Residents protest proposed crematorium next to central Edmonton neighbourhood

Residents of a central Edmonton neighbourhood are concerned about the proposed addition of a crematorium just steps away from some of their backyards.

An application before city council could rezone industrial land that borders the Prince Rupert community at the corner of 119th Street and 114th Avenue, clearing the way for the current building at the site to be used as a crematorium. 

About 50 residents from the Prince Rupert neighbourhood gathered to protest the proposed rezoning Saturday afternoon. Potential health impacts are one of the biggest concerns for those living nearby.

Organizer Marilyn Dumkee said some of their yards would be less than 100 metres away from the building.

“That’s our biggest concern that there is no minimum separation,” Dumkee said. “I don’t think people realize this and how close it really could be to your home. They wouldn’t want it. 

“It’s Prince Rupert today but it could be any community tomorrow as long as you’re bordering on all of these commercial and industrial zones, it’s a discretionary use and it could be coming to your neighbourhood next,” Dumkee said.

The western edge of the neighbourhood borders a medium industrial zone that is home to a number of businesses like body shops, couriers and storage facilities. Rezoning would see it turned into an industrial business zone, which allows for the discretionary use of a crematorium.

In Alberta, any emissions coming from crematoriums are monitored by the Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board.

Coun. Bev Esslinger said she’s heard the worry from community members.

“We’re constantly reviewing our zoning bylaws and it might be something that we have to consider in the future,” Esslinger said.

“Do we put in separation distances? What are some other additional guidelines that we might need to consider? That would take a bigger body of work I believe but that might be something that we want to do out of this.”

The management of Trinity Funeral Homes says two other facilities have operated in Edmonton without issue since 2012. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Trinity Funeral Homes, the business that has purchased the building, confirmed that they are currently working with the City of Edmonton on the proposed zoning change that would allow for the use of funeral, cremation and interment services at the site. 

In a statement, Trinity management said they often hear concerns when opening new facilities, while acknowledging that death can be an uncomfortable topic for many. 

The business has operated two other cremators in Edmonton since 2012 “without incident,” they added.

“Over the years cremators have been designed to be extremely safe to operate while minimizing emissions and environmental concerns,” the statement said.

The rezoning proposal will be before council on March 16.

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