BC Coroners Service decision is short-sighted and bad for valley

Just another provincial government decision that’s bad for the North Thompson Valley.

Just another provincial government decision that’s bad for the North Thompson Valley.

That is how we view the decision by the BC Coroners Service to award a contract for the collection of the bodies of those who die suddenly or unexpectedly in the Valley to a company from Kelowna.

Up until this spring, the bodies of those who died suddenly or expectedly at home, on the highway or elsewhere in the North Thompson Valley typically were collected by North Thompson Funeral Services and held in Clearwater or Barriere, unless needed for autopsy in Kamloops.

Now it appears that all are being taken to Kamloops.

Most of us don’t like to think about death, and definitely we do not like to think about sudden and unexpected death.

It does happen, however, and when it does the way it is handled can make a huge difference in how the family and the community recover.

When a loved one dies, we do not want his or her body lying at home any longer than possible. Even less so if the body is next to the highway.

And when someone comes to collect that body, we would prefer to have a familiar face and a person we have confidence in to handle the matter with dignity and compassion.

Up until about a decade ago there was no funeral home in the North Thompson Valley. The funerals and other services for deceased Valley residents were almost all handled out of Kamloops.

Then Drake Smith opened North Thompson Funeral Services and we found out what we were missing.

We have no idea if this decision by the BC Coroners Service will affect the viability of that business, but why should the thousands of Valley residents who benefit by having a local funeral service be asked to take that risk?

Over the years we have seen the Ministry of Forests, BC Parks, social services and other provincial government agencies scale back their operations in the Valley as they attempt to centralize to Kamloops and Victoria.

We can tell them that it doesn’t work. Experience will no doubt eventually teach them that long-term effectiveness is far more important than short-term efficiency. We just hope that they will learn that lesson before it is too late.