Crematorium proposed for Hwy 16 west of Smithers

Regional District to consider rezoning application for property on Henry Road

Proposed crematorium buildings on Henry Road as viewed from Highway 16. (Concept photo submitted)

Proposed crematorium buildings on Henry Road as viewed from Highway 16. (Concept photo submitted)

The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako has received a rezoning application that could make way for a crematorium just outside of Smithers.

Laurel Menzel had previously applied to the Town of Smithers for rezoning within the town but withdrew that application after six months, several procedural problems and a number of clerical errors by the Town.

She began the rezoning process in October of 2020, but by April of 2021, the matter was still not to the public consultation part of the process.

“My personal feeling is that this process was as lengthy as it was marred by clerical and procedural errors,” said Menzel. “The process seemed very disjointed, therefore I withdrew my application.”

She had not given up on the project, however, citing a real need for local cremation services. Currently, the cremation of humans and pets requires transportation to either Terrace or Vanderhoof, at a cost of approximately $350 one way.

Now with new backing of corporate support called West End Ventures, Menzel started the process again with the regional district for a parcel of land at 3844 Henry Road, adjacent to Highway 16. The land, where Northwest Truck Rentals is located, is currently zoned for a vehicle rental and contracting business.

The proposal, which was heard by the Regional District Advisory Planning Commission, Nov. 1, includes three crematorium buildings.

According to the Director of Planning, Jason Llewellyn, this application is in the beginning stages and will be coming forward for a public hearing in the near future.

The need for a crematorium in the Smithers area, was never in dispute, as much as where it would be located when the application was before Smithers council.

READ MORE: Procedural problems and clerical errors lead to crematorium application withdrawal

There are several points of consideration for the RDBN and town residents to address beyond rezoning, according to Menzel;

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.

Several letters of support were included with the package submitted to the RDBN, citing the need for this kind of service within the Smithers area, and letters of support from local residents.

There will be an opportunity for the public to give their input to the RDBN before a decision is made. The Public Hearing Notice will be advertised in The Interior News.

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

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