Coun­cil­lors not unan­i­mous in vote to ap­prove wa­ter-based cre­ma­tion ser­vice

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

Coun­cil ap­proved the dis­cre­tionary use ap­pli­ca­tion by Swift Cur­rent Fu­neral Home to in­stall an al­ka­line hy­drol­y­sis unit for wa­ter-based cre­ma­tion, but the vote was not unan­i­mous.

City ad­min­is­tra­tion took ad­di­tional time to con­sider this ap­pli­ca­tion and City Gen­eral Man­ager for Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment Michael Ruus pre­sented his re­port and rec­om­men­da­tion at a reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing, Nov. 5.

He rec­om­mended that the ap­pli­ca­tion for the in­stal­la­tion of an al­ka­line hy­drol­y­sis unit for wa­ter-based cre­ma­tion be ap­proved, sub­ject to cer­tain con­di­tions out­lined in his re­port.

Six coun­cil mem­bers sup­ported the rec­om­men­da­tion, but Coun­cil­lor Ron Toles voted against the mo­tion to ap­prove the dis­cre­tionary use ap­pli­ca­tion.

Toles noted dur­ing the dis­cus­sion be­fore the vote that he had a pro­duc­tive meet­ing with the ap­pli­cant and he be­lieved City ad­min­is­tra­tors did their home­work and due dili­gence, but he also heard from a lot of res­i­dents about this mat­ter.

“I've had a lot of peo­ple call­ing me with con­cerns about the change in des­ig­nated use, and I know change is al­ways fear­ful and no-one has a crys­tal ball, we can't pre­dict the fu­ture, and so I hear what they're say­ing and I've been in­un­dated with calls over this is­sue,” he said. “I'm con­vinced that the process is safe, but at the same time I'm not con­vinced that the peo­ple who live in that area are go­ing to be sat­is­fied with the de­ci­sion we make tonight, and even though I may per­son­ally think that things are fine, I'm go­ing to choose to vote no on this by­law tonight just be­cause I think that there's some peo­ple who would like to do that.”

Coun­cil­lor Ryan Plewis ac­knowl­edged that there were con­cerns about this ap­pli­ca­tion and he wanted res­i­dents to know that those con­cerns were heard.

“We have tasked our ad­min­is­tra­tion team with go­ing out and specif­i­cally look­ing at those con­cerns and to bring an an­swer back to us, not to bring an an­swer back to us that sup­ports any one rec­om­men­da­tion, but to bring an an­swer back to us what tells us what the deal is,” he said.

He felt those con­cerns, while still valid, were prop­erly ad­dresses as a re­sult of the work done by City ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“I can say, at least from the in­for­ma­tion that we've re­ceived back, in par­tic­u­larly given that there's been some con­di­tions added on top of that, I think that the change of use is sat­is­fied and there's no real ob­jec­tive rea­son why we shouldn't al­low this to hap­pen,” he said.

Coun­cil­lor Pat Friesen was glad City ad­min­is­tra­tion took ex­tra time to do their due dili­gence and she was sat­is­fied that her con­cern about the safety of cit­i­zens was ad­dressed.

“Af­ter read­ing through ev­ery­thing and through all the dis­cus­sion I feel very com­fort­able that it is safe, and par­tic­u­larly with the con­di­tions that are be­ing put in place along with this,” she said. “I'm very com­fort­able that it will be a safe process and safe for the cit­i­zens that live close by.”

Coun­cil­lor Chris Martens said he was very con­flicted on this ap­pli­ca­tion, but the con­di­tions that will be in place will ad­dress his main con­cern about the safe stor­age of the dry chem­i­cals.

Mayor De­nis Per­rault noted that the con­di­tions on this de­vel­op­ment were the re­sult of the con­cerns raised by the com­mu­nity.

“This is ul­ti­mately the re­sult of our com­mu­nity work­ing to­gether with ad­min­is­tra­tion,” he said. “So we're grate­ful for that.”

This type of ap­pli­ca­tion is a dis­cre­tionary use un­der the terms of the City's zon­ing by­law and there­fore re­quires a mo­tion at a coun­cil meet­ing to ap­prove the de­vel­op­ment.

