January 14, 2020 - Second Email Regarding Cemeteries in Cramahe Township

In anticipation of the January 28, 2020 Council meeting the following email was sent to Cramahe Staff and Council regarding planning for cemeteries in the Township.

Dear CAO McNichol:

Re:     Land Use Planning Principles for Cemeteries - Study Need`

Land use planning principles for cemeteries do not appear in The Official Plan (OP) of the Township of Cramahe - Office Consolidation December 2014.

Only existing cemeteries are mentioned, where the provisions of the Heritage Act and the Cemeteries Act shall apply. That information can be found on Page 39, 2nd paragraph of the OP.

Cramahe’s Zoning By-law 08-18 lists “cemetery” as a permitted use under 6.1 Agricultural Uses. It is presumed that “cemetery” use was listed here to recognize pre-existing cemeteries in the Township that are located in agricultural zones. 

Strictly speaking, ‘cemetery’ is not an agricultural use, does not contribute to agricultural uses, and is not supported under permitted agricultural uses in the OP, nor is it supported in the Northumberland County or Provincial OPs under agricultural uses.

Provincial policies, plans and guidelines consider cemeteries as development.  Development is not intended for prime agricultural lands and is to be avoided.

The permanency of a cemetery cannot be disputed.  Location of cemeteries is vitally important when it comes to land use planning.

Furthermore, Cramahe’s OP states that:

  • It will provide direction for orderly and consistent development which will not compromise the Township’s environmental, recreational, agricultural and aggregate resource potential.
  • The areas of prime agricultural lands should be preserved and protected, wherever possible, from the intrusion of scattered non-farm residential development.
  • To require adequate and comprehensive study of any new proposals to ensure that such development will be within the overall best interests of the Township and that proper cost effective land use patterns result.

Coming before Council on January 28, 2020 is a new proposal for a cemetery to be located on 43 acres of prime agricultural land fronting on Lake Road in the Township of Cramahe. This proposal is significant and would remove prime agricultural land forever.

The following section is copied from Alnwick/Haldimand’s 2019 OP as it relates to removal of lands from agricultural designation.

  • Removal of Lands from the Agricultural Designation

Lands may only be removed from the Agricultural designation where the removal is part of a settlement area boundary expansion and where:

  • the lands do not comprise specialty crop areas
  • alternative locations have been evaluated
  • there are no reasonable alternatives which avoid prime agricultural areas
  • and there are no reasonable alternatives on lower priority agricultural lands in prime agricultural areas.

An amendment to the County of Northumberland Official Plan shall also be required.

Summary

Cramahe’s OP requires “adequate and comprehensive study” of any new proposals.

The new proposal for a cemetery would permanently remove agricultural land in the township and would require an amendment to the Cramahe and County OP.

It is premature for Cramahe Council to consider a decision, at the January 28, 2020 council meeting, based on one word in a zoning by-law, on any new proposal of this magnitude without proper land use policy in place.

It is respectfully requested that Council for the Township of Cramahe:

  • deny the proposal due to lack of land use policy, and
  • that Council consider directing Staff to undertake a planning study that would define appropriate land use areas for cemeteries in the Township in conjunction with Provincial and County OPs and other relevant legislation.

Please include this correspondence on the appropriate Council Agenda at the January 28, 2020 meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Gritt Koehl

January 11, 2020 - Email From Gritt Koehl to Cramahe Township

This is an email from Gritt Koehl that was sent to the Cramahe Council and Staff regarding the proposed Cemetery

Dear CAO McNichol:

I am writing to express my concerns regarding a Press Release on December 18, 2019 announcing that a new cemetery proposal will come before Council on January 28, 2020.  The following quote is the main issue:

“Cramahe Township council will review and consider a report from its Planning Department on this proposed cemetery at the January 28, 2020 municipal council meeting.

At that meeting, council will have three options:

  • to accept the cemetery; or
  • to deny the cemetery; or
  • defer a decision and/or hold a public meeting.”

It is concerning that Council might ‘accept’ this proposal, before the facts are in. This is déjà vu ‘Sharpshooter/Cannabis’ all over again.

When Council made the decision to “support” Sharpshooter’s proposal, not only did they not have any facts/knowledge of the new industry of Cannabis Production Facilities, the citizens had absolutely ZERO notice or opportunity for input on the matter. Had the Cannabis OP & Zoning Amendments before Council now been in place at that time, it would have prohibited such a facility in the first place.

Fortunately it appears that citizen input is possible this time around.

The notion that Council would be able to “accept” a new cemetery proposal (as stated in the Press Release), without having the appropriate land use planning policies in place is disconcerting. I wish to draw your attention to the following report:

AN ANALYSIS OF LAND USE PLANNING POLICIES FOR CEMETERIES IN ONTARIO - Michael T. Larkin, Ryerson (1-1-2011)

Here is a link to the report for easy access:  Land Use Planning For Cemeteries

This is an excellent thesis that looked at the lack of land use planning for cemeteries across the province. I respectfully request that Council consider the following excerpts from this report before any decisions are made.

EXCERPTS - Page 46 - 48

"Nevertheless, cemeteries will continue to be an important element of society. In terms of land use planning, and the formulation of land use policy, it is important to be aware of potential environmental concerns, whether they are actual or perceived, and ensure that appropriate consideration of this matter is given to proposals to establish new cemeteries. The variance between sites, soil composition, water table levels, all need to be addressed in the planning process.

