BANFF – Concerns about how long someone can own a plot in Banff’s cemetery before they use it stopped a new bylaw dead in its tracks earlier this month.
Under the proposed bylaw under consideration at Banff council’s Feb. 11 meeting, anyone who was born in Banff, a permanent resident for 15 cumulative years or next of kin would be allowed to purchase a plot for a period of 10 years.
If the gravesite was not used within the initial 10-year period, the owner would be allowed to request an addition 10-year extension at no extra cost, however after the 20-year period expired people would have to reapply for a plot.
Coun. Brian Standish asked administration why people couldn’t renew the certificate for their plot for perpetuity.
Nadine Setzer, manager of municipal parks, said council could chose to go that route, however most cemeteries across the country offer people 10-year terms with the option of renewing once.
“That’s pretty much the standard across Canada now, expect for Ontario,” said Setzer. “Often with many of our plots now we have no contact, so this also helps us to keep in contact with the owner of the certificate.”
Under the previous rules when Parks Canada was in charge, eligible residents could own a plot for 49-years and if the gravesite wasn’t used within that period of time it was forfeited and returned to Parks.
Council approved first reading of the bylaw, but decided to postpone seconding reading so administration could include a clause that could extend how long someone can own their gravesite.
Council also directed administration to look at best practices used in the industry.
The bylaw under consideration also includes new eligibility criteria for burial or inurnment in the townsite.
Up until now, a person needed to be a permanent resident of Banff National Park at the time of death, or the immediate next of kin of someone whose remains are interred in the cemetery.
However, new proposals would extend the criteria to include those born in Banff. It would also include a permanent resident of Banff National Park – as opposed to any national park – and change the cumulative period they’ve lived here from 25 to 15 years.
There’s also a proposal to change the next of kin definition to include grandparents and grandchildren.
In 2012, council approved construction of a columbarium, an ossuary and memorial wall, which was scheduled for development in 2017.
Administration later proposed to develop a scattering garden rather than an ossuary, which council supported in 2015.
With the approved development of the columbarium project, which now includes the creation of a scattering garden and memorial wall, administration evaluated the cemeteries bylaw and discussed the changes with council in a two-day workshop last summer.
Under the proposals, any person would qualify to be scattered at the garden and anyone would qualify to be memorialized on the Banff Cemetery memorial wall, no interment necessary.