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City of Vancouver passes bylaws to allow 'grave sharing'
TORONTO -- New bylaws passed in the City of Vancouver will allow the burying of multiple, unrelated people in the same grave – a response to the issue of dwindling supply of urban space for the dead.
“The City of Vancouver recently passed a bylaw for Mountain View Cemetery to allow for people to share graves as of January 2020,” said environmental planner Nicole Hanson on CTV’s Your Morning Monday. “Up to three people who want to participate will be able to share a grave.”
Hanson said that practice is “extremely environmentally friendly and sustainable,” and drew the comparison of grave sharing to ride-sharing programs.
“It’s no different than the ride-sharing practices such as Uber and Lyft except the person has reached their final destination,” she said.
Across Canada, cities like Calgary and Halifax are facing the same issue as Vancouver, and Hanson said that Toronto could run out of space within 20 years. Cemeteries have had to get creative.
“Right now there is a lot of stacking happening,” Hanson said. “In Jerusalem, there is a three-storey 22,000 grave catacomb that’s being built within a tunnel below the capital’s existing cemetery. That’s one of the most sustainable ways, is to do infill.”
Hanson said that the European city of Prague also resorted to “stacking about 10 to 20 bodies in layers on top of existing graves,” in order to save space.
“In the future, we will have to reconsider the planning and environmental ways to save space,” Hanson said, adding that for major urban cities like Toronto, it will be essential to have land use policies that include amendments in zoning by-laws to absorb the population growth.