Fix in the works for flood-prone Windsor cemetery

·2 min read
According to Patricia Simone, general manager of Heavenly Rest, flooding has caused damage to the limestone in the cemetery.   (Amy Dodge/CBC - image credit)
According to Patricia Simone, general manager of Heavenly Rest, flooding has caused damage to the limestone in the cemetery. (Amy Dodge/CBC - image credit)

One of Windsor's oldest cemeteries is known to flood frequently, but relief is in sight after the city approved a measure to improve drainage.

Assumption Cemetery, located on Wyandotte Street West, just a stone's throw away from the Ambassador Bridge, was hit hard by Friday's rainfall, which amounted to 76 millimetres.

Heavenly Rest, a company which manages the cemetery along with seven others in Windsor-Essex, had been trying to get a final permit from the City of Windsor to allow the cemetery's drainage system to connect with the sewer system on Huron Church Road.

The approval was granted on Tuesday.

"When there's flooding in any cemetery on your ancestors' graves, this is very troubling to everybody," said Patricia Simone, the company's general manager.

The cemetery has been in its present location since 1859 but it was first established in 1748, Simone said. Due to the age of the cemetery, the drainage system was not functional.

"Most cemeteries have drainage issues," said Simone.

"That cemetery is what we refer to as full, which means it's all sold and mostly used and because it is so old there is no drainage in that cemetery."

Amy Dodge/CBC
Amy Dodge/CBC

This year, catch basins were put in around the roadway of the cemetery to help with the flooding issues. The catch basins were suggested by leading architects and engineers.

Despite taking professional advice, flooding continued to occur, and Simone believes it is in part due to being so close to the on-ramp of the Ambassador Bridge.

Along with the drainage system project, Heavenly Rest is in the middle of a number of improvements to restore the historic cemetery this year.

Amy Dodge/CBC
Amy Dodge/CBC

Alex MacArthur and Aaron Knehler were hired to uncover gravestones that have sunk into the ground and are overgrown with grass.

"I can appreciate the land a lot more and know how much has gone on over here and make sure I respect the people that are buried here," said MacArthur.

"It's been a great opportunity and it's really interesting to see what we actually get to uncover when we're here. Like, there's a bunch of names that some people might not remember for awhile, and it's cool to think, like, we're the ones that are bringing them back," Knehler said.

The company intends to pave the roadway with asphalt, widen the entrance way, paint the fence as well as add a new iron-rod arch. The crucifix and statues have recently been refurbished and bronzed.

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