Committee agrees to create long-term cemetery plan

The issue of a lack of cemetery plots in the Greater Trail region could remain buried no longer.

The issue of a lack of cemetery plots in the Greater Trail region could remain buried no longer.

On Tuesday night the East End Services Committee (EESC) voted to create a long-term plan for the development and provision of cemetery services in the region.

With no spots left in two of the three cemeteries in the region—and only Trail’s Mountain View Cemetery having available plots—the situation needed to be addressed.

Currently, all burials taking place in the region are in Trail, with around 600 burial plots left in the Mountain View Cemetery for sale.

Although the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) encouraged the use of financial assistance to develop new burial plots in the respective communities—and more people are choosing cremation versus traditional burial, thus saving space—RDKB chief administrative officer John MacLean said the need for a policy was not a dead issue.

“The development of a long term plan for cemetery services in the Greater Trail area would assist us in ensuring that we are being financially responsible and effective in meeting the burial needs of our community,” he told the EESC in his report.

He said the changing demographics are seeing more cremations than burials.

There are currently around 15,000 burials in the cemetery. However, of the average of 50 requests per year for cemetery services, almost 95 per cent of them are for cremations. In some cases, families are buying one plot for several cremations, or using existing family plots to bury cremations.

The East End communities of the RDKB contribute to the operation of cemeteries in the Greater Trail region, but the RDKB has no role in the ownership or management of the facilities. Fruitvale, Trail and Rossland all own their respective cemeteries—with Rossland being deemed historical in nature only. The regional district provides the cemetery service through a region-wide tax requisition.

For instance, in 2012 Fruitvale asked for $109,200 to operate the Fruitvale Memorial Cemetery—a sum they received through taxation.

In February chair of the regional district board of directors, and Fruitvale’s director, Larry Gray said the lack of cemetery space was a region-wide concern, calling for a long-term, region-wide plan for the area.

“We’re basically running out of space everywhere and we need some sort of plan for the future,” Gray said at the time.

RDKB staff are now tasked with development of a terms of reference and a study budget for the committee’s consideration during financial plan deliberations.