Cemetery expansion almost complete

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The MD of Foothills has lifted a hold placed on new full-size plots at the Foothills Cemetery northwest of Black Diamond as expansion work wraps up.

Johanna Kortenschyl-Allan, MD of Foothills community services assistant, said the hold was in place for new licences for residents planning ahead to have full-sized plots in the cemetery due to lack of space while work was ongoing.

“It alleviates the stress on the families and that’s a wonderful thing,” she said.

The 42-year-old original section of the cemetery has 15 adult plots remaining, as well as 17 for children and 125 for cremations. Less than five were licensed for those with an immediate need during the hold.

Kortenschyl-Allan said the discussion to expand the almost 10-acre area began in 2008. The Foothills Cemetery Committee was created, consisting of councillors from Turner Valley, Black Diamond, the MD of Foothills, members of the Royal Canadian Legion Turner Valley branch and local citizens. Expansion designs were approved in 2011 and construction began the summer of 2016.

The approximately $350,000 addition, called the Highlands, includes 180 plots, 41 for the Field of Honour and 132 niches for urns, which consists of seven columbaria. The cost of the half-acre expansion will be paid through requisitions to the three municipalities.

“The original plan was to include 560 plots,” said Kortenschyl-Allan. “However, based on the choices that people are making with respect to how to take care of their loved ones a lot of people are starting to do cremations more often.”

Before the expansion, the existing three acres consisted of one small columbaria, which housed 12 niches. She said the Highlands allows for 264 cremains as each niche has room for two cremains, she said.

While the headstones in the traditional part of the cemetery are flat due to the slope, Kortenschyl-Allan said the Highlands’ more mild slope allows for both flat and upright stones.

Work is almost complete, with the exception of some landscaping, signage and completion of the columbaria to be finished this spring.

Kortenschyl-Allan said she is happy with how the expansion turned out.

“I am excited, the board is very excited,” she said. “This is a wonderful project. When the public sees it I hope that it will take their breath away.”

Based on the trends of other cemeteries in Canada, Kortenschyl-Allan suspects the expansion will allow for another 10 to 20 years of burials.

“If we don’t have a lot of internments it will last much longer,” she said. “If a lot of people are preplanning it won’t.”

Committee member and Black Diamond Coun. Jackie Stickel said she is excited to the see expansion almost complete.

“We know the community needs it,” she said. “The people that are on that board want it to be a park, they really do. We worked together to try to make it the best it can be.”

Stickel said the Foothills Cemetery should be a place people are proud to visit and pay tribute to those they love who have passed on.

“It is a spectacular view up there, we should honour the people that have passed on and it should be somewhere that if a person goes up to see the departed it should be beautiful there,” he said. “It should make you proud that your person is there. We want this community to be proud of our cemetery.”

Kortenschyl-Allan asks that the public respect the cemetery, expressing concern that some are using it for snow sports and as an off-leash park for their dogs.

“We just ask that people be mindful of the cemetery,” she said. “It’s a place where people come to remember their family and to be at peace there. With the snow cover you don’t know where the monuments are and they can be damaged.”

A grand opening ceremony will be scheduled for this spring, she said.

Anyone wanting to license a plot or reserve a niche can contact cemetery specialist Donna Osmond at 403-603-6205. For more information go to mdfoothills.com

All plots, except the Field of Honour, are available for preplanning. The new Field of Honour has yet to be consecrated by the Legion.

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