The state of Pioneer Cemetery this year has raised the ire of Dan Hughes.
Hughes has lived on a property adjacent to the cemetery, among the oldest in the Cowichan Valley, for almost 30 years and has spent a lot of time walking around checking out the gravestones, with some dating back to the 1880s, and the site’s beautiful scenery over the years.
But he said this year, the maintenance of the cemetery, located at the end of Pioneer Road, off Herd Road, has been less than acceptable, with grass three-feet high covering the grounds and the individual plots.
Pioneer Cemetery, which currently has approximately 30 headstones, is restricted to families who were living in the Cowichan Valley prior to 1900 and their direct blood descendants.
Some of Cowichan’s earliest pioneers, the Morleys, the Fletts, the Aitkens, among others, rest there.
“I called the Municipality of North Cowichan (which is responsible for the care and maintenance of the cemetery) and complained about it three weeks ago, and a work crew was on site the next day with the mowers,” Hughes said on Aug. 25.
“But they didn’t do any of the weeding and the tombstones and the plots are still covered in high grass. I called the municipality back and asked that they complete the job, but there has been no more work since they cut the grass. It always used to be tidy and green, but I don’t know what happened this year.”
Officials in North Cowichan were made aware of the state of the cemetery on Aug. 25 and Hughes said workers arrived at the site early in the morning on Aug. 26 and began completing the maintenance job in the cemetery, including weeding.
A statement from the municipality said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Cowichan is facing challenges providing the same level of service it usually does.
“However, our crews are still maintaining Pioneer Cemetery, and will be on site landscaping and addressing weeds today (Aug. 26).”