Research into burial needs for Castlegar as part of a master plan process for Park Memorial Cemetery has shown that there is enough space at the cemetery to last at least another 25 years.
Park Memorial Cemetery is Castlegar’s only municipally-operated cemetery and has been operating since 1950. Interment services offered at the site include full burials, cremains burials, an ossuary, and a 48-niche columbarium.
The report and subsequent master plan advise that instead of looking into a second location, the city should focus on improvements to Park Memorial and developing the available open space to the south of the existing cemetery.
The local death rate is expected to increase in the coming years as the population ages and the report projects that interment needs at the cemetery over 25 years will be space for 980 cremated remains and 375 full burials, averaging 38 cremations and 14 full burials a year.
One of the priorities identified in the report is the need for more colmbarium niches. Currently all columbarium niches have been purchased and the addition of three new 48-niche columbaria is recommended.
The plan also recommends offering green burials in a future expansion on the south side of the cemetery. Green or natural burials are a growing trend and several cemeteries in B.C. are already offering the service. Green burials typically exclude embalming and grave liners and are done in a biodegradable coffin, ideally with plants planted on the grave.
The plan lists numerous areas that need improvement including fencing, signage, internal asphalt roadways, the gravel access road to the work shed and the work shed itself.
A digital wayfinding kiosk near the main entrance of the cemetery is also recommended so visitors can easily find the location they are looking for.
The plan suggests addressing the issue of grave settling and encroachment on the headstones by grass by undertaking an incremental effort to strip, regrade, and reset headstones over the next decade.
Some new additions are also suggested including more pathways, a memorial forest, new trees, more benches and several memorial plazas that would offer opportunities for gathering, memorial services and space for permanent memorials specific to an event or group as requests arise in the future.
Purchasing a dedicated cemetery vehicle is also recommended in order to care for the grounds more efficiently.