Mar 05, 2019 Return to Headlines

Community Provides Feedback on Future of Robinson Memorial Park Cemetery

by Kevin Henkelman |

COQUITLAM, BC, March ​5, 2019 – Following extensive planning, including input from the public, Coquitlam has a new Draft Cemetery Services Plan to help guide the future of Robinson Memorial Park Cemetery.

A New Draft Cemetery Services Plan

The need to develop a Cemetery Services Plan was identified in the Parks, Recreation & Culture (PRC) Master Plan. With space for full burial plots expected to run out within three or four years, the new plan is required to help address the need while guiding the City’s cemetery services for the next 20 to 30 years.

Coquitlam’s Draft Cemetery Services Plan focuses on several key areas including: 

Business Planning

Currently, the Cemetery operates on a direct cost-recovery basis. The draft plan proposes moving to a Planning for Growth funding model, which proposes moderate price increases to generate additional revenue. Those funds will establish a cemetery capital reserve to provide adequate funding for future expansion phases as well as the eventual development and/or acquisition of a second cemetery site in the future.

Interment Options

Another key objective of the draft plan is to look at projections and trends in interment options and consider new choices.  As such, the draft plan proposes maintaining certain services (e.g. full burial double-depth plots, and cremated remains in niche wall, ground or scattered), discontinuing some services (e.g. single-depth burials, side-by-side niches) and introducing altogether new services (e.g. sustainable family burial, green burial).

Concept Plan

The draft services plan also proposes a new concept plan for the cemetery. The concept plan is divided into three phases:

Phase 1 (2019/2020) – includes a new asphalt road connecting the existing cemetery road and Robinson Street; new seating and storage areas; new hedges along Robinson Street; clearing new areas for over 1,200 green burial plots and 380 traditional plots; removing a redundant road for more traditional burial plots; installing columbarium pedestals and memorial boulders; and infill of cremated remains plots in several areas.

Phase 2 (2023) – includes construction of two new columbarium walls as well as a wall for in-ground interment of cremated remains.

Phase 3 (2030) – includes further infill of cremated remains and traditional burial plots as well as an additional four columbarium walls.

Feedback from Public Engagement 

In June 2018, members of the public were invited to share their views on the Robinson Memorial Park Cemetery through an online survey. Nearly 600 people responded and feedback generally aligned well with the proposed direction identified by staff. Key findings include:

  • 96% agree that full burials should only be available to current or former Coquitlam residents (current practice).
  • 68% agree that interment options for cremated remains should be available to residents and non-residents (current practice).
  • 91% agree that non-residents should pay a premium for cremated remains options (potential new practice).
  • 64% support a moderate or significant price increase for cemetery services to contribute to a cemetery capital reserve fund (potential new practice).
  • 94% support the idea of sustainable family burial (i.e. permitting grave re-use within a family) (potential new practice).
  • 97% support the proposed concept design for expansion.

Additionally, respondents were asked about their preferred interment options: 

  • 44% preferred cremated remains in a niche wall (current practice),
  • 33% preferred a green burial with a common marker and reforested area (potential new practice), and
  • 29% preferred cremated remains in the ground with an individual marker (current practice).

A full summary of the survey data is available at www.coquitlam.ca/cemetery.

Next Steps in the Draft Cemetery Services Strategy

Following further refinements to the draft strategy, the final Cemetery Services Plan will be presented for Council endorsement in spring 2019, along with Phase 1 of the optimization plan. Adoption of the plan will also require several bylaw amendments.

About Robinson Memorial Park Cemetery

Robinson Memorial Park Cemetery is a 3.4 hectare (8.5 acre) site in Southwest Coquitlam owned and operated by the City. It has been in operation since 1935. The Cemetery serves current and former residents of Coquitlam and operates on a direct cost-recovery basis offering a mixture of interment options for cremated remains and full burial.

For more information on the Cemetery, visit www.coquitlam.ca/cemetery.

Media Contact:
Lanny Englund
Manager, Parks Planning & Forestry