Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

CHANGES COMING – Officials briefed the media on adjustments to the territory’s waste management system Tuesday. They are, from left to right, Cam Lockwood, the chief administrative officer with Watson Lake, Bev Buckway, the executive director of the Association of Yukon Communities, the Department of Community Services’ Dave Albisser and Environment Yukon’s Bryna Cable.

YG eyes limiting dump shopping

Higher fines for illegal dumping, new tipping fees and the closure of smaller, expensive transfer stations will be phased in by the Yukon government as changes to its waste management system take place over the coming months.

By Palak Mangat on May 16, 2019

Higher fines for illegal dumping, new tipping fees and the closure of smaller, expensive transfer stations will be phased in by the Yukon government as changes to its waste management system take place over the coming months.

After recommendations came to it in April 2018 from a ministerial committee on solid waste, YG announced the changes earlier this month.

“We know tipping fees are not going to be popular with everyone,” Community Services Minister John Streicker told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

“But we also know if we don’t change our waste habits now, our children’s generation will be left with harmful financial and environmental consequences.”

Tipping fees will be phased in starting with landfills in the Whitehorse area by the end of March 2020, with fees being based on those at the nearest municipality.

These funds will help offset the costs of running the transfer station or landfill as well as staffing the site, a release added.

The changes are to also help combat illegal dumping with fines rising up to $10,000 from the existing up to $200.

“You can expect the range of fines to be coinciding with the amount of waste,” explained Dave Albisser, a director with the Department of Community Services.

Details of that will look like will be developed over the coming months.

“The intent is really to try to get people to dispose of waste in the closest facility that they can,” he added, likening the practice to “dump shopping.”

“So with the same fees being at all the sites, that hopefully will accomplish that.”

As for whether that means there will be more waste coming into the city, for instance, the government noted it was about a balance.

“There are some Whitehorse residents who were dump-shopping and using the economic advantage of having free tipping fees outside of the city of Whitehorse to be able to go take their waste,” said Bryna Cable with Environment Yukon.

“But then there’s also the fact that a lot of that waste was coming right back into the city of Whitehorse – it’s really just a balance of re-shifting of how waste will be handled and trying to make sure that it’s going to the appropriate place.”

Bev Buckway agreed it was also a focus in the communities.

Buckway is the executive director of the Association of Yukon Communities, which has eight incorporated members: Carmacks, Dawson, Faro, Haines Junction, Mayo, Teslin, Watson Lake and Whitehorse.

“Some of the recommendations in this report are not going to be particularly popular with some of our residents,” Buckway said.

“However, our municipalities know that the cost of waste and handling that waste is rising and it’s become very problematic.”

She added putting in fees across the board just made sense.

“Our members just felt that if we were to proceed and put in tipping fees, it didn’t make much sense if the YG facilities didn’t have tipping fees,” she said.

“So if we’re going to have a Yukon-wide system; it has to be Yukon-wide.”

Cam Lockwood, the chief administrative officer for Watson Lake, provided the example of the another nearby site closing after the town went to a regional landfill agreement years ago.

“Albert Creek was still a free service and everybody was driving to Albert Creek instead of coming to our facility,” Lockwood said.

Once the site around Albert Creek closed, patterns began to settle after some time, he added.

“We did have those cycles of people doing illegal dumping, but everything’s come back into check now and our facility is well-used.”

Cable expected the pattern to be similar this time around too.

“When you change fees, there is sort of a natural reaction for people to kind of try to adjust and some people don’t adjust by always doing the right thing,” Cable said.

“But it doesn’t become a long-term problem – things settle back and people realize that the easier thing to do is the right thing to do.”

Ultimately, it was about ensuring that the users are paying for the waste they produce, Cable added.

Meanwhile, Buckway noted there have also been occasions where “mystery items” show up in landfills.

“You might just find a barrel dropped off and it’ll just show up overnight and you don’t know what’s in it, you don’t know where it came from – so it’s very hard to determine what you’re going to do with it.”

