Margot Boyd Mount Pleasant

Toronto group heads back to court over Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Local residents want to know why the Province of Ontario is ignoring the issue

Last year, an Ontario court ruled on the governing structure of the Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Although the private not-for-profit Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries (MPGC) that oversees operations is appealing the ruling, a local resident who has long battled the MPGC sees no reason why the government shouldn’t take control of the properties right now.

On Dec. 31, 2018, Ontario Superior Court of Justice Judge Sean Dunphy ruled that the MPGC, which owns and governs 10 cemeteries covering 1,222 acres of land, including the York Cemetery and Funeral Centre at Beecroft Road and Senlac Road, would be officially considered a public trust and not a private not-for-profit organization.

The MPGC appealed the ruling, and the government has not stepped in to change the structure of the organization or the leadership.

“The court dates are Nov. 13 and 14, but it is ridiculous. We shouldn’t be back in court,” said Margot Boyd, of Friends of Mount Pleasant Cemetery (FTPC). “What are they doing running Mount Pleasant? Why is the Ontario government not taking control over its own assets?”

FTPC, which boasts around 100 members, was formed in 2013 as a result of community concerns that included the construction of crematoria near adjacent homes, the altering of historic cemetery landscapes and an increase in for-profit activity on cemetery land.

Although Glenn McClary, MPGC president and CEO, wanted to limit their comments on the legal proceedings, he did forward the following comment.

“Justice Dunphy’s December 2018 decision relates primarily to three things: The way in which board members are elected, the role the Public Guardian and Trustee plays in the oversight of our operations, and whether or not we should be involved in the operation of funeral homes. We were very disappointed in the court’s decision and look forward to the opportunity to present our case to the Court of Appeal.”

While in opposition, current Deputy Premier Christine Elliott hammered the Liberal government over a multi-day period over that very question. On May 7, 2012, she asked Attorney General John Geretson, “Minister, despite repeated requests for both financial and operational information, both to the Public Guardian and Trustee and to your office, to whom it reports, nothing has been forthcoming for the past six years. Minister, why are you refusing to take action with respect to this rogue organization?”

Since the Conservatives won the election, Boyd said her repeated attempts to contact the province regarding the matter have failed.

“Deputy Premier Christine Elliott pounded them about this asset for three days in a row. Now I can’t get her to answer the phone,” she said.

Christine Elliott did not comment for this story.

Article exclusive to TRNTO