Cemetery Space Shortage

Palermo Sign

Palermo Sign

In Palermo it is forbidden to die because there are no more places in the cemeteries.

Our associate Eileen Finn took a photo of this sign on a recent trip to the Sicilian capital of Palermo, it’s a witty yet stark reminder that cemeteries running out space is a worldwide dilemma.

Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery

We couldn’t resist sharing these sunny snowy day shots of the Legacy Gardens at Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery.
In 2016, LEES+Associates undertook the preparation of construction documents for this new precinct of the cemetery.

The Legacy Gardens design provides additional cremation niche and mausolea crypt inventory by transforming an existing service road around the Bennett Memorial into a premium cremation garden.

Legacy Gardens at Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery












Legacy Gardens at Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery












Legacy Gardens at Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery












Legacy Gardens at Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery











Photo Credit: David Gatzke, Cemetery manager, Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery

Cumberland Cemetery Improvements

Implementation of site improvements are now underway at the Village of Cumberland’s historic cemetery!

In 2013, LEES+Associates in collaboration with Outlook Land Design completed the Village’s Cemeteries Master Plan. Since then, the Village has been gradually undertaking projects to restore and enhance its three cemeteries.
New soil, trees, shrubs and irrigation are now in place, and as of last week, work has begun on realigning and resurfacing the site’s roadways. The longer term plan for the Village Cemetery includes creating community gathering area and establishing a green burial section.

Below are a few photos from the site.
Village of Cumberland Cemetery Improvements

Cumberland Cemetery Improvements

Cumberland Cemetery Improvements

Cumberland Cemetery Improvements

Cumberland Cemetery Improvements

‘Looming crisis’ as cemeteries across Canada run out of space

“We’re running out of room because, as I characterize cemeteries, they’re the forgotten landscape, they’re the forgotten land use,” he said. “We’ve managed to, on the whole, build healthy cities with good infrastructure and downtown cores and housing…but we’ve really neglected the importance of remembrance and places of grief and mourning.”

Erik Lees was a guest on CTV News last month to discuss the issue of cemeteries running out of space. Read full article

In related article on the Globe and Mail website, Erik explains that, “as death has become more institutionalized, there has been a disconnect between urban planning and setting aside space for the dead, creating the climate for the current crisis”

What We Do: Cemetery Needs Assessments

Okotoks Cemetery Land Needs Assessments

LEES+Associates has undertaken a range of “Needs Assessments” for communities across Canada. The examined criteria for social need varies significantly in breadth and depth. Generally, our needs assessments have included a comprehensive review of a municipality or region’s expected demand for cemetery and crematorium services over 25 to 50 years and compared it to the available supply and quality of service in the community. Needs assessments are often included within a community business plan or master plan.

York Cemetery Land Needs Assessment

These assessments usually include demographic market research, community engagement and stakeholder workshops, land and inventory site analyses and an implementation plan. They also sometimes include price benchmarking, detailed financial forecasts, a review of governance, marketing strategy and operational policies.

The primary goal of these assessments is to provide a range of recommendations that serve as a guide to site development and chart a path forward that will enhance future service to the community, moving this important social system towards long-term sustainability.

Listed below are recent Cemetery Land Needs Assessments we’ve undertaken –

Town of Okotoks Cemetery Land Needs Assessment
Okotoks, AB

York Region Cemetery Needs Analysis and Policy Framework
York, ON

City of Brandon – Cemetery Expansion Master Plan
Brandon, AB

City of Brandon - Cemetery Expansion Master Plan

Green Burial and Sustainability

Green Burial and Sustainability

The December edition of Ground, the periodical published by the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA), included an article exploring green burial and the concept of sustainability within the bereavement sector.

“Green Burial and Sustainability” by Katie Strang, includes perspectives on this topic from Catriona Hearn, one of the Senior Associates in our Vancouver office. Catriona led the design of the Woodlands at Royal Oak Burial Park, the first active green burial area in Canada in an existing cemetery, and is Vice President of the Green Burial Society of Canada.

According to Hearn, “The burial industry has become more sustainable —environmentally, socially, and, on some levels, economically. It’s incremental, and largely based on people understanding the value of land in a broader sense, especially as space becomes more precious, notably in urban areas. This has led people to see cemeteries as park space.” Read full article

Green Burial and Sustainability

Cochrane Cemetery Master Plan Accepted

The Cochrane Cemetery Master Plan reached a milestone on Monday Nov 14 when Town Council unanimously adopted the new master plan and cemetery bylaw. The master plan aims to create a cemetery with a beautiful, park-like setting, diversify the range of interment options and reflect the unique character and heritage of Cochrane.

According to the Cochrane Times;

In order to ensure the Cochrane Cemetery is able to appropriately service the community as the population grows, town council gave all three readings needed to implement the new Cemetery Master Plan and updates to the cemetery bylaw…

Read more

Below are some renderings and photos of the current site…
Cochrane Cemetery Master Plan Accepted







Photos from Fort McMurray

In 2010, LEES+Associates was retained to undertake comprehensive planning and design for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s municipal cemeteries – Anzac, Conklin, Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan. This included site selection and land acquisition through to construction documentation and administration.

The project is ongoing and below are some photos from Erik’s recent visit to the site.