May 15 2013
City Centre Mirror
Tempers are flaring in the Moore Park community over plans to replace the existing crematoria in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
The Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries put an application in with the Ministry of the Environment to replace their old crematoria equipment with new equipment they say will reduce emissions.
That still does not sit well with residents, some of whom live barely more than 17 metres from the existing site.
“The rules have changed and there needs to be a bigger setback,” said resident Margot Boyd.
“The old crematorium was grandfathered in, but now that they want a new crematorium, we don’t think it should be allowed.”
Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, in whose ward the residents live, has taken up their concerns, launching an appeal of the Ministry of the Environment’s decision to grant approval for the new crematorium.
“We want to keep whatever harmful particulates are in the air out of the lungs of children, the elderly and those with compromised respiratory systems, who are the most vulnerable to this kind of thing,” she said.
A City of Toronto harmonized bylaw that came into effect in April calls for crematoria to be located at least 300 metres from sensitive areas, a category that includes residential areas. Wong-Tam said she does not believe the new crematorium should be allowed to be grandfathered in given the city’s new bylaw.
“When it comes to people’s health and trying to protect the public, I don’t believe there should be a grandfathered clause (allowing the crematorium),” she said.
“I don’t think it’s good enough for the Mount Pleasant Group to say ‘at one particular point, this (crematorium) would have been grandfathered in’ or ‘at one particular point, this would have met the city’s requirements.’”
Rick Cowan, Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries assistant vice-president of marketing and communications, said the new crematorium equipment is much cleaner than the existing equipment, which was installed in 1972.
“What we’re doing is a very good thing,” he said. “We’re virtually eliminating emissions.”
According to information on the Mount Pleasant Group’s website, emissions of arsenic, cobalt, lead and mercury would be reduced by more than 99 per cent through the installation of the new crematorium and, while carbon monoxide emissions would more than double, they would still be less that 0.1 per cent of the Ministry of the Environment’s limit.
“Emissions from our existing equipment are well below (Ministry of the Environment) levels and this new equipment will be below (emissions from the existing equipment),” Cowan said.
Ward 22 Councillor Josh Matlow, in whose ward the crematorium sits, said such assurances are not enough.
“Almost clean is not completely clean,” he said. “A cemetery is a place to respect the dead, but it should also respect the living.”
Cowan said the Mount Pleasant Group has extended an open invitation to speak with individuals who have concerns, but said “to be honest, none of them wanted to speak to us.”
That runs counter to Boyd’s claims that she has been stymied in her efforts to make her concerns known.
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