The ACT Government should proceed with plans to resurrect the proposal for a new cemetery on the so-called Southern Memorial Park site in Hume instead of expanding the Woden Cemetery, a Legislative Assembly committee has recommended.
The Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services, which tabled its report on ACT cemeteries in the Assembly last Thursday, also urged as a high priority the establishment of a second crematorium in the ACT.
The recommendations come after fierce public opposition by community groups to the proposed expansion of Woden Cemetery into Eddison Park.
Committee chair Suzanne Orr said it was important that the Government acknowledged changing community preferences for burial and interment practices in the planning, management, and operation of ACT cemeteries.
“In light of the shift in burial and interment preferences the Committee recommends the planned extension of Woden Cemetery be reconsidered, the Government proceed with the current plans for the Southern Memorial Park as an urgent priority and a second crematorium for Canberra be considered as a high priority,” Ms Orr said.
The Committee also recommended the Crematoria and Cemeteries Act 2013 be reviewed to ascertain the feasibility and financial basis for adopting a renewable tenure scheme for burial plots.
But it said any tenure changes should only apply to future burial sales and not retrospectively to existing plot sites.
The Committee recommended the management and operation of ACT cemeteries continue to be the responsibility of the ACT Cemeteries Authority, with submissions showing a strong preference for public provision of burial and interment services.
Community groups, including the Woden Valley Community Council, believed the Eddison Park proposal would see Woden Town Centre lose one of its few remaining green spaces.
But the Government had flagged that the Hume option was back on the table in light of planning changes to Woden Town Centre to cater for the extension of light rail to Woden.
The Woden Valley Community Council welcomed the recommendations. “We are particularly pleased with the recommendations to proceed with the current plans for the Southern Memorial Park and to reconsider the extension of the Woden Cemetery into Eddison Park. We now call on the ACT Government to fund the Southern Memorial so Eddison Park can be retained for the use of the community,” WVCC President Fiona Carrick said.
Southern Memorial Park on Mugga Lane has been reserved for a new cemetery for almost a decade.
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