letter to the editor337

Burning garbage smokes out the community The Yukon is the only place in Canada that allows burning garbage, so why, in our little town of Ross…

Burning garbage smokes out the community

The Yukon is the only place in Canada that allows burning garbage, so why, in our little town of Ross River, is a large incinerator being built at the edge of our town — less than five kilometers from our school and health centre?

Recently, we were made aware of a large backhoe and sections of an old burnt iron tank that were hauled here in the night.

I cannot find out who is responsible for this construction, but a well-known resident seems to be overseeing it.

I am informed that plastic doesn’t burn; it just melts and reverts to a gas in the air.

I’m told plastic is made mostly from crude oil, which is a deadly poison — this I know from personal experience.

Fellow Canadians, can we allow this to happen in the Yukon? There certainly is no scarcity of land to bury our garbage, is there?

To the best of my knowledge all other towns, including Whitehorse, have landfills.

I feel that somebody has wrangled a juicy contract that, in time, will see people here die of lung cancer.

Anyone that hears a lung cancer victim struggling to breathe will curse the ones that help to cause it.

I ask again, can we stop now before it’s too late?

Tensley Johnston

Ross River

Some burning questions

Concerns about extensive dead spruce trees in the forests around Haines Junction as well as the fire risk that these dead trees represent are driving plans to harvest one million cubic metres of trees from the forests in the Champagne/Aishihik traditional territory.

But by removing these living and dead trees, will we be much safer? Here are a few things to consider:

1. Communities nestled in the forest such as Haines Junction are inherently exposed to the risk of forest fires. This is true whether the forest contains a large number of dead trees or not.

For example, studies have shown when fire danger is extreme (in the red zone on the fire hazard signs), living spruce trees become just as flammable as dead spruce trees, sometimes even more so.

2. Clearcuts near the town or at larger distances will provide little protection as firebreaks against forest fires.

Embers and burning branches can be carried up to eight kilometres in strong winds associated with big forest fires.

To the contrary, a new network of hauling roads associated with logging leads to more human traffic in these areas, and therefore the chances of a forest fire starting from campfires or by the logging operations themselves also increase.

3. When a big fire is burning under extreme conditions, fighting or containing that forest fire is pretty difficult. Evacuating the area is often the only strategy. However, Fire smart practices can make a big contribution in reducing the forest fire hazard to a community when the fire hazard is low (green zone) or moderate (yellow zone). A majority of fires under these conditions are human-caused and start along roads or around buildings.

Implementing Fire smart practices around our homes and buildings and along our roads can prevent many fires from starting and spreading. Fire smart should involve low-impact methods of selective removal of forest fuels in and near communities. These are the practices that we should focus our efforts on to make communities safer.

4. A recent fire risk assessment study carried out for the village and the park concluded that Haines Junction has a lower fire risk than many other Yukon communities. One of the best things that our community has going for it is the large aspen forest that surround many parts of town.

When aspen trees are in leaf, the leaves and wood have high moisture content, and they seldom are consumed in a forest fire.

Forest fires seldom start in aspen forests.

Because of this natural belt of aspen, Haines Junction received a fire risk ranking of overall “ Moderate.”

Furthermore, the study concludes that plans for logging along the Haines Road will do little to protect Haines Junction from forest fires.

These are complex issues. Our community needs to make decisions about these matters based on sound information and a series of community discussions.

As a community, we need to be given a chance to discuss and decide on these matters before timber permits are signed.

As a community we need to define the level of risk we are willing to accept concerning forest fires.

The higher we set the level of protection from forest fires, the higher will be the loss of other forest values.

The challenge for our community is to achieve the right balance.

Will the territorial government give us this chance to discuss these burning questions?

Dieter Gade

Haines Junction

Please use the bike racks

It is nice to see the “spring” weather along with cyclist on the road. We need better co-operation with cyclists.

I have noticed that cyclists park their bikes on the ramps in the way of wheelchair users and others who use the ramps.

Most of the time the bike racks are close by.

Nine out 10 times cyclists can’t be found and so their bikes are there all day! Cyclists seem to let everyone know their rights now it’s our turn. 

Judi Johnny

Whitehorse

Thanks for the support

Every year, in May and June, non-profit organizations across the territory hold their annual general meetings. Bringing members, directors, volunteers, staff, partners and the public together to review the previous year and look forward to the next, annual general meetings are a busy (sometimes stressful), valuable and of course necessary component of life as a NGO.

On May 30th, the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon held its AGM. In addition to the official function and purpose of a typical AGM, LDAY likes to recognize and validate a year of hard work by students, volunteers, educators, staff and our partners in helping Yukoners with learning disabilities reach their full potential.

This year was no different as approximately 30 people came out to take part in the celebration.

LDAY would like to thank everyone who came to our meeting. During this busy time of year with school winding down, the nice weather starting and other NGO volunteer commitments, it’s often difficult to add another event to the already lengthy list of things to do.

We would also like to thank John Edzerza and Commissioner Geraldine Van Bibber for agreeing to be the guest speakers for the evening and speaking so adroitly on the challenges confronted by so many people with learning disabilities.

Finally, thanks go to MLAs Hon. Ted. Staffen, Arthur Mitchell, Todd Hardy and Steve Cardiff who attended and continue to support the good work of our association and many others.

Joel Macht, executive director and the staff and board of directors of the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon

Whitehorse