A coffin is cremated in the crematorium in Meissen, Germany, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. The crematorium would typically have 70 to 100 caskets on site at this time of year, now it has 300 bodies waiting to be cremated and more are brought to the crematorium every day. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

A coffin is cremated in the crematorium in Meissen, Germany, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. The crematorium would typically have 70 to 100 caskets on site at this time of year, now it has 300 bodies waiting to be cremated and more are brought to the crematorium every day. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Rezoning request of Smithers Town Council for a Crematorium heads to public hearing

Crematorium applicant looking for suitable land in Smithers

Smithers Council has taken steps to allow crematoria as a permitted use in Smithers.

In November the town received a zoning amendment application from Laurel Menzel requesting rezoning of M-1 light industrial, M-2 medium industrial, M-3 heavy industrial and P-2 public zones to accommodate a human and pet crematorium.

READ MORE: Vancouver cemetery to allow strangers to share graves

Currently, cremation of humans and pets requires transportation to either Terrace or Vanderhoof.

On a recommendation from staff, council passed first and second readings of the bylaw amendment which allows the issue to go to public hearing.

Because the proponent in this case does not have a particular parcel of land for a proposed crematorium, staff also recommended waiving two sections of the development procedures bylaw that requires applicants for rezoning to send letters to occupants of adjacent properties and post signs on the subject property.

Councillor Thomas was opposed to waiving these procedures arguing that while no subject property is identified occupants of lands adjacent to the zones in question should be notified.

There are several points of consideration for councillors and town residents to address beyond rezoning:

1. Cemetery space is already limited within the Town of Smithers, and increasing demand has come to the point where spaces will become even more limited in the next few years.

2. According to the 2019 provincial Vital Statistics Report on method of disposition of human remains, Smithers has a cremation rate of 86 per cent, which demonstrates this is a service residents are accessing elsewhere.

3. Emissions, environmental and airshed management factors, present unique challenges to Smithers. Every year, Smithers experiences several “inversions” where pollution (due to causes such as field burning or wildfires) and particulates in the air cause health related advisories to be issued.

READ MORE: Smithers Housing Assessment Report points out critical needs

Smithers Town Council will be schduling a public hearing regarding the crematorium, zoning and questions the public may have regarding these issues, and will advertise the date in The Interior News.


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