Update: natural burials approved for city’s cemetery
Natural burials are now allowed in the city’s cemetery.
City council has passed a motion on Oct. 10 during its regular monthly meeting for adoption of an amendment bylaw that would allow for natural burials in the City of Nelson Memorial Park Cemetery.
Traditional burial practices often involve embalming, non-biodegradable caskets and concrete vaults, which have significant environmental and financial costs, prompting the call for natural and green burials as sustainable alternatives.
“In the amending bylaw, staff have differentiated natural burials from green burials in that natural burials do not require a separate area for interment whereas green burials do,” noted a City staff report to council. “Green burials are in a park-like setting, where the body is not embalmed and is encased in a shroud or biodegradable casket and natural burials are in a typical grave setting, the body is not embalmed and is encased in a biodegradable casket, but not a shroud.”
Both have no grave liner. The environmental considerations are similar: human remains proposed for interment in a natural burial are in a natural state and not embalmed, and the casket or container is made of biodegradable and environmentally sustainable material.
However, natural burials at the Nelson Municipal Cemetery will increase the cost of the service. Without a grave liner, the land over the grave may cave-in causing ground instability.
“Cemetery crews will be required to maintain the land over and around the grave keeping it safe for visitors,” said City director of Corporate Services, Sarah Winton, requiring an increase in costs to maintain the area.
City staff anticipate bringing something to council in 2024 once it is understood what the true costs are for all forms of internment.
“We recognized there is an increase in costs in all areas,” Winton said.
Until that time, the fee for a natural burial would be the same as a regular burial until the fee bylaw was reviewed and amended.
Natural burials, also known as green burials or eco-friendly burials, are an environmentally conscious alternative to traditional burial practices.
These burials aim to minimize the ecological impact of the interment process and promote the return of the body to the earth in a more natural way.
Natural burials offer an environmentally friendly and meaningful way to return the body to the earth, reducing the carbon footprint associated with traditional burial practices. As environmental awareness continues to grow, the popularity of natural burials is increasing, and more options and locations are becoming available to those interested in this alternative approach to the end-of-life process.
Source: City of Nelson Oct. 10 agenda
The Nelson End of Life Society (NELS) attended the public participation portion of the June 20 committee-of-the-whole meeting and requested that council consider including a green burial option at the cemetery. Similar requests have been made to previous councils in 2015 and 2018.
The City Municipal Operations department had identified the need for a parks and cemetery master plan, in part, due to pressures from traditional forms of interment. The master plan is currently being contemplated as part of the 2024 workplan, with staff pursuing quotations for budgeting purposes, noted a City staff report to council.
“It is anticipated the costs will be in the range of $130-$160,000. Additionally, the project will provide staff with accurate information to determine if current fees at the cemetery are keeping up with the cost of operations,” noted a staff report on the matter.