Mausoleum approval leaves residents concerned
Cemetery building higher than what city bylaw allows
The City of Markham has left residents near Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery feeling somewhat deflated after the approval of a mausoleum design — which is almost twice the height of what is allowed under the city bylaw — at a Committee of Adjustment meeting on June 10, said councillor Valerie Burke.
Although the city’s bylaw allows for 40 feet, committee members voted to approve the cemetery’s “minor variance” request to double the height of the building to 78 feet after planning staff said the distance between the proposed Holy Trinity Mausoleum and the rear yards of the residential properties to the south is greater than that of the existing Holy Family Mausoluem to the east.
Resident Adam Clamen said bylaws are in place to protect citizens. “If [bylaws] can be skirted around with such leniency, I think it’s scary,” he said.
It also didn’t help that the cemetery was not flexible about the building design at a community meeting held on May 14, said Burke, who has heard other concerns from residents about noise, dust and storm water management.
Holy Cross said this central structure — the second and biggest of three planned mausoleums — is higher because it conforms to classical architecture.
The Greco-Roman style building will have four storeys, each with six levels of crypts, as per standard mausoleum architecture, according to Amy Profenna, manager of marketing and public relations for Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Services – Archdiocese of Toronto, owner of Holy Cross.
Profenna added that the current three-storey mausoleum, which can house 5,941 crypts, is almost at full capacity, whereas the new building will have 6,320 crypts. The building is sized to accommodate the growing population of Catholics living in Markham.
The Regional Municipality of York is currently conducting a cemetery needs analysis to find out if there is a “lack of opportunities to establish new or expanded cemetery uses in York Region, given provincial and regional land use policy direction, available land supply and economics,” according to a report dated April 16, 2015, from the region’s commissioner of corporate services
The municipality has also asked the province to consider removing the requirement that cemeteries be “small scale” on rural lands as part of its submissions to the province for the 10-year review of the Greenbelt this past May. The new mausoleum will be located on Langstaff Road near Bayview Avenue and Highway 7, west of the cemetery.
Clamen’s neighbour Kaaren Bell said she is thinking of moving. “When we moved here over 40 years ago, it was a cornfield, and we knew that it was going to be a cemetery one day.”
“But there’s a difference between what people think of as a cemetery, which is a pretty area with gravestones, gardens and places for reflection, versus putting in a very large mausoleum the size of a Costco, only much, much taller,” said Bell.
A rendering of a four-storey mausoleum planned for west of Holy Cross