Crematorium conflict in Simcoe

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Norfolk County

Norfolk County


Amendments to Norfolk’s zoning bylaw could complicate plans to bring a crematorium to Boswell Street in Simcoe.

Norfolk planning staff is in the final stages of modifying the county’s land-use bylaw. Norfolk council will approve final amendments early in the new year. One of the provisions calls for a 70-metre setback from sensitive land uses for any crematorium operation.

Peter Hellyer of Simcoe, an opponent of a plan earlier this year to establish a crematorium on First Avenue in Simcoe, told Norfolk council last week that 70 metres is insufficient.

Hellyer took an interest in the matter this spring when retired monument maker Jack Bradfield of Simcoe and his business partners attempted to establish a crematorium in the north end of Simcoe. Hellyer, who also serves as chair of Norfolk’s Police Services Board, was among a number of nearby property owners to object.

Hellyer is lobbying Norfolk County for a much larger separation distance for crematoriums than planning staff has suggested. Hellyer says 200 metres should be the minimum while something in the range of 300 metres would be ideal.

“A crematorium is a noted emitter of dangerous pollutants linked to serious health problems, especially for children,” Hellyer told council at its final meeting of 2017 on Dec. 12.

“That is a fact. State-of-the-art equipment cannot alleviate all emissions. Only separation distance from the source can do that. There are many things that cannot be mitigated on a day-to-day basis.

“Such items as obese persons, rubber body bags, pacemakers, foreign objects in the casket, casket varnish, formaldehyde from embalming fluid, battery explosions – I could add a lot more to this list.”

Hellyer mentions overweight individuals, in part, because obesity was cited as a contributing factor to a crematorium fire in Innisfil in 2014. Hellyer told council that an attempt to cremate a large individual in Innisfil caused a chimney fire which in turn spread to the entire structure.

“Obese people are an issue as an obese person is like having a grease fire,” Hellyer said. “There will be clouds of black yucky smoke from such a cremation.”

A public meeting under the Planning Act will be scheduled in January to hear final arguments about the county’s land-use bylaw. Planning staff has pencilled in a 200-metre setback for crematoriums as an item for discussion.

A 200-metre setback would complicate plans to establish a crematorium on Boswell Street near the intersection of Ireland Road. Freeman Properties Inc. obtained a severance there Sept. 20 for the purposes of establishing a crematorium. The land in question, however, could not accommodate this function if the larger setback is imposed.

Other land-use issues that will be discussed at the January public meeting include:

* A prohibition on parking vehicles on front lawns and on lawns in sideyards in urban areas.

* A three-day limit on parking recreational vehicles (boats, RVs, camping trailers, etc.) in driveways or in front yards in urban and hamlet areas.