When Terry Moore had to go through the tragedy of burying his 32-year-old son Kyle, he wanted to recognize Kyle’s environmental stewardship with a green burial.
But the barriers he faced made it impossible to do that in the County of Haliburton. Now, Moore and Environment Haliburton! are starting an initiative to encourage them year-round in the county.
Moore presented to Algonquin Highlands Council May 16 about the proposal, seeking municipal support for the effort.
“It was a real problem for our family,” Moore said. “We wanted to do something to see if we could move toward an option of year-round (green burials) … as a legacy we could create in Kyle’s name.”
Moore said in a letter that after Kyle’s passing in February, they discovered there were no winter burial options in all the county townships.
While green burials avoid the use of embalming chemicals and vaults, existing bylaws require their use for bodies put away for spring funerals.
The family decided to bury him close to his home in Algonquin Highlands after winter.
Moore said a handful of other locations in Ontario offer eco-friendly burials, which entail putting the body directly into the earth with biodegradable shrouds or unfinished wooden caskets.
“Green burials are a way of caring for our dead with minimal environmental impact while protecting sustainability and protecting natural resources,” Moore said. “The goal is to have human remains absorbed quickly.”
Environment Haliburton has raised $4,000 toward the initiative to date and efforts are underway to create a society for the effort.
Over 60 people attended an event for the subject May 14, including municipal staff and councillors, Moore said.
Algonquin Highlands council voted to support the concept, have staff continue to review it and temporarily hold the northernmost section of St. Stephen’s Cemetery for the possibility of the burials.
Mayor Carol Moffatt said the County of Haliburton municipalities are working on the issue now. She said staff have to research background on the subject.
“Your message and request have been heard loud and clear and I don’t think it’s unreasonable by any stretch,” Moffatt said. “We can’t make a lot of commitments until our staff do the research,” she added. “It’s on everybody’s radar.”
Coun. Jennifer Dailloux said she will keep an open mind but hopes the staff research will back Moore.
“I admire you for coming so soon after your son’s funeral. The bravery is well acknowledged,” she said to Moore. “Green burial is my choice. It is what I am doing and I will be delighted if indeed the county finds a way to bring it to Haliburton.”
Moore said he plans to present to other area councils about the subject. He said based on the response to date, many people share his family’s interest in the topic.
“Our family has experienced a huge loss with Kyle’s death and we believe our grief at that loss would have been made easier to handle had we had access to winter time green burial options.”