A release noted that landfill sites that will be closing are in Braeburn, Silver City, Johnson’s Crossing and Keno City once regional agreements are finalized with closest municipalities.

“Regional landfills are commonly used in other jurisdictions and prevent municipal taxpayers from being overburdened with the cost of managing waste from unincorporated areas,” it added.

As for those financial consequences Streicker mentioned, solid waste management already costs YG and other municipal governments about $11 million annually.

It’s something the city has been dealing with, as it causes a lot of grief and agony, said Mayor Dan Curtis.

“Whitehorse is not immune to illegal dumping; it is a challenge,” he added, as Streicker noted it’s a move that’s been at least a year in the making after last April’s report from the committee.

“They’ve been asking us to get to a territory-wide system for many years,” the minister acknowledged.

“While challenges with waste management vary community by community, we all share a vision of a better, more sustainable solid waste management in the Yukon.”

As for the immediate next steps, the government will be speaking to municipalities like Mayo soon to sign those regional agreements.

A memorandum of understanding has already been signed with Whitehorse; YG already hauls municipal solid waste from small communities into the city, which won’t change in the immediate term, Albisser added.

“If municipalities would like to explore other options around taking some of the MSW from closer regional sites, that’s a discussion we’ll have later,” he said.

“But we’re looking to sign agreements with municipalities that are ready to do that at any time.

“Based on the rural population using a municipal site, we would provide funding for that regional agreement and that facility to operate as regional facility.”

That means the municipalities will have practices that improve site operations and make sure there’s staffing to keep an eye on what’s coming into the sites to have things like better sorting.

“I would expect most are ready to start discussions – I can’t speak for the municipalities, but some may be signed very, very soon,” Albisser said.

The more long-term goal is to have tipping fees around the Whitehorse periphery (Marsh Lake, Carcross, Tagish, Mount Lorne and Deep Creek) by March 2020.

Areas like Beaver Creek and Old Crow, because of their remoteness, will be excluded in the next round of peripheral areas YG turns its attention to during the following year.

Comments (25)

Up 0 Down 1

Max Mack on May 24, 2019 at 8:28 pm

@Moose

"Poor muffin." "entitled"
The cost of conventional landfill was covered by property taxes and utility charges prior to tipping fees. Everything has gone downhill from there. The cost of waste management has gone through the roof because of entitled idealogues who demand that I pay increased taxes for decreased services so folks can strut around thumping their chest and crowing about how we are "saving the environment".

Look at a map. All of the dumps combined in the entire Yukon Territory are but a pinprick; there is no shortage of land for waste.

Up 1 Down 0

Wilf on May 22, 2019 at 11:17 pm

Waste management in Yukon. Having communities like Watson Lake, Teslin, Carmacks, Faro, Ross River, Dawson, Mayo, Haines Junction and other small communities managing their own waste management programs make no social economic sense. One private contractor should manage most of the waste management in the Yukon. We need metal and plastic chippers to chip up the waste so it can be compacted and sent south. This chipped waste will mean a lot more waste shipped for less cost. With plastic we should look at a plastic mill.

Up 1 Down 2

Moose on May 22, 2019 at 9:54 pm

@Max "Tipping fees, environmental fees, recycling fees, carbon taxes, plastic taxes, bear taxes, ever-increasing regulation, ever-increasing penalties for "infractions", ever-reductions in services . . . you are crushing us." Poor muffin. Obviously never lived anywhere else in the real world where yes you have to *gasp* pay for services and pay fines when you break laws. Who exactly do you expect to pay for things like recycling, dump maintenance, closure etc? Let me guess, you want everyone to pay for it through increased taxes? Sorry but it looks like the free ride is over for the entitlement crowd like yourself. Time to pay your own way.

Up 1 Down 1

Patti Eyre on May 22, 2019 at 4:28 pm

North of 60 and Brian have it right. Instead of spending more money treating waste water and dealing with pee and poop, we should be incinerating it in a facility designed to turn waste into energy! North of 60 and Brian for Prime Minister and Deputy Prime!

