Headstones at Cliffside Cemetery in Enderby were damaged by heavy machinery, Jan. 27, 2020. (Photo: Eva Morris/Facebook)

‘Very disrespectful’: Headstones at Okanagan cemetery damaged by excavation crew

Headstones at Enderby’s Cliffside Cemetery mistakenly driven over by excavation crew

Enderby residents have expressed outrage after damage was done at the local cemetery by crews working with heavy equipment.

Eva Morris posted a photo to Facebook Monday showing headstones covered in tire treads at the cemetery.

“The gravestones are all out of place,” Morris wrote along with the photo. “Very disrespectful in my eyes.”

The City of Enderby said the equipment was required for a burial.

“Both the city and its equipment operators regret deeply when this happens,” a statement read.

The Facebook post garnered more than 100 comments, with many residents mentioning passed loved ones whose headstones reside in the cemetery.

In response, Enderby chief administrative officer Tate Bengston said the damage was done by an excavation crew that was working in a section of the cemetery that’s tricky to access.

“The crew is extremely careful to be respectful in the cemetery,” said Bengston in a response posted on the original Facebook post.

“Heavy equipment access is required to the middle of a large block of plots for an excavation. Unfortunately, this area cannot be reached by the cemetery’s access roads, so a pathway had to be cleared through the heavy snow to enable equipment to reach the site.”

The City of Enderby said it cares about “maintaining the cemetery as a respectful resting place for loved ones.”

“Ground disturbance is avoided as much as possible in the cemetery,” the prepared statement reads. “Efforts are made to minimize the impact of equipment necessary for cemetery operations.”

But ground disturbance may still occur, according to the city.

“Particularly when soil is saturated with moisture and becomes very soft.”

Restoration work takes place following any incident involving ground disturbance, the city said.

“And there is a review to ensure that no further damage inadvertently occurs.”

Bengston noted repairs will be made once the ground firms up in the coming months.

“The ground is extremely soft and saturated, which causes ruts while the snow is cleared,” the CAO said. “As the work gets completed in the next day, the ground will be leveled then restored later in the spring.”

“My friend’s just devastated,” said Furlong, upon hearing the headstones of family members had been run over and damaged. Furlong said she estimates the damage could cost as much as $10,000.

The City of Enderby said its committed to reviewing its practices to identify any improvements that may further reduce ground disturbance or damage.

READ MORE: Melted snow uncovers problematic potholes in Vernon

READ MORE: Heavy snowfall in the Shuswap raises roof concerns


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

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