Cayman facing grave situation

A dwindling number of cemetery plots on Grand Cayman might necessitate residents considering alternative methods for the disposal of human remains.

Speaking at the People’s Progressive Movement National Council Meeting last week, Cabinet Minister Arden McLean said one way of alleviating the situation was to stack burial vaults.

‘I’d like to hear your ideas about stacking,’ he said to the audience. ‘Maybe two vaults on top of each other.’

If 50 per cent of a cemetery were ‘double stacked’, with vaults, Mr. McLean said the capacity of the cemetery could be increased significantly.

Mr. McLean said the vaults would be stacked with members of the family.

‘Instead of being buried next to someone in the family, it would be on top,’ he said.

Another possibility for the problem was to move cemeteries inland, away from the sandy beaches.

‘We’ve traditionally buried people by the ocean because it was easy to dig,’ he said.

Cremation is another way to deal with human remains, and something which those in attendance at the meeting seemed to support.

‘It’s a personal choice,’ he said. ‘It can save on burial areas in the country.’

Mr. McLean said he didn’t like the idea of cremation himself.

‘I don’t want to get burned up twice,’ he said, later adding that he was only joking.

‘No, I’m going to heaven,’ he said.

Speaking about the issue this week, Mr. McLean pointed out that the problem was most urgent in Bodden Town, where the cemetery is almost out of plots. But West Bay is also getting short of public burial plots.

‘We’re looking for a lot in Bodden Town to purchase, but land is extremely expensive,’ he said. ‘We’re going to start to look for a property in West Bay as well.’

Mr. McLean said the double stacking of vaults was an easy way to extend the life of existing cemeteries by more than a decade. It would also save people money.

‘The cost [of stacking a second vault] doesn’t go up exponentially,’ he said. ‘It will cost about one and a half times the cost [of one vault] instead of double,’ he said.

Even though he is not a proponent of cremation himself, Mr. McLean believes legislation should be passed to allow it in the Cayman Islands.

‘There are a number of Caymanians who want to be cremated,’ he said.

‘But there are no provisions in the law for it. I’d like to put it into law so that cremation is a legal way of disposal of human remains,’ he said.

Currently, to cremate someone who dies here, the body has to be sent overseas, Mr. McLean said.

Another method of body disposal to be considered is burial at sea, Mr. McLean said.

‘I think the time has come to bury people out at sea,’ he said. ‘We’ve had a lot of foreigners who have requested to be buried at sea.’

Sea burials are done at least 12 miles off shore, he said.

Although he has gotten good input on the subject from the people in his district of East End, Mr. McLean is interested to hear the opinions of members of the public who live elsewhere.

‘You can call the radio shows, call the ministry or call me,’ he said.

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