Owen Sound is seeking public feedback to help it prioritize the recommendations in its draft, five-year Greenwood Cemetery master plan.
The document, presented to the community services committee Dec. 18, includes 16 recommendations – from establishing a dedicated area for natural burials to creating a Muslim section in the cemetery to developing a business case for restoring the historic chapel.
“We’d like to make sure that we provide an opportunity for the public to give us some feedback on whether they support the recommendations as they’re presented and the order in which we should tackle them,” Adam Parsons, the city’s manager of parks and open space, said Wednesday in an interview.
To garner the public input, the city has created a survey that will be open until Feb. 1 at 4:30 p.m.
It can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/7YPPPXH
The survey identifies each recommendation and asks respondents if they support it and whether it should be considered a short, medium or long-term recommendation.
It ends by asking if there are any recommendations that do not appear in the master plan that the city should consider and a comment box.
Parsons said city staff will present a report outlining the feedback received from the survey to the community services committee in February.
City council directed staff in late 2018 to undertake an in-house review and update of Owen Sound’s 2012 Greenwood Cemetery Master Plan, which is intended to provide guidance to ensure the 161-year-old cemetery on Owen Sound’s southwest side “continues to meet the needs of the community.”
One of the most noteworthy recommendations in the draft plan is to establish a dedicated area for natural burials, which the document says is a “preferred option” that was “supported strongly by respondents” during an open house and online survey.
The plan notes that many aspects of what proponents of natural burials are seeking are already permitted at Greenwood.
For example, bodies do not have to be embalmed before burial, remains can be buried in simple wooden caskets with no metal fasteners, monuments are not required and vaults are not mandated in certain parts of the cemetery, it says. It is also the city’s general practice to not use pesticides at the cemetery.
“Through the master plan process, it’s understood that the public was not generally aware that these options currently existed,” the plan says.
What would be new, if the plan’s recommendations are carried out, is a dedicated natural burial section would be created and the cemetery bylaw would be amended to clarify the aspects of natural burials that are allowed.