Why is the city considering closing the Parkview Crematorium?

    The crematorium has operated in Parkview Cemetery for over 40 years and has been a reliable source of funding for the cemetery. In 2012, provincial legislation changed allowing funeral homes to own and operate crematoriums; effectively opening up the market to private business. Since 2012, 26 new crematoriums have opened in Ontario and Parkview has seen the loss of 10 of our funeral home providers. 

    The crematorium is also at a point where the facility and equipment is in need of replacement.  Full renovation costs are estimated to be over $3 million. The cremation market is changing rapidly, and given this volatility, there is no guarantee that the return on investment will meet the capital costs needed.  In fact, financial projections indicate it will not. The cemetery also does not have the funding necessary to complete the work which means the city would need to rely on taxes to fund the renovations. 

    Why would the city close their crematorium if demand for cremation is increasing?

    Although demand for cremation and more simple funeral options is increasing, so too is the supply of this service provided by private crematoriums.

    Can the city not compete with private crematoriums?

    The city struggles to compete with the private sector for several reasons.  Private crematoriums have the ability to offer extended hours; operating seven days a week, 12-15 hours each day. The city cannot provide those hours of operation and still be profitable.  Most of the private cremation facilities also offer transportation services, competitive pricing, dividends and nearly 24hr/7 day a week hours for their customers. 

    Is the city only considering these two options (i.e. $3.2 million renovation or closure)?

    The city is continuing to look at a number of options.  The final recommendations to council will be the option which best meets the city’s and the community’s current and long-term needs.

    What will happen to my prepaid money if the crematorium closes?

    Customers who have prepaid for cremations at Parkview will be given the option of having their service completed at another local crematorium at no additional cost, or having their money (plus interest) reimbursed.

    If council approves the capital expense, what will the new facility look like? What services will it include?

    If the full renovation is approved, customers can expect the same level of customer service and professionalism that Parkview is known for. The building itself would be expanded by approximately 3,000 square feet to accommodate a larger chapel on the main floor and a larger viewing area on the lower level accessible by an elevator. The new facility would be able to accommodate larger funerals and the lower level would provide a much larger and nicer viewing area for families interested in that option.

    If the city chooses to keep the crematorium open, what will this cost me (my taxes)?

    To fund the $4,900,000 ten-year capital and operating costs will require a one-time tax increase of approximately 3.6 per cent. Staff anticipate that on-going tax-based support will be required in perpetuity to fund the operating and capital costs which would also be reflected in the amount of taxes paid.

    How many cremations take place at Parkview each year?

    Parkview currently completes about 1,300 cremations each year. We estimate that 40% of the cremations completed at Parkview are from the Waterloo Region; meaning over half of the cremations performed at the crematorium are from clients who live outside of Waterloo region.

    If the city decides to close the crematorium, how quickly would that happen?

    If the closure option is selected, the city would continue to maintain and provide cremation services as long as the equipment will permit us to do so. We do not have an exact time for this wind down period, but estimate that it would be no longer than two years. 

    If Parkview closes, what options are available to me and my family if we want to consider cremation?

    The local community will still be serviced by crematoriums located in Kitchener, Guelph, Strathroy and Paris.  Any funeral home or cremation service provider, will outline what options are available to you and what crematorium they use. It’s important to note that

    Parkview has never offered a transfer service which means families must make their arrangements with a licensed funeral home or cremation service provider. These professionals will ensure all legislative requirements and paperwork is  completed.  Parkview staff are happy to work directly with families for the pre-need and at-need funeral and cremation arrangements; however, a licensed funeral home is still required to transfer the body. 

    What does cremation cost and will the cost go up if Parkview closes their crematorium.

    Parkview charges $560 (+HST) for cremation services. The City of Kitchener charges the same, and crematoriums in Guelph and Paris charge $550 (+HST). Cost for cremation services is market driven, therefore pricing is consistent. As additional crematoriums continue to open and supply increases, it is very unlikely that the closure of Parkview would result in any change to cremation service costs.  In fact, as supply continues to increase, it is likely that cost will either stay the same or be reduced.

    What is the environmental impact of operating the Parkview crematorium? Does this align with the city’s carbon reduction plans?

    Cremation is completed utilizing natural gas.  Our current equipment is inefficient and results in considerable carbon emissions.  In fact, our crematorium is one of the city’s largest sources of carbon dioxide. New retorts (burners) have much greater efficiency and would greatly reduce the amount of carbon and emissions released.  However, due to the fact that even new burners utilize fossil fuels, all crematoriums are a major source of carbon emissions.   

    If the city closes the crematorium, why is there still a $1.8 million tax-based impact over 10 years?

    Regardless of which option is selected, the cemetery services will require tax-based support to fund the on-going maintenance and upkeep of the Parkview and Mount Hope cemeteries. The $1.8 million 10-year impact represents the operating cost of maintaining the cemeteries over that period of time without the crematorium.  With the full renovation, the 10-year impact would be $4.9 million.

    To recap:

    • Provincial legislation changed in 2012 promoting privately-run crematoriums.
    • Twenty-six new crematoriums have opened since legislation changed.
    • Fifty per cent of Ontario’s municipally run crematoriums have decided they can no longer compete with the private sector.
    • To continue to provide cremation services represents a substantial tax-based cost resulting in a highly subsidized service.
    • Sixty per cent of the cremations performed at Parkview are for non-residents.
    • To continue to provide cremation services, the 10-year tax-based support is $4.9 million.
    • To discontinue cremation services, the 10-year tax-based support is $1.8 million.