In light of the foregoing, it should be clear that cemeteries represent an important cultural and social component of the structure of our municipalities. Because cemeteries are physically manifest, (i.e. they are ‘there’, they exist as a use of land, etc.) they represent a use of land that must be addressed in the land use policy that is intended to articulate the municipal vision for the growth and development of our urban areas. Growth requirements are typically determined through demographic projections. These in turn influence land use policy with respect to the provision of adequate land and resources for residential, commercial, industrial (employment), institutional, transportation, parks and open spaces land uses. Along with these uses, the provision of adequate land to accommodate a community’s needs for the burial of the dead is required. In considering this issue, the discussion in this chapter provides an outline of the matters that should be considered in the formulation of appropriate land use policy for this use.

Specifically, the following matters should be considered:

NEED:

  • Are growth and mortality projections in line with each other and recognized in policy?
  • Will the municipality be able to accommodate the projected mortality level and are suitable options available, not only in terms of the amount of land that will be required to accommodate future deaths, but in terms of the appropriateness of cemetery land to address cultural and societal values.

HORIZON:

  • Does the land use planning horizon accommodate cemetery development such that the need for cemetery space can be accurately considered?

LOCATION:

  • Are there suitable locations available for the provision of appropriate cemetery space and is it appropriately sited such that it will not limit future growth options unnecessarily?
  • Are cemeteries permitted within the non-urban areas of the municipality where sufficient land might be assembled for the use?

SIZE:

  • Has the amount of land that will be required to address the projected need for cemetery land been appropriately identified?

INTENSIFICATION:  

  • Have provisions been made to facilitate the intensification of existing and new cemetery land as may be appropriate?

COMPATIBILITY:

  • Are there land use compatibility issues identified that might affect the location of new cemetery space?

ENVIRONMENT:

  • Are appropriate policies in place to ensure the suitable protection of the environment? Water supply?

PERMANENCY:

  • Has the permanency of the land use been considered in assessing its location?
  • Will the location of the proposed use become problematic for the future growth of the community because the use must be considered to be permanent?"

Please see the attached chart “Larkin-Cemetery”, which illustrates a ‘Policy Assessment Matrix for Cemeteries’ perhaps to be included in the Official Plan.

As I read through this thesis, it became clear that the proposed cemetery in Cramahe raises many flags, and that municipalities, not just Cramahe Township, need to get the planning process right, including the need to examine and implement policy for new cemeteries within the municipality, with appropriate amendments first to the Official Plan and subsequently the zoning by-law.

We know the following to be true:

"The Province mandates the requirement for municipalities to adopt official plans through the Planning Act....Municipalities are obliged to update their individual planning policy documents, their “Official Plans”, to conform to the vision the Province has established for Ontario.

...Of specific note is that the Greenbelt Plan prohibits the re-designation of “Agricultural” land, as defined in Regional and local municipal official plans.”

The proper planning process needs to answer the following question.

If there is no policy on cemeteries in Cramahe's Official Plan, and re-designation of Agricultural land is prohibited in the Greenbelt Plan, then is the listed use of ‘cemetery’ under Agricultural Uses even valid in the Zoning By-law, especially considering that the Official Plan does not address land use for cemeteries in the first place?

Provincial plans point to urban areas as a suitable land use for a cemetery. As Larkin suggests in his thesis though, using municipally serviced lands suitable for development is not the best practice. The suggestion is to look to open parks, green spaces and rural lands as potential sites without removing arable land.

The proposed new cemetery is not a simple matter to accept, deny, defer or bring to a public meeting, considering that the Township has no policy in place.

I urge Council and Staff to read Larkin's thesis, and I am including a link. It is a great place to start as it goes into the history of cemeteries & burial practices, touches on the respective legislation, plans, etc. that impact land use decisions, and looks at 42 municipalities in Ontario.  Would save a lot of time & money on reinventing the wheel…

I respectfully request that this email be included on the appropriate January 28, 2020 Agenda.

Sincerely,

Gritt Koehl

January 10, 2020 - Proposed Cemetery in Cramahe Township

This chart is from a thesis by Michael T. Larkin, Ryerson University (1-1-2011) titled "An Analysis Of Land Use Planning Policies For Cemeteries In Ontario".  It points to the need for a Policy Assessment Matrix for Cemeteries to be included in the Official Plan.

Larkin Thesis -Cemetery

The proposed cemetery in Cramahe raises many flags.  It is clear frm Larkin's document that Municipalities need to get the planning process right, including the need to examine and implement policy for cemeteries within the municipality with appropriate amendments first to the Official Plan and subsequently zoning by-law.

"The Province mandates the requirement for municipalities to adopt official plans through the Planning Act....

Municipalities are obliged to update their individual planning policy documents, their “Official Plans”, to conform to the vision the Province has established for Ontario."

"...Of specific note is that the Greenbelt Plan prohibits the redesignation of “Agricultural” land, as defined in Regional and local municipal official plans. The result of the Plan’s policies is even greater constraints for the development of cemeteries that may be required to serve the population within the GTHA.

Given that there is currently no policy on cemeteries in Cramahe's Official Plan, and redesignation of Agricultural land is prohibited in the Greenbelt Plan, then is the listed use of cemetery under Agricultural Uses even valid in the Zoning By-law?

People interested in this topic should read Larkin's thesis. Not just because of the proposal in Cramahe, but because cemetery location/land use is a matter that potentially all municipalities will have to address.

This is the thesis by Michael T. Larkin, Ryerson University (1-1-2011) titled "An Analysis Of Land Use Planning Policies For Cemeteries In Ontario".  Land Use Planning Policies For Cemeteries

December 18, 2019 - Press Release From Cramahe Township Re New Cemetery

The following press release was issued by Cramahe Township on December 18, 2019

Muslim Cemetary