In the near future, residents of Morden will be able to purchase plots in the city's new lakeside cemetery.
The project began three years ago, with much thought given to the aesthetic appeal of its location.
"There's a growing movement in municipal cemeteries that they're not just a cemetery," explains Shawn Dias, director of Parks and Urban Forestry. "There's access there beyond the cemetery itself to a larger recreation area."
The city purchased a 54-acre parcel of land on the south and east side of Lake Minnewasta, accessed south of Spillway Road off Highway 432.
"Out of that 54 acres we were looking at an 8- acre parcel pushed as far away from the lake, and as close to the highway as we could get," said Dias.
Phase One of project will offer 336 plots consisting of traditional, ash-only and infant areas.
"Currently we have just less than one acre developed in Phase One. But in terms of the total site, we’ll have a total of 2,167 plots available, which is an estimated number just based on density, and where we're going to move forward. Looking at the long-term life cycle, that will take us out roughly to [the year] 2053. It's about a 30-year period for this cemetery from when it starts to capacity."
In addition to the on-site work, Dias says they've worked extensively on policy and planning development ...
"Things like reviewing the Cemetery Act and the Public Health Act, looking at other municipal policies for cemetery use, talking to the City of Winnipeg and developing our own rules and regulations and fee structure, et cetera. Now we are on the cusp of officially opening the cemetery."
One of the project's unique features is a green burial section. a concept that is gaining popularity said Dias.
"There's no embalming in that process. You're either in a plain unfinished casket or in a shroud and then placed into the ground, still meeting the requirement from the Cemeteries Act for the depth of plot of burial. After that has all happened then it's left more natural. It isn't mowed turf areas. It would be native grasses, shrubs and trees in those areas. When we have a block of 10 green burial sections that once they're filled and occupied, then we will just do less maintenance on that area and allow it to go more natural."
In addition to the cemetery, the site includes an ecologically significant stand of Ironwood trees, which are unique to the region.
"It also has natural tall grass prairie stands," pointed out Dias. "And for myself, someone who is passionate about natural environment, climate change adaptation and supporting a green livable city, this property has great potential for recreation and education."
Phase Two of the cemetery will see the addition of an entrance sign, ash scattering grounds, a green burial section and landscaping.
Long term plans include trails that lead closer to Lake Minnewasta.
With files from Robyn Wiebe
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