Hindu Press International
In Mississauga, Canada, a Crematorium Battle Beyond Life And Death
CANADA, April 6, 2013 (The Globe And Mail): Mr. Benisasia runs a South Asian-focused funeral home on Derry Road in Malton and wants to open a crematorium beside it. The land, money and demand is there, he says.
For more than three years, he's waited for his rezoning application to be approved by the City of Mississauga. But a new Mississauga bylaw passed in March says new crematoriums must be a minimum of 300 metres from residential properties, due to concerns over the health effects from their emissions. Since Mr. Benisasia's business is less than 300 metres from several nearby houses, he won't be opening that crematorium any time soon.
But the battle isn't over. He plans to take his case to the Ontario Municipal Board. As part of religious practice, many South Asians cremate their dead - namely Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. For him, this goes beyond business owner versus city: This is a cultural and religious issue.
"If we have a funeral home that is catering to the needs of that community, but does not have access to their own crematorium services, then it limits their ability to serve the community," said Pandit Roopnauth Sharma, the priest at Mississauga's Ram Mandir, the city's largest Hindu temple.
As Mississauga's ethnic and religious minority population grows, so too do calls for services that cater to their needs. In keeping with the shift, more Ontarians are choosing cremations over burials. In 2006, 48 per cent of people who died in the province were buried and 52 per cent were cremated, according to Ontario's ministry of consumer affairs, which oversees the province's crematoriums. By 2011, it had shifted to 41 per cent burials and 59 per cent cremations.
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