QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPP Jessica Bell (University–Rosedale) will table a new bill Tuesday to enshrine Mount Pleasant Cemeteries as a public trust to prevent the multi-billion-dollar asset from permanently slipping into private ownership.
"Mount Pleasant Cemetery is a treasured site in Toronto's University-Rosedale neighbourhood, a beautiful cemetery where many of our loved ones are buried, and where the living find peace, relaxation and enjoyment,” Bell said.
The MPP held a press conference outside Queen's Park Tuesday alongside Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Pamela Taylor, Co-Chair of the Council for Consumer and Industry Fairness in Bereavement.
“The courts have confirmed that the province has the power to ensure Mount Pleasant Cemeteries remain in public hands,” said Bell. "The Ford government should enact its power and restore this valuable public asset to the citizens who paid for it."
The nearly 200-year-old Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries (MPGC) trust operated with public participation until the late 1980s. By the 1990s, it began to operate as a private commercial business unaccountable to the public. By the mid-2000s, the MPGC board began to claim the trust was their own commercial, privately owned cemetery.
"It's not in our province’s best interest to permit a private corporation to take away these precious cemeteries that operate on public land, founded by citizens," Bell said.
"The Ford government should pass my bill and ensure this valuable asset is returned to its rightful public owners."
Pamela Taylor, Co-Chair of the Council for Consumer and Industry Fairness in Bereavement:
"We all agree on the public nature of this institution and its continued necessity, and we honour those with incredible foresight, who created this public treasure for us so very long ago."
Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam:
“I am grateful to MPP Bell for bringing this bill forward - this issue demands that we ask critical questions about our public space and whether we believe that a charitable, publicly funded cemetery trust should be able to unilaterally declare itself to be a private enterprise, locking away billions of dollars of public assets, and taking away the basic right to safe and affordable burial of our dead, unless one can afford it.”
Download a petition to be read in the legislature here.