More than 2,000 people have signed an online petition raising concerns about the new City of Vernon rules limiting what kind of tributes can be left at gravesites.
Now it seems the regulations are impacting not just temporary tributes but also permanent memorials at the city-operated Pleasant Valley Cemetery.
When Kevin Taylor died in 2017, his family decided a carpentry helmet would be a fitting tribute.
“His passion was building things and carpentry and the helmet was kind of his trademark at all the job sites he was at and all his friends knew him with the black helmet,” said Kevin’s mother Cory Taylor.
The family said it got the go-ahead for the helmet memorial after reaching out to the City of Vernon.
“She said I am sure it is fine just go talk to the groundskeeper,” said Taylor. “So, my daughter and her husband went and talked to , got the specs from him how it should be built…then put the helmet on it and got his approval and it was not in the way of any of their landscaping duties.”
For years the helmet, which was permanently attached to a tribute holder, served as a comfort.
“It just made me feel more like I was coming to see my son. It just meant something to me. To me it was my monument,” Taylor said.
However, earlier this year the city started enforcing the new rules about what items can be left at grave sites — no non-floral offerings — and the family says the helmet was removed.
“To see it gone…it really hurts, and it feels like, kind of, he is gone again,” said Taylor.
In the face of previous criticism of the new cemetery regulations, the city’s mayor defended the rules saying they are meant to protect those doing the landscaping.
“There are some safety risks on the machine operators and people that are trying to maintain the cemetery when there is broken piece of plastic and glass,” said Victor Cumming in March.
On Friday, the city said it was not able to provide an interview or a statement responding to Taylor’s specific concerns that day as “the staff who are familiar with this specific situation are unavailable.”
Taylor argues the helmet is not posing any safety risk and she has been pressing officials to change their minds.
“This was something my daughter wanted to do…one last thing for her brother. I said, ‘I know it seems like a little thing, but to us, it means the world,'” Taylor said, recounting her advocacy for the memorial’s return.
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