The new niche wall

Funeral industry adapts to increasing demand for cremation

New niche wall, water feature and reflection area unveiled on Saturday

Campbell River’s cemetery services are about to be officially expanded.

Island Funeral Services, who leases a section of the Elk Falls Memorial Cemetery from the City of Campbell River, invites the public to join them at the unveiling of the new niche wall, water feature and reflection area at the facility Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“We’ve tried to make it as consistent with the natural surroundings as we could,” says Kent Roduck, owner/operator of IFS.

“We left some of the trees in to try and make it a little more natural,” he said, and added a water feature that’s less of a fountain and more of a bubbling dream through rocks.

Roduck says now that they have niches available again – their first wall on the side of the building has been full for a while now – Campbell River has the most services available on site at its cemetery of any facility on Vancouver Island. Whether someone is interested in burial of a body or an urn, scattering or having an above-ground resting place for a loved one’s ashes, there is a place for that at Elk Falls Memorial Cemetery.

Those options are available on the same site as a 2,500 square-foot building containing both a crematorium and gathering place for memorial services, celebrations of life or receptions, which is a unique situation on the Island.

“Between what the city offers and what we offer, there isn’t any other cemetery on Vancouver Island that offers all those things in one place,” he said.

During the latest addition, Roduck says, they were also being proactive in giving themselves room to continue that expansion.

There are currently three benches surrounding the first niche wall – which holds 100 urns – but they are set on the future locations of three more niche walls.

That way, the anchoring infrastructure is already in place when the first wall fills and they can easily add more niches without having to disturb the site with excavation and concrete pouring, etc.

Roduck says the additional niche walls are a sign that cemeteries are changing with the times.

“I think it’s kind of a comment that cemeteries are realizing that, first of all, the cremation rate is so high in British Columbia, and extremely high on Vancouver Island. There are months that the cremation rate in Campbell River is 100 per cent. It averages out at about 90 per cent,” he said, so only 10 per cent of those looking for services are looking for a burial.

Though the niches in the new wall have been for sale for a while – the first urn was placed in the wall this past spring – Roduck and the City wanted to wait a while before unveiling the new features at a celebration. Like any “Grand Opening,” they wanted to be sure conditions were as ideal as they could be before inviting the public to have a look.

“We wanted to wait until summer when the weather should be a little nicer. The idea is to be able to do tours and let people walk around at their leisure and see the facilities when the foliage is full and the flowers have all bloomed,” he says.

The official unveiling happens tomorrow at 1 p.m. when Acting Mayor Ron Kerr will perform the dedication ceremony, but the public is welcome any time between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for refreshments and tours of the facility.