Crematorium licence remains suspended

The Cowichan Valley Crematorium’s licence will remain suspended until the BC Court of Appeal hears its submission in June, the BC Supreme Court decided last week.

The crematorium’s licence had been suspended by Consumer Protection BC in 2012, and the owners appealed, leading to a stay in the suspension. The BC Supreme Court ruled in fall 2013 that the presence of the crematorium violated Cowichan Valley Regional District zoning rules, which the owners again appealed.

This March, Consumer Protection BC upheld its decision from 2012, which led to another appeal and the Supreme Court’s latest decision.

“The court dismissed their application for a stay finding that the public interest in this case in upholding the regulatory regime and statutory requirements weighed in favour of Consumer Protection’s decision to suspend the licence,” read a press release from the CVRD.

The crematorium is located on land that has been owned by the Paldi Khalsa Diwan Society since the 1960s. In 2010, the society applied for a building permit to replace its old wood-burning ceremonial crematorium with a modern gas-fired crematorium. The permit was granted, but unbeknownst to the CVRD, the operators began using it for commercial purposes, contravening the land’s zoning.

When Consumer Protection BC first issued a commercial crematorium licence in 2011, the operators were told to provide documents from the CVRD indicating that it was an appropriate use of the site. When operators failed to provide the documents by September 2012, the licence was suspended.

The rulings do not affect ceremonial use of the crematorium. A separate licence issued to the Vancouver Island Sikh Cultural Society allows for cremations as part of religious ceremonies, which the CVRD supports.

Commercial use of the crematorium was to cease by 8 a.m. on Monday, April 28.

The crematorium operator, Harold Wallace, advises that the closure will have no effect on the level of service provided by H.W. Wallace Cremation and Burial Centre.