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Letter: YG resumes it’s war on rural communities

YG resumes it’s war on rural communities

YG resumes it’s war on rural communities

I refer here to our current government’s implacable commitment to cutting essential services depended on by rural residents. In particular is Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn’s plan to eliminate the waste transfer stations in unincorporated communities across the Yukon.

Here in Silver City, as with other locations slated for closure, it is an absolutely vital service, and very nearly the only government service we receive in the area.

Minister Mostyn has never deigned to explain in any detail the rationale behind his apparent determination to make life as difficult as possible for people here, nor has he ever agreed to discuss any of the constructive alternatives local people have proposed.

He has attempted to greenwash this destructive policy decision by making the laughable argument that closing rural waste facilities would somehow help to alleviate global warming.

If anything, the exact opposite would result , as many residents would be forced to drive hundreds of additional kilometers every few days to distant landfills. He has said that our waste transfer sites must be closed in order to bring the Yukon in line with the practices followed in southern Canada.

Rural Yukon is not southern Canada, Mr. Mostyn. And most of us who make our living here are proud of that fact. Any Yukon political appointee whose primary ethos is to remake the Yukon in exactly the same mold as southern Canada should simply resign, immediately.

It feels like the government of the Yukon has chosen to wage war on our rural way of life.

After being ignored for years on this issue, as we have struggled in vain to gain a hearing regarding our opposition to this decision, we finally thought we saw a bit of light this past spring. We thought we had at least reached a truce.

In the highly publicised 2023 CASA agreement brokered between the NDP and the Liberals., in section 6b, the Yukon government committed to: “consult with communities to determine household waste disposal options in Keno, Johnson’s Crossing, Silver City and Braeburn.”

Yay! We will at last, at least, be consulted. It sounded almost as if maybe a dialogue could be entered into with the government, as one might reasonably be expected in a democracy.

Unfortunately, nothing happened. No consultation, in any way, shape or form. Empty words. Broken Promises.

What did happen is that the government very quietly, minus any notification of the affected parties, submitted it’s decision to shutter our transfer stations to YESAB, with an initial two-week comment period. Does that constitute consultation over options, by any stretch of the imagination?

And, why are we surprised? Pretty sneaky, trying to push that through in the middle of the busiest time of year. It’s a miracle anyone noticed. But then, that’s what we’ve come to expect from this government, sadly.

Any observer of human affairs will be aware that poorly thought out government policies often end up achieving precisely the opposite result of that which is ostensibly intended by the legislation.

The government claims to support rural development. This plan will do demonstrable harm to businesses and individuals by increasing the difficulty and cost of operating and living here.

The government claims to be concerned about the environment. This plan will increase the amount of trash appearing in places where it doesn’t belong, as people who are either unable or unwilling to repeatedly travel long and expensive distances to far off landfills, begin to create private dumpsites, as was done before the transfer stations existed.

In addition, this plan will increase emissions, as those with the time and money find themselves driving hundreds of additional kilometers several times a week, as opposed to one truck collecting the stuff every few weeks. Fire danger will increase as people begin using burn barrels again.

The government claims to be concerned about wildlife. Dangerous bear interactions will inevitably increase as people store garbage around their homes, waiting for the next lengthy run to a landfill. Wildlife will pay the price. Currently, the transfer sites the government wants to shut down are protected with bear safe electric fences. Without that, given that Silver City lies within an area containing one of the largest bear populations in North America, trouble will be unavoidable. Recently there was a news item regarding someone who was fined an astronomical amount for leaving trash around which resulted in the death of three bears. Does the right hand of this government even know what it’s left hand is doing? Is the government at all capable of evaluating what the real world effects of policy decisions are likely to be or does it just assume that all high-minded policy dictates are guaranteed to be successful?

According to Mr. Mostyn, the government wants to make the Yukon just like southern Canada. On this score, the government may well achieve its goal. One thing our tourists always comment on is how pristinely, free of trash the areas adjacent to our roadways are. Southern Canada is not quite like that. Our highways are clean, in large measure, because rural residents keep them that way, by collecting the trash which accumulates. Once our transfer sites are gone, when the nearest garbage disposal facilities are distant and expensive, much of that motivation will evaporate. Refuse will begin to accumulate, and we will be more like southern Canada. Chalk one up for Mr. Mostyn, on this point.

Silver City is a small community, but one which is developing, with growing tourism and new businesses taking shape, as, I’m sure are the other communities affected by the unwise, bullheaded decision to shut down their landfills. Does it make sense for our government to actively make life more difficult in such places, by carelessly slashing essential government services? In effect, the government is pulling the rug out from under us. Should the government be in the business of strangling fledgling communities in their infancy?

Whitehorse is not the entire Yukon. The small villages scattered throughout the Yukon’s vast wilderness are also a part of the Yukon. They are a part of the uniqueness which makes this the place that all of us love and cherish. But Whitehorse and the rural areas depend upon one another, so we ask now for some help from our friends in the capital city.

We need your assistance. If you agree that the existence of the Yukon’s small communities matters to life in the Yukon, as a whole, then please contact your members of the legislative assembly and let them know this.

Thank you.

David Cartier, Sr.

Silver City