funding grant from the Ministry of Health.

But the ministry said it was likely the project would receive only partial funding.

The caveat is that if the ministry partially funds a project, the Cemetery Trust will never again be able to apply for funding for that particular project, and it still has to close the funding gap for the project.

“Last year, when the trust applied for funding for the master plan as a whole, the health department said it was too large an amount to fund at that time,” he said. Mrs. Willis said.

Thus, Ms. Willis withdrew the application so that she would not lose the opportunity to apply for future grants.

“Our next strategy is to divide this into different sections and ask for the toilet, the grave area on the lawn, separately, and gradually do it in smaller bites,” she said.

“In March, the trust will be asking for funding again for the new lawn grave area and then the next round in November for the toilet block that we know the public really wants out there.”

She said the funeral space should be given priority over toilet blocks.

“We need more space to bury people, it’s essential. We are coming to the end of the landscaped lawn and burial area, ”said Ms. Wallis.

The Seymour Cemetery Tust also operates the Pioneer Park Cemetery, which no longer accepts burials, meaning it does not generate any income.

In the last round of funding, the trust secured the resources to fix the broken irrigation system and received funds to fence off the yard work next to the shed.

“This has greatly improved the aesthetics and safety in this area of ​​the cemetery,” Ms. Willis said.

The trust currently has nine volunteer members appointed by the Department of Health.

These volunteers administer all aspects of the management of the cemetery, including maintenance, finances, organization of graves for burials, and participation in funerals and burial of ashes.

“The members of the trust work very hard in all of these areas to make the cemetery work for the community,” Ms. Willis said.

“We are optimistic that this year we will be able to continue with our master plan and we thank the community for their support. “

Civic funeral celebrant Di Grant said she has been calling for toilet facilities at Seymour Cemetery for years.

She said she first raised the issue in December 2019 during a funeral in Seymour.

“One of the ladies at the cemetery told me I had to go to the racetrack or the public restrooms near the Seymour library. I asked why there was no toilet and was told it was too expensive, ”she said.

“On December 22, 2021, I attended the burial of the ashes there. Still no toilet two years later.

“I said in 2019 and 2020, and I say it again now, that I still believe this is a mandatory installation in a public place like a cemetery that is used very often, all year round.

“Even a rented portable toilet facility would be easier to use than walking miles to a public facility. “


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