Veterans Cemetery expansion plans falling into place

For the past 20 years, Veterans Affairs Canada has been working on a plan to expand the Veterans Cemetery in Esquimalt.

For the past 20 years, Veterans Affairs Canada has been working on a plan to expand the Veterans Cemetery in Esquimalt.

And now it appears that plan is falling into place thanks to a parcel of land from the Gorge Vale Golf Course.

According to a report submitted to Esquimalt council Monday night, the golf course is willing to sell a 0.251-hectare parcel of land to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Established in 1868, the cemetery (also known as God’s Acres) is the final resting place for those who served at sea, but has since opened to anyone who served in Canada’s military. Today, more than 2,500 military personnel and their family members are buried at the cemetery (nestled between the 12 and seventh holes of the golf club), which is virtually full.

The proposed expansion would be in a heavily wooded area on the cemetery’s northwest boundary. Unlike the existing cemetery, the expansion area would be used primarily for a columbarium, allowing for the preservation of many trees.

Council took no objection to the subdivision, which now has to be approved by the Agricultural Land Commission.

“The Veterans Cemetery is a wonderful place in Esquimalt,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins. “The military is so much a part of our heritage and our community and recognizing those who gave service. In terms of creating this place and honouring them, there are very few cemeteries like this one in Canada so we really have to preserve it.”