Saint-Bruno council unanimously rejects crematoria proposal

Hundreds of residents of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville on Montreal's South Shore are breathing a sigh of relief after the town's council rejected a controversial crematoria project.

Hundreds of residents contested the project even though it fit with zoning regulations

On Monday, elected officials in Saint-Bruno-De-Montarville sided with hundreds of residents who do not want the funeral complex near their neighbourhood. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

Hundreds of residents of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que., on Montreal's South Shore are breathing a sigh of relief after the city's council rejected a controversial crematoria project.

"I think the whole room was in shock. It was incredible," Anna-Marie Blyth, one of hundreds who lobbied against  the proposal for several months.

"Industrial furnaces don't belong in a residential area. This isn't Provigo setting up a bakery and they're going to be baking bread. This is serious."

The crowd erupted in cheers after the unanimous vote, but elected officials said little about their decision — citing concerns that this case may now be heading to court.

That's because the proposed funeral home complied with local zoning regulations and the city's planning advisory committee recommended the project be approved.

The Coopérative funéraire du Grand Montréal, which also runs a funeral home and crematorium in Longueuil, has threatened to sue the city if it doesn't grant the construction permit. 

Mathieu Houle, the funeral co-operative's director of operations, has said the two crematoria planned for the site would be fuelled by natural gas and surpass Canada's strict environmental standards.

"We are of course disappointed with the decision," he said in a statement after the vote Monday.

"We believe we have a good project, which poses no risk to public health or the environment."

Anna-Marie Blyth opposed the project. She lives just a stone's throw from where the home would've been built and she said it didn't fit in the area. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

The project is planned for Parent Street, about 100 metres from Highway 30. The site is zoned commercial, but nearby residents began voicing concerns last fall about how the crematoria will impact air quality.

Opponents launched a petition and collected more than 250 signatures late last year. Another was submitted Monday with more than 1,500 signatures.

Coun. Isabelle Berubé said the council can't go against that much opposition in the population even though the funeral home had the legal right to build on the site under the zoning regulations.

"Usually we have a little group of people that are against a project, but this time people gathered together and they were unanimous, they didn't want the project," said Coun. Isabelle Berubé after the meeting Monday.

"People were against the project. So we decided to follow the people and to vote for them."

Legal action still on the table

The town commissioned three studies that evaluated the project's potential impacts on the environment, health, property values and traffic in the area.

Houle said those studies proved the planned funeral home met environmental standards and would have "no significant impact on the value of surrounding homes and local car traffic."

He said the co-operative wishes to continue a dialogue with the town and its residents, but he still isn't ruling out legal action.

Coun. Isabelle Berubé said the town council could not ignore the level of opposition in the community. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

He said the co-operative intends, by all means at its disposal, to "defend its rights and accomplish its mission of offering an essential service to communities with respect for human dignity, which includes a welcoming and easily accessible site."

Resident France Savard said the fight isn't over yet, but she sees Monday's vote as an important step in sensitizing not just the neighbourhood, but the entire city to the concerns people have about the project.

"We will have to see what happens," she said. "We will continue the awareness and make sure this doesn't really happen."

with files from Simon Nakonechny


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