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Former Deer Lake councillor doesn’t think town did due diligence on crematorium issue

Former Deer Lake councillor Jean Young doesn’t believe enough research was done prior to crematorium decision.
Former Deer Lake councillor Jean Young doesn’t believe enough research was done prior to crematorium decision. - The Western Star

When Jean Young was a member of Deer Lake’s town council, she was neutral on the idea of a crematorium being permitted on Main Street.

She felt she still needed to look into the matter further and also see how other residents of the town felt about the idea.

When the proposal from Parsons Funeral Home came to council this past August, Young and her fellow council members decided to not make any decision. According to Young, who did not seek re-election, council felt it was a matter that needed more research.

The decision was deferred to the new council to be elected in late September because it was felt they would be in a better position to give the issue the due diligence it required.

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Young said she was surprised at how quickly the crematorium development was approved by council after the election, with Deputy Mayor Mike Goosney casting the sole vote against it at the Oct. 16 public meeting. In particular, she noted a crematorium is not specifically mentioned as a discretionary use for the Town Centre area under Deer Lake’s development regulations and more public input should have been sought before it was allowed as a discretionary use.

“Unfortunately, there was very little public consultation,” she said.

Young has since done her own research on crematoriums and regulations. She has concluded that the Main Street location is inappropriate because of its proximity to residences, businesses, a school, a church and a medical clinic.

Some of those other properties are located on a bank above where the funeral home is located, which Young fears might make them more exposed to emissions.

While she agrees the emissions from a crematorium may not be immediately harmful, she is concerned about whether there is any potential hazard from long-term exposure.

“Children attend that school for nine years and the effect may be cumulative,” he said. “I have not found any research that says there is nothing to be concerned about in that regard.”

While the physical hazards may be argued, Young said there are emotional and economic factors that should also be given equal consideration. The sight of smoke coming from a crematorium stack may be disturbing for some, knowing that means the remains of somebody’s loved one is being burned at that moment.

Economically, the presence of a crematorium could affect property values, she said.

Council’s decision to approve the crematorium has been appealed by two residents who live near the funeral home. No date has been set for the regional appeals board to hear the arguments for and against upholding the decision of council.

There have also been three protests against the decision outside the town hall during public meetings of council since the decision was made.

“If you can tell me one good reason why it should be located there, except for the fact the owner doesn’t want to buy another block of land (and locate it elsewhere), which I can understand, then show it to me,” said Young.

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