The recently-formed Haliburton Highlands Green Burial Society hopes a workshop for councillors and staff Feb. 4 will go a long way towards getting their initiative into the ground.
Terry and Shirley Moore, along with Beth Johns, attended the Jan. 16 Algonquin Highlands council meeting to discuss the concept, which would highlight best practices for winter burials.
Terry Moore updated council on what they had been doing since last making a delegation to the council in May 2019. As previously reported in The Highlander, they’ve been engaging with the community. The society now has 26 members, with more than $5,000 pledged. The not-forprofit’s board of directors held its first meeting Jan. 17. Some 40 people are already personally interested in plots. Moore added they had done a large amount of research regarding everything from cemetery bylaws to winter burial policies, methods, equipment and costs. They have a Facebook page up and running and a website under construction. They hope to provide a one-stop shop for green and winter burials.
They have also helped generate a possible design option for a green burial section at St. Stephen’s Cemetery in the township. Moore said council had delivered on most of its asks, namely: reviewing the existing bylaw to identify, investigate and make recommendations on removing barriers to green burials and looking into dedicating space at the Buckslide Road cemetery.
Last Thursday, he wanted council to agree to form a joint ad hoc townships-ociety advisory committee to investigate both green and year-round burial options at St. Stephen’s. He further wanted the committee to report back to council with recommendations for consideration during the 2021 budget discussion process.
He reiterated there are no local winter burial options, which means no local burial options for five to six months of the year. He indicated there remains a lack of public awareness of the environmental and economic cost of conventional burials and cremation. He noted that 70 per cent of people dying in the County are being cremated.
He said as he has gone around the County, he’s found people, “like the concept … but would like to have a bit of meat on the bones.” For example, he has been asked by people if voles would be able to eat their bodies.
Mayor Carol Moffatt acknowledged Moore’s passion for green burials – which stems from the family being unable to bury their son Kyle in the winter. He said they’d generated ‘good’ conversation about end of life planning. She said her township was on board but she felt that forming an ad hoc committee was premature, considering councillors and staff had not even attended the Feb. 4 workshop.
Coun. Jennifer Dailloux said her family is planning green burials and she’d like to see them sooner rather than later. However, she said she wanted staff to guide the process after the workshop. She said they may recommend an ad hoc committee.
Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen said “the workshop will help people I’m sure.”
“It’s evident you have support here,” added Moffatt. “We’ll all become informed and move forward. The Feb. 4 workshop will be held in the Dysart et al council chambers at 1 p.m.