Vancouver’s only cemetery is thinking outside the pine box in its efforts to find space, become more environmentally friendly and make the graveyard an interesting place for the living.
Vancouver council has approved changes that would allow strangers to share grave spaces, could permit three or more bodies in one site, will establish a green burial option and would consider eliminating tombstones or markers.
Cemetery manager Glen Hodges said the changes could allow for hundreds of other spaces and keep the site operating in an environmentally friendly way
“One of the concepts that we’ll be looking at for our green burial areas is also the notion of non-permanent markers. This notion that the body is buried and it naturally returns to the earth, that some people might be interested in having that same sort of return to the earth symbolized in their memorial or marker.”
He said if the marker was made of wood, over the decades it would erode in the same decomposition process as the bodies underneath.
Mountain View Cemetery has been operated by the city since 1887 and sale of new burial space in the 42-hectare site was shut down in 1986 but redevelopment began and the sale of internment space reopened in 2008.
While the city approved the bylaw changes, a cemetery committee that includes Hodges will still need to establish the expanded options.
Hodges said they’ve traditionally sold the two-dimensional space, a four-by-eight foot site, to one person or family. Now they’re thinking of internment space as three dimensional.