Letter to the Editor: Public burial spaces

I read your Friday edition of the Compass where you write in regards to the lack of cemetery space and drew reference to my efforts in addressing the matter in my district of West Bay.

If you’re saying that government shouldn’t be developing cemeteries, I’m not sure why you pick on that subject. But I don’t appreciate it.

While I support the development by the private sector of any kinds of means that would provide decent burial space for our loved ones, I’m not prepared to leave such a sensitive matter to the private sector. A burial of a loved one, or anyone, is a sacred matter.

In between 2005-2009 when the lack of space became quite evident, I drew the attention of the matter to the government by way of a motion in the Assembly. There I made several proposals: To allow for burial on your own property; to allow the development of mausoleums to encourage private cemeteries; and for government to develop a cemetery in West Bay and other districts wherever space is lacking.

It cost government less than $1,200 to build a vault. The public purchases the vault for $1,200. Government does assist towards the funeral cost of some indigents.

You write about valuable land. Years ago, our ancestors made the cemeteries on the beach side because of the ease of digging a hole there. They had no heavy equipment to build vaults elsewhere.

In asking government to address the pressing issue, I’m not asking them to take beach land today for that purpose. But if that is to be the case, then I have no hesitation in doing so. However, this is not a trivial matter and the government does recoup some cost because people pay for their vaults. I do believe that people will pay the full reasonable cost of a vault to bury their loved one.

Your editorial page has in the past complained about cost whenever government has to spend some money on our people. I gave at least $700,000 for the sinking of the ship in the West Bay harbor.

Government spent the total amount for the one in Cayman Brac. Never heard a squeak out of you about that. But you will say that’s good because it’s for business. Well, that’s why I supported the expenditure.

However, governments do have social obligations that it must fulfill. The provision of appropriate burial grounds to put away the last mortal remains of our people is one such obligation that shall remain a part of my agenda.

Thank God today it can be done in places other than the limited and very expensive beach land which we do not now have. But if we had to resort to that, then I would do so. I know you support the selling of government’s SafeHaven property. That was swamp, now it’s developed property.

Well, Mr. Editor, it belongs to the people of these Islands. I can say the same obligation that government has to help business (vast majority of which I support), I do recognize the need for government to support, for the good of all, such public entities as the building of public burial spaces for our family members, friends and others. Which we purchase from government and upkeep ourselves!