Council approves new cemetery as current site nears overflow

Lay me to rest on The Road to Nowhere


Iqaluit city council approved the design and construction of a new cemetery earlier this month to replace the current site in lower Iqaluit, which is nearly full.

The site, located about one kilometre out of town on the Road To Nowhere, offers mourners a spot near the Apex Creek. Those who back the site hope Iqaluit residents find it private and peaceful.

"We're trying to find a place that has some tranquility," said Coun. Glenn Williams.

The city will spend $60,000 to design the new cemetery. Building the first phase will cost $150,000.

Williams said it's the third time since he's been on council that the city has tried to select a new cemetery site.

This time, the city looked for a site that isn't susceptible to flooding. A proposed site scouted by the city's public works department in 2005 ended up being rejected when test pits filled up with water.

Crystal Jones, the acting engineering director, told councillors the site is large and covered with enough topsoil to make grave digging easy, though there are some boulders that will have to be removed with an excavator.

Coun. Simon Nattaq said he's talked with churches and elders, who all approve of the site as "holy and respectful." Nattaq also downplayed the risk of the site being buried in snow during the winter.

But Coun. Jim Little objected to the site over a fear that decomposing bodies could leach chemicals into the "pristine waters" of the Apex Creek.

"I am not convinced at all that the water could not be threatened," he said.

But Jones said the department of health and social services told the city there's "no medical reason" why bodies can't be buried there. City plans call for a 50-metre buffer between the edge of the new graveyard and the river.

And Williams said nothing from the new cemetery could be any worse than what's flowing from the city's sewage plant into the waters of Koojessee Inlet.

"I'm a lot more concerned about all the things we pump into the bay [that] I eat animals out of," he said.

Council voted 4-1 in favour of the plan, with Little opposed. Coun. David Alexander abstained.

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