This story originally appeared in the Jan. 8, 2015 edition of the Chilliwack Times
Chilliwack could face a cemetery shortage within four years if an Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) non-farm use application from Vedder View Gardens gets rejected.
That’s the opinion of cemetery owner Greg Peterson as explained in an application for non-farm use to expand the Watson Road cemetery.
“With Chilliwack’s ever-increasing population, a specific portion of this increase falls within the over-55 segment which justifies the City’s various initiatives to enhance the lives and services to those people,” Greg Peterson wrote. “But what do we do when they die?” Vedder View currently has just 140 casket burial spaces available to the general public, plus 120 undeveloped, and is only one of two cemeteries in the city open to the general public.
There are a number of cemeteries on local First Nations reserve land used by those communities. There are also ones owned by Carman United, St. Mary’s Catholic and Greendale Mennonite, which are open to members of those respective churches.
No new cemetery property has been made available since 1992 when Vedder View Gardens opened, according to Peterson.
Chilliwack Cemeteries on Little Mountain does have 1,300 undeveloped burial spaces, but Peterson said they will be “considerably expensive” to the general public because they are on hillsides.
Peterson’s application is to expand Vedder View Gardens into the southern 2.28 hectares (ha) of an adjacent Watson Road property he bought in 2009, leaving 3.64 ha of that property to farming.
The application came to council before Christmas, but was sent back to staff when concerns were raised by Coun. Sam Waddington about the potential residential footprint of the remaining 3.64-hectare chunk of land.
After communication with staff, Peterson volunteered to register a restrictive covenant on title to retain that portion as farmland, a move that satisfied city council.
At Tuesday’s meeting, council agreed to forward the application on to the Agricultural Land Commission “with support.”