Edmonton

Alberta drafts new guidelines for scattering cremated ashes

It’s never been illegal to scatter ashes in Alberta, but the guidelines are intended to offer clarity on where people can do so “respectfully and lawfully,” according to a government news release.

Updated guidelines to be released later this spring

The Alberta government says the updated guidelines will give clarity on where people can scatter cremated ashes. (oTaToRo/Shutterstock)

The Alberta government has drafted updated guidelines around where people can scatter cremated ashes in the province.

It's never been illegal to scatter ashes in Alberta, but the guidelines are intended to offer clarity on how people can do so "respectfully and lawfully," according to a government news release.

The guidelines, which are set to be released later this spring, will only apply to provincially owned lands and waterways. Cremated ashes can be scattered on unoccupied provincial government-owned Crown land or water, including in provincial parks.

But the government is asking people to avoid scattering ashes near water treatment intakes and facilities, or close to recreational water areas.

"Our government is committed to ensuring the law supports individuals who wish to express their religious freedom," said Christina Gray, Alberta's labour minister.

The government said the new guidelines were drafted after extensive consultation. Cremation is particularly common as part of Sikh and Hindu funerals.  

Gulzar Singh Nirman, president of the Gurudwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha in Edmonton, said the guidelines are long overdue.

"Previous governments ignored the plea of many multicultural communities. These new guidelines will now allow us to honour our deceased in a culturally appropriate way while still respecting the rule of law," he said in a statement.

Other cremation options in Alberta include scattering remains in a cemetery, on private land with the owner's permission or buying a compartment in a columbarium.

The updated guidelines are similar to policies in Manitoba and Ontario, the government said.