EDMONTON -- Several speakers cried at a Spruce Grove City Council meeting Tuesday night while demanding answers about a “heartless” city crew cleaning of local graves.

Family members of four people buried at Pioneer Cemetery on Highway 16A addressed council saying that memorial bushes, statues, sod and stuffed animals were removed from several graves and trashed without any notice. 

Caressa Northcott called it an "atrocity."

"I was mortified to find that my mom's grave had been mowed over, everything gone, left nothing but dirt," Northcott told council. 

"I find that heartless, it shows no empathy and no integrity by our city."

Mayor Stuart Houston and City Manager Simon Farbrother both apologized. 

"I can only offer an apology from all of us on council and from the City of Spruce Grove," Houston said.

The Mayor said his father is also buried at Pioneer Cemetery.

"There wasn't any consultation that was done. That was definitely a mistake. There was some error in judgement on some of the work, I believe," the Mayor added.

Several city councillors were seen consoling emotional family members during a break in the meeting. Houston hugged, and shook hands with, several family members. 

Farbrother did not specifically answer questions about when the cleaning happened, who ordered it, or if any items could be recovered. 

But, the City Manager said that family members would be assisted on a case-by-case basis. 

Houston added that city policies on cemetery cleaning would be reviewed, and that any employee accountability measures would be up to city administration.