Crematorium proposal to be aired at one-day hearing Thursday
Jack Bradfield, of Simcoe, has lost his appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board after Norfolk council shot down his plans to establish a crematorium. (File photo)
The rejection of a crematorium proposal for Simcoe this spring wasn’t the dead-end some made it out to be.
After Norfolk council turned down the proposal at the end of March, retired monument maker Jack Bradfield, of Simcoe, told the press he was giving up the ghost.
Bradfield noted he had tried four times over his career to establish a crematorium in Norfolk and had nothing to show for his efforts. At the age of 70, Bradfield said he’d had enough.
However, Bradfield re-considered after consulting with his business partners. The result is an appeal of council’s decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. The OMB will air the issue in a one-day hearing at Governor Simcoe Square on Thursday.
“It’s an open meeting for anyone who wants to attend, but not everyone can speak,” Bradfield said Friday. “If you want to learn the whole story, that’s the place to hear it.”
Bradfield’s latest proposal involves a sturdy, squat building at First Avenue and Upper Wellington Street in Simcoe. The building is located in an industrial zone and was built during the Second World War as a rifle range for soldiers.
Bradfield is the public face of the crematorium proposal. His prospective partners are Jeff and Jamie Freeman of Simcoe, owners of the building.
After the March meeting, the Freeman brothers and Bradfield came to the conclusion that their proposal didn’t receive a thorough airing. They agreed to take their case to the OMB, which has final say over such planning issues.
Norfolk council considered Bradfield’s proposal March 28 at a public meeting under the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act.
Prior to that, the proposal was examined by Norfolk County’s site-plan approval committee, which comprises representatives of Norfolk Fire and Rescue, Norfolk’s planning department, Norfolk’s building division, public works and community services.
Proposals involving after-life services do not require the committee to take a stand. However, in a report on the proceedings, Norfolk’s planning department cited no serious objections and noted that a crematorium in Simcoe would fill a local need. As it stands, the crematorium closest to Norfolk County is in Paris.
The only council member to support the Simcoe crematorium at the March 28 meeting was Port Rowan Coun. Noel Haydt. Other council members complained that they lacked hard evidence that a crematorium in this location would not disrupt nearby residential neighbourhoods.
Several nearby residents shared their concerns with council. They complained that this part of Simcoe is so densely built that someone will be down-wind from any fumes that escape the facility.
Peter Hellyer, chair of Norfolk’s police services board, also spoke in opposition to the proposal at the March 28 meeting. Hellyer appeared in his capacity as a property owner in the north end of Simcoe.
Hellyer noted that the building proposed for the retrofit was non-descript and unattractive.
“This building is not esthetically pleasing and offers no dignity to a human being,” Hellyer said.
There is little doubt there is demand in Norfolk for cremation services. Norfolk’s community services department reports that the cremains of 59 people were interred at Oakwood Cemetery in Simcoe in 2016. This compares with 55 traditional burials.
Meanwhile, cemeteries in the local area operated by independent boards complain they have a hard time making ends meet because more people are being cremated. That means fewer people are buying plots, which traditionally have been the major source of revenue for the care and upkeep of graveyards.
The OMB hearing begins in the council chamber at 10 a.m. Defending Norfolk’s decision will be Hamilton lawyer and county solicitor Peter Tice.