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UPDATED: Cowichan Valley Crematorium ordered to cease operations

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A Cowichan crematorium has been ordered by Consumer Protection B.C. to cease operations, after a B.C. Supreme Court ruling.

But even though the owners have complied with ruling — halting operations Monday — they will fight to have the closure reversed in court.

According to an announcement made by the Cowichan Valley Regional District Friday, the court rejected Cowichan Valley Crematorium Ltd.’s application to stay its March license suspension by Consumer Protection B.C.

The crematorium had been asking that it be allowed to continue operations until its separate court appeal against the CVRD is heard.

“The court dismissed their application for a stay finding that the public interest in this case in upholding the regulatory regime and statutory requirements weighed in favour of Consumer Protection’s decision to suspend the licence,” a CVRD media release states.

Cowichan Valley Crematorium Ltd., and the Khalsa Diwan Society’s appeal in action against the CVRD is set to be heard by the Court of Appeal on June 9, 2014, in Vancouver.

The operation of the gas-fueled crematorium at 4695 Cowichan Lake Road — basically used by the valley’s Sikh community — has been controversial for quite some time. The company applied for rezoning when CVRD staff determined it had advanced to commercial use, from a simple religious function, without proper zoning.

The CVRD demanded the operation stop until zoning and other permits were gained. Talks ended when the society withdrew its rezoning application and legal action followed in August 2012.

In September of last year, Supreme Court Justice Lance Bernard confirmed the CVRD’s contention.

Consumer Protection BC suspended the crematorium’s license in September 2012 when documentation needed to meet the requirements for a licence, as defined in the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Regulation, wasn’t provided.

“At that time, the business requested and was granted a reconsideration of the decision, as was their right under the law,” stated a Consumer Protection B.C. press issued in March.

The crematorium is on land owned by the Paldi Khalsa Diwan Society, Lake Cowichan Khalsa Diwan Society, Vancouver Island Sikh Central Society and Vancouver Island Khalsa Diwan Society and is used for cultural and religious ceremonies.

In a separate media release, the crematorium owners stated CVRD wishes to restrict all uses of the crematorium although it provided express approval for the construction of the crematorium.

“At the Court of Appeal, the land owners will be seeking clarification concerning the ongoing land use issues and will argue that the current use of the crematorium is a permitted use within CVRD bylaws,” the release states.

“Mr. Harold Wallace, operator of the crematorium advises that the closure will have no effect on the level of service provided by H. W. Wallace Cremation and Burial Centre.

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