Piles of wreaths, artificial flowers, sculptures and trinkets brought Shawna Goddard to tears.
“When I just saw the trinkets and statues and flowers, it just broke my heart,” she said sobbing. “It’s just gut wrenching.”
Throughout the Hatley Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Colwood, tokens and wreaths left on tombstones were removed by cemetery staff.
The piles of mementos upset Goddard, because of the sentimental value of items such as the coffee mug and a child’s Hot Wheels car that now sit beside the road. Among the piles was the wrought iron sculpture Goddard placed on her fathers grave nearly six years ago.
David Robert William Goddard was buried there in 2005 and his plot is visible from the road. Goddard noticed the sculpture missing and drove in to the cemetery where she saw the piles.
She said the statue has never moved.
Bruce Simpson, cemetery manager, said spring cleanup is an annual occurrence.
“We allow artificial flowers from November to March and then after that it is just real flowers,” he explained, adding they are left in piles for loved ones to collect.
Each year Simpson said he receives one or two phone calls from angry people about this, he said next year he will try and provide the families more notice.
The cleanup is to allow the grounds workers to cut the grass and maintain the cemetery grounds. Simpson said it is standard protocol in the 41 cemeteries across Canada that the company runs.
“It’s written in out rules and regulations and on the contract people sign,” he explained.
“I am concerned for the people who don’t know this is happening,” Goddard said. “When someone dies you don’t read the fine print.”
The items will be left out until the end of March for people to collect.