Burgoyne Bridge memorials to be moved, added to new work
ST. CATHARINES — The row of flowers, cards and notes memorializing those who died at the Burgoyne Bridge will be removed this weekend and made part of an off-site memorial.
Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Niagara’s acting medical officer of health, said expert opinions say memorials at the site of a local area where people have died by suicide can do more harm than good to a community.
As such, the memorials along the railing of the bridge, where at least three people have died recently, will be removed and preserved. “They are going to be taken to Start Me Up Niagara, which has a project called Art Me Up,” said Hirji. “Art Me Up is going to incorporate them into a memorial piece.”
Notes handwritten onto the metal of the railing have been photographed in high definition and will also be given to Art Me Up, he said. Hirji said public health has spoken to the families of those who died, and they did not oppose the move.
In addition to the Art Me Up piece, Hirji said a memorial to those who have died by suicide would be added to the regional Memorial Forest at the old Glenridge Quarry site in the spring. The park includes several memorials to those who have suffered or died due to mental illness.
Hirji said the public health department is deeply concerned about “contagion” — that the messages left at the site might encourage people to attempt suicide. Although intended to memorialize those who died and discourage anyone else from taking their own lives, he said the messages can have the opposite effect on those in crisis.
“These incidents have obviously impacted the families and the whole community, and those memorials are an expression of grief,” he said. “Moving them to a memorial offset allows a safer place for people to have a place to memorialize them.”
The memorials on the bridge will be taken down early Sunday morning, he said.
‘‘ Art Me Up is going to incorporate them into a memorial piece. DR. MUSTAFA HIRJI Niagara’s acting medical officer of health
One of dozens of memorials for those who died at the Burgoyne Bridge will be moved to another location Sunday morning.