With proper planning, columbaria and housing can co-exist

With proper planning, columbaria and housing can co-exist
An artist's impression of the columbarium in Fernvale Link.

It is understandable why a group of residents of Fernvale Lea protested against the decision to allow a columbarium to be built, as they had no prior knowledge of this when they bought their Build-to-Order (BTO) flats ("New tender to be called for Sengkang temple site"; last Friday).

As our population increases, there will be a constant tussle for space between the living and the dead.

To prevent a similar situation as that in Sengkang, there is good reason for the Mount Vernon columbarium to remain where it is ("Mount Vernon parlours get two more years"; April 5).

Must the new Bidadari housing estate evict 21,000 niches to make way for the 10,000 new public and 1,000 private units ("Death knell for Mount Vernon's funeral parlours?"; Oct 19, 2014)?

New BTO applicants for the Bidadari estate must know that this multi-religious columbarium has been a sanctuary for the dead since the first block was built in 1976.

This site is also known to be a haven for biodiversity and wildlife, with many species of migratory birds, including a few endangered species.

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority website, the Bidadari estate is to be developed with a distinct character and a sense of history.

The columbarium should be incorporated into the design of the Bidadari memorial garden and neighbourhood park. Why can't the living and the dead live in peace and tranquillity together?

With proper planning and design, I believe most Singaporeans would be able to accept a columbarium which houses the ashes of our loved ones in our urban community.

This is better than situating columbaria in some far-flung land zoned for cemetery use.

With an ageing population, there will be a greater need for columbaria.

Having them located in parks allows for present and future generations to visit the niches and reflect on and learn about our ancestry and heritage.

When respectfully maintained, they are a fitting setting where the lives of loved ones can be forever cherished and celebrated.

This article was first published on May 12, 2015.
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