WHEN THE HILLSIDE CEMETERY on Notre Dame Drive was opened in Kamloops in 1951, it was well outside the main part of the city. Even in the 1970s, there were foxes denning at the edges of the cemetery. Deer were seen between the graves up until recent years.
Hillside Cemetery is adjacent to shopping malls on Summit and Columbia. Light industrial and commercial borders another two sides of the cemetery along Notre Dame Drive and Dalhousie Drive.
For years, only businesses surrounded the cemetery.
But the latest developments are different.
Now along McGill Road from Dalhousie Drive to Summit Drive are hundreds of apartments. And more will be built in short order on the west side of McGill and on Thompson Rivers University properties as well.
When the Hillside Cemetery crematorium was installed, the cemetery was far from any residential properties.
That is no longer the case. Now, the crematorium is in close proximity to homes.
Between 700 to 750 people in Kamloops die each year. In British Columbia, 80 per cent of people choose cremation when they die. While some people may choose services in other cities, there are likely well over 500 cremations a year held in Kamloops’ crematorium at Hillside Cemetery.
It is not appropriate to have that number of cremations occurring so close to residential buildings.
People in Kamloops are well aware of particulate matter. Every summer, the entire city in inundated with forest fire smoke. The city grew up with the pulp mill as well.
But forest fires are outside of the control of city dwellers. The pulp mill is closely monitored and publicly reports readings to the City council every year.
The crematorium is a service that is essential to have, but there is no reason it should be so close to residential buildings.
Occasionally, I have seen a thick, smoky plume rising into the sky coming from the crematorium. Even when smoke is not noticeable, there is particulate being emitted.
Services for deceased are extremely important to provide, to give families a chance to grieve and follow rituals that give them peace. Cremations have religious importance for many.
It is a given that Kamloops needs a crematorium.
But when the crematorium was built at Hillside Cemetery years ago it wasn’t immediately adjacent to a growing residential neighborhood.
It is time that the City of Kamloops works with the city’s funeral and cremation providers to make available a crematorium in a new, less intrusive location away from residential neighborhoods.
Nancy Bepple is a former city councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.