Weeds on radar of city parks staff

Megan Walchuk

Frustration has taken root over the condition of the Fort Frances cemeteries. But the problem is on the radar, and solutions are in the works.

Many residents have taken to social media to lodge complaints about the state of graves in the town. With Fort Frances council’s decision not to plant flowers on the graves of cemeteries this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, weeds have taken hold in a number of plots.

But according to Travis Rob, Manager of Operations and Facilities, staff are working through the issue.

“The Cemeteries are on the radar and we do plan to address them,” he said.

A Ministry of Labour inspection in April left the Town with an extensive list of demands, which they were unable to fulfill with regular staffing levels, he said. As a result, they have been functioning with a skeleton crew of eight employees, where there would normally be 22.

COVID-19 regulations imposed on the town due to COVID-19 included:

  • Limited numbers of staff in trucks to two
  • Handwashing stations at all worksites
  • Continued staff separation, splitting of shifts and working remotely
  • Masks to be worn when social distancing can not be maintained during works
  • Ongoing passive and active screening measures
  • Daily enhanced cleaning of high touch surfaces, vehicles, equipment and tools

The regulations guided the decision to not hire summer students, and to not plant flowers this summer.

“Trust me it was not a decision that was taken lightly. However given the work requirements imposed on us by the Ministry of Labour we simply could not undertake that tremendous amount of work,” said Rob. Many of the green spaces in town are being maintained at a much lower level than is typical cemeteries included. We are working to keep everything at a reasonable level across all of the Town sites with much less staff.”

A timeline will depend on weather, he added. How fast the grass grows will dictate how soon the skeleton crew can catch up.