Plans for a dedicated area in Sarnia for scattering ashes have drawn attention from outside the city as well.
“We have donations from London, from St. Thomas, from Alexandria, Virginia,” and other places, said Jaggi Singh, the Sarnia man behind the push for a dedicated local site for scattering cremated remains.
City council in August approved building a platform leading out to the St. Clair River at the Point Lands after Singh, with the help of local funeral director Tom Wolfe and Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, began the push in 2016.
It’s legal to scatter cremated ashes on Crown property in Ontario, including provincial park space and the Great Lakes – so long as no signs say otherwise.
It’s also legal on private property with the owner’s permission.
But many don’t know that.
“Over the years we would hear from families who would want to scatter ashes along the river, and they were always fearful,” said Bradley. People didn’t want to draw wayward glances or worse from others who might think they were doing something wrong, he said.
The closest dedicated scattering area is near Mississauga, Singh said.
The feedback he and others in the fundraising group have been getting since August, he said, suggests the planned-for platform could make Sarnia a regional destination for scattering ashes.
“It’s been an eye-opener, a real eye-opener,” Singh said.
They’ve raised $23,500 so far towards building the platform into the existing armour stones, along with cut-stone steps and a galvanized-steel railing. A gazebo is also in the works.
The space is needed, especially for people who practice Sikhism and Hinduism, who do not bury their dead, Singh said.
“It’s a final goodbye,” he said. “When it’s done, you put the ashes in flowing waters and that’s the final goodbye.”
About two-thirds of Sarnia deaths involve cremation, Wolfe said.
The cost for the full project is being finalized and construction on the platform could start this winter, he said.
“We do have another family in Sarnia that is willing to come forward and help with the cost, probably most of the cost,” he said. “But they want to see the final cost before they commit to that.”
The platform approved by council in August was estimated at $15,000.