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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We wish you to be informed and prepared when interment arrangements are required. Questions specific to Surrey’s cemeteries are grouped into General, Preplanning, Ground Burial, Columbaria, and Finding A Loved One for easy reference. By clicking on a question you will be guided directly to the answer. 
 

Surrey Cemeteries Products, Services and Fees 
 

General Cemetery Questions

Preplanning

Ground Burial

Cremation Options

Locating A Loved One

GENERAL CEMETERY QUESTIONS

Why is having a place to visit so important?

To remember and be remembered are natural human needs. A permanent memorial in a cemetery provides a focal point for remembrance and memorializing the deceased. Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture. The pyramids of Egypt, the catacombs of ancient Rome, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa are examples of memorialization which demonstrates that, throughout our history, we have always honoured our dead. Psychologists say that remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to permanent memorialization, serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping to bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin. Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one’s mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.

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If I’m going to be cremated, why would I want my remains to be placed in a columbarium, or interred or scattered at the cemetery? Why shouldn’t I just have them scattered in the sea or in some other place of my choosing? 

As long as it is permitted by local regulation and the land owners, cremated remains can be scattered in a place that is meaningful to you. This can, however, present difficulties for your survivors. Some people may find it hard to simply pour the mortal remains of a loved one out onto the ground or into the sea. If you wish to be scattered somewhere, it is therefore important to discuss your wishes ahead of time with the person or persons who will actually have to do the scattering. Another difficulty with scattering can occur when the remains are disposed of in an anonymous, unmarked or public place. Access to the area may be restricted for some reason in the future, undeveloped land may be developed, or a host of other conditions may arise that could make it difficult for your survivors to visit the site to remember you. Even if your cremated remains are scattered in your backyard, what happens if your survivors relocate sometime in the future? Once scattered, cremated remains cannot be collected back up. Having your remains placed, interred or scattered on cemetery grounds ensures that future generations will have a place to go to remember. If remains are scattered somewhere outside the cemetery, many cemeteries will allow you to place a memorial of some type on the cemetery grounds, so that survivors have a place to visit that will always be maintained and preserved.

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What are the cemetery hours of operation?

You are welcome to visit any of the cemeteries between 8:00 am and dusk or 8:00 pm, whichever comes first.

Is your office located at a cemetery?

Our office is not located at a cemetery.  We operate from a renovated house at 6348 - 168th Street in the Cloverdale area of Surrey.  Office hours are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday, or by appointment.  You are welcome to stop by anytime and visit our resource centre, or talk with staff.  We are a small staff and you may want to consider scheduling a visit to ensure our time is dedicated to you.

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Which cemeteries are owned and operated by the City of Surrey?

Surrey Centre, Sunnyside Lawn and Hazelmere cemeteries are owned and operated by the City of Surrey.

What does ‘Right of Interment’ mean, and what does it include?

When you purchase a Right of Interment you are in fact purchasing the right to either have your own remains or those of someone you designate interred in a specific location, rather than purchasing the grave itself. The land and control over that land remains the property and responsibility of the cemetery. A Right of Interment does not include anything related to the preparation of the site to receive a deceased, placement of the deceased, closing the interment site or any equipment, labour or products required to perform the services needed when doing an interment.

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What will a cemetery lot cost?

Please refer to our current fee schedule. Right of Interment is based on prime residency at the time arrangements are made for both preneed and at-need.

What is the maintenance care fund?

A portion of the price paid for the Right of Interment is contributed to a maintenance care trust fund or perpetual care fund. Income from the care fund is used to provide regular care and maintenance at the cemetery in perpetuity. Regular care and maintenance activities can include: cutting grass, regrading of graves, planting and caring for trees and gardens, maintenance of water supply systems, roads, drainage, etc. The minimum amount to be contributed to the endowment care fund is governed by provincial law.

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What guarantee do I have that Endowment Care will take care of the cemetery?

Endowment or perpetual care funds in B.C. are protected by law and are very conservatively managed. Income from the fund can only be spent on care and maintenance of the cemetery — the principal of a cemetery’s Care Fund is protected by provincial cemetery legislation.

What are preparation & placement fees and why is it so expensive?

Preparation and placement fees can include up to and beyond 50 or more separate services provided by the cemetery. Typically, the fee includes:

  • administration and permanent record keeping (determining ownership, obtaining permission and the completion of other documentation which may be required, entering the interment particulars in the interment register, maintaining all legal files);
  • preparing the interment location to receive the deceased, placement and closing the grave (locating the grave and delineating the boundaries, excavating and filling the interment space, use of equipment);
  • installation, use and removal of the lowering device;
  • placement and removal of artificial grass dressing and/or matting at the grave site, leveling, tamping, re-grading and sodding the grave site;
  • perpetual maintenance of the site, including leveling and re-sodding the grave if the earth settles.

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Will a cemetery ever be used for something else? Can the bodies be moved and a building built?

Communities afford respect to cemeteries and to the memorialization which cemeteries provide. In order to protect Interment Right Holders, strict provincial rules govern the use of cemetery lands. Graves are normally considered to be sold in perpetuity which restricts possible redevelopment.

