Grieving families frustrated with cemetery's limited opening hours

Michael Musacchio and Antoinette Romano are grieving the loss of their child.

Vanessa Musacchio was just 26 years old when she died suddenly two months ago.

She's buried at the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery, which has limited its visiting hours during the pandemic.

Her mother says coming here is the only thing that brings her peace, but the cemetery is only open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on Sundays and holidays.

“I’m eventually going to go back to work, and I’m a little bit anxious that I won’t be able to come because it will be closed," said Romano.

On Sunday, many who tried to visit were turned away by locked gates.

The cemetery did not return CTV News's request for comment. However, in an email shared with CTV, the cemetery told Musacchio that it's closed on Sundays to sanitize the mausoleums and offices.

Musacchio says that doesn't explain why the outdoor space remains closed.

"Unless you’re sanitizing the tombstones, or sanitizing the trees, or changing air filters that are in the air…” he shrugged.

His niece Sabrina Smofsky says it costs a lot to be buried here, and she expected to be able to visit her cousin after work hours.

“The point of paying such a premium is, of course, to maintain the care of our loved ones who are no longer with us, but also the accessibility to their graves,” said Smofsky.

One woman who wished to remain anonymous told CTV she drove all the way from Quebec City to visit her mother, only to see the gates locked.

With about one million people buried here, many families hope management will change its mind and keep the cemetery open in the evenings and on Sundays.

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