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Protestors want Deer Lake funeral home owner to consider another location for crematorium

Daphne Russell carried three signs expressing her opposition to having a crematorium located on Main Street in Deer Lake during a protest outside the town hall on Monday night.
Daphne Russell carried three signs expressing her opposition to having a crematorium located on Main Street in Deer Lake during a protest outside the town hall on Monday night. - Diane Crocker

Daphne Russell doesn’t want her grandchildren and great-grandchildren knowing what happens at a crematorium and the signs she hung around her body on Monday night put that message out there loud and clear.

“Those kids will hear from someone that’s where they burn the dead people and I don’t want it,” said Russell, one of about 50 people who gathered around the town hall on Reid’s Lane to protest the decision by the Deer Lake council to allow Parson’s Funeral Home to install a crematorium at its Main Street Location.

It was the third time a protest has taken place before a public council meeting and Russell’s second time attending.

The nearly 81-year-old has always been a supporter of things in her town — good and bad.

“This is more important than anything that’s ever happened in Deer Lake,” she said.

“Because I really don’t think it should be there.”

Russell said there are other locations that would be better suited for a crematorium than on Main Street, which is near a school and homes.

Others in the group, including Phyllis Morris, echoed that sentiment.

“Please relocate,” was her message to funeral home owner Dave Parsons, who is a member of council.

Morris said it was a complete surprise to her that the crematorium was approved when she had no idea it was happening.

And so she started to take a closer look at it out of concern for the neighbourhood and the possibility of a fire at the site.

In her research, she said she found studies that cited the risk of stillbirth and having babies being born with anencephalus was higher among woman who lived near a crematorium.

Some of the research is dated, but Morris said “until it’s disputed, it’s good.”

She said she couldn’t find anything that told her there are no risks and so she wants the town and Parsons to err on the side of caution.

She doesn’t want to see a business leave town just to relocate.

While the issue was not on the agenda for the meeting, about 35 of the protesters went inside when it was time to fill the gallery chairs and stand along the walls.

After the meeting, Mayor Dean Ball said council recognizes the people’s concerns but there is nothing it can do right now as the issue is before the West Newfoundland Regional Appeal Board.

Steve Brent and Kayla Critch filed the appeal. The couple lives just one property away from the funeral home and has been vocal in opposing the decision since it was approved.

Outside the town office Brent declined to comment and noted they are seeking legal advice before saying any more on the issue.

Parsons also declined to comment on the matter until the appeal process is completed.

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