How do I know if the memorial I've ordered has been installed?

The Memorial Placements webpage alphabetically lists the memorials that have been installed within the last 3 months, and the memorials that are to be placed.  Please keep in mind that the cemetery operation does not know you’ve ordered a memorial until we hear from either the family or the monument company. Many monument companies do not inform us until they have completed the memorial, and most companies let the family know when the memorial has been delivered.

List of Monument Companies in The BC Lower Mainland.

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What needs to be done when I need to arrange a burial?

When a death occurs, the person with control of disposition will need to come in and complete the arrangements. You will need the deceased person’s last address, date of birth, place of birth, date of death, place of death (City) and executor information. A Right of Interment (this may already exist), and an Interment Authorization  will need to be completed and fees paid. By following this link you be directed to an example of an Interment Authorization to know what kind of information will be collected at time of arrangements.

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Can I pay installments?

All fees are paid at the time arrangements are made.

PREPLANNING

What can I plan in advance?

Only a Right of Interment can be arranged in advance. This is a one time fee that includes the mandatory contribution to the cemetery maintenance care fund. Once purchased, the Right of Interment is not affected by fee increases.

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What happens if I bought a lot/niche but don’t want it anymore? Can I resell it?

A Right of Interment can be surrendered back to the City only. It cannot be sold privately. A refund equal to the purchase price, less the Maintenance Fund contribution and an administration fee, will be issued back to the Interment Right Holder or designate.

How many lots can I buy?

A Right of Interment is issued per lot and a rights holder may only designate one lot for their own use. Multiple lots can be purchased together, as long as each lot has a different Rights Holder.

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What future costs do I need to be aware of?

Future costs include anything requiring products or services (labour) when the grave is needed, including preparation and placement fees, and any products, such as vaults. Memorial Setting Fees will also apply in the future when memorials are to be placed.

When I buy a grave do I receive a deed just like when I purchase other types of real estate?

You will receive a Right of Interment, not a deed. When you purchase a Right of Interment you are in fact purchasing the right to either have your own remains or those of someone you designate interred in a specific location, rather than purchasing the grave itself. The land and control over that land remains the property and responsibility of the cemetery. You also acquire a right to place a memorial, subject to the rules and regulations for memorials established for the lot.

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What happens if I change my mind and want a different kind of lot?

A Right of Interment for any unused lot can be relocated to a different kind of lot. The Right Holder must supply this request in writing and the original Right of Interment surrendered to the City. A new Right of Interment will be generated. Fees associated with this transfer may include an administration fee, the difference between fees paid originally and current fees if there has been a change in residency status, and the difference between fees paid originally and current fees when the new location is an upgraded or different type of site.

What information is required if I want to reserve a lot in advance?

When a lot is reserved in advance a Right of Interment will be issued that is signed by both the Rights Holder and the City. You will need to provide proof of residency at the time of arrangements. By clicking on this link you will be taken to an example of the Right of Interment to know what information is required and the terms and conditions for a Right of Interment.

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GROUND BURIAL

How do I know what grave spaces are available?

The status of available interment sites changes daily. Staff at the cemetery office will be able to describe or show you the general areas in the cemetery where interment sites are available. The final site is chosen when Rights of Interment or products and services are being finalized.

What are the interment options?

For a casket burial we currently offer only single depth sites. For companions, the grave sites would be side-by-side. Double depth (caskets are placed one atop the other) and mausolea interment are not offered. For a cremation interment there is a choice between in-ground single and double occupancy lots, single or double columbaria inurnment, scattering and ossuary placement. Bronze memorial placement is available for those that may not be physically laid to rest in the cemetery. The bronze memorials for columbaria and memorial only are only supplied by the City. A more detailed list of interment options can be found on our Products, Services & Fees page.

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I have a full burial lot but my spouse wants to be cremated. Can I share the same lot?

Yes. It is our standard practice not to disturb an interment site once occupied. A casket burial is not permitted in a burial lot once cremated remains have been interred in the lot. The family may consider holding the cremated remains until the casket is placed when both can be interred at the same time. When cremated remains are placed on the same lot as a casket they are positioned above the casket.

How many cremated remains are permitted on a full burial lot?

As outlined in the Cemetery Management Bylaw each full burial lot can accommodate one casket and four cremated remains. Each individual represented on a grave site will require a Right of Interment and should be kin to the original occupant. A full burial lot can be used for cremated remains only, however, the first Right of Interment will be the fee of the full burial lot.

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Why is a cremation vault required?

A cremation vault is mandatory in the legal best interest of the family, and for liability reasons when handling cremated remains. Vaults protect the urn and provide families the opportunity to add mementos to the vault and create ceremony at the graveside. Also, in some cases families have been known to relocate cremated remains when they move, and vaults facilitate this convenience.

Do I have to purchase a burial vault? What is the purpose of it?

