Penticton reviews cemetery plan

City estimates there is currently enough space to provide full burials for about five to seven years

A view looking back over some of the older grave markers at Lakeview Cemetery on Lower Bench Road. The city is currently developing a plan for cemeteries services which includes expanding Lakeview.

A view looking back over some of the older grave markers at Lakeview Cemetery on Lower Bench Road. The city is currently developing a plan for cemeteries services which includes expanding Lakeview.

It may not have been a great turnout for the cemeteries master plan open house, but the City of Penticton is still hoping to get your input on planning for the future.

Penticton is in the process of developing a long-term vision for cemetery services and development for the city, which includes concept plans for expanding Lakeview Cemetery. That’s where Tuesday’s first public open house was held.

“We didn’t get a great turnout, but the weather didn’t co-operate with us,” said parks supervisor Jeff Lynka.

The concept plan presentation, along with a questionnaire, are available on the City of Penticton website for viewing and feedback. It will also be on display in the Penticton Community Centre lobby for the next week.

“We’re asking for people to provide their comments by June 7, using the questionnaire that is online,” said Lynka.

The plans show some different concepts for interment, potentially including green burials, family estate plots, ash scattering gardens, memorial walls and the like.

“Penticton’s cemetery system is reaching an important threshold, and it is incumbent upon the city to plan for the future and properly honour the final resting places of loved ones,” said acting mayor Garry Litke. “The master plan project is an opportunity to ensure that the cemeteries will meet the needs of residents throughout the next 25 to 50 years.”

Lynka said they are trying to expand existing facilities, but also create new and different opportunities for interment. As it stands, he said, change will have to happen, as they are running out of room under the existing configuration.

“Space is certainly a consideration as we try to maximize the use of land,” said Lynka. “For full burials, we are probably five to seven years at the current rate. With the Columbarium gardens, the niches, the mausoleum, we have lots of room for many years. But it is primarily the traditional burial space we need to expand on.”

According to Lynka, Penticton is following  a provincial trend, with a cremation rate of about 80 per cent.

“That is pretty typical across the province. B.C. is on the leading edge for cremation vs. traditional,” said Lynka. “Though the demand for full burial has declined, we recognize there is a need to provide that option. The whole premise of the project is to create a long-term vision for cemetery needs in Penticton.”

Beside looking to the future of Penticton’s cemetery needs, the Cemeteries Master Plan is also looking at the historical significance of the city’s burial grounds.

“We are looking at the Fairview Cemetery as well, and maybe enhancing that in terms of its cultural significance. Currently it is closed to new burials, and at this point we are not proposing to add that. There is space on the property for potential interment options there, but it is not in the current plans.” said Lynka.

Fairview Cemetery was first used as early as 1892, with Lakeview coming into operation in 1910. Together, both grounds house some of Penticton’s earliest pioneers and other graves of historical significance.

Penticton has commissioned consulting and landscape architect firm Lees and Associates to prepare the Cemeteries Master Plan, consisting of demand/needs analysis, a business plan and design of future land development.

For more information about the plan, call 250-490-2500.