Parkview Cemetery Crematorium - future considerations

The City of Waterloo’s Parkview Cemetery has operated a crematorium on site since 1977. Located on the lower level of the chapel building, for over 40 years the crematorium has been a revenue source for the cemetery allowing Parkview to operate without tax-based support. The crematorium is now at a point where major renovations and equipment upgrades are needed. The capital costs are estimated to be $3.2 million.

2012 provincial legislation change

In 2012, Ontario changed legislation allowing for crematoriums to be operated privately. Since that time, 26 new privately-run crematoriums have opened in the province. Of the 79 licensed crematoriums in Ontario, four are municipally-owned and of those, two are currently (or are in the process of) leasing out their crematorium space and will no longer be operating the crematoriums themselves.

The challenge

Since the legislation changed in 2012, the cremation market is now dominated by large, privately run operators. Parkview Crematorium has seen the loss of 10 of its funeral home providers as customers and a corresponding 20% decrease in the number of cremations completed annually. On average, Parkview Crematorium completes 1,300 cremations each year; 40 per cent of those are estimated to be from the local community. Although more individuals and families are choosing cremation, more private options are now (and continue to be) made available and cremation numbers for Parkview Cemetery are declining.

To effectively compete with the private sector, Parkview would need to invest considerable capital funding and extend its hours of operation to a minimum of six days per week with day and evening shifts. For the city to continue to operate a crematorium, considerable tax-based support is needed through a one-time levy as well as on-going tax support. This will result in a highly subsidized level of service being provided primarily for non-residents.

Two options are being considered

Option 1 – reinvest and continue to provide cremation services

To remain in the cremation business, the projected 10-year capital and operating costs would be $28 million. This includes the previously mentioned $3.2 million capital investment. These costs would be offset by an estimated revenue potential of $21.3 million and reserve funding of $1.8 million, leaving $4.9 million to be funded through taxation. Please see the table below for a further breakdown of costs.

These improvements would meet the operational and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements of the crematorium and interior chapel niche space as well as a new viewing area. The publicly-run crematorium would continue to provide an affordable, respectful, non-sales pressured and culturally neutral cremation option within the region.

For the city to remain in the cremation business and compete with private cremation providers, it is estimated that a 10-year tax-based support of $4.9 million would be required.

Option 2 – wind down and re-purpose building into interior niche space

To discontinue crematorium service and re-purpose the existing building into interior niche space, the projected 10-year capital and operating costs would be $21.8 million. This includes a $700,000 capital investment for an interior niche expansion which would be phased in based on community need. These costs would be offset by an estimated revenue potential of $17.7 million and reserve funding of $2.3 million, leaving $1.8 million to be funded through taxation.

This capital funding would meet the operational and AODA requirements. Demand for interior niche space is increasing and expected to continue to increase as more families consider cremation and alternative interment options. Within the local and surrounding cemeteries, interior niche space is currently offered at Williamsburg Cemetery in Kitchener and Woodlawn Cemetery in Guelph.

Option 2 provides an opportunity to provide interior niche options to meet current and future community demand. At the same time, the capital improvements to the chapel ensure the building has a continued use and provides a reliable source of revenue through the sales of interior niches.

For the city to wind down the crematorium and re-purpose the building for interior niche space, an estimated 10-year tax-based support of $1.8 million would be required.

10-year financial projectionsOption 1 - reinvest and continue to provide cremation servicesOption 2 - wind down and re-purpose building into interior niche space
Operating costs$23,654,000$19,880,000
Capital needs for expansion$ 3,200,000$ 700,000
Capital for other projects$ 1,196,000$ 1,196,000
Total cumulative costs to 2028*$28,050,000$21,776,000



Total revenues to 2028$(21,308,000)$(17,685,000)
Net costs of operations$ 6,742,000$ 4,091,000



Reserve contribution$( 1,809,000)$( 2,272,000)
10-year tax-based need$ 4,933,000$ 1,819,000

* operating and capital costs

What does this mean to me?

If the city decides to remain in the cremation business and compete with the private sector, residents can expect to see the same well-known level of professional cremation services provided at Parkview Cemetery. To fund the$4.9 million 10-year capital and operating costs will require a one-time increase of approximately 3.6 per cent . To fund the capital requirements this will also result in other city-wide capital projects being delayed, reduced in scope or cancelled. Staff anticipate that on-going tax-based support will be required in perpetuity to fund the operating and capital costs.

To wind down the crematorium and re-purpose the chapel building for interior niche space, it will require a 10-year tax-based support of $1.8 million. Because most of the capital requirements could be funded through the existing cemetery reserve, a one-time levy is not required. To support the operating needs of the cemetery, tax-based support would be required until 2028 after which time the revenue from the sales of interior niches is expected to offset the operating costs. However, any future capital needs of the cemetery would still require tax-based support.

For those who have pre-paid for cremation services, the city will make arrangements for those cremations to be completed by a local publicly-run crematorium at no additional cost to the consumer. Alternatively, pre-paid customers would also have the choice of being refunded.

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 not 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.

The City of Waterloo’s Parkview Cemetery has operated a crematorium on site since 1977. Located on the lower level of the chapel building, for over 40 years the crematorium has been a revenue source for the cemetery allowing Parkview to operate without tax-based support. The crematorium is now at a point where major renovations and equipment upgrades are needed. The capital costs are estimated to be $3.2 million.

2012 provincial legislation change

In 2012, Ontario changed legislation allowing for crematoriums to be operated privately. Since that time, 26 new privately-run crematoriums have opened in the province. Of the 79 licensed crematoriums in Ontario, four are municipally-owned and of those, two are currently (or are in the process of) leasing out their crematorium space and will no longer be operating the crematoriums themselves.

