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When people congratulate me on having Natural Burial finally approved for Owen Sound after eight years of effort, I find I must disappoint them.

It seems that the City has decided to take the "Nature" element out of Natural Burial. While the City agrees that they can bury bodies in the same ways as Jews and Muslims, without embalming and with a simple coffin, they have decided to omit the nature part and have manicured lawns with no markers as their newly created definition of Natural Burial. All this, despite a clear definition available from even the Natural Burial Association Of Canada stating, "with green burial, the above ground is a natural sanctuary replacing the manicured conventional cemeteries with a field of native grasses, trees, scrubs and wildflowers with a communal marker honouring those buried in this natural setting."

Does the City have an existing location that would be suitable for Natural Burial? Adam Parsons, Manager of Parks, admits that there is an "undeveloped" approved area that could be legally used. Undeveloped actually means it is already natural so they would need to be careful not to upset too much of the nature were they to perform Natural Burial in one of these "undeveloped" areas. This could be perfect and there could even be a communal marker (as long as they don't pass their new proposed by-law limiting the size of marker stones).

The location Adam has instead chosen is simply a row of grave plots, surrounded by stone marked plots, all of which would be indistinguishable from a manicured lawn with no markers surrounded by other manicured lawn graves.

I would have liked to communicate my concerns to the Community Services Committee at their Public Meeting on this issue December 18, but no questions were allowed before Brian O'Leary called the vote to end the Public meeting. We were dismissed to a separate area after the meeting to express our concerns but were told to send everything in writing. This was the first time I've attended a City Public Meeting that had been suddenly rescheduled [the Public Meeting was scheduled for January 15, 2020 according to Committee minutes]  with 2 business days notice and no Public input allowed during the meeting.

What does this mean to those who wish we had Natural Burial in Owen Sound? Not much really. I doubt if many will choose Adam's Unnatural Natural Burial location. I guess some people just can't help trying to civilize nature.

Robert Hope, Owen Sound





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