Transcript: What happens when we run out of cemetery space? | Jul 21, 2021

Music plays.
[insects chirping]

As a slow clip shows a tombstone next to a tree, a caption reads "What do cemeteries mean to a community?"

A female voice says
WHAT DO CEMETERIES
MEAN TO A COMMUNITY?
THEY ARE STORYTELLERS AND
CULTURAL GATEKEEPERS,
SILENT REFLECTIONS OF
OUR EVOLVING CITIES.

Clips show plants and a statue of a tired angel.

The woman speaking appears.

A caption reads "Nicole Hanson. Cemetery policy planner."

Nicole is in her thirties, with long wavy black hair. She's wearing a burgundy headband, a black leather jacket, and a furry animal print scarf.

She continues BUT THESE DAYS, MANY
CEMETERIES IN ONTARIO
ARE GROWING IN A
NEW WAY: UPWARDS.
OUT OF SPACE FOR
NEW GRAVES,
PUBLIC NOTICES ARE
BEING POSTED
ADVISING THAT PATHS
AND GARDENS BE REMOVED
TO MAKE ROOM FOR
MORE BURIALS
IN MAUSOLEUMS AND
columbariums.

Clips show a cemetery, gravestones, and columbariums with dozens of plaques.

Nicole continues SUBDIVISIONS FOR THE DEAD.
CEMETERIES WILL
NEED TO GET DENSER.
AND ACROSS THE PROVINCE,
FEW MUNICIPALITIES
ARE PLANNING
NEW CEMETERIES.

A clip shows a white tombstone that reads "Thirkle."
In the background, heavy traffic fills a highway.

Nicole continues THE LOOMING SHORTAGE
WILL HIT THE GTA FIRST.
TORONTO WILL BE OUT OF
SPACE TO BURY THE DEAD
IN 15 TO 20 YEARS.

Clips show a sign that reads "Toronto Hebrew Benevolent Society, established 1899; a sign that reads "Scattering area," and a stone sign that reads "Forest of remembrance."

Nicole continues WHETHER PEOPLE CHOOSE
FULL-BODY BURIAL, CREMATION
OR ANOTHER MEMORIAL
METHOD, DECISIONS OFTEN
BORNE OF FAITH AND
COMMUNITY PRACTICE,
CEMETERY LAND IS NEEDED
TO ACCOMMODATE MOST
HUMAN REMAINS.
AS WITH ALL SHORTAGES,
THE POOREST
AND MOST VULNERABLE
WILL WIND UP
WITH THE LEAST ACCESS
AS BURIAL SPACE
BECOMES AN INCREASINGLY RARE
AND VALUABLE COMMODITY.

Clips show gravestones and mausoleums of different shapes and sizes.

Nicole continues THIS IS COMPOUNDED
BY DEMOGRAPHICS
AND A GENERATIONAL
SHIFT BEING CAPTURED
IN OUR CEMETERIES
ALREADY.
BABY BOOMERS WILL
ACCELERATE PRESSURE
ON OUR CEMETERIES AS
THOSE IN ONTARIO
WILL BE DYING IN
UNPRECEDENTED NUMBERS
OVER THE COMING
20 YEARS.
THERE IS NO
SHORT-TERM PLANNING
WHEN IT COMES
TO CEMETERIES.
ONCE ZONED, THE LAND
CANNOT BE USED AGAIN.
OUR CITIES PLAN FOR BIRTH,
LIFE, WORK AND PLAY,
BUT WE DO NOT PLAN
FOR DEATH.

The end slate shows the TVO logo next to a tombstone with a cross, as clouds cross the sky.

(music plays)

Watch: What happens when we run out of cemetery space?