British Columbia

Mausoleum space running out as popularity of cremation grows in Prince George

The city of Prince George is running out of space in its mausoleum as the popularity of cremation grows, according to a new report.

City expects remaining spots to be filled by end of 2018

Prince George Memorial Park caretaker Tiffany Witala stands outside the mausoleum, which is nearly full after being constructed in 2006. (Audrey McKinnon/CBC)

The city of Prince George is running out of space in its mausoleum as the popularity of cremation grows, according to a new report.

"We're at the point where the facility is just about full," said Sean LeBrun, manager of parks and solid waste services for the city.

LeBrun said only 46 of 425 niches — spaces where cremated remains can be stored — are available in the Memorial Park Cemetery. He anticipates those will be full by the end of 2018.

Caretaker Tiffany Witala said mourners enjoy the indoor atmosphere of the mausoleum, particularly during cold winter months. (Audrey McKinnon/CBC)

A report commissioned by the city recommends expanding the mausoleum to include an additional 860 niches. It also suggests the construction of a memorial wall and a garden for people to scatter remains outdoors in order to reflect the shift away from full-body burials in traditional gravesites.

LeBrun noted the upside to the increased popularity in cremation is the city's cemetery land is now expected to last longer than the previous estimate of 50 years.

"Obviously a full-body plot takes up a lot more space than a cremation," he said. 

Communities across the country are facing dwindling graveyard space. Glen Hodges, manager of Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, said just 600 casket gravesites are left in the city, driving plot prices up.

LeBrun said while Prince George still has a few decades to go before it runs out of burial space altogether, it's important to anticipate future needs and respond to the changing ways people mourn the dead.

"Any type of option we can offer people to try and provide a service so that loved ones aren't sitting on urns in basements or up on mantels is a bonus," he said.


With files from Audrey McKinnon.