Up 6 Down 3

North_of_60 on May 22, 2019 at 2:30 pm

@MaxMack is correct. "The cost of conventional landfill was covered/manageable and "illegal dumping" was not a problem until the ideologues showed up." Tipping fees for residential garbage is nothing but a money grab based on a fallacious excuse of 'saving the world'.
The recent election in Australia shows once again that climate activism is a virtue signalling hobby for comfortable urban elitists.

Up 7 Down 3

Max Mack on May 22, 2019 at 11:59 am

Nothing more than a money grab. Full stop.

But, this is guaranteed to lead to more trash in the bush, the very thing the elitist ideologues like Streicker, Buckway and Curtis call "illegal dumping". But, how can it be illegal if your policies are the very cause of the bush dumping?

Tipping fees, environmental fees, recycling fees, carbon taxes, plastic taxes, bear taxes, ever-increasing regulation, ever-increasing penalties for "infractions", ever-reductions in services . . . you are crushing us.

The cost of conventional landfill was covered/manageable and "illegal dumping" was not a problem until the ideologues showed up. For decades, these "geniuses" have been ruling the roost. Look what it has come to.

Up 5 Down 2

Wilf on May 21, 2019 at 11:56 pm

Do you think YTG politicians of today want to consult on this or any other subject? I wrote a minister on cost of land development and all he sends me is a web site with the cost. Waste is a total mess in the Yukon now and city of Whitehorse leads the pack.

Up 13 Down 3

jean on May 21, 2019 at 2:05 pm

This is ridiculous, we should have a Waste-to-Energy facility in the Yukon to turn all the plastic that can't be profitably recycled into useful electricity. Spending even more money/fossil fuels to truck it to Vancouver is just adding to the short sighted, stupid foolishness. We need to step back, sideline the greenwashed ideology, and come up with a realistic made-in-Yukon plan to responsibly deal with our garbage.

Up 11 Down 2

Linda on May 21, 2019 at 10:07 am

Tipping fees aren't taking into consideration "reduce, reuse, recycle". People who make an effort to live by the 3 r's have very little household garbage. Maybe a small bag a week. So that will be $3.00 to take it which is outrageous. In our community bears are a problem so saving till you have 3 big bags will take months and will probably attract the bears. I also don't use the plastic garbage bags, just a pail that I empty every week. So now, if I don't want to pay premium prices, I will have to start using bags to help deter the smell. "Reduce, reuse, recycle" should be emphasized and a very small fee charged for 1 bag/can a week users, or charge by the bag, (50 cents or $1.00) I hope that free stores and recycling will not be removed as this diverts large amounts from the landfill.

Up 9 Down 14

Pay Your Way on May 21, 2019 at 9:16 am

Ah, the classic Yukoner entitlement is out in full force. Complaining about how “your” tax dollars are spent when 80% of that money comes from the South that you hate so much. No service you receive is truly free. I know it hurts, but sometimes you have to pay for what you use instead of the government handing it to you.

Up 16 Down 2

Ernest on May 20, 2019 at 4:40 pm

We pay millions of dollars to keep people on the welfare rolls... could we not take those dollars and make fair pay recycling jobs for those seeking simple employment away from the public eye. Teach furniture repair skills... restore old appliance skills... repair old toy skills. Or are we so afraid that Walmart may complain ?

Up 15 Down 1

Ernest on May 20, 2019 at 4:26 pm

There is so much reusable stuff going into the dump.. why not make resources available to make those goods available. Cut discarded wood into usable pieces, fix up furniture that are still good... cut clothes into rags to cut down on paper use.... grind glass into fill.... incinerate plastic for heat.... where is our imagination ?? Taxing through fees only makes government grow.... and grow.... and grow.

