Should the niche plates (shutters) on the new columbarium at Clearwater’s Riverview Cemetery all have a uniform appearance and design, or should each family be free to decorate its plate as it wants with only minor restrictions?
That was the question Clearwater council debated last week as it looked at a recommendation from its temporary cemetery committee that required only that the niche plates have a 1/2″ border, no reverse engraving, be in good taste, and be vetted by the district.
“No one tells people what to put on a gravestone,” said councilor Candus Graffunder. “I think telling people what to do on their columbarium door would not be fair.”
Obvious problems such as profanity or symbols such as swastikas would not be allowed, said Stephanie Teare, but preventing them would only require a quick overview by district staff.
Local funeral director Drake Smith, on the other hand, was concerned about the direction the committee had recommended.
In a letter to council Smith said he had spoken to people involved in the industry. One told him that he knew of only columbarium where people had been allowed to decorate the niche plates as they desired. Apparently they later abandoned that policy, destroyed all the shutters and replaced them with consistent ones.
Bert Walker said he was uncomfortable with making a decision without time to give the matter enough thought. He made a motion that the decision on the niche plates be tabled until the next meeting. As it was a motion to table no debate was allowed and the motion carried.