Calgary

Calgary is almost out of cemetery space

Doug Marter, manager of capital planning and infrastructure with Calgary Parks says the city knows it has a problem, even with a new cemetery set to open in the deep southeast in 2020.

It's been 78 years since a new burial ground was opened in Calgary, but that will change in 2 years

Doug Marter is the manager of capital planning and infrastructure with Calgary Parks, the city department responsible for cemeteries. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Calgary is running out of cemetery space. 

"They filled up the other cemeteries that were open many, many years ago and didn't replace them," said Michael Pierson, president of Pierson's Funeral Service.  

"So they've of course allowed any of the city cemetery capacity to move to Queen's Park Cemetery and now it's almost full."

Queen's Park is the city's newest cemetery. It opened in 1940. 

At that time there were about 90,000 Calgarians.

Pierson said people are turning to cemeteries in neighbouring towns such as Okotoks to find a plot. 

New cemetery coming

Doug Marter, manager of capital planning and infrastructure with Calgary Parks says the city knows it has a problem, even with a new cemetery set to open in 2020.

"The southeast cemetery gives us between 15 and 20, 25 years at most, of capacity," he said. 

The city is also trying to colonize space adjacent to Queen's Park that is currently used as an off-leash area, but the plan has bumped up against some community opposition.

Pierson said the plan for the southeast cemetery is "too little, too late."

European example

Marter suggests Calgary needs to look to Europe — where plots aren't permanent like they are here — for guidance.

"Because space is so limited in Europe especially in dense cities, plots are only available under a lease, for lack of a better term, for 10 years," he said.

"And then people can buy it again or they can exhume the remains and do something else with them."

The city also wants to buy land for a new northwest cemetery but that search has already lasted a decade. 

With files from Anis Heydari