Up 12 Down 2

CJ on May 20, 2019 at 11:24 am

@Moose -- The fees aren't set up so that you pay less for less garbage. They're set up to incentivize storing it till it accumulates, at least if it's household garbage and compost. If you have curbside pickup, you may not realize this.
It costs $5 for 1-8 bags of household, and $3 for 1 to 3 bags of compost, including yard waste. So the less you have, the more you pay.

It may seem negligible, but it's an irritant, especially compared to the rhetoric. But basically it seems to me the city is charging for using the landfill at all, like a cover charge, because you pay more for going there. Once you get there, you can't be sure they will take what you've got. We're setting up little transfer stations of our own in our yards and that seems to be what the city wants.

I took two bags of household waste and 2 yard bags to one of the community stations the other week. It would have cost me $8 to go to the landfill. Of course, if I'd just put everything in garbage bags, it would have cost less, so go figure.
I don't generate that much garbage. If I had curbside pickup, there would be weeks when I wouldn't have to put the carts out at all. But I can't store 8 bags for months, either. I didn't go to a transfer station to save money, though. I went there for the drive and because it's just a way nicer site, and it's the same distance as the landfill for me. The people are nice, it's organized, and you can look through the reuse section.

Of course, there's not just my household garbage that matters. But when a non-profit, like Blood Ties, is facing $10,000 in tipping fees for building social housing and removing a sub-standard building in the process, you have to question what exactly the objectives are. Add the bear issues into the mix and I think an audit or evaluation is in order. Although it's good to see that they're finally looking seriously into coming up with fixes for attracting bears, there's no excuse for being in denial about it for so long, and not being more agile in the meantime.
Waiting till 2021 for containers that aren't designed yet -- they could be adjusting the pickup schedule or finding other stopgap alternatives. But that kind of problem-solving isn't what the city does. The only problem they will recognize is that they're not bringing in enough revenue for the landfill. They've been saying the same thing since tipping fees started, which was 20 years ago. What exactly is working? I've never heard them say one single thing that points to success.

If I were in the communities, I'd be wondering where the user pay will end up. Sure sounds to me like if they don't "pay" for themselves, they'll be deemed a "small" station and closed, turning Whitehorse into the true regional center. Just look at all the personalities behind this. All of them were with the City of Whitehorse coming up with the policies there, bringing their reprehensible attitudes towards residents with them. "Dump shoppers" indeed. Too bad the House isn't in session so a few pointed questions could be asked. Certainly they're not creating an environment that encourages residents to give feedback.

Up 8 Down 11

Moose on May 19, 2019 at 12:16 pm

@Mick "Tipping fees should have never been added for residential customers but rather built into the existing taxation scheme. "
Why? This makes people personally responsible for the waste they create. Building it into the existing taxation structure just means everyone pays even if they produce very little garbage and few trips to the dump. This way, if you produce a lot of garbage and junk which has to go to the dump... you pay for it. This is about individual responsibility and not making the rest of us (and seniors especially who don't produce a lot) pay for your extreme consumerism. So it's actually a great plan which stops Whitehorse property tax payers from bearing the brunt of everyone else's garbage.

Up 8 Down 23

Mick on May 17, 2019 at 3:16 pm

@ North_of_60

LIB governments?
Maybe finish up grade 10 civics. No party affiliation in municipal governments here. 0/10 for effort and knowledge.

Also those tipping fees (not that the territorial government had anything to do with it) came in under the YP reign.

Up 31 Down 1

Mick on May 17, 2019 at 2:06 pm

Tipping fees should have never been added for residential customers but rather built into the existing taxation scheme.

It was clearly a money grab that has now backfired and has many folks dumping trash in the bush, burning it or using commercial dumpsters and municipal garbage cans.

Up 35 Down 3

North_of_60 on May 17, 2019 at 1:35 pm

The best way to reduce garbage being dumped in the bush is to have no tipping fees at the dump every weekend for household waste. Our short-sighted LIB govts can't seem to grasp this. They are much more interested in virtue signaling and social engineering, than practical solutions.

