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Parents advocate for keeping roadside memorials intact in HRM
HALIFAX -- A small but vocal group wants clarity on roadside memorials that come in the form of crosses, poles, or bouquets of flowers on roads to signify where people have died in roadside accidents. However, there isn't any legislation for them, so when an anonymous complaint came in about a memorial for Marlene Cooper’s daughter, Kylie, the memorial was taken down.
“All it takes is a member of the public to complain for any reason and our staff have no choice but to act,” HRM councillor, Steve Streatch.
The city’s response to complaints about roadside memorials doesn’t sit well with parents who confronted HRM councillors outside of city hall on Tuesday.
“You don't know what you'd do till it happens to you!” chanted protesting parents.
Cooper spoke up, prompting the city to release a survey to residents, which asks questions such as how big memorials should be and how long they should remain on roadsides.
“Those are some of the questions we want to hear,” HRM councillor, David Hendsbee. “They're providing those parameters and guidelines, but people can make their input. If they want them larger, they want them longer; let’s hear it from the people.”
However, some say a few important questions are missing.
“Should we not have asked the public's opinion on complaints?” says Cooper.
“This crosses over into the provincial, HRM authority,” says Streach.
“Is this going to affect his cross as well, which has been up for over 11 years?” Cristine McGowan, who lost her son, Jeffrey, in 2008 and has maintained a roadside memorial ever since.
McGowan says she worries HRM staff may make her change the memorial or take it down.
Meanwhile, Cooper hoped to get clarity on how long she can keep her daughter’s memorial up and what the process is if someone complains again.
Meanwhile, a survey concerning the matter is online on the HRM website – residents have until Sunday to fill it out. However, changes will not be immediate as HRM staff will review responses and consider next steps.