At the Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville, Ont., you’ll find more than a dozen signs that identify trails, hikes, and the local wildlife that live in the vicinity.
And you’ll also find a sign advertising the park as a scattering area for the ashes of loved ones. Newly erected, the sign is the first of its kind in an Ontario provincial park.
Located near a popular trail, the sign reads: “Families and individuals who wish to scatter cremated remains of a loved one can do so in Bronte Creek Provincial Park on both land and water.”
Ontario Parks installed the sign after receiving numerous requests from the public inquiring about depositing ashes in the 6.4-square-kilometer park.
Not that the public needed permission. Since 2009, Government Services announced official guidelines permitting Ontarians to scatter the ashes of loved ones on Crown land and water in provincial parks, conservation areas, and the Great Lakes. Ontarians who want to deposit remains on municipally owned areas of the lakeshore or parkland, however, must gain permission from the city.
But although these guidelines have been in effect for six years, some local park visitors are offended by the new sign.
Marilyn Gould told the Toronto Star she was “shocked and horrified” by the sign. Noting that she has never seen human remains before, Gould worries she wouldn’t be able to identify the ashes while walking with her two dogs.
“I’d like to know it’s there,” she said in an interview with the Star. “That’s the concern.”
Roopnauth Sharma, the president of the Hindu Federation, understands why the general public could be concerned about the idea. He told the Starthe park should consider creating a sanctioned area for scattering, which would quell the fears of people like Gould.
Cremated remains pose no environmental risk to local eco-systems and if the cremation process is done correctly, viruses and diseases cannot survive.
The Bronte Park sign notes that to minimize environmental impact, “do not leave plastic flowers, written notes or physical structures” and “do not leave offerings such as coins, clothing or jewelry in waterways or at the site.”