Residents vow to fight cemetery ownership
A group of Toronto residents say they will continue their effort to see Mount Pleasant Cemetery returned to public ownership, after the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear an appeal of their legal case.
“We are far from finished in our fight to return MPGC (Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries) to the public domain,” according to a statement from the Friends of Toronto Public Cemeteries, after the court’s decision not to hear the appeal was released on Thursday. “A $3-billion public asset with 1,222 acres of urban forest cannot and will not be handed over to a small group of people who have no accountability to the citizens who paid for it.”
The group said it will now take the issue to Queen’s Park, to seek a legislative rather than legal remedy.
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 13 Toronto Centre), who has been fighting the case with residents, said that in addition to the value of the land, the MPGC has more than $250 million in reserves and pays no property tax or income tax.
“That’s why people should care, and that’s why (Premier) Doug Ford should step in,” said Wong-Tam. “For a guy that says that he’s looking after the little guy, or looking after the finance province, this is exactly why we should care. No sound-minded government would leave $3 billion on the table and walk away.”
Wong-Tam and residents say the MPGC was founded in the 1800s using public money, and was run by trustees for most of its history, before being recast as a private business in the 1990s. In 2018, a judge ruled that MPGC was in fact a charitable was able trust. That decision appealed by MPGC and overturned in large part by the Ontario Court of Appeal.
MPGC said it was pleased with the decision.