@Brian's comments nailed it. Instead of spending more money trucking our plastic waste to Vancouver to be burned, we should be incinerating it here in a facility designed to turn waste into energy.

Up 29 Down 7

Groucho d'North on May 17, 2019 at 12:18 pm

This does not bode well. Get ready for more litter to be found out in the local bush roads. I hope the government steps up patrols looking for the trash that will find it's way into the community boundaries and prosecute the offenders when they are identified, and make them known to the public by publishing their names when found guilty.

Up 30 Down 3

Brian on May 17, 2019 at 8:10 am

Well, initial set up will take years to cover the cost of this set up. Tipping fees require a drive on scale and scale operator. Similar to what Highway trucks drive into. Those are about $350,000 and then the install, infrastructure set up and training.
Then the carbon footprint from having to truck all the garbage from everywhere to Whitehorse will more then double current costs of operating.
So this whole idea will increase operating costs of our landfills by changing them to transfer stations.
Basically, this idea is BAD. Someone is getting greased palms to pass this BS and cloaking it with responsibility to our children doesn’t hide it. It pisses us off the deceptive approach and misinformation.
This is only going to cost more no matter what.

A responsible government would first implement incentives to “Reduce” garbage. Have a staff onsite to process “Reuseable” goods and will look at building a facility in Whitehorse to process “Recycleables”.

But nope, what we got was “Pay More” programs.
Eventually everything will burst and people are just going to burn garbage in their backyards like everywhere else in the world.

Why not invest in a incinerator that generates steam and drives an electric generator.
Guess that “thinking” is not in our current governments mandate.

Up 22 Down 5

Trevor Howard on May 17, 2019 at 7:35 am

High cost of transporting recyclable waste out of the Territory. I propose an idea that every trucking company that delivers product to Whitehorse will by law have to stop and pick up recycle material that is bundled and ready for transport. The lot used for pickup will be on the Alaska hwy for convenience.

Up 24 Down 7

Mr M on May 17, 2019 at 7:20 am

Let's not forget that a lot of the dumps outside of Whitehorse had their garbage hauled back into The City of Whitehorse's Landfill site. Well traveled garbage. Quit complaining that garbage is coming from citizens in Whitehorse when your garbage is coming back into Whitehorse. Also the garbage cans at the pull out just before the North Klondike Highway have been taken away because people from outside the City limits were dumping garbage there. Seen it lots at that location. Yes, they need a better solution but don't blame the tax payers of Whitehorse because your garbage ends up in our landfill. Don't hear anyone complaining about that.

Up 33 Down 1

Juniper Jackson on May 16, 2019 at 9:42 pm

uh oh.. Buckway .. again? I voted against her for a reason. “Some of the recommendations in this report are not going to be particularly popular with some of our residents,” Buckway said. ya think?

Up 29 Down 3

comen sense on May 16, 2019 at 7:35 pm

This just blows me away how our tax paying dollars get managed by YG. I use the mile 9 dump on the Carcross road, we recycle and have donated the refundables every time to the Fire Department. There is great energy toward reducing and reusing there. I saw Whitehorse dump not maintaining the free store, then user fees comes in and now I will get off the subject.
The thrift store shuts down and to me it was unexplainable with all the donated stuff. Raven recyclable can't afford the extra staff for the free store. Wow, the whole spirit of it all is just going down the tubes.
Please YG can't you get it right? People in charge, you are going to find lots of garbage everywhere accept the dumps if you don't let this service be free and let the people find a great way to deal with the stuff instead of charging the taxpaying, cooperating people to death.

Up 17 Down 3

Greiko on May 16, 2019 at 4:20 pm

So if all dumps have tipping fees then how can you illegally dump. I would suggest once tipping fees are up and running all dumps would be available for any Yukoner.

Up 29 Down 3

Tu Shi on May 16, 2019 at 3:48 pm

Oh great, more taxes (fees). We are already taxed (fees) on beverage containers, including milk products. Next up is the carbon tax and then a tax (fee) on single use plastic bags.

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