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Site picked for cemetery
Road to Nowhere discarded in favour of area in Apex for new graveyard

Peter Worden
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 13, 2013

With Iqaluit's current and only cemetery rapidly running out of available burial space, city council has chosen a much-needed alternate site in Apex, which could be ready this fall.

NNSL photo/graphic

Iqaluit's only cemetery has been running out of burial space for about a decade. Last week, city council selected a new cemetery site in Apex to be ready as early as the fall. - Peter Worden/NNSL photo

Initially, councillors had decided on a site in the city's Road to Nowhere area, but after four years of discussion, the consideration of three sites and multiple factors brought forward by a team of engineers, they opted for a site near Apex's Rotary Park looking over Tarr Inlet.

"We want it to be usable for 20-plus years," said councillor Kenny Bell, adding the Road to Nowhere location could only guarantee about seven years of available space.

Grave capacity was just one of many factors taken under consideration by the city's engineering and public works committee who conducted topographical and geotechnical analysis to determine what was on and under the ground.

"We looked at many different aspects," said Meagan Leach, director of engineering and sustainability for the City of Iqaluit.

Leach said her team examined the type of soil, its depth to bedrock, permafrost conditions, location of groundwater, feasibility for future expansion, ease of maintenance, year-round site accessibility with conditions such as drifting snow, the slope of site, its vista and other physical aspects for design and parking, plus the cost of construction, which is budgeted at half-a-million dollars. "The site that was selected met those criteria."

A new cemetery for the territory's largest and fastest growing municipality has been a topic of discussion now for more than a decade. One of the major factors Leach's team had in mind was a timeline for development.

Council considered a third site along the road to Apex. However, Iqaluit received so much snow while the engineering committee was in town for testing that they were unable to use their heavy equipment.

"There's a fair bit of information you can gather without doing the test sets," said Leach. "We were able to determine even without the geotechnical results from the (third) site that even if it came back with perfect geotechnical conditions it wouldn't have beat out the (Apex) site that was recommended."

The next step is for the area to go through council for a zoning and bylaw amendment.

"There aren't any constraints in terms of the land not being able to be classified as that, we just need to go through the process," said Leach, who explained it was a positive step toward a long-awaited necessity.

While the idea of securing more land for an over-crowded cemetery may not be a pleasant one, finding long-term burial space is a civic necessity, Bell explained.

"It has to be done. We need a place to bury people. That's the honest truth," said Bell.

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