Skip to content

OPINION: Can you scatter human ashes in the park?

People in the U.S. are increasingly sending the cremated remains of loved ones to a laboratory and having them turned into diamonds.

People in the U.S. are increasingly sending the cremated remains of loved ones to a laboratory and having them turned into diamonds.

Lab-made diamonds are nothing new, of course, but recent improvements have refined the process of heating and pressurizing human ashes into crystals for use in “memorial” rings and pendants.

But if you’re not quite ready to wear Aunt Mabel on your finger what are your options for cremated remains?

Interment in cemetery grounds or a columbarium is now common practice. But a surprising number of Sarnians have urns tucked away somewhere because they’re not sure where to scatter their loved one’s ashes, or even if it’s legal to do so.

Well, a local option might soon be available.

Council has asked city staff to explore potential locations in Sarnia where residents might scatter cremated human remains.

It has been legal since 2009 to spread ashes on unoccupied Crown land. That includes Crown land that is under water, conservation reserves and the Great Lakes - provided there are no signs posted prohibiting it.

Last year, Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville became the first to identify a designated area for such ceremonies. The park allows scattering on land and in nearby Bronte Creek, and a sign guides people on how to do so responsibly.

As it stands, anyone seeking to scatter ashes on public property in Sarnia, including parks and waterways, must gain permission from city hall.

Hopefully, the staff report this fall will identify potential spots where people can scatter ashes for their own religious, practical or cultural reasons.

The Wrong Way

Rutherglen Close is an oval-shaped street surrounding a park with outlets to Lakeshore Road and Cathcart Boulevard.

On May 30, signs suddenly appeared stating the road had become a one-way street.

Residents were stunned. Rutherglen has been a two-way street for 65 year and there hasn’t been a single collision on it since record keeping began.

But someone complained. City staff went in, found the road technically too narrow for two-way traffic, and, without bothering to tell anyone, erected the one-way signs.

On June 20, Rutherglen residents made a thoughtful and informed presentation to council, backed by a petition signed by virtually every neighbour.

And, in a lucid moment of common sense, councillors shrugged off warnings from staff about legal liability and unanimously ordered the signs pulled out and two-way traffic restored.

So you can beat city hall.

And with that issue resolved, council turned its attention to Sarnia’s new Communication and Engagement Plan.

Its objective? To help city hall find better way to communicate with the public.

Join the Community: Receive Our Daily News Email for Free