The ACT government has been urged to swiftly find alternatives to the planned Woden Cemetery expansion, after City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris revealed it was being reconsidered because of light rail.
Ms Fitzharris told a budget estimates committee the government was having "another think" about expanding the cemetery, which will run out of space next year, and flagged a Gungahlin expansion as a possible alternative.
Days before the minister's appearance before the committee, Woden Valley Community Council president Fiona Carrick said Woden needed to keep its green space with light rail and higher density buildings coming to the region.
"Over the last couple of years, and particularly over the last six to seven months, the government has made a number of significant commitments to upgrades and improvements to the Woden town centre, most notably stage two of light rail, and an expansion of the Canberra Hospital," Ms Fitzharris said.
"We do require some further thinking about that expansion and its time frames, given that we are looking to encourage further development in the Woden town centre. That will happen commercially, anyway, but there will be a lot more residents living in the town centre. Members of the Woden community have talked about the use of and access to green space.
"We are currently thinking about the timing and the longer term commitment to increasing access to burial sites in particular. We note that at the moment Woden Cemetery will effectively run out of space in 2018. There is considerable space remaining at Gungahlin Cemetery. That is some thinking that we are currently doing."
In its August budget report, the ACT estimates committee called on government officials to start work immediately on alternatives to the extension to the Woden Cemetery, which could include the long-discussed Southern Memorial Park.
"The committee recommends that the ACT government prepare a long term plan for cemetery space in the ACT, including the Woden Cemetery, and that this plan be made public," their report said.
The committee was told while there was no specific time for the Tuggeranong cemetery, it was still on the cards pending "budgetary conditions".
ACT Public Cemeteries Authority chairman Stephen Bartos said, "The fact that if you are at the bottom of Tuggeranong, you are looking at a 60-kilometre round trip to get to Gungahlin, which, if you are a recently bereaved family, is quite a distance to have to haul yourself. So we want to look after the needs of all of the Canberra community.
"These are the longer-term issues, and we are trying to put the whole of the services to the ACT in that longer-term perspective. At some stage, we have been told by government - and this remains the position of government - there will be a southern memorial park, as budgetary conditions permit. That has been the position now for a couple of years. Longer term, that will be part of the mix, but exactly when has to depend on all of the other pressures on the ACT."