A new crematorium in Gungahlin which will help cater to Canberra's growing and diverse population is a step closer today with the first stage of construction bring brought forward.
"We have one crematorium for a city of over 425 thousand people, and to meet the needs of our growing population the ACT Government will be stepping in provide publicly run cremation services like every other State and Territory in the Country," Minister for City Services, Chris Steel said.
"I'm pleased that we have been able to bring forward the construction of the publicly run crematorium at Gungahlin Cemetery which is now due to be operational in October."
Minister Steel said that stage 1 would involve the installation of the cremator and cremation facility, with stage 2 to involve the building of viewing rooms to meet the cultural and religious needs of the community.
"Once the crematorium is operational, work on the viewing room, landscaping and access between the crematorium and other facilities will be progressed and is expected to be complete in December 2020," Minister Steel said.
In 2018 the ACT Government engaged with the community on a review of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003. This engagement process told us that 1 in 10 people who have a religious or cultural need in relation to burial or cremation do not currently have this need met by the services in Canberra. Further consultation indicated that this need is largely in relation to cremations.
"The design of the crematorium reflects feedback received during the community consultation last year to better meet the needs of our Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain communities," Minister Steel said.
"We're committed to ensuring that everyone can access cemetery and crematorium services as the city grows. We have a vibrant multicultural community and it's important that people have access to the services they need here, rather than having to travel interstate."
The ACT already has one private crematorium and, with a current cremation rate of around 75%, there is a need for additional cremation services. Having the two facilities will help reduce waiting times for grieving families needing to arrange a final farewell.
Minister Steel said that the crematorium is being built in the central precinct of the cemetery in close proximity to the cemetery's other facilities to provide easy access for families.
The new crematorium facility will be built and operated by the ACT Public Cemeteries and Crematoria Authority in a manner consistent with competitive neutrality, based on the pricing principles developed by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission. The Authority's pricing proposal, which will be assessed by the ICRC, is currently being developed and will be released before the cremator is operational.