Grey Mountain goes green

Green is the new black at Whitehorse wakes. The city's expansion of the Grey Mountain Cemetery includes an eco-friendly approach to burials. They call them green burials.

Green is the new black at Whitehorse wakes.

The city’s expansion of the Grey Mountain Cemetery includes an eco-friendly approach to burials.

They call them green burials.

“Basically, it would allow for the use of biodegradable materials for interment and that, of course, eliminates the need for chemicals and concrete and whatnot,” said Mayor Bev Buckway.

Parks and recreation is sorting out the details of how they will make burials less intrusive to the environment, said the department’s manager Linda Rapp.

Public consultations may include biodegradable caskets and shrouds, she said. There are no embalming fluids, concrete or steel vaults or liners.

Organizations like greenburials.org say blankets can also be used for interment.

Yukon has not yet resurrected its law to deal with environmentally friendly burials.

“Human remains are to be interred so that the top of the outer burial container is at least 76 centimetres below the surface of the ground,” states The Cemeteries Regulations, 2001.

But bylaws will be amended to deal with the expansion and interment methods, said Rapp.

For example, if a body is wrapped and buried in a shroud, the corpse will have to be 76 centimetres from the ground’s surface.

“In some of the research that our parks and rec staff have done over the previous years leading up to this, they found that this is getting to be a more common way to provide burials in other locations,” said Buckway. “We also did a big consultation process for our expansion of the cemetery and this is something that came through that people wanted to see. We’ve been able to accommodate that request and, as we move through that, that will be possible.”

Expanding the cemetery is expected to cost $500,000.

Green burials are expected to be cheaper than traditional interment because they are less invasive to the earth so shouldn’t require as much labour, said Rapp.

New plots will be available to the public in 2011. Most of them will be for traditional interment and about 100 will be used for green burials.

After the expansion is completed in 2012, the cemetery will be 50 per cent larger.

Contact Larissa Robyn Johnston at larissaj@yukon-news.com

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