By Gerald V. Paul
In what is being seen as a blow to Hindus, the City of Mississauga has opted to stick to a by-law that allows crematoriums to be located only in cemeteries of parkway belt lands and must be at minimum, 300 metres from residential and sensitive land uses.
“Through this by-law the City of Mississauga is protecting the health of all residents, “ said Charles Barclay, Chair of the Concerned Citizens of Malton, a residents’ group that opposed the setting up of a crematorium at a funeral home in their neighbourhood.
“We do not have an issue with the practice of cremation, but the health and well being of local residents must be respected and we believe this by-law strikes the right balance,” added Barclay.
Under the provincial Funeral Burial and Crematorium Services Act, funeral homes are now able to operate crematoriums, pending municipal approval.
The by-law came out as a result of an application by Benisasia Funeral Home, owned by a Guyanese businessman, which wanted to operate a crematorium on its premises.
Benisasia had applied to have its property rezoned so it could install a crematorium to cater to the large Hindu community, which practices cremation, but this met with strong opposition from area residents, whose homes fall within the 300 metre restricted area.
The residents believe the crematorium will release toxins into the air and will limit their enjoyment of their properties.
This led to the City of Mississauga, of which Malton is a part, to regulate when and how crematoriums could operate.
Over the course of 2012, City staff held public consultations and drafted a report outlining where the City would permit crematoriums. The report is the first by any municipality in Ontario, and led to the new by-law which will now prevent Benisasia from operating a crematorium.