Church officials eye Bridgewater Cemetery for scatter garden

by Keith Corcoran

Local church officials believe the Brookside Cemetery would make a viable resting spot for a scatter garden, billed as a picturesque, serene, and easy-to-maintain space of reflection that's a cheaper option than other methods of burial.

Interchurch and united church councils lobbied civic politicians to direct the town-owned graveyard to create the space on the property, located at the corner of Victoria Road and York Street.

Such a garden is constructed in way allowing for cremains - or ashes - to be deposited just under the soil, or spread over the designated small space and covered with a thin layer of soil.

"A dedicated scatter garden in a established cemetery would provide a dignified and respectful place for a family member to place their loved one," Angela Clifton, the local united church's pastoral coordinator, told council February 11.

"This space would lend itself to a traditional committal service and would provide space for the family and friends to return as they wish to remember and reflect on their loved one."

Clifton said cemeteries are running out of space and many people are opting for cremations.

"The reality is that burying a loved one is often a financial hardship for many," she said during her presentation. "A scatter garden would significantly reduce the cost of a traditional burial while providing the opportunity for a dignified and respect ceremony."

Town council was told a local scatter garden could be between 28 to 46 square metres in size, with the area having a bench, flowers, rocks, and trees with plants able to withstand a high alkaline environment. The names of those scattered could be maintained in a central registry and not necessarily on a monument.

Information provided to council indicated a nominal fee would be appropriate for maintenance of the garden, as would memorial donations.

"This option would not be for everyone, of course, but then neither would is traditional burial nor traditional cremation," Clifton said.

Several councillors commented after the presentation, saying it's a great idea.

Mayor David Mitchell said council would discuss the matter and check with staff concerning costs. Council was also told a bylaw change would also be needed to permit a scatter garden.

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