New Aldergrove Cemetery opens

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Frank Bucholtz / Special for Aldergrove Star

The first new cemetery to be built in Langley for many years is now open for business in Aldergrove.

Bakerview Memorial Gardens Cemetery is located at 920 272nd St., just north of Aldergrove Regional Park.

Planning has been underway for more than a decade, cemetery administrator Marcia Terlaak said.

Provincial and municipal approval is required in what is a highly regulated industry, so such a long delay is not unusual, Terlaak explained.

Unlike most large private cemeteries in the Lower Mainland, Bakerview is owned by three local businessmen. The partners had a vision for a private cemetery that could work closely with local funeral homes, as well as local residents of all cultures and religious beliefs. They have been working towards this goal for years.

Most of the existing private cemeteries in the Lower Mainland have been in place for generations, with some of the newest large cemeteries already over 50 years old. Most municipal cemeteries are even older.

Langley has three municipal cemeteries – Fort Langley, Murrayville and Langley Lawn cemeteries. All are operated by the municipality. There are no large private cemeteries in Langley, so Bakerview is breaking new ground in this regard.

It is situated on a 20 acre plot of land and the company has very ambitious plans for its future development.

There are 4,604 burial plots in the first phase, and there will also be plenty of options for storing the remains of those who wish to be cremated, Terlaak said.

Cremation has become the dominant practice in British Columbia in recent decades, with 85% of all deaths being followed by cremation. This is partly due to cultural practices, but also due to the high costs of a full burial.

There is a shortage of burial grounds, especially in the Lower Mainland, she noted. High land prices and the long lead times required to develop a cemetery kept business expansion to a minimum.

There is also a growing movement to reduce the impact on the planet, with many people expressing a desire to be cremated after death, Terlaak said.

Bakerview will have a number of columbariums, which are free-standing buildings or structures where urns and memorial plaques can be placed. These have become common in most cemeteries, due to the large number of cremations taking place today.

Bakerview already has two columbariums in place and 168 more are planned.

Cremations and columbariums offer a cheaper alternative to full burials, Terlaak pointed out, and are in demand.

Terlaak also noted that some religions require burials, or that many of their followers prefer this option. This is especially true of the Muslim religion. Muslims believe that burial should take place very soon after death, and Bakerview has a section that will be devoted to Muslim burials.

Many Christians also prefer burial to cremation, although Terlaak said that is gradually changing. She worked for 15 years at the Gardens of Gethsemani, a large Catholic cemetery in South Surrey. When it opened, virtually all of those whose remains were placed there involved burials. Now a significant portion of the remains placed there are the ashes of those who were cremated.

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A more recent practice in cemeteries is to bury the ashes of other family members in plots where full burials have taken place or are planned. In effect, it creates a small family cemetery within a larger cemetery.

At Bakerview, each plot can hold two full burials (interments) and six sets of cremated remains. Terlaak said it allows many generations of the same family to rest together.

Bakerview staff have a lot of experience in the field.

Brent Miotto, the grounds superintendent, has been with the business for 31 years and has attended more than 20,000 burials.

Terlaak has 15 years of experience, as does Patricia Adams, a family services counsellor. They are all excited to be part of a new cemetery under development.

Derrick Pelley, who is the current President of the Aldergrove Business Association, is involved in sales and other pre-planning services for Bakerview, through his companies Elements and Advisorly. He informed Aldergrove residents of the new facility as development progressed.

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The existing house on the property has been converted into an attractive office, and much development of the land is ongoing.

The first burial took place on June 21.

Many trees will be planted on the land and a master plan for the entire property has been drawn up. As is the case with almost all cemeteries, the overall development will take place over a very long period of time.

Terlaak noted that COVID-19 seemed to be prompting more people to consider planning the details of handling their leftovers. It also led to a lot more conversations within families, as more people were reminded of their mortality.

“It’s good to have conversations about plans with your family,” she said. “Cemeteries are for the living.”

It’s much better to plan ahead and make sure family members are fully aware of your wishes, and to have those conversations beforehand, Terlaak concluded.

Those interested in learning more about Bakerview’s offerings can contact the office at 604-856-0330 or contact staff by email at [email protected] The Bakerview website can be found at bakerviewmemorial.ca.

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The Somerset Columbarium is one of more than 160 that are planned for Bakerview Memorial Gardens Cemetery. Columbaria are areas where urns of cremated remains and plaques can be placed to remember loved ones. (Bakerview/Star Special)

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