About 253 niches are still available for purchase at the Riverview and Fort Frances Cemeteries in Fort Frances, after 83 were sold following the purchase of three new columbaria in the spring of 2021.
Travis Rob, Operations and Facilities manager, said the town purchased and installed three columbaria last spring, with 112 niches in each one.
“The two existing columbaria were 100 per cent sold,” Rob said. “We’ve actually opened up a whole wealth of available niches in 2021. In Riverview cemetery, we sold 77 niches, and six niches at the Fort Frances cemetery.”
Rob said his division was aware of the backlog as they were purchasing the columbaria.
“We had people calling,” he added. “We didn’t really have a good handle on how much backlog there was. But the take on the new columbaria was very, very good and we’re really pleased with that. There is a lot of interest and we sold a large number of niches. I’m happy it went as well as it did and that the community jumped on board with it.”
Rob said they still have some landscaping work to do around the columbaria this spring. He added that the town will have a good inventory of niches to meet demand for another 10 years.
There is one columbarium at the Fort Frances cemetery and five at the Riverview one, and Rob said they worked hard to replicate the design of the old ones for aesthetic purposes.
The prices of columbarium niches are set based on user fees, Rob said, and they are adjusted to tax increase and inflation.
“This year we had our four per cent increase, as we did with everything else,” Rob said. “That is not just niches, it is all cemetery fees.”
Rob said the niche prices are split between three categories: top two rows, middle four rows and bottom two rows. Rob added that the middle four rows are in highest demand because they are at eye level.
“When you walk up, you have a family member there and you’re going to visit and it’s right at eye level,” he said.
The top two rows cost $1,724.78, including care, maintenance and HST. The middle four rows sit at $2,126.33, including care, maintenance and HST. The bottom two rows are $1,424.29, including care, maintenance and HST.
When someone purchases a niche, it is theirs in perpetuity, Rob said; it’s no different if you purchase a burial plot in the cemetery.
“You can’t do anything you want on it,” Rob said. “We have a bylaw that dictates a whole raft of how that plot has to be handled by yourself and ourselves. If you buy a specific niche in a columbarium it is your niche until you come back to us and say that you want to sell it. There is a whole process for that as well. Cemeteries are very, very regulated.”