Town of Stettler sees cremation burials boom in popularity

The Town of Stettler approved just under $38,000 for the 2023 capital budget for a new columbarium which features key-locked doors for each niche. ECA Review/Submitted
Written by Stu Salkeld

The Town of Stettler council approved a facility for cremation burials several years ahead of schedule as it seems the columbarium booms in popularity. The decision to add the facility to the 2023 capital budget was made at the regular council meeting Feb. 7.

Councillors read a memo from Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Greg Switenky and Assistant CAO Steven Gerlitz requesting the addition of just under $38,000 for a new columbarium, a burial facility that accommodates cremated remains stored in urns.

“The last two columbariums were received in 2021, ordered in 2020 with an 18-month delivery, and 2022, ordered in 2021.” stated the staff memo.

“As such a limited number of spots are available in the newest columbarium at the cemetery, and a new columbarium should be ordered. Delivery is expected to be six months to one year.

“The next columbarium was not expected to be ordered until the 2025 capital budget.”

Gerlitz stated during his presentation that the town was not planning to buy another columbarium for years, “…but we need the space.”

Gerlitz provided councillors with detailed information from Sunset Memorial and Stone of Calgary about the columbarium which will be located in a plot at 50 Street and 38 Ave.

Information provided by Sunset stated that the columbarium will have a grey granite roof, walls and base with polished faces and rock-pitched base, polished premium black shutters and trim which will each cover on individual niche with shutters accommodating inscriptions, but not wreath attachments, along with rosettes in bronze floral styles.

The facility will have a nylene interior which Sunset stated is lighter than concrete, all-aluminum and granite cores, thus reducing weight on the foundation. It’s also inert to the environment so it won’t rust or degrade over time.

According to the documentation each niche’s 16 inch depth could accommodate two large urns and each niche will include with a key-locked inner aluminum security door which reduces the amount of staff supervision at the columbarium.

Coun. Wayne Smith asked why the columbarium needs to be placed so much earlier than planned. Gerlitz responded the demand for cremation spots is higher than normal plus supply chain delays are also forcing municipalities to plan further ahead.

The assistant CAO added that the town will likely need to buy another columbarium in 2024 as it seems people are buying more of these cremation spots.

Town councillors unanimously approved the addition of a columbarium to the 2023 capital budget and accept the quote from Sunset Memorial and Stone for a single-sided 48 niche columbarium, in the amount of $34,282 plus $3,000 cement base for a total cost of $37,282 with funding to come from the 2023 capital budget.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.