Warwick Funerals manager Barry Walters believes the Southern Downs needs a crematorium.
Warwick Funerals manager Barry Walters believes the Southern Downs needs a crematorium.

Calls to build local crematorium

A DISCUSSION on the possibility of building a mausoleum at the Stanthorpe Cemetery has renewed calls for a crematorium on the Southern Downs.

The discussion took place at the Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) community services committee meeting last week in Warwick, where councillors voted to provide in-principle support to build a mausoleum.

Warwick Funerals manager Barry Walters believes the Southern Downs needs a crematorium.

“Our cremation percentage in the last three years has come up well over six or seven per cent,” Mr Walters said.

The closest crematorium to Warwick is in Toowoomba.

Mr Walters said there was an ideal position available at the Warwick Cemetery to build a crematorium.

“At the top end where the house is you could put a beautiful chapel and crematorium there and have beautiful rose gardens ... I’ve been saying this for years,” Mr Walters said.

Mr Walters said the crematorium could be privately or publicly owned.

“Other councils run crematoriums and it’s always been a success ... of course there’s a need here,” he said.

“You would have people from all over the region – Woodenbong, Wallangarra, Inglewood, Stanthorpe. Not only that, but the community would have a chapel for hire. We often get people who don’t want to go to a church – we’ve got no place to have these services.”

However, while Mayor Ron Bellingham told the Daily News the region absolutely needed a crematorium, he would prefer if council did not own or run the facility.

“I don’t think it’s a council role ... but I do think before much longer it is going to be a necessity,” Cr Bellingham said.

While a discussion was held about the possibility of investigating the viability of a crematorium on the Southern Downs at the committee meeting, no formal resolution was passed.

On the mausoleum, plans were presented to council for the construction of a 66-person mausoleum at the committee meeting in response to a request raised by Cr Vic Pennisi at the January general meeting.

The proposal to build a mausoleum has been initiated and largely looked into by Stanthorpe-based Carnarvon Funeral Services (CFS) owner Raymond Mattiazzi.

The report to council said the proposal by CFS was to establish a community fund with a group of investors contributing funds to pay for the construction of a mausoleum, in return for a right of burial.

Mr Mattiazzi told the Daily News he had 53 people who were prepared to commit funds to the construction of the mausoleum.

“At the end of the day this is not about making money, it’s about what people need,” Mr Mattiazzi said.

There are some concerns at the Stanthorpe Cemetery over lack of space, and this could potentially be a solution to that issue.

“If you can’t dig down in the ground, well you need to go up, and I’ve got the people who want this,” Mr Mattiazzi said.

Mr Mattiazzi said on the issue of future maintenance, a trust account could be established which the users of the mausoleum would pay for.

“What (council is) concerned about is who’s going to pay for this in 50 years time ... it’s a question that you need a crystal ball to answer but the people I have together are prepared to pay a levy which could be put into a trust account,” he said.

SDRC community services director Tony Minuti said at the meeting it was his personal view that council would be better off building more than the 66 allocated vaults in the mausoleum, as quoted in the report.

“I believe there is probably more interest than just the 66. If council decided to go down this path it would be good to have some spare,” he said.

Mr Minuti said a report was being compiled by SDRC on the issue of remaining space in cemeteries across the region.

Cr Pennisi said it was an issue which council needed to address.

“Where you have two graves, you can in fact fit eight people,” he said.

“We need to have a decision on whether (building a mausoleum) might be a better way for council to go with all burials into the future.

“I agree with the director, there will be other people that want this. Where do we go when we fill the cemetery up?”

Cr Bellingham said cremation was something which needed to be investigated.

“I do think that as a regional community we should be looking at the cremation issue ... as a result of this we need a strategy as to where we might go and I’d like to know the trends of burial versus cremation,” he said.

“I would like to see a cremation facility established in our region ... I think that’s an urgent requirement from our perspective.”

Cr Pennisi moved in line with the recommendation that council provide in-principle support for the construction of a burial mausoleum at Stanthorpe Cemetery and consult with the original interested persons to reaffirm their interest in mausoleum burials and that council receive an additional report for 2010/11 budget consideration.

Cr Cameron Gow seconded the motion and it was carried.

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