The challenge

Since the legislation changed in 2012, the cremation market is now dominated by large, privately run operators. Parkview Crematorium has seen the loss of 10 of its funeral home providers as customers and a corresponding 20% decrease in the number of cremations completed annually. On average, Parkview Crematorium completes 1,300 cremations each year; 40 per cent of those are estimated to be from the local community. Although more individuals and families are choosing cremation, more private options are now (and continue to be) made available and cremation numbers for Parkview Cemetery are declining.

To effectively compete with the private sector, Parkview would need to invest considerable capital funding and extend its hours of operation to a minimum of six days per week with day and evening shifts. For the city to continue to operate a crematorium, considerable tax-based support is needed through a one-time levy as well as on-going tax support. This will result in a highly subsidized level of service being provided primarily for non-residents.

Two options are being considered

Option 1 – reinvest and continue to provide cremation services

To remain in the cremation business, the projected 10-year capital and operating costs would be $28 million. This includes the previously mentioned $3.2 million capital investment. These costs would be offset by an estimated revenue potential of $21.3 million and reserve funding of $1.8 million, leaving $4.9 million to be funded through taxation. Please see the table below for a further breakdown of costs.

These improvements would meet the operational and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements of the crematorium and interior chapel niche space as well as a new viewing area. The publicly-run crematorium would continue to provide an affordable, respectful, non-sales pressured and culturally neutral cremation option within the region.

For the city to remain in the cremation business and compete with private cremation providers, it is estimated that a 10-year tax-based support of $4.9 million would be required.

Option 2 – wind down and re-purpose building into interior niche space

To discontinue crematorium service and re-purpose the existing building into interior niche space, the projected 10-year capital and operating costs would be $21.8 million. This includes a $700,000 capital investment for an interior niche expansion which would be phased in based on community need. These costs would be offset by an estimated revenue potential of $17.7 million and reserve funding of $2.3 million, leaving $1.8 million to be funded through taxation.

This capital funding would meet the operational and AODA requirements. Demand for interior niche space is increasing and expected to continue to increase as more families consider cremation and alternative interment options. Within the local and surrounding cemeteries, interior niche space is currently offered at Williamsburg Cemetery in Kitchener and Woodlawn Cemetery in Guelph.

Option 2 provides an opportunity to provide interior niche options to meet current and future community demand. At the same time, the capital improvements to the chapel ensure the building has a continued use and provides a reliable source of revenue through the sales of interior niches.

For the city to wind down the crematorium and re-purpose the building for interior niche space, an estimated 10-year tax-based support of $1.8 million would be required.

10-year financial projectionsOption 1 - reinvest and continue to provide cremation servicesOption 2 - wind down and re-purpose building into interior niche space
Operating costs$23,654,000$19,880,000
Capital needs for expansion$ 3,200,000$ 700,000
Capital for other projects$ 1,196,000$ 1,196,000
Total cumulative costs to 2028*$28,050,000$21,776,000



Total revenues to 2028$(21,308,000)$(17,685,000)
Net costs of operations$ 6,742,000$ 4,091,000



Reserve contribution$( 1,809,000)$( 2,272,000)
10-year tax-based need$ 4,933,000$ 1,819,000

* operating and capital costs

What does this mean to me?

If the city decides to remain in the cremation business and compete with the private sector, residents can expect to see the same well-known level of professional cremation services provided at Parkview Cemetery. To fund the$4.9 million 10-year capital and operating costs will require a one-time increase of approximately 3.6 per cent . To fund the capital requirements this will also result in other city-wide capital projects being delayed, reduced in scope or cancelled. Staff anticipate that on-going tax-based support will be required in perpetuity to fund the operating and capital costs.

To wind down the crematorium and re-purpose the chapel building for interior niche space, it will require a 10-year tax-based support of $1.8 million. Because most of the capital requirements could be funded through the existing cemetery reserve, a one-time levy is not required. To support the operating needs of the cemetery, tax-based support would be required until 2028 after which time the revenue from the sales of interior niches is expected to offset the operating costs. However, any future capital needs of the cemetery would still require tax-based support.

For those who have pre-paid for cremation services, the city will make arrangements for those cremations to be completed by a local publicly-run crematorium at no additional cost to the consumer. Alternatively, pre-paid customers would also have the choice of being refunded.

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 not 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.
Please share your comments with us!
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

I would like to see composting/green death options made available. This would be in line with the Region of Waterloo's commitment to fight climate change.

Mbarr83 3 months ago

Hello Parkview team, I would like you to consider a third option - Good Green Death Project. This project would dovetail nicely with your facility changing and updating. Traditional burials are a waste of materials and cremation uses too much energy. I think more and more younger people (which doesn’t include me) are looking for these sort of alternative solutions. Thank you for your time, Chere Schwindt

Schwindt37 4 months ago

I would like to see some consideration given to a Composting facility for human bodies. Such facilities have already been researched exhaustively and approved in Washington State, USA. Such a facility is not only non polluting (unlike cremation), but also saves space (as in burial). This is the way of the future. Let's be part of a progressive environmentally aware society.

Ecoanne 4 months ago

Could the City not wait until the Ontario Review of A one tier review is complete?That way if we become one Regional Council it would then fall under the 3 cities Kitchener Waterloo Cambridge.Or If the review to a single tier regional council is not adopted what about a coalition with the City of Kitchener/Cambridge?

Al Kroetsch 5 months ago

Where are the current"pauper" funerals/cremations taking place? If Parkview winds down, will there be an increase in cost at private facilities thus increasing the need for further subsidy from the region ? I would support the plan to wind down in principle to keep tax increases to a minimum.

Mary Lou 5 months ago

Unless I have missed it, are there any private local / regional crematoriums around.If not, where is the closest one.Thank YouC Morrison

C. Morrison 5 months ago