City tak­ing more time to con­sider ap­pli­ca­tion for water-based cre­ma­tion ser­vice

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Front Page - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG — mlieben­berg@prairiepost.com

The City of Swift Cur­rent is tak­ing more time to con­sider a dis­cre­tionary use ap­pli­ca­tion by a lo­cal funeral home to in­stall an al­ka­line hy­drol­y­sis unit for water-based cre­ma­tion.

Coun­cil­lors agreed to a re­quest for more time by ad­min­is­tra­tion at a reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing, Oct. 22.

A pub­lic hear­ing for this ap­pli­ca­tion by Swift Cur­rent Funeral Home took place dur­ing a pre­vi­ous coun­cil meet­ing on Oct. 9 and ad­min­is­tra­tion was sched­uled to sub­mit a re­port with rec­om­men­da­tion to the Oct. 22 meet­ing.

In­stead, City Gen­eral Man­ager for Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment Michael Ruus pre­sented a re­port for in­for­ma­tion to the meet­ing to no­tify coun­cil that ad­min­is­tra­tion is still an­a­lyz­ing the in­for­ma­tion.

“The de­vel­op­ment per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion re­view has now been com­pleted by the Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment Divi­sion,” he said.

“How­ever, given the feed­back re­ceived dur­ing the con­sul­ta­tion process and per­mit re­view, ad­min­is­tra­tion re­quires ad­di­tional time to suf­fi­ciently an­a­lyze the in­for­ma­tion. Ad­min­is­tra­tion will bring a re­port with a rec­om­men­da­tion on the de­ci­sion to a fu­ture coun­cil meet­ing.”

Coun­cil­lors ex­pressed their sup­port for ad­min­is­tra­tion's ap­proach to do a proper anal­y­sis of all the in­for­ma­tion be­fore mak­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion.

“At the pub­lic meet­ing, both sides made com­pelling ar­gu­ments,” Coun­cil­lor Ron Toles said. “I think both sides need to be looked at very care­fully and a num­ber of home­own­ers send I'm not sure ex­actly how many let­ters of con­cern, and so I think that we made a re­ally good call in putting this off un­til we can make fur­ther study into what the im­pact will be.”

Coun­cil­lor Ge­orge Bowditch said he was sur­prised by the de­lay, but due to the con­cerns that were ex­pressed about the ap­pli­ca­tion he sup­ports the ap­proach taken by ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“As long as we have any type of de­ci­sion like this, we got to make sure we get fac­tual in­for­ma­tion,” he said. “We want to do our due dili­gence for our com­mu­nity, be­cause we're here for our com­mu­nity.”

Coun­cil­lor Ryan Plewis noted that this was the sec­ond pub­lic hear­ing in re­cent times that re­sulted in more than just a straight ap­proval.

“I want to just make that point to folks in the city of Swift Cur­rent that pub­lic hear­ings are here for a rea­son,” he said. “They are some­times re­quired by leg­is­la­tion and some­times re­quired by our own zon­ing and our own rules in­ter­nally at the City, and we do that be­cause we don't know all the an­swers al­ways. We try to make the best de­ci­sions we can, but the best de­ci­sions that we can make some­times re­quire in­put from mem­bers of the com­mu­nity and dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives that we may just not have in-house or in our own ex­pe­ri­ences as mem­bers of coun­cil.”

He there­fore en­cour­aged res­i­dents to take in­ter­est in pub­lic hear­ings and to par­tic­i­pate in them when they want to present in­for­ma­tion about an is­sue un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

“This is your com­mu­nity as well as ours and we're do­ing the best we can with the in­for­ma­tion that we have, and if you want us to con­sider in­for­ma­tion that maybe we don't have, we might be re­ly­ing on you to come and pro­vide that,” he said.

Swift Cur­rent Funeral Home has sub­mit­ted a de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion to the City to in­stall an al­ka­line hy­drol­y­sis unit in a new 30 square me­tre (325 square feet) ad­di­tion at the back of the funeral home.

The body of a de­ceased per­son will be placed in­side a spe­cial­ized stain­less steel ves­sel for the cre­ma­tion process.

Dur­ing the al­ka­line hy­drol­y­sis process a heated so­lu­tion of 95 per cent water and five per cent al­kali is cir­cu­lated around the body. The al­ka­lis used in the process are sodium hy­drox­ide (caus­tic soda) and potas­sium hy­drox­ide (caus­tic potash).

Swift Cur­rent Funeral Home rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan and Do­minick Martens spoke about the safety as­pects and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of this process dur­ing the pub­lic hear­ing on Oct. 9. They men­tioned that the al­ka­lis will be de­liv­ered and stored in a dry form, which are safe and easy to han­dle. Em­ploy­ees will be trained to fol­low the cor­rect pro­ce­dures and they will wear per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment while they han­dle the al­kali. The al­ka­lis only be­come ac­tive when mixed with water, but an au­to­matic safety lock will en­gage on the hy­drol­y­sis ma­chine be­fore it fills with water.

Lo­cal res­i­dent Todd Tum­back ex­pressed some con­cerns dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion at the pub­lic hear­ing. He is wor­ried about the dis­charge of im­prop­erly neu­tral­ized chem­i­cals into the sewer sys­tem if the ma­chine mal­func­tions and he re­ferred to the po­ten­tial hazard of stor­ing sodium hy­drox­ide at the funeral home. He felt the ma­chine should not be in­stalled in a res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood.

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