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Vancouver Cemetery Allows Several Bodies In One Grave Site, For Environmental Reasons

grave site Vancouver

Photo: Patrick M / Flickr

The Vancouver Mountain View Cemetery is killing two birds with one stone by putting several bodies into a single grave site.

Vancouver City Council approved the motion to put three or more bodies in a single plot as a “green” burial option. This may also mean eliminating tombstones or markers, or using wooden ones instead.

“One of the concepts that we’ll be looking at for our green burial areas is also the notion of non-permanent markers,” said cemetery manager Glen Hodges to CTV News. “This notion that the body is buried and it naturally returns to the earth, that some people might be interested in having that same sort of return to the earth symbolized in their memorial or marker.”

Family members can currently share the same plot, but this change allows strangers to be buried together.


The Logistics

To make this work, there are several logistics that must be considered. For one, a three’s company style gravesite can only be done with permission of others who bought the plot.

To take up less room, people may be buried in a shroud, rather than a traditional casket.

“The volume of space in the ground that two caskets take could easily accommodate three bodies that are wrapped in shrouds, maybe even four,” said Hodges. “So that’s the kind of more economic and more dense use of that space that reflects in the economics of the grave.”

Hodges will also consider eliminating the embalming process, so the body decomposes faster.

They would also dig grave sites 10 feet deep, rather than the usual 6 feet.

The green burial option is not a first, however.

Cemeteries in Europe have faced the issue of overcrowding graves for centuries. See the Paris catacombs, which were created as a solution to overflowing graveyards.

Now it is a growing issue in North America.

How do you feel about sharing a gravesite with strangers?

For more metro Vancouver news, stayed tuned to our News section.

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