Minister of Health Sir Molwyn Joseph says that discussions will be held with the operators of private burial grounds, as the Government seeks to reduce the number of interments at the St. John’s Public Cemetery.
The overcrowding of this cemetery has been made worse in recent months with the increase in COVID-19 deaths.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, October 19, Joseph says that, over the past two decades, burials have taken place almost exclusively in St. John’s.
Unfortunately, he says, this has accelerated the use of the Public Cemetery, while many of the burial sites in the rural areas were not utilized.
Accordingly, Joseph reports that an inventory process has been started to log the use and maintenance of cemeteries.
He says there are 24 additional burial sites across the country, and these are operated and managed by the various communities, along with the churches.
The Health Minister says that discussions will be held with these stakeholders to facilitate more burials in the rural areas.
Therefore, Sir Molwyn says, there is no need for alarm or concern that there will be nowhere to bury the dead once the Public Cemetery reaches its capacity.
This decision is not going down well with some residents, however. On Monday, October 18, an Urlings resident told REAL News the Round-South community is not happy about the incursion on their burial grounds.
“We expect that, when we pass, we who live out here will be laid to rest in our own community,” he said. “But the way it looks now, it’s like there will be no space for us.”
The man, a business owner, said it is unfair that the residents of Potters could have prevented the Tomlinson site from being developed as a cemetery; but, now, the “people from town expect that they can fill up our burial grounds,” he complained.
A quick count at the Valley Church Community Cemetery, that day, revealed at least 13 fresh graves.
In the meantime, Sir Molwyn says the designated site for a new burial ground at Tomlinson’s will begin to see some activity shortly.
He also promises that the latest technology will be utilized to develop the Tomlinson site.
Sir Molwyn says each of the country’s burial grounds will be identified on Google Maps, and software will be developed to assist residents with searches for any particular grave.