The city’s cemetery could be going green.

City council has put its staff on the path of reviewing and determining if green burials can be accommodated in the Memorial Park Cemetery, as well as City staff to complete a Parks and Cemetery Master Plan in 2024.

After some minor debate in City council chambers over the ability of the City-owned cemetery’s ability to accommodate green burials, the directive landed fully in the lap of the municipality’s employees.

“The cemetery is at a critical point now, where there are a number of people looking for plots and they are running out of space,” said Coun. Rik Logtenberg during the July 11 regular council meeting. “So, to drop green burials onto staff without planning is actually much more difficult than it might appear at first.”

Green burial is a natural burial, to bury without the concrete grave liner. The Memorial Park Cemetery Bylaw, as it stands today, permits green burials, but City staff did not know that because the bylaw has not been clear, said Logtenberg.

“This bylaw clarifies that natural burials are okay,” he said.

However, green burials would require a dedicated area within the current cemetery and has not currently been planned for. 

The Nelson End of Life Society (NELS) attended the public participation portion of the June 20 committee-of-the-whole meeting and requested that council consider including a green burial option at the cemetery. Similar requests have been made to previous councils in 2015 and 2018. 

The City Municipal Operations department has identified the need for a parks and cemetery master plan, in part, due to pressures from traditional forms of interment. The master plan is currently being contemplated as part of the 2024 workplan, with staff pursuing quotations for budgeting purposes, noted a City staff report to council. 

Council directed City staff to report back on the potential to include green burials at the cemetery. As well, a parks and cemetery master plan and subsequent review of the Memorial Park Cemetery Bylaw has been identified as a need and is targeted for 2024. 

Staff are currently in the process of obtaining a quotation for a Parks and Cemetery Master Plan for the purposes of 2024 budgeting and work planning. 

“It is anticipated the costs will be in the range of $130-$160,000. Additionally, the project will provide staff with accurate information to determine if current fees at the cemetery are keeping up with the cost of operations,” noted a staff report on the matter.

Going green

Green burial is an eco-friendly, sustainable way to honour the dead. 

It is an alternative to traditional burial that is less destructive to the environment and promotes natural burial practices. Green burial requires using biodegradable materials, like wicker or cardboard, and natural and non-toxic embalming fluids for the casket. 

The body is placed directly into the ground without a concrete vault or other barriers, allowing the body to decompose naturally. Natural burials are beneficial to the environment as they don’t require the use of large amounts of energy and resources. 

Additionally, they promote the natural cycle of life and don’t involve using harsh chemicals that can seep into the ground and harm the environment. 

Green burial is an excellent option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint and make a more sustainable choice at the end of life.

Source: Affordable Cremation and Burial, Vancouver Island

By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 16, 2023 at 03:53

This item reprinted with permission from   The Nelson Daily   Nelson, British Columbia
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