Unclaimed cremains present a dilemma to Bashaw funeral home

Request to store 42 urns in underground vault was denied by town council

Some Central Alberta funeral homes are facing a awkward dilemma — what to do with ashes from cremations that haven’t been picked up by families of the deceased?

Five years ago, a provincial law was enacted requiring all funeral homes to only store ashes for a five-year period, then dispose of them in a manner that’s inoffensive to the public.

This leaves many funeral homes in a tight spot. The Bashaw operation, for instance, has 42 urns — some of them unclaimed since the 1970s — that the staff now don’t know what to do with.

Marlon Wombold, president of the Bashaw Funeral Home, said he doesn’t want to scatter the ashes in a commemorative cemetery flower bed, as he’s heard some other funeral homes are doing.

There’s always the chance family members will come forward, asking for their relative’s cremains, he added. “One option is to discard them, but I can’t do that in good conscience…”

Wombold recently asked Bashaw town council for permissions to put the 42 urns into an underground vault in the local cemetery that was constructed more than a half-century ago.

The 37-square-metre chamber was once used to hold coffins until the ground thaws, allowing for burial. But with warming equipment now used to unfreeze cemeteries in the winter, the room has been unused for the last 15 years.

Wombold thought the vault would present be a dignified storage solution that still offered the option of handing back the cremains if a family requested.

But town council denied his request. Some councillors were uncomfortable with the idea. Wombold was instead advised to purchase 42 cemetery plots and have the urns properly interred — an unfeasible solution because of the cost.

He doesn’t believe the provincial law will present a problem going forward. From now on, Wombold said relatives will be advised as to what kind of disposal methods will be used if they don’t pick up the cremains in five years.

But the historic problem persists — and Wombold will attempt to appeal to the town again.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Bashaw

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Piece of Red Deer history up for sale

Willson House was built in 1911 and has been completely restored

Up to 60,000 Alberta beehives could perish

“A perfect storm” of obstacles is threatening thousands of Alberta beehives. “It’s… Continue reading

57 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Friday

Central zone remains at three active cases

Frontline rural police will benefit from new support positions say municipal representatives

Province says of 43 new RCMP officers on the job, 18 will provide support and specialized services

P.E.I. reports three new COVID-19 cases, including one seniors’ residence employee

CHARLOTETOWN, P.E.I. — Prince Edward Island reported new COVID-19 cases for the… Continue reading

Even pandemic can’t spoil July

July. Finally. It’s seems like the last three weird months have taken… Continue reading

‘You have to show up:’ NDP MP questions virtual attendance of Alberta Tories

NDP MP McPherson says she’s disappointed Tory MPs haven’t been participating in virtual meetings

Flood warning, mandatory evacuation for people in remote Alberta hamlet

A flood warning has been issued for the rain-swollen Smoky River near the Hamlet of Watino

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, Amnesty, sex worker advocates say

‘We need to make sure the existing laws on the books aren’t enforced’

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

At Mount Rushmore, Trump digs deeper into nation’s divisions

MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, S.D. — At the foot of Mount Rushmore… Continue reading

Most Read