The Town of Hay River is hoping it has made Riverside Cemetery financially self-sustaining.
That hope is based on amendments to the Cemetery Bylaw that were passed Jan. 11.
“We made quite a few changes on that,” said Mayor Brad Mapes during the meeting. “Basically, what it will do is it will put our cemetery where it will be pretty well self-sufficient moving forward.”
That will be done by, among other things, implementing new fees, raising old fees, and adjusting the rules on reserving space, either for burial or in the columbarium where funeral urns can be stored.
“Basically, we’re by no means out to make any money,” said deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind. “We’re really just looking to make sure that we cover our costs and that we have some funds in place so that we can do a proper job of looking after that cemetery and making sure it’s well-maintained.”
Jungkind said a lot of work was done to make the changes to the bylaw.
“Just a few things to note is we did quite a bit of research on what other communities are doing,” she explained. “We were by far the least expensive place to be buried of any place we reviewed, by far, except for a place in Newfoundland.”
Later last week, Mapes further explained the reasons behind the amendments to the bylaw.
“It was never updated for years,” he said, adding that the biggest changes are in the rate structure.
For example, Mapes said an urn could be placed in the columbarium for $100.
However, that fee is now $1,560 for a Hay River resident.
Mapes said that is the going rate in the North.
It will now cost $1,760 to pay for a space in advance. Previously, a space in the columbarium could be reserved for free.
All fees are higher for non-residents of the community.
The changes will also affect reserving plots for burial, which previously had no fee. It will now require a fee of $250 for a Hay River resident and have a 10-year term.
“What we’ve had in the past is some sites that have been saved and the family’s moved away, and everybody knows that you’re not going to bury somebody there,” said Mapes. “And we’re running out of space.”
The mayor added the new fee system will also cover the eventual requirement for a second columbarium, which costs about $30,000.
There are currently only a few spaces left in the existing 36-space columbarium, he said, although he predicted there will likely be more once the town finds out who will be paying the new fee for advance purchase.
“We definitely need another one,” Mapes said.
The mayor said the changes to the Cemetery Bylaw have been talked about for more than two years.