Resident Backlash Sees Lakeshore Cemetery Project Rejected

Plans for a cemetery on the former Hydeaway Golf Course in Lakeshore are on hold after a handful of residents convinced council to reject the project.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of London proposed to build a new cemetery on 58 hectares (143 acres) of land at 494 and 496 Elmstead Rd. The Diocese says its Heavenly Rest cemetery in LaSalle will be full in 15 to 20 years and needs to find more space.

Lakeshore administration recommended the needed re-zoning be approved, but council narrowly rejected the plan pointing to resident opposition as a main factor.

Anitra Escoto lives on her grandparents lot in the area which dates back generations and teared up as she addressed council on the issue. She feels the cemetery would change the area for generations to come.

"I'm just so happy and elated that our voices could be heard and our councillors made the right decision on this one," says Escoto. "A cemetery is not what we want in the area. It's one of the worst things, next to a dump."

John St. Aubin is the General Manager of the Western Region Cemeteries with the Diocese of London and is disappointed by council's decision.

"Well that's politics," says St. Aubin. "We respect the decision of course. We have a decision [to make] at this point. We'll huddle and see where we're going to go from here."

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A map of a proposed cemetery on Elmstead Rd. in Lakeshore. (Photo courtesy the Town of Lakeshore)

Escoto feels a cemetery would bring procession after procession down her road and forever change day-to-day life.

"The lifestyle on Elmstead Rd. is so peaceful and calm and serene and we just don't want that to go away. The community is a tight knit community. We just love the way that it is now, we feel free and we wouldn't have that with a cemetery."

Administration's report shows the cemetery would have less traffic impact than the former golf course and no significant affect on property values.

John St. Aubin isn't ruling out an appeal to the newly created Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

"We think that the points of planning are well thought through and could in fact meet with success at another level, but we've not made any decision as to what we're going to do at this stage."

St. Aubin adds agricultural land is off limits for the proposed development, leaving the Diocese with few options for the project.

Escoto isn't too concerned about other developments potentially moving into the area.

"I'm for growth and economy. I'm not for dead people behind my house so, if there's other homes that rise up — I'm good with that."