Columbarium project moves ahead, council hopes to have plans by the end of the year

While Lake Cowichan may lack a graveyard, the proposed columbarium would let residents stay in town.

After spending some time on the back burner, the process is moving along for Lake Cowichan’s proposed columbarium.

A columbarium is a public storage facility which allows for funeral urns to be stored inside.

“Right now our planner’s looking at where we can situate one,” Mayor Ross Forrest said. “We’re looking at the requirement for putting one up — we’re still not sure what type of zoning or other requirements are necessary.”

Forrest said that he hopes to have plans set in place by the end of the year, though having a budget ready in 2015 seems unlikely right now.

“It depends on when we get the report back,” he said.

The idea of putting a columbarium in town was first brought up last spring, during a public meeting in which Forrest discussed the idea with local business owners and residents.

“When it first came up, everybody was very positive about it,” Forrest said. “We’ll be talking to them again, once we get further with this.

“When it came up at the public meeting, people were saying that the town doesn’t have a cemetery, and people who have lived here their whole lives want to stay here after.”

Joe Fernandez, Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Lake Cowichan, confirmed that a study had already been done in the past that determined that Lake Cowichan doesn’t have land for a cemetery.

“A columbarium would be the next best thing,” Forrest said. “It would give residents the opportunity for their ashes to remain in Lake Cowichan.”

Although the columbarium is still in its early planning stages, Forrest said that he’s yet to see any opposition to the idea, either from the public or council.

Councillor Tim McGonigle has been one of the people on board with the project since it was first brought up in April.

“You can live here, you just can’t live here and die here,” he said. “This has always been an issue as long as I’ve been at the table. It’s an excellent idea that doesn’t need to be a full blown cemetery. It’s also a provincially legislated service but you don’t need a lot of room for it. It’s just for cremations and urns.

“It’s not a money maker so if we’re looking to make money off it we’re in the wrong business. It’s a place for people to pay their respects.”

While the financial and other requirements needed to move ahead with the columbarium are still to be seen, Forrest said he is looking forward to seeing the plans being finalized.

“It’s all about giving people a place to go and visit,” he said. “We’re an aging community and now is the time.”