The City of Dryden held a public meeting last Monday to hear from citizens about a proposed crematorium within the city.
Dryden Community Funeral Home at 249 Grand Trunk Avenue is currently located within the Highway Commercial (CH) Zone and an exception zone is sought to recognize the existing use of a funeral parlour and to include the crematorium use.
Before 2012 crematoriums could only be operated on cemetery land in Ontario and cremation interments are on the rise in the province.
The public forum was an early step in what could be a long process should council approve the amendment.
To be approved the funeral home would have to receive written permission from the municipality to operate in order to receive a license from the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO). They would also have to submit an environmental assessment, which includes noise and air emissions to the Ministry of the Environment followed by a 45-day public comment period.
Citizens opposed to the plan made up the majority of those in attendance, many of them living near the funeral home, voicing concerns around the location close to walking trails, New Prospect School and homes.
Concern over pollution was prevalent with issue of burning teeth with fillings due to the possibility of mercury emissions.
Kayla Jonassen, a funeral director with Dryden Community Funeral Home spoke on behalf of the business. She mentioned the many steps that would have to be taken to have the crematorium coming to fruition including a building permit from the city.
Currently cremations are sent to the nearest crematorium in Beausejour, Manitoba which requires the funeral homes drivers to make the round trip; Jonassen voiced her concern about winter road conditions as well as the point of keeping business in Ontario, stating that she has spoken to funeral homes in Red Lake who would also use Dryden Community Funeral Home’s crematorium.
It was also stated that Thunder Bay and Winnipeg both have crematoriums operating within their city limits and that it is all highly regulated in Ontario.
Mayor Wilson thanked all sides for a civil and lively discussion. Dryden City Council will further discuss the matter at the August 27 meeting of council.