Garbage bags are loaded onto a truck after a Whitehorse community cleanup challenge in 2016. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News)

Tipping fees cover trash costs, City of Whitehorse says

‘The more waste you produce, the more waste you have to pay for’

By Jamie-Lee McKenzie

Removing tipping fees from the Whitehorse landfill would increase the tax burden by $2.5 million, says the city’s environmental coordinator, Bryna Cable.

Waste management is paid for with tipping fees charged for dropping off garbage at the dump, not through property tax revenue, said Cable.

Without tipping fees not only would the tax load increase, but it would mean that every person would have to pay the same amount for their waste regardless of how much garbage they create, she said.

“So you really want to have a tipping fee system whereby the more waste you produce, the more waste you have to pay for,” she said.

Every person who has garbage and organics collected at the curb pays a percentage of the tipping fees. So either you’re paying a tipping fee directly at the dump or you’re paying as part of your utility bill, said Cable.

“Waste costs money, a tremendous amount of money.”

Recently the Humane Society Yukon pleaded with Whitehorse residents to stop dumping unwanted items at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter. Several residents have been posting on Facebook recently about their annoyance at illegal dumping.

“It’s a visual issue that as a community we can all agree is not an acceptable thing,” said Cable.

Since the closing of Raven Recycling’s free store and the Salvation Army’s thrift store, it seems people have began dumping their garbage wherever they don’t have to pay tipping fees.

But not everyone is spitefully leaving their unwanted couches and old appliances in the woods to avoid paying the tipping fees, said Cable. The most common type of illegal dumping that the city is seeing is people using someone else’s dumpster to get rid of their garbage.

Cable said the city’s main focus in addressing illegal dumping is getting people to report it. There are different ways to report illegal dumping, including the via the city’s waste sorting app.

Once illegal dumping is reported bylaw will investigate, but more importantly it will get cleaned up, said Cable.

“The best thing communities can do is just clean it up right away, so that you’re not creating little mini dumps all over the place,” said Cable.

The city can’t confirm whether illegal dumping is more of a problem than it was 10 years ago. It doesn’t have the data to determine whether there’s more illegal dumping or if it’s just becoming more noticeable, said Cable.

“We don’t have really good numbers in terms of how many dump sites there are because they’re constantly changing, we don’t have a really good sense of how much this is costing in terms of disposing this material.”

There are a few events that help make it easier to get rid of unwanted stuff, said Cable.

Tag ’n’ Take encourages people to reuse materials from one house to the next by putting good working items out at the curb for others to take. The city waives tipping fees for a week each spring and again on Boxing Day. The city also offers days without tipping fees for household hazardous waste.

For more information on these services visit the waste diversion page on the city’s website.

Contact Jamie-Lee McKenzie at jamielee.mckenzie@yukon-news.com