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False Creek condo owners upset with New West company

A New Westminster funeral company has created a small furore from residents near False Creek over its plans for a facility in Vancouver.

While much of its work will be done at its Sixth Street location in the Royal City, Kearney Funeral Services wants to establish a Celebration of Life Centre in a heritage building at the corner of Cambie Street and Second Avenue in Vancouver.

But a group of False Creek condo owners are opposing the plans because the business will hurt property values and their mental health.

Funeral director Trevor Crean, whose great-grandfather started the company more than 100 years ago, is upset the business was attacked without anyone talking to him.

"We are good, quiet neighbours and we are very respectful. The nature of our business means we go the extra mile to be good neighbours," said Crean in a news release.

After the story broke on Thursday, the funeral home received a great deal of positive public response.

"We've had really wonderful support from people over this in the past 24 hours," Crean said in Friday's release. "Our phone is ringing non-stop and we are getting very positive emails and comments on social media and for that we are incredibly grateful."

Fliers warning residents about falling property values have been put up all over the neighbourhood and an online petition calling for the city to put a stop to Kearney's plans.

Crean disputed claims property values would plunge if it moved into the neighbourhood. If that was true, he said, the previous location on Broadway would be worthless and that's not the case. He also said BC Assessment has told him it is "very unlikely" property prices at Second and Cambie would be affected.

Laura MacCormack, a strata council member in a condo complex next door, told CTV BC News putting the funeral home there could be considered culturally insensitive and the community should have been consulted.

But Crean said the property didn't have to be rezoned so public notification wasn't necessary. Crean said the facility will be used mainly for memorial services without bodies, although there will be a place to keep them for funeral services. He added there will be no embalming at the site and it will not be a bad neighbour.

"It is impossible to do this job without being ethical, compassionate, reliable, trustworthy, and I could not think of better qualities to look for in a neighbour," Crean told CTV. "When we actually meet with a family in their time of need, they realize pretty quickly the service and the value that we bring to a community."

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