Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

UNDER AN EAGLE’S EYE – Piles of discarded tires, seen June 24, continue to occupy the old dump site by the War Eagle pit above the new waste management facility.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

‘They’re not dealing with the problem; they’re looking at more income,’ Paul Bubiak, a co-owner of Integra Tire, says of the Yukon government’s latest recycling charges proposal.

Recycling fees out-mileage 2017 plan: tire shop

New recycling surcharges that will take effect later this year are based on a flawed system, one Whitehorse tire shop owner believes.

By Palak Mangat on July 6, 2018

New recycling surcharges that will take effect later this year are based on a flawed system, one Whitehorse tire shop owner believes.

That’s according to Cal Murdoch, co-owner and vice president of Integra Tire.

He says the categories the Yukon government is using to figure out charges for consumers who purchase tires may not be the best way to go about it.

The fee structure is not based on what the intended use for the tires are, which is how most of the industry classifies it on a grander scale, Murdoch told the Star Wednesday.

“That’s the way the industry does it throughout the world,” he said.

Medium truck tires (those between 22 inches and 24.5 inches) would have come with a hefty $50 fee if the government had implemented its planned changes last year.

Those proposed changes came in 2017 and were to take effect in February of this year.

After public outcry and criticism from the tech and tire industries, Community Services Minister John Streicker pressed pause on the plans, allowing for more time for consultation.

These meetings ran from December 2017 to February of this year, according to a Yukon government webpage that details public engagements.

“In the long run, the tire industry in the Yukon would have been decimated,” said Murdoch, reflecting on the $50 fee that was proposed for semi-truck tires. Those will now cost much less at $9, he noted.

Though he was happy with some of the price changes and drops, he said he was “extremely upset with the process” of getting to this point.

“Pricing needs to be the same in the Yukon as it is in B.C. or Alberta, so we don’t have price disadvantages when we’re trying to compete with businesses,” he said.

Calling the new changes “much better,” Paul Bubiak, Integra Tire’s president and other owner, said the industry was more than willing to offer help and offer alternatives.

He pointed to a couple of companies in B.C. that offered to accept tires and only charge for the cost of transporting, which was proposed to YG by Murdoch.

“That was just a few phone calls, not somebody being paid to find out other choices,” Bubiak said.

His colleagues also suggested the possibility of cutting tires in half for greater efficiency in storing them into trucks when transporting.

“Nobody seemed to want to do any research; they just wanted to charge more,” Bubiak sighed. Even then, he added, fees may not necessarily be the silver bullet.

“We have no problem with there being recycling fees but we want them to be the same as neighbouring jurisdictions,” Murdoch said.

Bubiak agreed, but suggested the government’s efforts may be better directed in finding a more long-term solution.

“We still see no plan to do something with them,” he said, saying instead of letting tires pile up at the dump, they could be transported down south, among other things.

“We’ve not heard of any of that other than they want to charge more to recycle them,” said Bubiak, sighing that “they’re not dealing with the problem; they’re looking at more income.”

A government webpage assures this is not the case, with an Environment Yukon page stating that fees collected are not taxes. They will be used for recycling only, including the collection, transportation and processing costs.

The fees are to apply to online sales as well, according to a release from the government – something that Murdoch remains skeptical of, saying enforcement could prove tough.

“Do you really believe that YG will be able to collect fees from every single online agency?” he asked.

Even when it comes to tires, Murdoch suspects people will find a way to avoid the territory’s fees. Instead, they may opt for cheaper ones elsewhere, he said.

Admitting the new fees won’t “decimate the industry,” he said it could “cause people to buy it Outside and bring it up” from areas like B.C.

Bubiak agrees: “That’s what they said: you can’t really jaywalk, but people do.”

He said he hopes people will be honest but wouldn’t be surprised if they chose to actively find ways to avoid the surcharges.

Still, Murdoch doesn’t remain as hopeful.

“There’s not much else that can be done, so at this point I’m just going to get ready for it,” he sighed.

Meanwhile, a group representing some tech-driven companies in the territory seems to be applauding the government’s efforts.

In a statement to the Star Wednesday from Tech Yukon’s interim executive director, the group said it’s grateful the government put “forward revisions that aim to address local realities within a global marketplace.”

It continued that its members would continue to co-operate with YG to make sure the process of implementing the fees is “as seamless as possible.”

The new fees are to take effect Oct. 1

Comments (9)

Up 0 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Jul 12, 2018 at 5:27 pm

With all the empty truck trailers going south, back hauling some tires should not be too much of a problem. I wonder what the problem is?

Up 3 Down 1

Hugh Mungus on Jul 12, 2018 at 1:11 pm

@ Trump JR

The public service grew more under the Fentie/Paz era than any other regimes combined. But then again no Trump would ever let facts get in the way of a distorted reality.

Up 13 Down 1

Trump JR on Jul 9, 2018 at 1:07 pm

You wanted a liberal government.... taxing and wasting their way to increased debt and more government employees?
You got it.

Has anyone noticed a reduction in garbage around Whitehorse since these fees came into effect?
Nope...but you will see increased illegal dumping, without a doubt.

Up 7 Down 1

Wilf Carter on Jul 9, 2018 at 11:43 am

Yukon Government should take over all waste management in the Yukon and it would be more cost effective. Each community running their own waste management way too costly. Contract it out by RFP.

Up 6 Down 2

Max Mack on Jul 9, 2018 at 10:47 am


Take your ideological blinders off. As-is, the well-heeled buy new products as their whims suit them and they pass off their old stuff to lower income types - primarily to avoid taxes (tipping fees).

With up-front taxes ("recycling" fees), this incentive is removed.

Tipping fees are a different form of taxation with the same stated end goals (discouraging consumption while encouraging recycling), but create other problems. Folks who can't afford the tax will try to avoid tipping fees by throwing their trash in the bush or wherever.

Recycling in a northern context is extremely expensive, and many items in the north are not actually recycled. Neither tax discourages consumption, except for those low-income individuals and families who are having a tough time making ends meet. While I also disagree with tipping fees, I would argue that those fees are more effective at encouraging recycling than the up-front tax.

Make no bones about it -- upfront fees are all about revenue generation.

Up 4 Down 4

north_of_60 on Jul 7, 2018 at 6:56 pm

@Max Mack, please explain how "up-front surcharges discourage recycling." in the same way that charging people to recycle items definitely does, which also encourages illegal dumping.

Up 8 Down 0

My Opinion on Jul 7, 2018 at 4:58 pm

By the looks of that Photo above nothing is being moved south. There are trees growing through them.

Up 6 Down 2

Dave on Jul 6, 2018 at 5:19 pm

These amended tire recycling fees seem reasonable compared to the outlandishly high numbers that were originally presented. As a consumer I’ll accept this lower charge in the name of preserving our environment, but I want assurances the tires are actually being recycled and the funds won’t just disappear into government revenues. I really don’t see many people going to other jurisdictions to avoid these fees either as nearby jurisdictions mostly have higher sales tax or currency exchange to take into account as well. In my opinion Whitehorse tire shops also provide really good service which is worth a lot by itself. Thanks industry for putting the brakes on YGs ridiculous plans.

Up 7 Down 0

Max Mack on Jul 6, 2018 at 4:46 pm

I agree with Mr. Murdoch that the primary goal of the "recycling surcharges" is to raise revenue.

However, I disagree that surcharges should even be a thing. If anything, up-front surcharges discourage recycling. As do tipping fees. Stop turning garbage into revenue generation!

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