By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
New resting places will be added to the Town of Coaldale Cemetery with the completion of a capital project.
The cemetery’s current columbarium – a structure that stores cremation urns – is now full, and town council has added the construction of one to its 2023 Capital Budget.
Previously, during their Oct. 24, 2022 meeting, council had passed a motion for the town to submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) to funeral homes in the surrounding area and then later decide if the Town of Coaldale will want to partner with the funeral homes or to undertake the project on its own.
Council had considered adding a capital project for the building and operation of a columbarium – without a partner – during the 2023 capital budget deliberation, with town administration proceeding with the RFP and reporting back to council. A RFEI (Request for Expressions of Interest) had been sent out to local funeral homes on March 7, and closed on March 21. Returning to the topic at their regular April 11 meeting, council was informed that the town had received no response for the RFEI.
As there have been no responses to the RFEI, council could either proceed with building and operating a 72-niche columbarium without a partner in 2023, as proposed in the 2023 capital budget for $55,000, or postpone or cancel the project altogether.
Should council proceed with the project, administration will bring back the Cemetery and the Rates and Fees bylaws for amendments once the project numbers have been finalized, and council can then consider prices for individual niches. Comparables from other municipalities would also be presented.
When asked if he had received any phone call inquiries, Justin MacPherson, director of operational services for the Town, said that he had discussed the columbarium with four local funeral homes – one in Coaldale and three in Lethbridge – and while he sent forms and information to those who were interested, he received no follow-up from them.
In response to an inquiry about a local funeral home expressing an interest and offer on a columbarium kickstarting the idea, MacPherson said he had discussed it with them “pretty thoroughly”.
“Once they realized, once they were comparing it to us doing it ourselves, they thought it would be much more beneficial for the Town to do it themselves,” said MacPherson.
The private corporation that had been operating the columbarium in Coaldale is “no longer interested in operating (it) with us”.
Council unanimously passed motions to direct administration to proceed with the columbarium as proposed in the 2023 Capital Budget, and to direct administration to bring back options for pricing of the niches and revise the Cemetery section of the Fees and Rates Bylaw to add prices for columbarium niches.