Licence still suspended for Cowichan crematorium despite court win

Although the B.C. Court of Appeal decided last week that the Cowichan Valley Crematorium qualifies as reasonable use of the land it is located on in Sahtlam, its commercial licence remains suspended at this time.

Consumer Protection BC, which handles crematorium licensing in the province, says that it is still awaiting the proper documentation before it will lift the suspension. "All we can say on this matter is that the licence for the crematorium remains suspended until such time we have received the required paperwork," Consumer Protection BC spokesperson Tatiana Chabeaux-Smith said. "At that point, we would assess the licence application as is our standard procedure."

The crematorium’s commercial licence was suspended in September 2012 when operators failed to provide the proper documents from the Cowichan Valley Regional District stating that a commercial crematorium was proper use of the site. While the licence was suspended, the Supreme Court of B.C. ruled in the fall of 2013 that a commercial crematorium is a violation of the CVRD’s P-1 (Parks and Institutional) zoning.

The Court of Appeal determined that a crematorium – commercial or otherwise – is an institution and therefore falls within the zoning provisions.

The crematorium has been operating since the 1960s, but only in 2010 did operators begin using it for commercial purposes. The CVRD has never disputed its use for ceremonial purposes.

Currently, the CVRD is looking into its options regarding the Court of Appeal’s decision. The next step would be to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.