By Jamie-Lee McKenzie
People have been dropping off their unwanted garbage at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter, costing the Humane Society Yukon approximately $1,200 in tipping fees.
“I guess people are just feeling that they’re conserving and bringing it here, but when it’s a lot of stuff to be thrown out and disposed of, it creates more of a problem than a contribution,” said Dan Moore, the society’s executive director.
It’s money that could be better spent on the animals, said Moore, who posted a statement to the organization’s Facebook page to remind people that the shelter is not a free store, recycling depot or garbage dump.
Moore said this has been happening for the last four to six weeks. It started around the time that Raven Recycling closed their free store. People started dropping off items like mattresses and couches, that are no use to the humane society.
“People still do drop off blankets and towels and things like that and we have a couple of donation bins out front which are designed for that,” said Moore. “It’s the bigger items like couches and beds, there’s no value to us.”
With the added cost of removing the unwanted items, Moore asked the City of Whitehorse to give the society a break on the tipping fees and said his request was turned down.
“There was a request for waiving tipping fees, (and) we’ve done that in the past for household reuse with different organizations throughout the city,” said Peter O’Blenes, the city’s Director of Infrastructure and Operations. He said the request wasn’t necessarily rejected, but that the city needed more information.
In the past the city has waived tipping fees for organizations that accept household reusable items. “There’s a difference between waiving (fees for) waste from an organization and then waiving tipping fees for reusable donations to a charitable organization,” said O’Blenes.
O’Blenes said the animal shelter should be contacting bylaw officers if people are illegally dumping garbage on the shelter’s property.
In a response to the society’s Facebook post, Coun. Roslyn Woodcock said the city’s tipping fees are reasonable and there’s no excuse for people dumping items at the animal shelter.
“Tipping fees are very low. Considering a person comes up with between $500 (and) $1,000 to buy the following items it is pathetic to suggest they can’t find the funds to dispose of it correctly. Fees for a mattress (are) $15, a couch $10, a fridge $40. The cost is not the issue,” she wrote.
The animal shelter does accept donations for their yard sales. But these are items that the shelter approves and puts in storage to keep them out of the elements.
“When you raise a certain amount of funds at a yard sale and you have volunteer staff, having to divide that out over the amount of time and money that it’s taking to dispose of all the stuff that’s coming in that’s not of value, it begins to be an issue of whether or not it’s worth it,” said Moore.
The humane society’s board of the Humane Society Yukon is meeting in July to discuss what can be done about the dumping. Moore believes ending the yard sales would solve the problem.
“I think if there was no yard sale, I think it probably would deter the bigger items,” said Moore.
But he also believes that this could be a good opportunity to discuss what could be done about the lack of options for reusable items.
“Educating people about what is of value, where it can go, who offers what services and maybe opening a discussion again,” said Moore.
In addition to the closure of Raven Recycling’s free store, the Salvation Army’s thrift store closed in April because people were dropping off too much garbage. The free store at the city dump closed last November after staff found a hypodermic needle in a pile of used clothing.
Contact Jamie-Lee McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org