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Council moves ahead with cemetery expansion

I’m disappointed in the $200,000 increase for Phase 1. That’s just Phase 1, never mind phases two through five. ‘ REUBEN KONNIK

Lacombe City council has approved the master plan for the Fairview Cemetery Expansion.

At their regular meeting on July 28th, City council heard a presentation from Community Services Director Brenda Vaughan that proposed a number of changes to the Fairview Cemetery.

Included in the report were proposals to approve the master plan, amend policies regarding interment and increase user fees.

Councillor Reuben Konnik said he was taken aback by the “phenomenal” cost increase for the first phase of the project.

Preliminary estimates for the first phase, which would provide the cemetery with a five- to eight-year supply of plots, came in at $225,000 but now costs are believed to come in at $427,593.25.

“I’m disappointed in the $200,000 increase for Phase 1,” said Konnik.

“That’s just Phase 1, never mind phases two through five. We’re going to be spending a lot of money on this cemetery.

“It disappoints me - this increase.”

Konnik added he was also disappointed in the increasing fees.

He said he didn’t understand why fees needed to increase just because neighbouring municipalities were increasing their fees.

“I find that a poor justification to raise our rates, because we are lower than everyone else.”

Vaughan said keeping fees competitive with other municipalities is simply a mechanism used to keep plots available for local residents.

She added that individuals from other municipalities might purchase plots outside of their own communities if they are much cheaper.

Councillor Grant Harder also had concerns to do with the heightened cost of the project as well as the increasing fees.

He said that, of late, the quotes received by the City for work like stripping and grading have been incredibly low.

“We’re seriously underestimating the amount of stripping and grading that’s required on all our projects.”

Harder also suggested using different options of fee increases for residents and non-residents so that Lacombians would not be so drastically affected by the change in price.

“That way, non-residents investigating the rates in Lacombe would find that they are competitive but we don’t penalize our local townspeople for passing away in Lacombe,” said Harder.

He then later made a motion to that effect - looking to raise the fees to reflect an average of similar communities for non-residents and raising fees to 80% of calculated averages for residents.

The motion was then passed and fee changes will come into effect as of Sept. 1st.

Council made and passed three motions to approve the master plan.

They also amended the number of urns that can be placed in certain plots and adjusted user fees for the cemetery as well.