Nova Scotia

Halifax roadside memorial policy sent back to drawing board

Staff had recommended a maximum size for roadside memorials and a one-year time limit. There was also a suggestion that the memorials have contact information on them. But councillors did not like any of those ideas.

Councillors did not like ideas municipal staff proposed for time limits, size of memorials

The need for a policy on roadside memorials arose after a complaint was made about a cross set up for Kylie Cooper, a 15-year-old who was killed in a two car collision in Wellington in 2018. (Marlene Cooper/Facebook)

Halifax regional council has sent a proposed policy for roadside memorials back to city staff for changes.

"Staff are operating in a void, so we do need a policy," said Coun. Sam Austin. "But I think we have to be very careful about how we go about doing this."

Staff had recommended a maximum size for roadside memorials and a one-year time limit. There was also a suggestion that the memorials have contact information on them. But councillors did not like any of those ideas.

"I'm not so sure we want to have contact information on the memorial itself, that likely goes to a privacy issue I'm pretty sure," said Coun. Steve Streatch.

"I don't think a time frame should be part of this new bylaw," said Coun. Lisa Blackburn. "Your grief path is yours and yours alone. No one else can walk it, or understand it and no one can put a time frame on it."

"If a memorial can't be larger than 3 feet by 3 feet and can't be attached to anything we would be eliminating or outlawing 'ghost bikes'," said Coun. Shawn Cleary. "I would like to see an exemption for a bicycle."

Ghost bikes are bicycles painted white and placed at a memorial site where a cyclist is fatally injured in a crash. 

The need for a policy arose after a complaint about a memorial cross that was set up for Kylie Cooper, a 15-year-old who was killed in a two-car collision in Wellington in 2018.

Joseph Dominix, the 87-year-old driver of the second car, also died.

Kylie's mother, Marlene Cooper, said there has been a second request from the Dominix family to have the cross taken down.

Cooper was glad that the policy on roadside memorials has been sent back for revisions. But she remains unhappy that there has to be any rules in the first place.

"Half the roads in HRM are provincial so the rules won't apply. There's going to be chaos, we should just leave it alone, let these crosses be," said Cooper.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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