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Did You Know? July 20

Posted on Jul 17 , 2014 in Did You Know

 Whatever happened our Memorial Park?

 At our annual vestry this year we unanimously approved to move forward with the proposed concept of the Saint Cuthbert Memorial park. The concept that was presented to our Vestry was then taken and submitted to the Delta Planning department for feedback and to see if we could get approval in principle. It was not an official application to begin building but a preliminary application as this would be a first for the municipality. The proposal was well received and approved in principle with an invite to submit a formal application. However, the process also identified some roadblocks which the municipality had recommendations to overcome. It was discovered that there is an inconsistency in the cemetery act. Ashes from cremation are not considered human remains. Consequently it is not illegal for people to scatter ashes on mountain tops in parks or backyards or pretty much anywhere. When a Church then establishes a memorial garden where ashes are scattered is viewed in the same manner. If a church were to close under the law nothing needs to be done with ashes scattered in a memorial garden. A different building could be constructed right on top of them. They could just be ignored. If however a columbarium is built and ashes are stored in an urn in a niche in the wall then the law applies. It is considered that those ashes are being kept in trust and consequently the cemetery act places an encumbrance on the property where the columbarium is located. In that case if the church closes then a new location must be found and approved and the columbarium moved. As a church though we would argue that morally and ethically when people choose to have ashes scattered in a memorial garden on church property they are expecting that those ashes are being kept in trust within the ground. Placing ashes in the ground in a garden on church property is not the same as scattering them on a mountain or favorite trail. We believe our responsibility should be the same in either case. Our proposed memorial park will be treated differently under the law then our current memorial garden. We think they should be treated the same and our presentation may result in the law changing so that scattering gardens come under the same guidelines. The suggestion from the municipality to make this as simple as possible for the church is that the municipality register the proposed memorial park as a separate entity from the church. The result would be that the encumbrance placed on the land by the cemetery act would then only apply to the park and not the church. This would mean that in the future any alterations to the church would not need to get approval through the cemetery board. A very helpful and wise suggestion that shows the municipality’s enthusiasm for the project and support for the project. This process though will add about another four months to the project meaning that actual permits to proceed will not be in hand until well into the fall which means construction would not happen until the spring as it takes about four months to order the columbarium. From a timing perspective though this will give opportunity for a new Rector to be more involved with the project. So there has been a great deal of positive progress made over the last four months, just nothing visible yet. That is yet to come.

 Reverend Al Carson

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