Cemeteries

Traditional burial plots filling up in Halifax-owned cemeteries

There are only 110 traditional plots left, and they’re all at Fairview cemetery

City-owned Camp Hill Cemetery on Summer Street.
City-owned Camp Hill Cemetery on Summer Street.   Payge Woodard

Resting in peace inside a casket won’t be an option in Halifax-owned cemeteries for much longer.

The number of traditional burial plots in the city-owned cemeteries are filling up, says Bonnie Murphy, HRM’s cemetery administrator.

“Within about five to six years our plots will be gone.”

There are 110 empty traditional plots left in city-owned cemeteries — all at Fairview Lawn Cemetery on Windsor Street. Each one costs $2,300 after a recent price increase.

“Plots like that are at a premium because there’s not very many left,” says Murphy.

She says people who want a casket burial will need to leave the city.

Room for the dead?

Atlantic Funeral Homes still has room for caskets at the two cemeteries it owns in Dartmouth and Middle Sackville, says receptionist Gina Blinn.

Unlike city-owned cemeteries, some are not open to everyone.  

St. John’s Cemetery, near Fairview Lawn Cemetery, is only open to people expressing a faith in God, according to the cemetery’s website.

The Archdiocese of Halifax oversees three Catholic cemeteries: Holy Cross Cemetery on South Park Street, Mount Olivet Cemetery on Mumford Road, and a third in Lower Sackville.

Aurea Sadi, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese, says the cemeteries still have plots for traditional burials, but they aren’t sure how much room is left.

“It’s harder for us to determine how many plots there are because no one has really counted,” she  says.

Sadi says the Archdiocese is working to keep better track of its plots.

There’s no more room to rest in the cemetery at St. David’s Presbyterian Church on Brunswick Street in Halifax. The graveyard has shut its gates to any new burials.

Higher cost

It costs more to be buried in a private cemetery than in a city-owned one.

On a weekday before 4 p.m. a traditional burial in Halifax-owned cemeteries costs up to $2,600, including maintenance fees. There are additional fees for burials after 4 p.m., weekends and holidays.

In Catholic cemeteries, a single plot with traditional burial adds up to $4,111.

Atlantic Funeral Homes charges a $2,155 burial fee, a $940 fee for opening and closing the grave and a mandatory wooden liner fee of $270.

Cremation

Bonnie Murphy says there are plenty of cremation plots available at city-owned cemeteries. Fairview Lawn Cemetery has 72 spots in its columbarium for public storage of urns.

Blinn says Atlantic Funeral Homes is seeing more cremations.

In Musquodoboit Harbour, Rev. Joan Griffin oversees five rural cemeteries in HRM for the United Church. She says room for the dead is limited in some rural resting places too, so casket burials aren’t the future.

“It’s not like there’s all kinds of places,” Griffin says. “That’s why, especially for folks thinking about cremation, these columbariums are going to be the way to go.”