Ninety five per cent of Parksville Qualicum Beach residents choose to be cremated, some of the highest rates in the country, council heard Monday night.
The comments were made by Emma Fraser, a student taking her Masters in public administration who has been working with the town for the past three-and-a-half months. One of her focuses has been on reviewing the town’s cemetery bylaw and she presented a report with recommendations Monday night.
Fraser, who is the daughter of Alberni Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser, focused on three areas, one, the issue of non residents. Currently, the bylaw does not allow non residents to purchase cremation or full burial unless a family member is interred at the cemetery. Also when long term residents move outside of the boundaries for end of life care they are not permitted to purchase burial plots unless they have a direct family member interred or had purchased a licence when a resident.
Staff recommended in the report that the town allow certain former residents, like those who had previously lived in Qualicum Beach, be allowed to purchase rights of interment for full and cremation burial for the resident fees along with amending the current fee schedule.
Fraser also reported that the cemetery is running a $20,000 loss every year and that could be decreased with allowing non residents easier access. The downside would be decreasing the life of the cemetery, which is estimated at 85 years for full burial plots, 74 years for the scattering garden, 29 years for cremation burial plots and three to four years for columbarium niches which are a storage space for urns.
Council gave the recommendations first reading and requested a working group be formed immediately to review the proposed changes to the bylaw.