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Angst and calls for resting places as Surrey, B.C., pet cemetery development continues


A single headstone is all that remains of dozens of markers for long-buried pets in a subdivision in Surrey’s Newton neighbourhood, where a half-acre parcel bears a large sign announcing the proposed construction of new homes.

“I have not forgotten you, gentle Piggy,” the headstone reads, with a 1982 date engraved at the bottom of the granite slab. “Rest in peace.”

Surrounded by detached homes, Turnberry Developments wants to build several more houses on the site – despite community opposition and a petition with more than 2,800 signatures – and is offering access for exhumation of interred pets. “No trespassing” signs dot the property, which Turnberry bought in the 1990s, and the company would not agree to an interview. 

For weeks, local animal lovers have been advocating for the preservation of the resting place of beloved animal companions, which served as an unofficial pet cemetery for decades. CTV News spoke with someone who paid $325 to bury a pet there more than three decades ago

Among the opponents of the development is Kristin Schumacher, who observed the removal of dozens of headstones this week and is frustrated at what she considers callous desecration of resting places.

None of her companion animals are buried there, but she said the idea of other people’s pets being “dug up, thrown in the back of a dump truck and then dumped in a landfill somewhere … breaks my heart.”

Linda Annis, a Surrey city councillor, says she’s re-visiting a long-abandoned idea of turning the property into a park.

“It's something, certainly, I'm exploring,” she said. “Unfortunately the land was zoned for a subdivision a number of years ago and there was a covenant on this property up until the early 2000s but the covenant has since expired.”

BC Assessment lists the assessed value of the bare land at $953,000.

The province’s foremost animal law specialist says it’s hard to protect land for pet cemeteries, since there’s currently no legislation or regulation to that effect, even if a Good Samaritan made a donation with a covenant that the property be used for that purpose.

“Given the housing situation, or lack thereof in British Columbia, a covenant made specifically for a pet cemetery could potentially be overturned by a court order,” explained Rebeka Breder. “If there's anything that we learn from this is that it shows there's definitely a need for pet cemeteries in this province, a place to go where people know their animal is buried and they can pay their respects.” Top Stories

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