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Columbariums 101

What would prevent a cemetery from purchasing a columbarium? Here are some common misconceptions or myths about above-ground interment vs traditional burial:

Myth #1: We have lots of space left for traditional burial
Fact: While space may not be an issue in some cemeteries, being interred in the ground is a big issue for many people. Of the 70% or more of Canadians who wish to be cremated, most of them are looking for above-ground options. If these options are not available, many will keep their loved ones at home or inter them in another cemetery.

Myth #2: Our burial plots are cheap and a niche would be too expensive
Fact: There is more to traditional burial than simply purchasing a plot. There is also the casket, headstone, engraving, funeral costs and interment fees. Cremated remains, however, need only an urn and the engraving or bronze options for a niche door are smaller and priced accordingly. Winter interments are also much easier and more economical. There is also flexibility on timing as loved ones’ urns can be taken home and interred in a columbarium at a later date.

Myth #3: It would take too long for a return on investment
Fact: Some cemeteries only sell plots at-need. In the case of a columbarium, it needs to be treated differently. The percentage of people who pre-plan their funerals is now over 50% and the percentage of niches that will sell immediately for those who are already deceased and sitting at home on a mantle is about 25%. That leaves a small percentage of people who will actually wait to purchase a niche at need. Even at a conservative mark up for maintenance and perpetual care, the return on investment should happen fairly quickly if marketed appropriately.

Myth #4: We allow in-ground interment of cremated remains
Fact: This goes back to myth #1; not everyone wants to be in the ground.

Myth #5: Our community/cemetery is too small for a columbarium
Fact: No cemetery is too small for a columbarium. If you have an active cemetery in any way, you need an above-ground interment option. Columbariums come in all sizes. In order for Nelson Granite to be successful, the columbarium has to be successful in the cemetery. A smaller unit would be more economical for a small cemetery while providing the above-ground interment option people want. The smallest cemetery with a Nelson Granite columbarium sits in a community of 58 people.

Myth #6: Our community doesn’t own or administer any cemeteries
Fact: While that is not often the case, there may be the odd small community that isn’t responsible for managing a cemetery. Sometimes they are managed by a small church or a volunteer committee. It should be noted, however, that in most provinces, municipalities or counties are required by law to take over any cemetery in their jurisdiction that becomes abandoned or neglected. If there were no perpetual care funds given to the community, taking over the maintenance and financial responsibilities of a cemetery can be a financial burden. Encouraging all cemeteries to invest in a columbarium now, or having one installed after the community has taken over, can greatly reduce the cost of adding a new cemetery to your budget.

As cremation rates are expected to continue climbing, above-ground interment options are no longer just nice to have but an absolute necessity in your cemetery. Cemeteries generally date back to when a municipality was incorporated, sometimes even earlier. They were considered essential to building a community. As traditional burial makes way for cremation, columbariums must also be considered essential in your cemetery.



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