A Surrey, B.C., city councillor says she is opposed to plans to turn a local pet cemetery into a housing development.
The plot of land in Newton, at 147 A and 78 Avenue, has been used since at least the early 50s to bury family pets.
There are believed to be about 700 animals buried on the property and residents told Global News there are even some humans buried there.
However, a development proposal sign has now been placed on the property to subdivide the lane for three single-family homes.
Janette Cote has lived nearby for years and told Global News she even brings fresh flowers for the graves and visits the animals.
“It should stay the way it is,” she said. “Would you want to dig up your mother’s home and put a house on it? It’s the same. There are people in here as well as pets.”
Cote said a man volunteers his time to take care of the property. He cleans up the trees and the gravestones, she said, and he does it for free.
“You don’t dig up anything that’s buried.”
Surrey councillor Linda Annis told Global News the development application will go before council, but it won’t be part of a public hearing as it is part of the neighbourhood concept plan.
Get the latest National news.
Sent to your email, every day.
“I think pet owners would be shocked if they have a loved one buried here,” she said.
“I think when we bury our pets, we think it’s their forever home.”
Annis said she would not be able to vote in favour of the project.
“I can’t support a piece of land where we know our pets have been buried,” she said.
“People put their pets here, and they’re thinking it’s a forever home. And I don’t think that this sort of area should be developed.”
The development company, which has owned the land for 30 years, did not respond to Global News’ request for comment.
“I’m certainly going to be speaking to staff to find out what the options are because this isn’t right,” Annis said.
“If people are burying their pets here and they feel that it is a pet cemetery and they’ve been here for a number of years, it’s not just something that happened yesterday that we need to be, you know, mindful of that and seeing what we can do as a city and as an elected official.”
Unlike human cemeteries, pet cemeteries are not regulated, which means a developer could remove the headstones and use the property for whatever purpose it is zoned for.
“So many of the pet owners have gone to the trouble of putting tombstones here as a memorial to their pet,” Annis added.
“It would be absolutely devastating to find out that I put my beloved dog or cat here and somebody come in with an excavator and removed their remains.”
Cote said she is going to start a petition to keep the property the same.
“It’s maintained, it’s not an eyesore and I think it’s a beautiful thing,” she said.
Annis said if someone knows they have their pet buried in that plot, they should reach out to the City of Surrey to find out how the remains can be retrieved if they want them.
© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.