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City can't allow cremated remains to be scattered in the Grand River

Provincial regulations permit scattering of cremated remains almost everywhere but the Grand River
Prakash Venkataraman, of Cambridge, represented the community-at-large at an April council meeting requesting regulation around scattering of human ashes in the Grand River.

A request to provide land access to scatter cremated remains in the Grand River can’t be granted by the City of Cambridge because the city doesn’t have jurisdiction over the river, according to a conclusion from city staff that will be tabled for council’s information next week.

The update comes after Cambridge resident Prakash Venkataraman, spoke at a council meeting last April requesting the city develop a regulation allowing the community at-large to scatter the ashes of their loved ones in the Grand River

Since then, the city says it reached out to several external agencies to gather comments on the request.

A response from the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks urged the need for extensive consultation should the city want to advance the request since the communities of Brantford and Ohsweken draw their drinking water from the Grand River downstream of Cambridge. 

Dunnville also has a raw water intake located in the Grand River available for use in emergency situations, reads the report.

Despite existing provincial regulations allowing the scattering of cremated remains on land and in other bodies of water in Ontario, the Grand River is excluded from those permissions. 

Among the responses received last April was a letter from the Office of Secretary General for the Mohawk Nation of Grand River Country who stated they do not support the use of the Grand River to scatter cremated human remains. 

A representative from Six Nations of the Grand River later told CambridgeToday they have a number of concerns with the request, including the use of the “sacred” river for such a purpose and the effects human ashes would have on the environment.

The city says almost all respondents referred to existing regulations allowing the practice to happen almost anywhere else but the Grand River. 

“No option was presented that would provide an application to permit this activity to take place in the Grand River,” reads the report to council.

Staff said they also participated in an “industry scan” by the City of Toronto, which was responding to a similar request. 

The City of Toronto, however, does have options to support the request as they have direct access to Lake Ontario where scattering of cremated remains is permitted by provincial regulation. 

The report says other municipalities may also have options to support the requests since they may be located within or adjacent to bodies of water that fall within the provincial regulation that permit this activity

In response to growing demand for more affordable burial options, the city will open its first scattering garden for cremated remains at Parklawn Cemetery this year.

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Doug Coxson

About the Author: Doug Coxson

Doug has been a reporter and editor for 25 years, working mainly in Waterloo region and Guelph
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