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Cemetery, museum seek support from Toronto Council | News, Sports, Jobs – The Steubenville Herald-Star

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Warren Scott SEEKING HELP — On Monday, Toronto Council received requests for help from the Toronto Union Cemetery Association and the Historical Society of Toronto.

TORONTO — Toronto Council received requests Monday for help, though each in a different form, from the Toronto Union Cemetery Association and the Historical Society of Toronto.

In a letter to council, Dani Swearingen, secretary of the cemetery board, said a decline in burials has made it difficult to meet the costs involved in maintaining its grounds.

It’s a situation Swearingen blamed on the pandemic.

Some funeral directors have reported seeing an increase in cremations because they allowed mourners to postpone funeral services until a time when exposure to COVID-19 was less of a concern.

“We only get our funding by selling graves, putting in foundations and burials. That’s money I can’t count on if there aren’t any graves sold, any burials or foundation orders,” said Swearingen, who added the board’s savings have been depleted.

Swearingen said it’s been suggested that if the board is unable to support the cemetery, the city may be obligated to take it over.

City Attorney Craig Allen said he doesn’t believe that’s the case but suggested council seek more information from the cemetery board.

Some questioned whether the cemetery is in the city.

Located at 228 High Haven Drive, off Sunset Drive, the cemetery was established in 1866.

On its grounds are a Civil War monument and many graves dating to the late 1800s and early 1900s, according to the Historical Society of Toronto.

On Monday, the volunteer historical group submitted a request for financial aid from the city, as it has done in the past.

Carolyn Walker, the group’s president, asked for $2,400, to aid with the operation of its Main Street Museum.

She noted the cost to heat the building rose by $200 last year, and $500 was expended to replace its deteriorating stoop.

Walker said after the pandemic led to the museum being closed in 2020, it reopened last year to several hundred visitors, including more than 30 Cub Scouts and their leaders and parents.

She said to raise funds, the group held a successful direct mail membership campaign while also selling canvas bags, note cards bearing Toronto scenes and copies of its book, “Era of Elegance.”

First Ward Councilman Bob Bertram said the request was brought up to council’s finance committee, and someone had questioned whether a cap on such requests had been placed by council.

Council agreed to table the request until that issue was resolved.

Bertram suggested the city could make space at the Karaffa Recreation Center available for the museum.

The center was established in the former Karaffa Elementary School after it was donated to the city by the Toronto school board.

In an earlier interview, Walker said the historical society has considered the move but also was concerned about losing the visibility of its current location, which is near the center of the Toronto Arts Festival and other public events.

In other business:

▏ Councilman at large Mike Burkey, newly appointed chairman of the city’s water-sewer committee, said the panel is expected to meet in the next week or two.

The group is expected to meet with a citizens committee formed by council to explore alternatives to proposed increases to the city’s water and sewer rates.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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