New funeral home ready for business

Northridge Funeral Home, an endeavour which has been in the works for some time now, is finally ready, licensed, and open for business.
The new establishment, which is located on highway 11 just west of Emo, is owned by experienced funeral director, Jason Lilley.
“I began working in the funeral industry as a teenager and started working for a firm in my home community of Dutton, Ontario,” Lilley said, noting after working for several funeral homes in southern Ontario, an opportunity arose and he found himself in Rainy River District.
“I always thought about the possibility of opening a funeral home in this area here,” he added. “It does cover a large geographical area and I felt there was a possibility for an additional funeral provider in the district.”
When the piece of property became available, Lilley leaped at the opportunity.
“A funeral home is a business that obviously takes a lot of time and planning,” he explained. “It’s a large investment and I was wanting a facility that could accommodate alot of large families. A facility that could have one purpose and one purpose only—to look after funerals. And something centrally located in the district.”
Lilley noted that with an imaginative design, the facility went through complete renovations.
“Certainly a lot of cost, effort, and time has gone into this.” he said. “There’s nothing left of the original building. We were able to modify it and make the proper changes.”
The 12,000 square ft. funeral home is wheelchair accessible, has ample parking, and a seating capacity for around 300 people. There is a complete audio and sound system, as well as a closed-circuit video and television system to transmit the service to additional rooms in case of overflow.
The second level, which continues to be renovated, will serve as a post-reception area when complete.
“I think the location of the facility is key as well,” Lilley expressed. “Emo is basically the centre of this end of the Rainy River District . . . It’s certainly the halfway point for folks in Rainy River and Morson, as well as Nestor Falls.”
But he doesn’t want to exclude people in Fort Frances, Atikokan, or other surrounding communities, especially with the possible addition of a crematorium next year.
Lilley is awaiting the Board of Funeral Services to amalgamate the Funeral Director and Establishment Act and the Cemetery Act, which is scheduled to take place in 2007.
“Currently in the province right now, funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematoria can’t be owned together,” he explained. “And so when the new act comes out, there’s an opportunity to bring in a crematorium. I will seriously consider putting [one] in.”
Presently, the closest crematorium is in Thunder Bay and Lilley indicated it would be beneficial to have one in the district, citing specifically the reduction of mileage and time factors.
Northridge Funeral Home will also be one of the first privately and locally-owned funeral homes in the Rainy River District.
“Being privately [and locally] owned, we can offer a little more flexibility and as well as possibly being open to more options for the families we serve,” he explained.
“I think there is certainly opportunity for two funeral homes in the district here,” Lilley stressed. “We do have an aging population in this district, so I feel there is certainly opportunity.”
He said he designed the funeral home to handle any type of service—from the most traditional to the most simplified. But he can also conduct a funeral in a church or memorial hall.
Lilley added Northridge’s funeral costs will be competitive.
“It’s always wise for a client to shop,” he noted. “It provides other options.”
The full-service funeral home will also offer a wide selection of merchandise, keepsakes, and pre-arrangement options, which can be broken down to just the pre-arrangement of information and needs of the client to the actual pre-payment of the arrangement.
“And pre-arrangements can be transferred,” he explained. “If people wish they can transfer them here or from here to somewhere else. It goes both ways.”
Lilley, who vows to be on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, mentioned he feels confident about the success of the new business.
“Support for the facility has been well-received,” he remarked. “We’ve had numerous folks stopping in as the renovation process has continued, which has provided a good feeling.”
He invites everyone to “come and get acquainted” with himself and the staff on Sunday, July 16 from noon until 4 p.m. as well as to check out the new facility. The four funeral home assistants are locals hailing from Rainy River, Barwick, Pinewood, and Emo.
“I’ve always tried to make it a friendly, familiar atmosphere for the clients we serve,” Lilley stressed. “I hope people will come and take a look.”
For more information, contact Lilley at 482-3788.

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