Last week in the Blenheim News, a reader brought up some valid issues regarding the Cemeteries that are operated by the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. I contacted the Cemetery Office in Chatham and asked if they were going to issue a reply to the letter but that is generally not something that is done. So I will tell you this: any cemetery, regardless of whether it is Municipally operated or not, must be licensed to act as a cemetery in accordance with the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act which was implemented by the Provincial Government. As required, Chatham-Kent has developed by-laws that show how they will comply with the provisions of the Act.
The writer of the letter is absolutely right in that there is a provision in the by-laws as required by the Act, which permits a Cemetery to deem interment rights to a cemetery lot abandoned if after 20 years it hasn’t been used. Under these circumstances a cemetery operator, public or private, may apply to the Province to make the interment rights available for resale. This by-law for the C-K Cemeteries addresses a section of the Burial and Cremation Services Act that was passed by the Provincial Government. In talking with Jeff Bray who is the Manager of Parks and Open Spaces, this clause has never been acted on in Chatham-Kent. Additionally as there are plenty of lots available within municipal cemeteries, he cannot foresee a time when the Municipality would have to acquire abandoned cemetery lots. However, if this ever becomes the case, Cemetery staff will be required to go through a strenuous process of contacting heirs of the original lot owner and have them sign to say that they have no interest in the interment rights. What becomes important then is that if you are an Interment Rights Certificate holder and have a change of address, you need to notify the Cemetery Office so that your new address can be noted.
There is a copy of the Cemetery by-laws available online at http://www.chatham-kent.ca/cemeteries/pages/cemeteries.aspx
There is also a link that will show you the Proposed Cemetery By-laws 2016 as well as the Municipal Interment Rights Policy 2016 online at http://www.chatham-kent.ca/Cemeteries/Pages/Noticeof.aspx
Until next week,