'This is my church': Families concerned about plan to run road extension through Brantford cemetery
BRANTFORD -- A planned extension to Oak Park Road might end up running through Brantford's Oakhill Cemetery.
Families whose loved ones are buried there said they wish they'd known about the project before buying plots.
"It's a peaceful place for people to come and reflect and be with their loved ones," said Stevie Greentree.
Greentree's husband, Don, is buried at the cemetery. The grave faces the Grand River where he fished and is close to trails he used to walk.
Marilyn Shaver and her husband, Warren, picked out a plot together before he died in 2014.
"He thought it was a beautiful setting, so we purchased a plot facing the river," Shaver said.
Greentree and Shaver said they were shocked to learn about plans for a four-lane road going through the cemetery.
"I'm angry, sad and disgusted by this," Shaver said.
The City of Brantford said plans for the Oak Park Road extension began back in the 1980s and predate the cemetery, which was designed with the future development in mind. No grave sites or future plots will be affected and the city said it will look at ways to reduce noise.
"Whether it's sound barriers, vegetation or a combination of those things, and the visual impacts of it as well," said Russ Loukes, director of engineering services with the City of Brantford.
Loukes said the road project is designed to reduce congestion on busy downtown streets as the community grows.
"This connection allows a better connection up to the 403, it provides a benefit that way," he said. "It also relieves potential congestion on the other roadways."
City officials said they've been transparent about plans for the road, but families said they weren't told about it before buying the plots.
"How can the city disrupt such a serene place of worship?" Kelly Donovan, whose family is buried there, said. "This is my church. This is where I come to speak to my mother."
The city said public consultation will continue in 2021. Families hope the city will reconsider the plans.
"Try again, because you got this wrong, you really got it wrong," Greentree said.