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Cost of burial plots to rise

The cost of burying a family member or loved one in the Port Coquitlam cemetery could increase if council approves a new cemetery bylaw amendment.

The cost of burying a family member or loved one in the Port Coquitlam cemetery could increase if council approves a new cemetery bylaw amendment.

According to the draft report, which will be presented to the healthy community committee on Thursday, an adult resident of the municipality would pay $5,447.68 for a burial, up from the current price of $5,234.88. Former residents would see a hike of $238.50, increasing from $7,094.37 to $7332.87, while non-residents would pay $9,509.90, up from $9,234.30.

"We haven't increased our rates since 2007," said Barry Becker, Port Coquitlam's manager of parks and recreation. "All we are doing is going to market rates."

The costs include more than just the plot of land. Contributions to a care fund, expansion fees, opening and closing of the plot, a liner, a license fee and HST are all included in the overall price.

A city staff report said the rate increases will bring the city in line with neighbouring municipalities including Coquitlam.

The bylaw amendment currently being considered by staff and council would also see changes to some of the city's policies regarding offerings placed on grave sites. Things like flowers and other items create maintenance problems for cemetery workers, the report added.

The process of removing the offerings, the report said, is time consuming and has the potential to put liability on the city for any lost or damaged items.

"It addresses some of our maintenance issues," Becker said. "In terms of moving the plants or other things, there is an efficiency of operation there."

If the amended bylaw is approved by council it would allow for wreaths, floral offerings and other items to be placed at the time of a person's interment. Staff would be allowed to remove the offerings once they become wilted or unsightly.

Also, cemetery staff will remove any items placed on a grave that are considered offensive or improper and no glass objects of any kind will be allowed.

Fresh cut flowers may only be placed in the flower vase provided between March 15 and November 15 and from December 1 to January 15 additional decorations will be allowed for the holiday season.

However, Becker said cemetery staff will work with families from other backgrounds or cultures that may not celebrate holidays during the December to January period.

"The city takes the customer service approach," Becker said. "If there are unusual situations that may arise... then we would take a look at that."

The bylaw amendments are modeled after similar bylaws in other cities, Becker said, bringing PoCo in line with neighbouring regulations and the industry standard.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com