The ap­pli­ca­tion process re­quires that prop­erty own­ers within a 75-me­tre ra­dius are no­ti­fied of the ap­pli­ca­tion and that a pub­lic hear­ing is held.

The pub­lic hear­ing took place at a reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing, Oct. 9. Swift Cur­rent Fu­neral Home rep­re­sen­ta­tives pro­vided de­tails about their ap­pli­ca­tion, and a lo­cal res­i­dent made a sub­mis­sion to op­pose the in­stal­la­tion of an al­ka­line hy­drol­y­sis unit at this lo­ca­tion.

The City re­ceived 12 writ­ten sub­mis­sions. There were six let­ters of con­cerns or op­po­si­tion and one let­ter of sup­port from res­i­dents within the 75-me­tre no­ti­fi­ca­tion area, as well as four let­ters of con­cern or op­po­si­tion from res­i­dents out­side this area.

Dur­ing the ex­tended re­view pe­riod the City con­sid­ered ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion from the ap­pli­cant and other pro­vin­cial au­thor­i­ties, gov­ern­ing agen­cies and in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als.

“We needed ad­di­tional time just to go through all of the feed­back that was re­ceived from the pub­lic and just ex­plore some of the ques­tions that were be­ing raised,” Ruus said af­ter the meet­ing.

Af­ter con­sid­er­ing all the in­for­ma­tion and the best prac­tices and in­dus­try stan­dards for this al­ka­line hy­drol­y­sis unit, City ad­min­is­tra­tion felt the ap­pli­ca­tion can be ap­proved with the in­clu­sion of some con­di­tions.

“In the end it re­ally boils down to does it meet the zon­ing by­law re­quire­ments, build­ing set­backs, and these kinds of things, does it pose a health and safety risk to the neigh­bour­hood, and does it im­pede or­derly de­vel­op­ment of the sur­round­ing prop­er­ties,” he said.

Swift Cur­rent Fu­neral Home will have to com­ply with var­i­ous con­di­tions that are listed in the re­port pre­sented at the coun­cil meet­ing.

The de­vel­op­ment can­not cause any neg­a­tive im­pact to neigh­bour­ing prop­er­ties due to noise, odour, vi­bra­tion, heat or other nui­sance. A max­i­mum of 250 kilo­grams or 10 bags of the dry-form chem­i­cals can be de­liv­ered to the site, and it must be stored in­side the prin­ci­pal build­ing.

Any dis­charge to the City's sewer sys­tem must com­ply with the wa­ter and waste­water util­ity by­law and the pH lev­els must be be­tween 5.5 and 10.

The de­vel­op­ment must com­ply with all rel­e­vant mu­nic­i­pal, pro­vin­cial and fed­eral by­laws, stan­dards and reg­u­la­tions for the op­er­a­tion of an al­ka­line hy­drol­y­sis unit.

The fu­neral home must pro­vide a re­me­di­a­tion plan to the City's Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment Di­vi­sion. This plan must in­clude de­tails on the method that will be used to con­tain any spills.

“One of the com­ments that had come up from the pub­lic is in essence if the equip­ment fails, what hap­pens if there’s an al­ka­line out­put that’s be­ing re­leased from the piece of the equip­ment and po­ten­tially go­ing be­yond the bound­ary of the build­ing,” Ruus said. “The way we’re try­ing to mit­i­gate that risk is by re­quir­ing that re­me­di­a­tion plan and try­ing to pre­vent any out­put from be­ing re­leased be­yond the prop­erty bound­ary as well as the stor­age of all chem­i­cal to be within the prin­ci­pal build­ing it­self.”

He added that their re­search of the equip­ment and the al­ka­line hy­drol­y­sis process in­di­cated that there are al­ready a num­ber of built-in fail-safe pro­ce­dures and the risk is there­fore very low.

“So this is just an ex­tra pre­cau­tion on the mu­nic­i­pal side to help the neigh­bour­hood un­der­stand that we are lis­ten­ing to them and we want to try and en­sure that if any­thing did hap­pen that those risks are be­ing greatly mit­i­gated,” he said.

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