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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered



  1. I enjoyed this article very much Stephanie! Cemeteries are an important part of cities that people don’t really think about – especially since they need a vast amount of land. It would be cool to find out what innovative ways high density cities would do in regards to finding/creating cemetery space like in Hong Kong – the cemeteries are pretty amazing when you Google image it!

  2. Thank you for your comment, Michelle! Photos of Hong Kong cemeteries are very impressive.

    You are certainly correct about denser cities like Hong Kong looking for more innovative ways to preserve cemetery space. In many Asian cultures, cremation rates are well over 90% with a growing demand for more columbarium niches. We may even start seeing floating cemeteries on ship like vessels! Check out CNN’s article: A cruise for cremains

    The re-use of cemetery plots and grave sharing has been a common practice in places like the UK. However, the need for space is at a critical level and currently, cemetery landscaping is being removed for “cramming” or putting in pop up graves. Read BBC News: Reuse of graves ‘needed to prevent crisis’

    There are definitely many interesting burial practices that high density cities practice. Another practice is mausoleums (stacked graves), but I think that cremation is predominately the top choice of disposal because it is cheaper than other methods.

    While this not exactly for high density cities, but another interesting avenue that the City of Edmonton is considering is the “natural burial” as an option for Edmontonians. Natural burials are hand dug graves, where the body is interred without metal in the casket or without embalming the body with formaldehyde. The idea is that the body will return back to the Earth with minimal impact on the environment in contrast to traditional burials (with metal caskets and embalming of the body). There are potential natural burial sites zoned in the South Haven and Northern Lights cemeteries, but City Administration is still doing research and looking into the legalities of this process.

    Another problem that natural burials pose in Edmonton is that we are a winter City. We’re already three weeks into Spring and it’s going to snow this weekend. So digging graves with shovels in our cemeteries for more than half the year is not possible. We will still have to use equipment that requires fossil fuels. A leader in natural burials is the Royal Oak Burial Park in B.C. and they have some very green practices such as using bio diesel in their equipment. (

    Overall, the lack of spatial capacity in some cemeteries is intense! To further add to land scarcity problems, I wonder how they will cope with the large and aging population of the Baby Boomers over the next 30 years.