by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
Parishioners from Morinville’s St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church has made an ask to Council at the Sept. 20 Committee of the Whole meeting to revitalize the Town’s only cemetery, operated by the Catholic Church for decades. The site is located off of 100 Street on the north end of Town. The site recently saw the removal of some trees and has not gone undergone renewal in many years, with aging chain link fencing around the property. As a result, the site is in major need of revitalization, according to presenters Gilbert and Lillian Boddez, who made the ask on behalf of Morinvile’s oldest congregation.
The proposal by the Church was for a $66,500 project, including new fencing, landscaping, gates, benches, and lighting, with a $9,000 ‘contingency’ line item included. The Church is not looking for the Town to cover the entire bill, but they are looking to split the bill evenly between the Church’s own fundraising, Sturgeon County, and the Town of Morinville.
Beyond this “once in a life-time ask,” as Gilbert Boddez put it, the Church is also looking for the Town to offer a new annual budget item to support maintenance costs on the site, including landscaping, though they were not forthcoming with an amount.
There was some discussion from the council about the ability for non-Catholics to be buried at the site, with Councillor’s Ladouceur and Boutestein unaware that other denominations were allowed to be buried there. The Boddez’s quickly explained that the cemetery is available to the whole community, with a section for Catholics and non-Catholics. The number of non-Catholic laid to rest there is approaching nearly a quarter of the inhabitants, according to the presenters.
Councillor Boutestein was skeptical and quick to comment that “It’s always awkward joining politics and religion,” adding that she felt agreeing to give public money to this project may mean having to look at sponsoring similar projects from every other faith community in Town if they asked.
Councillor Turner, on the other hand, raised the point that operating a public, municipally owned cemetery could be quite expensive. He noted that the cemetery is a great service offered by the church for the community. He argued that it saves taxpayers pocketbooks long term, and can be used by anybody asking for burial there.
Going on a similar note, Councillor Dafoe commented that potentially money generated from the new photo radar policy amendment that he passed could go towards projects like this in the future, particularly for lighting.
As this was just a Committee of the Whole meeting, Council could not make any binding decisions, but voted unanimously to discuss the matter at the next meeting of Council.