Drummond North Elmsley Family fighting to put roadside memorial back at crash site
Lynn Bell and her daughter Amanda are upset after a roadside memorial they put up for their late husband and father was recently taken down.
The memorial was set up on Prestonvale Road in Drummond North Elmsley Township in November 2019 after Dean Bell died in a car crash.
Last November, the township's council notified the family that there was a complaint filed about the memorial, and it would need to come down.
"They told my daughter over the phone that we had only until Dec. 31 to remove the cross from the site," says Lynn Bell. "Because that’s what they want."
A nearby homeowner filed the complaint, claiming they did not want to see the memorial in front of their house every day and were worried it could affect their property value. The homeowners - who wish to remain anonymous - say if the memorial were placed in front of a forest or cornfield there would be no problems, but it was placed in front of their house on township property.
The memorial itself was made up of a collection of items for the Bell’s to remember their late husband and father by. It consisted of a cross with deer antlers, a wreath, and lights attached. There was also an empty rum bottle and a red solo cup at the site.
"I think the person that complained is being very unreasonable," says daughter Amanda, who placed the bottle and cup there last February, as a way of symbolically sharing a drink with her father on her birthday.
"I’m totally disgusted," says Bell. "I feel that it’s disrespecting the family of a deceased member. How would they feel if it was one of their family members that passed away on a township road and was forced to have to remove it."
The township council suggested the Bell family move the memorial down the road to a nearby friend’s property, a suggestion that didn’t sit right with Bell. "Why would I want to put it somewhere else? That is not normally what you do when you have a memorial site. You put it on the actual site where the accident took place at."
In a written statement to CTV Ottawa, Drummond North Elmsley Township Reeve Steve Fournier says, "Any future memorials council receives complaints about will be allowed to remain up for a year before being asked to be removed from township property. The best thing to do is contact the township prior to placing a memorial. We may suggest the planting of a tree at a pre determined acceptable location. These decisions are always controversial but council has to make sound and fair choices that benefit the community as a whole."
Since the complaint was filed, the Bell family has started a petition, gathering hundreds of names in an attempt to persuade council to allow the memorial to be placed back at the original site once again.
"We’ve already lost a loved one, and this is how we’re being treated, which is unfair," says Bell.