This small park at the west end of Greendale Road is the place where Lake Cowichan will get its long-awaited columbarium/cemetery. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

This small park at the west end of Greendale Road is the place where Lake Cowichan will get its long-awaited columbarium/cemetery. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Lake Cowichan residents will soon have an in-town burial option

After years of effort and debate, we could see a columbarium in place by October.

Work on the Lake Cowichan columbarium is moving forward quickly.

On Tuesday, Aug. 22, Lake Cowichan town council gave the first three readings to the Town of Lake Cowichan Cemetery and Columbarium Bylaw.

A columbarium is expected to be in place and operating by October of this year, bringing to a close years of talk and effort by generations of Lake Cowichan residents and politicians.

Lake Cowichan CAO Joe Fernandez said that the surveying of the site (at a small park near the town end of Greendale Road) was done locally; “it would have cost $6,000 otherwise,” and the town had to delineate the boundaries of two parcels of land for the site.

“These two properties are now consolidated. Not all the property is usable for the columbarium; we can use only about a third of it. [The surveyor] had three spots marked out so we could probably put up three ‘columbariums’ there. That’s the extent of what we can do now.

“But in the meantime, there are two other things. We need a tree report because there may be some trees that have to come down and then we have to determine exactly where to place this. We also have to get a geotech report before we can move to the next step.”

Council received the bylaw to deal with the rates and definitions for the columbarium and “how this thing is going to be regulated,” at its regular August meeting.

According to Fernandez, “We could have this thing wrapped up by October.”

Coun. Tim McGonigle said, “The APC (advisory planning council) has discussed the bylaw at length in their June meeting and there was discussion about resident and non-resident definitions.”

Fernandez said, “the definitions are in the bylaw. Then you can look at it.”

(If you want to look at the bylaw, go to http://www.town.lakecowichan.bc.ca/dl/REG17-08-22.pdf and make your way to page 14 of the agenda PDF.)

Mayor Ross Forrest wanted to know how quickly the tech report would be ready, and Fernandez said it would be very soon.

“I’m not that concerned about it,” Forrest said, “the columbariums sit above the ground, sit on a pad. There’s nothing leeching into the river. I don’t think there’s going to be anything there that’s going to harm the environment. I’m quite confident, and we still have to have the report.”

McGonigle said, “we still need to do a geotechnical, just to confirm that there is not a problem with the weight distribution of those three on that property, give the 200 year floodplain. I look forward to the completion of this. It’s a long process but that’s how government works.”