Res #: 17-06M
Responses Received: No
Resolution No. 17-06M
WHEREAS, there are many cemeteries in rural Saskatchewan where the registered owner of the cemetery is deceased, or dissolved in the case of a cemetery owned by a religious organization, or cannot be found; and
WHEREAS, community groups, other than the registered owners, provide exemplary maintenance, upkeep, and records for the cemeteries, but the ownership has not been transferred to the community groups; and
WHEREAS, community groups are often volunteer based, operate on limited resources and liability insurance can be difficult to obtain and cost prohibitive for these community groups; and
WHEREAS, liability insurance protection for these cemeteries could be provided under the municipal insurance policy, at no additional cost to current policies providing the cemeteries are municipally owned; however, the costs of the municipality gaining ownership can be cost prohibitive for such things as historic estate searches, court applications, or application for probate;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SARM lobby to encourage a simple and inexpensive method of transfer of cemeteries to municipalities, which would make affordable liability insurance protection possible.
Response from Honourable Frank Quennell, Q.C., Minister of Justice and Attorney General:
You seek a simple and inexpensive method of transfer of cemeteries to municipalities, which would make affordable liability insurance protection for volunteer-cased community groups caring for cemeteries possible.
When the current Cemeteries Act, 1999, was being developed, the issue of care and maintenance of abandoned and neglected cemeteries was discussed a great deal by the working committee formed to develop a new Act. Both SUMA and SARM participated in the working committee. Their interests were to remove expensive impediments to municipalities, should they assume ownership of an abandoned cemetery, and to make the process leading to ownership simple and inexpensive.
In most instances, The Cemeteries Act, 1999 achieves both of these objectives. A municipality in which an abandoned cemetery is located may, by bylaw and with the prior written approval of the Registrar of Cemeteries, provide for the maintenance of the cemetery. In that case, the municipality is, for the purposes of The Cemeteries Act, deemed to be the owner of the cemetery. On the other hand, the municipality may expropriate the cemetery in accordance with The Municipal Expropriations Act.
I am advised the process to register the title with the Information Services Corporations supporting the first option noted is user-friendly and inexpensive.
In summary, I believe the existing legislation can accommodate the needs of municipalities wanting to assume ownership and care for a cemetery within their municipality without incurring great expense to do so.