Crematorium Society enters into ‘voluntary undertaking’

Consumer Protection BC has lifted the freeze on funds

Construction is well underway on the crematorium on Riverside Road in Abbotsford.

Construction is well underway on the crematorium on Riverside Road in Abbotsford.

The Fraser River Community Crematorium Society has entered into a voluntary undertaking with Consumer Protection BC, which contains a set of conditions it must meet before it can accept money for funeral or cremation services.

The agency previously stepped in to ensure the new facility was meeting regulations.

The crematorium society was created because cremation is an important part of funeral ceremonies in the Sikh and Hindu religions, and Abbotsford does not have a facility to accommodate the large processions with hundreds of guests. The facility, which is still under construction, is located on Riverside Road.

Last year, a compliance order was issued to the society, preventing it from collecting any money for services. At the time, the society needed to acquire a licence to be a funeral and cemetery service provider, establish a price list for services, provide pre-need contracts and deposit all funds received for services into a trust account.

Tayt Winnitoy, vice-president of operations for Consumer Protection BC, said the undertaking is the next step in the process.

He said the issue raised last year was primarily regarding the fact that donations were being accepted to build the facility, with portions being earmarked for funeral and cemetery services.

“Under B.C. law, if you receive money from anybody for funeral or cemetery service, the legislation requires that money be placed into a trust account under a pre-need cemetery or funeral service contract.”

Last year’s compliance order included a “property freezing order” which tied up the money and the property until assurances were made.

“The funds that we were concerned about have now been redirected into the appropriate places,” said Winnitoy, adding that a funeral provider licence has also been obtained by the group.

“We are satisfied that the consumer funds were protected and therefore we lifted the freeze order on their assets.”

The society is required to reimburse Consumer Protection BC for the cost of inspection and legal costs, totalling $15,467.

Paul Wadhawan, a member of the society, said there is no issue left with development of the crematorium.

“We are constructing the building right now. It’s about half done and will probably be opening in July.”

The society still needs to acquire a crematorium operator licence.