Yes, a burial vault is required. There are 2 main reasons vaults are required: 1) burial vaults are designed to protect the casket and may be made of a variety or combination of materials including concrete, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass, and 2) graves naturally settle over time and vaults help maintain a fairly even surface for both maintenance and safety purposes.

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CREMATION OPTIONS

Is cremation a substitution for a funeral? 

No, cremation is simply a method of preparing human remains for final disposition. The funeral service or celebration of life is the same for both casket and cremated remains. The funeral or memorial service honours a life lived and provides survivors an opportunity to acknowledge that life and say good-bye. For those left behind, the memorial service is ending the chapter of their own life that included their loved one with them, and greeting a new chapter of their life without that person physically with them.

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What type of service can I have for cremated remains?

The graveside service agenda is a matter of family preference and can be treated the same as a casket interment. For cremated remains families have the option of placing the cremated remains themselves or have the cemetery crew assist. Some families participate in closing the grave, and other families leave the cremated remains with staff for interment with no family or friends present at the graveside.

What are my options for placement of cremated remains? 

Interment options for cremated remains include in-ground burial, columbarium inurnment, scattering or ossuary placement. Surrey also offers memorial only options for those families that have placed the cremated remains elsewhere, or in the unfortunate circumstance that a body was never recovered.

Cremation is just one step in the commemorative process – the preparation of the human remains for memorialization. Memorialization is a time-honoured tradition that has been practiced for centuries. A memorial serves as a tribute to a life lived and provides a focal point for remembrance, as well as a record for future generations. The type of memorial you choose is a personal decision.

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What is a columbarium?

A columbarium, often free-standing in a cemetery or located within a mausoleum or chapel, either indoor or outdoor, is constructed of numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains.

What is the inside dimensions of the niche?

The inside dimensions of the niches are 12” wide x 12” high x 15.5” deep.

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How many urns can go in a niche?

One to two urns can be placed in a niche. They are priced for either single or double occupancy. Cremation estates are also available that hold up to 12 cremated remains.

Is there a special kind of urn that the cremated remains need to be in?

The urn needs to be a durable container that seals. Families are welcome to use something from home as long as it meets the requirements. Check with the cemetery staff to confirm if what you have in mind is appropriate. An urn needs to have a volume of 185-210 cubic inches, or roughly 8” x 8” x 8”.

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How secure are the niches?

The niches are as secure as technology allows for this type of application. The exterior hardware is a patented security system that requires a unique tool to remove the granite shutter. Behind the granite shutter each niche is secured with its own powder coated aluminum, key locked inner privacy door.

What type of memorial is used on the niches?

Bronze memorials are used on the niche fronts. The bronze memorials are uniform in shape, size and layout, and are supplied by the City. Customization is done for each memorial through either an epitaph or emblem, and a choice to add a bud vase or not. Bud vases can only be added at the time the plaque is ordered.

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Can I have someone else cast the bronze plaque?

Bronze plaques for cremation memorials are supplied and installed by the City to conform to the approved design and specifications established by the City, as per the Cemetery Management Bylaw.

What are the rules around the columbaria?

Floral tributes on memorials are to be of modest size and placed so as not to obstruct surrounding memorials. Tributes left at the interment site will be removed when deemed unsightly, are a hazard to other visitors, or impede circulation for visitors or caretakers around the columbaria. Glass containers are not permitted.

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FINDING A LOVED ONE

How do I search for my loved one in your cemetery? Can I get a map of the cemetery?

You may view a listing of interments on our Locate A Loved One page. This page is scheduled to be updated and improved. Currently you will be able to view alphabetical listings, by SURNAME, of those interred in the cemeteries owned and operated by the City of Surrey. These records have been transcribed from our official records. If mistakes or missing information is noted we would appreciate your help in correcting this data. Please contact us or phone 604-598-5770. We welcome any additional information about your loved one. Our new database has the capability of adding photos, biographies, or obituaries, etc, and we would be honoured to add this information for future generations.

Our administration staff can look up an interment location for you and email you a map to the site, or you are welcome to visit our office at 6348 – 168th Street, Surrey BC.

Due to the size of our cemeteries and number of interments, and in order to provide clear descriptions of the grave location , our maps are divided into a number of smaller maps. The office staff can provide you with the appropriate maps either by email or a copy can be obtained by visiting our office.

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I thought my loved one was in your cemetery but I can’t seem to locate them in the cemetery listings. How do I find out where they are buried?

Phone our office and staff will confirm if your loved one has been buried in one of the City of Surrey cemeteries. If they are not listed, you will need to contact other cemeteries directly. Additional resources are listed on the Resources For Families page.

Do you have records for all burials in Surrey?

Cemetery operations are only required to keep permanent record of those interred in their cemetery(ies). Municipalities are not responsible for all burial records in the area, only those in the cemeteries owned and operated by them.

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Contact Us:

        
City of Surrey Cemeteries - Administration Office
        6348 - 168th Street, Surrey, BC V3S 3Y1
        Phone:    (604) 598-5770
        Fax:        (604) 598-5880
        
Email:     cemeteryinfo@surrey.ca