Council unanimous on crematorium bylaw

Monday, council ended two months of oft-heated debate by endorsing a zoning change that will allow a crematorium to be built in Porter Creek.

Monday, council ended two months of oft-heated debate by endorsing a zoning change that will allow a crematorium to be built in Porter Creek.

The unanimous vote allows Heritage North to build a funeral home and crematorium on Centennial Street.

However, though their numbers have dwindled, opponents to the proposal did not give up without a fight.

A recent phone call to councillor Dave Stockdale was disturbing, said Darcy LaCoste.

Stockdale said he was aware property values would drop, but hoped they would rise again once the incinerator had been running for awhile, said LaCoste.

“You can’t deny that property values have dropped — to have our personal finances just dismissed is so…” he fell silent for a moment.

“I haven’t got a word for it.”

Anticipating council’s decision, LaCoste put his lot up for sale.

 “I did not say that,” Stockdale said later, stressing that one can only judge a change in property values when someone sells their house.

“We do hope that this mitigates in a couple years and that no one will think about it,” he added.

And then he asked staff for information about why the crematorium can’t be built next to the Grey Mountain cemetery, an alternative location suggested by many opponents.

All surrounding land is owned by the territory and designated park reserve, city manager Dennis Shewfelt told council.

It would require a zoning change, an alteration to the city plan, he said.

It would also require a plebiscite, said councillor Doug Graham.

And the city would lose land designated greenbelt.

Water and sewer pipes would also need to be installed to service the site.

A crematorium is not a health hazard, said Graham, who commissioned a report on crematorium emissions.

That report recommended approval of the zoning amendment.

“I live relatively close to the site, and I’m not concerned,” he said.

Graham also cited a letter that he’d just received from Environment Minister Dennis Fentie.

In it, Fentie pledged to monitor air pollution and to strengthen regulations on emissions.

“This gives me some feeling of comfort that they are making the effort,” said Graham.

A visit to a crematorium in Calgary led councillors to support the project, said Stockdale.

It had been built in a residential area across the street from a school. It had been operating for 27 years.

There had been no complaints.

After the vote, many Porter Creek residents stormed out of the meeting.

Heritage North owner Chris Thompson was confronted by resident Ann Dibbs.

She’d spoken to two people who live near crematoriums.

They complain about the smell, she said, adding the thought of it keeps her up at night.

“If I smell it I’m going to be calling you every night,” she told Thompson.

“Often there’s resistance to this type of thing,” said Thompson later. “It’s not uncommon.

“I think the council showed diligence; they took lots of time and looked at all the information.

“I’m confident that we will be perceived as a good neighbour.”

He can’t say when construction will begin.

“We haven’t put the cart before the horse. We’ve finished this stage; there’s a lot of work that has to be done yet.”