Letter to the Editor

A crematorium is different than a funeral home I almost bought the line myself, that one’s aversion to living beside a crematorium must have…

A crematorium is different than a funeral home

I almost bought the line myself, that one’s aversion to living beside a crematorium must have to do with one’s “fear of death.”

The executive director of the Hospice Yukon Society described it as the “initial surprise people might have at this type of facility being placed in a residential neighbourhood.” (Yukon News, June 29)

Mayor Bev Buckway says her “sense is people just don’t want to drive by a funeral home and drive by death.” (Whitehorse Star, July 3.)

I almost bought it until I looked around me and considered the facts. The fact is we have been “driving by” funeral homes in Whitehorse for a long time, and contrary to what some people say, have noticed them, and not been offended.

Yes, I have noticed the funeral home next to the Chocolate Claim, and admired it often, not because it’s a funeral home, but because it’s an unusual building for Whitehorse.

It used to be pink. Who could miss it? That it was a pink funeral home with rounded corners just added to its appeal.

(Unfortunately, it’s been painted a different colour.)

There used to be a funeral home on Main Street, with a little footbridge in the yard.

Twenty years ago it was the cutting edge of landscape design in Whitehorse.

Often I walked by to enjoy this little feature. Just as I often walk through Pioneer Cemetery; which, by the way, is in one of the most desirable residential neighbourhoods in downtown Whitehorse.

North and south of downtown Whitehorse spirit houses are prominent features of the landscape.

The fact is that most adults, and many children, everywhere have to deal with death regularly, if not professionally, and will continue to do so, whether Heritage North builds a crematorium in Porter Creek or not.

The fact is this is not a rezoning proposal for a funeral home.

A funeral home is compliant with the zoning. The application is for the conditional use of a crematorium, which would be the first in the Yukon.

The only thing coming close to a precedent is the furnace at the hospital, which is, as Darcy Lacoste pointed out, smaller, and needs a permit. The criticisms are of the potential for emissions, impact on property values and that, incredibly, the city is the only approving authority for this crematorium venture.

None of the issues can be adequately addressed by mayor and council in any depth that justifies ignoring more than 100 signatures, however minor a detail that may seem to Buckway.

The applicant for the conditional use of the crematorium keeps saying it’s only a small part of his plan for the funeral home.

Perhaps he should consider compromising by withdrawing the application, so that he can move ahead with the rest of the development.

The hospital apparently had plans to develop a crematorium anyway, so we needn’t be deprived of the facility.

There was also a site closer to Grey Mountain Cemetery that wasn’t even applied for, despite the fact that it’s infinitely more common to locate a crematorium near a cemetery than in a residential neighbourhood.

Mayor and council have enough facts to turn down the conditional use application for a crematorium.

Marianne Darragh

Whitehorse

We must pay

for what we use

The Yukon Conservation Society would like to clearly state its position regarding the electrical subsidy known as the Rate Stabilization Fund.

YCS does not support the continuation of the Rate Stabilization Fund, which was only meant to be a temporary subsidy.

Presently the Rate Stabilization Fund is integrated into the electrical bill. The more electricity you use, the greater the subsidy you get.

The more energy efficient you are, the fewer subsidies you get.

By subsidizing individual or household electrical consumption a market distortion develops.

Electrical prices are set artificially low and inefficient energy usage and, in the case of buildings, inefficient energy design occurs.

In addition, artificially low prices encourage overuse and hastens the day when Yukoners will need to use diesel generators or build new, large-capacity projects to meet electrical demand.

The Yukon Conservation Society believes Yukoners should have access to financial incentives for “saving” energy… and not be subsidized for “using” more energy.

The demand for electricity has been steadily growing and without electrical conservation and renewable energy initiatives the Yukon will soon be using diesel generators again.

Lewis Rifkind, on behalf of the energy committee of the Yukon Conservation Society, Whitehorse