Birchwood Funeral Chapel is now operating out of its new space along Highway 52 in Steinbach.
Larry Wiebe who Chairs the Building Committee says they were running out of room at their old location along Penfeld Drive. With more and more funerals being held in the chapel, Wiebe notes they needed more space. There was also a demand for a second chapel in order to run two services at the same time.
Construction at the new site near Southland Church started in June, 2013. Wiebe notes a few delays caused the project to take a little longer to complete than anticipated.
"Probably the biggest one at the outset was the ground conditions in the basement area," recalls Wiebe. "We had to step back a little bit and re-engineer the basement which delayed us probably a month."
Then came the harsh Manitoba winter of 2013-14. Wiebe says though they didn't lose any full days due to weather, it did naturally slow the trades down. He notes those delays were a big reason why the project cost $6.8 million, about two hundred thousand dollars more than what was budgeted.
The new facility has now been in operation since Monday and Wiebe says it's being very well received. The new site has a west chapel that seats about three hundred people and an east chapel that can hold about one hundred fifty plus overflow. Wiebe notes they can stream video from one chapel to the other and so it is possible to accommodate a funeral of about four hundred fifty people.
Wiebe admits their new space looks better than expected.
"I think our vision that we had going into this, before the planning stage, has been largely accomplished and I think in a lot of areas we're more pleased than what we had expected," says Wiebe. "I think the architects, the designers did a good job in trying to find out what it is that we need and getting a feel of the business and how it works."
Wiebe says they have already hosted a number of funerals and so far everything seems to be functioning well.
A grand opening is being planned for early fall.