KELOWNA - Prices for interment should begin to rise next year at the Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery as part of a plan to ensure its long-term viability.
“I would look to 2016 for a price increase if council agrees to it,” cemetery manager David Gatzke says.
The increase would be part of a series of price hikes recommended by a consultant and, if enacted, would see a one-time hike next year followed by increases of five per cent per year between 2017 and 2027.
Those increases would still leave prices at the municipally-owned cemetery on par with its counterparts in other Interior communities.
Current prices for in-ground cremation plots start at $617, while burial plots start at $3,088, with additional fees for opening and closing. Those prices allow for a second companion burial.
Expansion is also in the works as the consultant has forecast steady demand for 12,800 burial plots and cremation niches over the next 25 years, during which time 38,000 Kelowna residents are expected to die.
Gatzke says the 52-acre cemetery will begin the expansion by adding 800 additional cremation niches to existing inventory.
Consultant Lee and Associates has laid out a bold blueprint for the cemetery’s expansion but Gatzke says the city views it as more of a guide than a plan carved in stone.
“We don’t want to lock into a plan. Things can change. We need to build as need arises in small cycles in a way that allows for us to be responsive to new technologies and trends in interment,” Gatzke adds.
While the plan calls for $11 million in investment developing the cemetery, Gatzke says that money has to come in before it can be spent.
“We can only build what we budget and pay for ourselves,” he says.
If fully implemented, the plan predicts the cemetery will soon become self-supporting and could eventually return a profit, although Gatzke says any future returns will be earmarked for the cemetery reserve fund.
“It’s legislated by the province that when a cemetery closes, there has to be enough funding to maintain it so 25 per cent of plot sales and opening and closing fees are returned to our own investment fund,” he says.
The Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery is 104 years old and contains the graves of many Kelowna area pioneers.
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