Grenfell couple in battle with town over potential funeral home

A couple who just recently moved to Grenfell find themselves in the middle of a major controversy that has developed in the town.

Valerie and Edward Meyer moved to the south-eastern Saskatchewan town earlier this year. Their property is right beside the former Ellis Hall property, which is now slated to become a “dead body processing establishment.”

Valerie Meyer says they were quite shocked to hear about the plans for the property.

“We had gone to great lengths to understand that our property and the properties around us were all residential,” Meyer said. “I’m in my early 70’s and I’m so silly that I stood there and said ‘sweetie, don’t you know this is residential?’ And she said ‘oh yes, but we know the town is going to pass it.”
Despite calls from residents in the community, Grenfell town council is reportedly pushing forward with a plan to grant discretionary commercial use for the development, that was purchased by a couple from Regina.
The current building has a side door that is 18 feet from the Meyer’s side door. However, if discretionary commercial use is granted, the developer can build right up to the property line, which is 18 inches away from the residence’s side door.
Meyer says she doesn’t understand the town’s opposition to their idea of moving this development to an already commercially zoned area of town.
“This young couple who have bought this deserves to run their business, they don’t deserve to have anybody in town upset with them; they have done nothing wrong,” Meyer said. “The town needs to take responsibility and say ‘listen folks, we can’t grant you that,’ I don’t care who promised what.”
Also of concern is the community’s retirement home that is an estimated 250 feet away from this property.
Meyer describes Grenfell as an older community that does not need a reminder of their eventual fate every time they look out the front window.
“As we age, we all know we’re dying, we all get it. However, if you focus on that, you lose what little life there is left to live, and my husband and I don’t choose to live that way,” Meyer said. “However, we feel victim in this town by the powers that be that for some reason have it stuck in their craw that they’re going to shove this down and make it happen.”
Meyer says this is already having a devastating impact on their family life.
“We have young grandchildren that are already saying ‘Grandma, that’s really spooky, I don’t know if I want to come and visit you because you moved far and now, next door to you is spooky,’” Meyer said. “Like other grandparents, like other seniors, this is our home now, we travelled all over Canada looking for a small town that we could settle in — we didn’t come looking for a fight, we didn’t come looking to be the big disturbers.”
The town is hosting a public hearing before their council meeting on Thursday night.

Grenfell Mayor says no decision is final yet

Rod Wolfe is Grenfell’s mayor. He says he is sympathetic to the Meyers, but this is something happening across rural Saskatchewan.

“I do understand their position, but this is not unique to rural Saskatchewan.” Wolfe said. “We have been checking into other municipalities in the area where funeral homes are operating in residential areas and they seem to be operating fine. We have reached out to them to see if there are any complaints about funeral homes being in residential areas. We are weighing all options, but I re-iterate a final decision has not been made.”

The matter has dominated some coffee talk in the town, about an hour and 15 minutes east of Regina, but Wolfe says while petitions have been circulated, he isn’t sure exactly what is going on

He says the town has reached out to the Meyers to have a discussion, but their calls have not been returned.

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