Good Neighbour Campaigns

Crematorium Working Group wins vote at City Hall!

Council votes in favour of separation distance for crematoriums to protect Toronto residents from toxic emissions.

It all started with a small group of Moore Park residents holding living room meetings with TEA’s Toxics Campaigner. Based in the Moore Park community of Toronto, the Crematorium Working Group has been actively engaging the owners of the Mount Pleasant crematorium to change their practices in order to protect environmental health for years.

When it came to their attention that the City of Toronto was revising zoning by-laws that relate to cemeteries and crematoriums, the Working Group engaged in the public consultation process to bring to light the health impacts from crematorium emissions.

With some assistance for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, Working Group members developed recommendations to develop setbacks for crematoriums that would protect residents from toxic emissions such as mercury and particulate matter. They presented their recommendation of a 300-metre setback at the Planning & Growth Management Committee meeting on March 6th, 2013 and the motion passed unanimously. Please read their comprehensive report No Safe Levels of Exposure and their Briefing Note for background on the issue.

On April 3rd, 2013, City Council also voted in favour of the crematorium-related amendments to the City-wide Zoning By-law.

Here’s what was won:

1. “Impose a minimum 300 metres minimum separation distance of crematoriums from residential and other sensitive land uses to protect public health”

2. “Remove the requirement of siting crematoriums in cemeteries to allow for competitive expansion of the sector in the public interest”

3. “Permit crematoriums in designated areas zoned for industrial use and adequately separated from residential zones”

4. “City Council withhold approvals for new crematoriums until such safeguards have been established in the Zoning By-Law”

5. ”City Council request the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, in consultation with the Medical Officer of Health, the Director of the Toronto Environment Office, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ontario Association of Cemeteries’ and Funeral Professionals, to review options for locations where, and conditions for, new crematoriums to be permitted in the City, including incentives for the relocation of existing crematoriums to designated “crematorium zones”".

Source: Item PG21.1 Final Report on the City-wide Zoning By-law (April 3, 2013).