Cost of burials going up at City of Kelowna cemetery | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Cost of burials going up at City of Kelowna cemetery

Fees for interment are on the rise at Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
October 02, 2018 - 11:00 AM

KELOWNA - Even though fees at Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery will increase by five per cent next year, it’s still a bargain compared to private internments, the city's cemetery manager told council yesterday.

“We remain competitive in our market,” David Gatzke said. “From the latest data I have from the private cemeteries, our most expensive burial plot is still less than half of their most expensive burial plot, which means that this is a very viable option for members of the community.

The most expensive option at the city cemetery is a private estate plot that features a crypt with a granite bench, an arched gate, and space for four caskets and eight urns at a cost of over $69,000. There are more cost effective options, including the opportunity to scatter ashes along the cemetery’s Scattering Trail or in its Scattering Garden for $177.

The cemetery was created in 1893 and has more than 20,000 people interred there. Gatzke noted that 70 per cent of remains are placed in urns. That’s a much higher rate than the provincial average and many communities are closer to 30 per cent.

Another 423 burial sites are being opened. With room for two caskets and two urns at each site, that creates more than 1,600 new plots. But that may only be good for the next four years since there are an average of about 400 internments a year.

“When families come to the cemetery they often tell is it’s the beautiful grounds and the well maintained grounds, the central and easy and very accessible location of the cemetery, and more often it’s the confidence that they gain by the city owning the cemetery and operating it for the last 100 years,” Gatzke said. “These are part of the reasons why they choose the municipal cemetery for their final resting place."

Gatzke gave council an update of the cemetery Master Plan that was adopted in 2015. It recommended fees be increased by five per cent every year for 10 years in order to make the cemetery self-sustainable. The 2019 increase is just part of that process but Gatzke called for the increases to continue only for the three years, through 2021.

New fees are also being added for administration functions such as record retrievals.

“It’s a place for families to come and grieve and to come back and heal,” Gatzke told council. “They come back again to grieve more and to heal again and hopefully, one day, come to the point of celebration of the lives they leave behind.”

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