Regional district rejects rezoning for proposed Smithers crematorium

Board votes down third reading of zoning amendment 12-3 following strong public opposition

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)

Strong public opposition to the location of a proposed crematorium west of Smithers, has scuttled a rezoning application for two properties.

In a recommendation to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s board of directors, the district’s planning department recommended the board deny the application on third reading.

“As a result of input received at the public hearing, staff are recommending that the application be denied and that staff work with the proponent to identify an alternative location for a crematorium,” the staff report stated.

At a meeting Dec. 16, the board defeated third reading by a vote of 12-3.

The Interior News was unable to reach the proponent, Laurel Menzel, for comment prior to publishing.

More than 50 people attended the RDBN public hearing held via Zoom Dec. 7, with approximately 20 people speaking, including Lane Perry, a lawyer for several of the immediate neighbours, who presented petitions, and letters of opposition, that expressed concerns over the location.

Health issues, aesthetic concerns, and property value considerations were cited as reasons for the opposition.

In general, residents agreed there is a need for crematorium services in the Smithers area, the conflict is over the location.

Menzel and partner West-End Ventures Inc, (the owners of the property) had asked the RDBN for a text amendment to the M1A zoning, to include crematoria as a permitted use on the properties at 3844 Henry Road and 8150 Highway 16.

READ MORE: Crematorium proposed for Hwy 16 west of Smithers

The crematorium would have been located at the 3844 Henry Road location, although the zoning would have applied to both properties.

The largest concern expressed by the surrounding property owners was over emissions, possible smell, and noise during operation.

The fact that air quality is a concern in the Bulkley Valley, with frequent inversions that are often accompanied by health advisories, was highest on the list of concerns expressed at the hearing.

Neighbours remained unconvinced that air emissions and smoke from the facility will not occur despite data presented by Menzel.

With files from Thom Barker

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

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