Dozens of residents appear before council to oppose proposed crematorium
EDMONTON -- A proposed crematorium located in central Edmonton is facing backlash from individuals who live nearby.
Trinity Funeral Home bought the industrial building at 114 Avenue and 119 Street, with the intent to run a crematorium and general interment services.
More than a dozen residents in the Prince Rupert neighbourhood laid out their concerns to city council on Tuesday to oppose to the rezoning request for the proposed site.
Laurie Moulton, senior planner at the City of Edmonton, presented council with the administrative plan. It indicated there are approximately 15 crematoriums in various locations around the city, including the heart of Oliver Square and downtown. Both of those locations are adjacent to thousands of residents within the city’s most populated neighbourhoods.
“They’ve operated successfully for decades due to the low impact nature,” she said.
According to the report, the use of a crematorium is regulated by the Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board under the Cemeteries Act and associated crematory regulations.
These governing bodies are required to ensure the proposed crematory and ones that already exist operate in a way that does not give rise to any offence, such as foul odours or public health nuisance.
However, Judy Kuehn, a registered speaker in opposition of the facility, told council she and her husband owned and operated a business east of one of the existing Trinity Funeral Home locations. She sent council multiple photos from 2015 to 2018 that show plumes of smoke coming from the home.
“That is a putrid smelling smoke; it should not be allowed in a residential area,” she said.
“I’m not aware of any emissions, or you know, Alberta Health Services problems with any of our units, or any other crematorium in the city that I’m aware of,” John Laureano, with Trinity Funeral Home, said.
According to Dennis Rego, co-owner of Trinity Funeral Home, the allowable amount of effluent allowed in Alberta is .200 grams per kilogram. He said they operate at .034, which is 17 per cent of what’s allowed under provincial guidelines.
Council and Prince Rupert residents questioned both Rego and Laureano as to why they chose the proposed location in a residential area instead of somewhere more industrial.
“We did want something that was close to the funeral home downtown,” Laureano said.
“It’s a building right from day one we were going to invest a lot of money in, making it more appealing because when we bring families to the crematorium it’s very similar to bringing them to a place of worship or to a cemetery.
“When it comes right down to it when you’re taking care of a loved one who’s passed away, the family doesn’t want to be escorted out to an industrial area at the edge of the city to say goodbye to their loved one. It’s just not the nature of what we do.”
“My mom and I are downwind of the crematorium," said Prince Rupert resident Christina Konning. "We will never have assurance because there are no inspection requirements in regard to actual measured emissions. We will never understand which emissions we are breathing in that could ultimately affect our long-term health.”
Prince Rupert resident Rose Hamel spoke to the noise concerns in the area, saying: “Cremating a body takes a few hours and nobody would want to be subjected to the worrying sounds of a cremation for several hours. It would be cruel and tormenting.”
Rick Gray, another central Edmonton resident, said he’s concerned about the proposed site being 40 yards away from residential properties.
Gray said his greatest concern is about quality of life for his family and other residents.
“My wife and I have never considered moving,” he said.
“We even said if we won the lottery we wouldn’t move from our community… we are now looking at the option. We just cannot live this close to it.”
Trinity Funeral Home maintains their cremations produce emissions well below what provincial regulations allow adding that the area around the building is already industrial.
Rego said in an eight hour business day there would be about three cremations. About one and a half hours is dedicated to cremation and then there is a two hour cool down period before the next one.
“Last year with the pandemic, the hours of operation were elevated due to the amount of deaths.
“Usually five days a week depends on the volume of deaths and percentage of those would be cremations as opposed to burials,” he added.
In addition to adhering to provincial regulations, the crematorium also faces a yearly review and license renewal to operate.
Tuesday night, Edmonton city council voted unanimously against the rezoning application for the crematorium to be built in the proposed location.