Georgian Bay Cremation Services wants to offer a new process in South Grey as an alternative to cremation.
The company have served 30,000 families over 20 years, and exceeded expectations as it has grown, serving the north-central part of Ontario, project manager Rob Fawcett said in a presentation recently.
In 2019, Canada’s cremation rate was aboutt 75 percent (compared with 55 percent in the US) according to the North American Cremation Association.
Now, the company is seeking approval from the local municipality for an Alkaline Hydrolysis machine that uses lime (Saskatchewan potash) and water with heat and high pressure.
This is a third choice in Ontario to burying and cremation. Over the last 30 years, it has been introduced and promoted as an environmentally-friendly and lower-cost option for human remains.
The process has existed for about 100 years for use with animals, as a method of disposal that also sterilizes if there is disease, he said.
The process takes place in sealed containers. There are eight of these machines, which are about the size of a truck, operating in Canada, three of which are in Ontario.
Bone fragments that remain are crushed into a fine ash, similar to that of cremated remains. The sterile fluid effluent is proposed to be discharged into the wastewater system in a slow steady stream.
Mr. Fawcett is is seeking conditional approval from the local municipality for use on a properly zoned site with an agreement with the municipality regarding the discharge.
The licencing board for the province needs the municipality to state that the facility would be in the public interest, following notification to the public.
Mr. Fawcett said that the operations in place have been successful. The others in Ontario are in eastern Ontario.
From 2018 until late 2019, the Bereavement Authority of Ontario had restrictions on the chemical process.
After investigation, its website now confirms it has “no issue” with the process, which has been approved by the World Health Organization. It sets out conditions around the process for a licencee to meet to ensure “public health, safety and dignity.”
However, the low-temperature version of the process has not been approved.
Funeral homes in a couple other provinces and numerous states in the US have offered the service for some time.
“It’s going to take a while for people to get their minds wrapped around it,” he said.
The site being proposed is in Flesherton, where municipal staff say a sewer use agreement would be needed and engineers would have to calibrate the release of the discharge and other details.
Mr. Fawcett said those in Ontario who have the process in place are doing about 200 per year, although the capacity would be up to 1,000.
The local council received the information and asked staff to bring back a report on the process for determining “public interest.”
M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald