Burial plots needed
There are not many places left in Fergus to bury the dead. With one undeveloped section within Belsyde Cemetery remaining, it makes sense to utilize it to its full potential.
Belsyde is the only municipally-owned cemetery in Fergus and has only 13 double lots (or 26 individual lots) left in its current developed areas. At an average of 15 lots sold per year, the township has about two years until the site is full. So, council needed to decide on what to do with the undeveloped plot in the south-east portion of the cemetery.
That’s why eliminating 176 lots to save a row of 13 trees is not considering the bigger picture. Centre Wellington council made a poor decision in eliminating these burial plots, thereby losing out on $400,000 in potential revenue, to save the row of trees.
The plan (that council paid for) was to add 734 lots that could meet the demand for another 50 years. Taking out 176 lots means shaving 13 years off the life expectancy of the cemetery.
The bigger picture is this: in a growing community, there will be an increasing need for burial plots. Cemetery expansions need to meet accessibility requirements and the removal of the trees would not only have an impact on the number available in the future, but it would also impact grading of the site.
The loss of revenue is not to be overlooked. Council had the opportunity for the cemetery to be self-sustaining, but now it may need to reach into taxpayer coffers.
Trees can be replanted, grown elsewhere. Hedges, which have a smaller footprint, can also be planted to keep the natural aesthetic. Better solutions than the one council made exist.
Save the trees
“Out with the old” seems to be a common sentiment in today’s “throw away” society.
Yet, earlier this week Centre Wellington council took a stand and voted against the grain, choosing to keep 13 trees in Belsyde Cemetery in Fergus at a potential $400,000 loss to the township.
They listened to the neighbours and chose to keep the trees.
While tree removal would add an additional 176 burial plots, removal of the long established trees could add additional complications.
First, think about the root system of those mature trees. Not only are trees good for air quality and visual appeal, they are also essential for erosion control. All those roots are woven and integrated into the soil.
Council spoke about the installation of a retaining wall to offset the tree removal, but who’s to say that would even work?
The trees are doing their job now. Why fix something that isn’t broken?
Second, cemetery neighbours pleaded with council to keep the trees as a visual barrier between their properties and the cemetery. And why not? They’ve waited years for the trees to grow to a useful height. Even if the township did plant 13 replacement trees it would take years before they grew to a size that resembled a useful barrier.
As council said, the cemetery development is taking place over a number of years. As each phase is completed and a new one begins, they can take their time to re-assess and do what’s needed at that time. There’s no need to rush decisions now.