Dispute with Village laid to rest

by EVAN MATTHEWS

Patricia Pooli was starting the process of moving her deceased mother-in-law in order to adhere to a bylaw, just as the Village said, “Wait.”

The Village initially told Patricia that Teresa’s monument violated the bylaw 685. Not only could Patricia’s father-in-law, Robert Pooli, not have a matching monument, but the family was going to have to change Teresa’s monument to adhere to the bylaw.

Now living in Kamloops, Patricia called her brother-in-law David Pooli to begin making arrangements to have her mother-in-law Teresa’s monument removed from the site.

Through email conversations with Mayor Jeannette Townsend’s office, Pooli says the administration was unable to make sense of a bylaw 685.

“Denied, denied, denied. That’s my issue and frustration with the mayor and her office,” says Patricia.

The mayor did not provide comment to The Goat by presstime.

Without hesitation, Patricia gives 100 per cent of the credit to the Village’s Chief Administrative Officer, Mark Macneill, who she describes as heartfelt and obliging.

“Mark took the time, he read it, red-flagged it, and acknowledged it didn’t make sense,” she says.

However, Macneill respectfully shares the credit around the Village office.

“I extend praise to our Mayor and Council for hearing administrative concerns with respect to our cemetery bylaw,” he says. “Kindest regards to the family.”

In the end, Patricia says she received a signed document from Macneill on his letterhead, stating there are no problems at all, and the Pooli family can lay their father-in-law Robert to rest with the dignity and respect he asked for, beside his wife.

“It was very important for the family to get something that was equal for both the parents,” says Patricia. “It’s a relief. We’re all very happy about it.”

The Pooli name is a common one in Valemount, according to Patricia, as she says the family helped build the community, and that they were pioneers of Valemount.

The pair emigrated from Italy during the wartime, says Patricia, with their two-year-old son. They raised six children in total — all in Valemount.

Valemount’s bylaw 685 15.2 references graves and size restrictions, but it only references tablet memorials and monuments.

Tablet markers designated for one person cannot exceed 12” by 20”, while tablet markers designated for up to three people cannot exceed 18” by 30”, the bylaw reads.

Pooli2_web
Photo: Evan Matthews

Ironically, Teresa Pooli’s existing monument stands erect roughly two feet in the air, which goes against the bylaw, and is not a tablet by definition at all.

“Village staff is reviewing the bylaw,” says Macneill. “It hasn’t been amended for the Pooli’s, but it’s now being reviewed for clarity.”

Although the Pooli’s monument goes against the bylaw as it is currently, Macneill says in the future the bylaw will be followed.

The Village’s decision, Patricia says, did save the family money on Teresa’s plot, which was almost removed. However, that’s not the point.

“It’s more about the hassle than the money,” she says. “Would you have the energy to go through something like that?

“No,” she says.

Ultimately, Patricia says her only hope is nobody in the future is forced to deal with a bylaw like this while coping with a death.

Did you know the Goat could not operate without people buying the newspaper? Subscribe today!