Cemetery plan reflects changing traditions

Like most British Columbia residents, the majority of Salmon Arm citizens plan to be cremated, not buried, when they die.

Like most British Columbia residents, the majority of Salmon Arm citizens plan to be cremated, not buried, when they die.

Salmon Arm’s new cemetery will accommodate that intent, as well as people’s wish to be buried in a more traditional way or in what’s called a “green” burial.

Lees + Associates, Landscape Architects and Planners, have been working on a parks and recreation master plan as well as a cemetery master plan for the city.

In a recent report to the city and the public, principal Eric Lees noted that in a phone survey his company carried out, 71 per cent of people reached in Salmon Arm said they intend to be cremated – which is slightly lower than the B.C. average.

More than half said they would be interested in a green burial if it was available.

According to the Memorial Society of B.C., a green burial is one that is environmentally friendly but can include different levels of ‘greenness.’

Minimum requirements for a burial to be considered green, according to the society’s website, include a biodegradable coffin, no embalming and no grave liner. The society’s second level includes the minimum requirements plus the planting of flowers or small shrubs on and next to graves. The highest level is the natural setting of a nature or burial park.

The new site for the cemetery is on the corner of 20th Avenue and 30th Street SE, the former rifle range land. The city is currently accepting name suggestions for it, so if you have one, you’re asked to email it to Brad Ackerman at backerman@salmonarm.ca or call him at 250-803-4084.

Lees termed the land “wonderful,” noting that it will be an ideal location for “passive” recreation, such as walking.

“It has a beautiful forest, good access, good drainage, quite flat and the geotechnical surveys are done – you can dig good, crisp, dry holes there.”

Plans for the site include leaving more than half the trees intact and selectively logging the rest so that burial areas, some with upright and some with flat markers, are “carved into” groves of trees. Along with an entryway, a formal “great lawn” area would be created for holding memorials and ceremonies. Plans also encompass an opportunity for public art, footpaths and a columbaria wall.

The consultants predict that the site could serve the community for 80-plus years.

The property was purchased by the city from the federal government about five years ago for $647,000. At that time the city applied to the Agricultural Land Commission to have 10 hectares of the 32.7 hectare site classified as non-farm use to accommodate a cemetery.