Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One thing is certain, death and the increasing cost of your final reward

Monday’s Daily News provided the details on the increasing cost of passing on in Prince Rupert.

The city will increase the cost of burial at the Fairview Cemetery in the future, the first increase since 2004. Though the City is quick to point out that the cost in Prince Rupert is still among the lowest in the province.

The article also examines some of the recent changes at the cemetery and the requirements to keep it a respectful place of rest for our past citizens.

By Christian Webber
The Daily News
Monday, August 20, 2007
Pages one and three

The cost of living has been rising for years but the cost of dying has stayed largely unchanged.

Now, after an adjustment from city council that too will cost Rupertities a little more in the years ahead, although council was eager to stress that even with a small increase, cemetery rates in the city are still among the lowest in the province.

Adjusted rates for the cemetery, announced by city council, will result in a small increase in revenue in 2007, depending on the level of usage experienced during the year.

“It’s a matter of cleaning up the old bylaw, adjusting the fees to keep pace,” said Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond.

“There has been some really good work done in the cemetery over the last number of years, we’ve seen some real progress there.

“We want to be able to maintain that energy,” said Pond.

The cemetery rates have not gone up since 2004 and consequently have not kept up with the cost of materials, utilities, labour and equipment, said Bob Thompson, general manager, engineering and public works.

The new rates will contain the level of subsidization for a standard plot to less than $250 per burial so that the public will pay about 75 per cent of the cost.

The ownership fee for a typical plot is still reasonably priced at $300 for city residents, he said.

There hasn’t been an increase since 2004, so there is a natural increase. What the city is trying to do is contain the level of subsidization.

The cemetery is subsidized this year to the tune of $176,00 and the revenues to date are $16,000, said Thompson.

He said the city is trying to keep the cost of a standard plot there to around $300 and the province adds on a mandatory perpetual care fund of $80.

“Our charge of $300 is pretty reasonable, when it comes to the operation they are trying to keep people paying the bills around 75 percent,” said Thompson.

He said it would be hard to find a deal like that anywhere, where you get something looked after in perpetuity for a subsidized cost.

“Right now, there are two staff maintaining the cemetery throughout the season and there is a lot of turf to cut there. It’s quite a large cemetery if you walk the whole thing, most people don’t realize how big it is,” said Thompson.

Thompson said he would rather see it go up more often than every four years. He would rather see reasonable increases from time to time because it is easier on everybody if the cost goes up in smaller increments.

“I’m pretty happy with the way the cemetery is working out, one of the newer things we’ve done is we have a columbarium,” said Thompson. A columbarium is basically a place to put ashes above ground.

“We’ve just done our first one and it’s complete and full, so we’re now about to do our second one,” said Thompson.

The city is also setting up a memorial garden as well which will include a facility for ashes.

Ashes will go into an ossuary in the memorial garden instead of having ashes left behind at the cemetery as they have been in the past for many years, he said.

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