Costs spiral for Rīga's first columbarium

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The first columbarium (repository for human ashes) will open in April, with 288 units storing four urns each. Construction costs have spiraled to €175,000 from the planned €85,000 and the Rīga City Council proposes selling each spot for less than €1,000, reported Latvian Radio on February 16.

The columbarium consists of twelve two, three, four- and five-level structures surrounding a three-meter sculpture by Edgars Kvjatkovskis.

"The glass is very interesting [...] it changes tonality and color depending on the lighting conditions. This object has a tree with birds flying away in the distance," said Kvjatkovskis.

Around 7,000 funerals are held each year in Rīga with people preferring to be cremated in around 1,000 of these cases.

The municipality says costs doubled as the project was beautified by improving the surroundings. Riga will plan to regain the cost by selling spots at the columbarium.

"One spot will [cost] less than a thousand euros," said Gints Zēla of the city's Cemetery Department.

"Flash estimates say it might be around €700," said Zēla.

Currently just two cemeteries in Rīga are open for new burials - in Bolderāja and at Jaunciems with the city planning to extend the Sarkandaugava cemetery by an extra 11 hectares.

Experts say if the annual death rate stays the same, there'll be enough space to bury people just for the next ten to fifteen years.

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