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Association of Yukon Communities clarifies involvement in waste management changes

The clarifications relate to the future of solid waste facilities in unincorporated communities
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AYC president Ted Laking. (Submitted)

The Association of Yukon Communities (AYC) has shared three letters to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board (YESAB), clarifying that it was not involved in consultations regarding the future of solid waste management facilities in unincorporated Yukon communities.

YESAB is an independent body that assesses projects for their environmental and socio-economic impact.

The letters, all dated July 26, are in response to documents submitted to YESAB by engineering firm Morrison Hershfield, the contractor responsible for developing 16 10-year solid waste management plans. Morrison Hershfield’s documents link the AYC to consultations with rural communities about changes to their waste management regimes.

In its letters, AYC notes that it does not represent the territory’s unincorporated communities and that the association does not have the authority to represent these communities concerning Yukon government decisions.

AYC president Ted Laking signed the letters to YESAB. He tells the News that the association has been trying to distance itself from the backlash in some rural communities regarding proposed closures or operational changes to their waste disposal facilities. The most hotly contested changes include the proposed closures of transfer stations in Silver City, Braeburn and Johnson’s Crossing, and the shuttering of Keno City’s transfer station last year.

Laking says that residents in communities that have lost or are expected to lose their transfer stations have reached out to him to clarify the AYC’s involvement in the transfer station policy, following comments by Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn that have been interpreted by some to imply that the association was involved in consultations with the affected communities.

“I first became aware of [the situation] in the spring of 2022, when some of these unincorporated communities that the government has made a decision to close their waste transfer stations started reaching out to the [AYC] and saying, ‘How come you spoke on our behalf? You don’t represent us,’” Laking says.

“My initial reaction was, ‘What are you talking about? I’ve never spoken on your behalf.’ And then I was directed to transcripts in the Yukon Legislative Assembly, where the minister of Community Services was, in our view, trying to scapegoat the Association of Yukon Communities for a decision that the government itself made.”

In response to the letters, Mostyn tells the News he is “perplexed” and that he had nothing to do with Morrison Hershfield’s written statements.

“That’s a private company. [AYC is] responding to that letter, that’s not me. So, I don’t understand the connection,” Mostyn says.

Legislative records reviewed by the News did not turn up examples of Mostyn speaking to AYC’s role — or lack thereof — in consultations about transfer station closures. However, there are examples of the minister linking AYC to the decision to restructure waste management infrastructure and close transfer stations.

The minister notes the changes to solid waste disposal systems in communities across the Yukon were instigated thanks to a 2016 waste management report by the AYC. He specifically points to one passage in the report referencing the problem of “peripheral dumping at [Yukon government]-operated transfer sites” and the need to “discourage peripheral dumping.”

“The only thing I have to tie [the AYC] to the transfer stations is this document, okay, that they wrote in 2016, that says on page five that peripheral dumping has to end, which is the transfer stations,” Mostyn says.

“They have asked us to do that. It was their request that brought this to our attention and sort of started the ball rolling.”

In addition to AYC’s letters on the YESAB assessments, rural residents and other groups have also commented to criticize what they view as a lack of proper consultation on the changes.

In a statement posted to YESAB’s online assessment for Beaver Creek, Destruction Bay, Silver City, Canyon Creek and Champagne, Kluane First Nation states, “Yukon government department of Community Services has neglected its duty to consult with Kluane First Nation and the residents of Destruction Bay and Silver City regarding the proposed changes.”

In another statement, Yukon NDP Leader Kate White raises similar concerns regarding consultation.

For his part, Mostyn rejects the assertion that adequate consultations did not occur regarding the closure of transfer stations. He claims that his predecessor, himself or Community Services staffers — and in some cases all three parties — have visited all of the communities that will be impacted by transfer station closures, as well as Keno City prior to the shuttering of its transfer station.

“There has been lots of conversations with those folks.”

Contact Matthew Bossons at matthew.bossons@yukon-news.com



Matthew Bossons

About the Author: Matthew Bossons

I grew up in a suburb of Vancouver and studied journalism there before moving to China in 2014 to work as a journalist and editor.
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