by John Michael McGrath – Ontario cities plan for birth, childhood, work and retirement, but are rapidly running of out cemetery and burial space. Why aren’t we planning for death?

Video by Michael Lehan

Everyone living in Toronto is going to die at some point, and the city doesn’t have a plan to deal with it. But don’t worry: it’s not quite as scary as it sounds.

According to Nicole Hanson, a community and cultural planner, Toronto is going to run out of casket burial space in 10-20 years, tops. Cemeteries around the city are already pulling out garden patches and pathways to make room for new plots, while others are building bigger and denser structures to hold a growing number of urns and other memorials.

“We need to build our communities with places of death and memorialization in mind,” says Hanson. She calls it “cemetery urbanism.”

About 40,000 people die each year in the Greater Toronto Area, and that number is only going to increase as the baby boom generations ages out of their golden years. That alone will continue to put pressure on the need for burial space in and around the region.

This means that more families in land-scarce parts of the GTA will be looking for burial plots on the periphery, and that people who live in those areas on the periphery — and might have once been able to afford plots near their homes — will either be priced out of the market, or have to shift their own burial plans further away in turn. Everyone will need to travel longer distances to visit their dearly departed.


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