Smithers town council has directed staff to prepare a report on how the town might accommodate green burials.
The issue was originally brought to council by a delegation to its Nov. 9 meeting asking for a portion of the Smithers cemetery to be set aside and for natural or green burials.
Council brought the matter forward to the Nov. 23 during which councillors expressed they were mostly in favour of granting the request, but unsure where in current cemetery an area could be allocated.
There are other pieces of property the town owns that could be allocated for these types of burials, but council decided it needed more information from town staff to determine where a green burial may be most appropriately situated.
In the delegation’s original presentation, they noted there is an increasing interest in B.C. and Canada to act in environmentally friendly ways as much as possible. Communities in B.C. and elsewhere are increasingly providing the option of having a natural or green burial, which is considered to be the most environmentally-friendly option.
In most natural burials, the unembalmed body, clothed or wrapped in biodegradable material such as cotton, linen, or wool, and optionally placed in a locally-sourced biodegradable box, is laid to rest in a four-foot grave. This depth ensures the body will not be disturbed by wildlife yet allows for rapid microbial decomposition.
Native shrubs and trees are planted or encouraged to grow, reclaiming the occupied grave, which is minimally maintained.
A biodegradable marker is often placed on the grave, and each person buried in this section of the cemetery is commemorated in a nearby communal memorial structure.