A resident who lives in a suburb of St. John’s wants Health Minister Molwyn Joseph to know she shed tears at a recent funeral – not simply over the deceased, but at the state of the Valley Church Community Cemetery where her loved one was buried.
“It was my first time attending a burial there, and to say I was surprised to see the condition of that place is an understatement,” she tells REAL News.
The shocked resident describes the burial ground as a “paddock masquerading as a cemetery,” and is urging others who are not familiar with the place to go and take a look. “We deserve better,” she says.
For the past several years, families have been complaining about the situation: Round-South residents have expressed resentment at the fact that persons outside their community are being buried there – reducing the space for themselves.
On the other hand, those in and around St. John’s resent the fact that their dead are being buried so far from where they spent their lives.
Neither group is satisfied, however, at the primitive state of the community cemetery, which began to be rapidly filled up during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has long been known that the St. John’s Cemetery – colloquially known as “No. 10” from its cane field days – was out of space. This was confirmed by the Central Board of Health at least two years ago.
However, even prior to that announcement, the Ministry of Health had announced that a new cemetery – a modern facility equipped with a chapel, signage, and designated walkways and driveways – would be established at Tomlinsons in St. George.
It has been approximately six years since monies – more than $2 million – were disbursed from the CIP Fund for the preparation of the new site and for a second design based on the layout of Arlington National Cemetery, Joseph said. (The Stanford Group had commissioned a design prior.)
Yet, to date, no work has begun on the sorely needed facility – even though the last official word, in 2021, was that civil works and fencing would soon begin.
Only a few months ago, ground was broken for a modern aquatic centre in virtually the same Tomlinsons location.
Meanwhile, the grieving woman tells our News Room she is grateful that her family has several plots in the St. John’s Public Cemetery where she can be interred, close to her loved ones and in familiar surroundings.