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‘It was extremely shocking’: Woman says mom’s headstone moved twice in PoCo cemetery

Click to play video: 'Port Coquitlam woman angry with treatment of tombstone' Port Coquitlam woman angry with treatment of tombstone
A Port Coquitlam woman says she's frustrated with the way her mother's tombstone is being treated in a cemetery. Nadia Stewart reports – Jan 10, 2020

A woman is raising concerns after her mother’s headstone was displaced twice from her grave site at the Port Coquitlam Cemetery.

Ellen Flores told Global News she chose the cemetery after her mom passed away in 2017 because it was close to home, allowing her to visit any time she felt the need to connect with her mother.

She said she first ran into trouble on Mother’s Day, 2019 when she came to visit the grave and found the headstone had been moved about a foot from where it should have been.

“It was extremely shocking,” she said.

“It’s very important to where my mom is, that’s her. We don’t want her to be disrupted. That’s her laying spot where she’s there to rest, and to rest in peace.”

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Flores said she got in touch with the city, who told her that a burial had taken place on a nearby plot prior to her visit and that the headstone had been moved out of the way to prevent it from being damaged.

Flores said she was never notified about the move, and that the city told her the crew couldn’t move the headstone back immediately because it would have put them into overtime.

Months later, Flores said she returned to visit her mother’s grave on Christmas Day, only to find that the headstone was out of place once again.

She said she assumed it was a similar situation to the Mother’s Day incident, but when she contacted the city she was told it may have been moved by wildlife.

“I personally don’t see how that could have happened. My mom’s headstone is about 300 pounds of granite,” Flores said.

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Forrest Smith, Port Coquitlam’s director of engineering and public works, said the city is looking into how the stone was moved and was not ruling anything out — including the potential role of animals or vandals.

“The city has recognized that the headstone has been misaligned at some point, we’re still looking into the causes as to what could have created this misalignment,” said Smith.

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“We didn’t have any city crews scheduled for the area over the past number of weeks.”

Smith said there are no security cameras or overnight security at the cemetery, but it does have a large staff that looks after the facility daily.

READ MORE: Coquitlam council approves expansion of city’s only cemetery, which is running out of room

He said the city’s investigation has determined that the headstones are easier to move than most people would expect.

For her part, Flores said she’s been satisfied with how seriously city leadership has taken her concerns.

“Mayor [Brad] West, when he did reach out to me, was incredibly sincere and incredibly empathetic,” she said.

“I do appreciate that, and now I think it’s just about coming down to, how can we be sure that something like this won’t happen again?”

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