Cemetery expansion plans cause controversy

Plans to spend more than $82,000 to hire a company to design a cemetery expansion in Lacombe drew fire from one city councillor.

Plans to spend more than $82,000 to hire a company to design a cemetery expansion in Lacombe drew fire from one city councillor.

“This is an absolute waste of money. It blows you away,” said Coun. Grant Creasey, during Monday night’s council debate.

Creasey said while the city has hired outside companies for other projects, the cemetery expansion wasn’t a good candidate.

It’s a relatively small piece of land with limited possibilities and future plans could have been handled by city staff, he argued.

“I think there’s lots of creative things that we could do as far as design, inclusion of artworks, a plaza, that kind of thing, on our own,” he said in an interview.

“We have some very talented people on staff here and we didn’t necessarily have to outsource this particular item.”

Council voted 5-1 in favour of spending $82,569 to hire Vancouver-based LEES and Associates Landscape Architects and Planners to prepare a master design and cemetery plan and oversee the first phase of construction this year.

Creasey wasn’t the only councillor taken aback by the price tag, although it was well below the $120,000 estimate included in this year’s budget.

“My first initial thought was why can’t we do this ourselves?” said Coun. Ian Foster.

However, Foster was impressed by the material prepared by winning bidder and supported hiring them.

Coun. Wayne Rempel was pleased to see that the public will have opportunities for input into future cemetery expansion.

“It’s good to know they will be involved in the process and will have input. I think it’s being done in the right way and our community will be happy with the outcome.”

Cemetery expansion drew some controversy a couple of years ago because of the need to displace existing ball diamonds. Some nearby residents also opposed the expansion.

A compromise was eventually reached with a new site for ball diamonds found.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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