A compost pile at the City of Whitehorse landfill. The Association of Yukon Communities is in support of the territory transitioning landfill operations to a regional model, association president Tara Wheeler says. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Association of Yukon Communities applauds upcoming changes to waste management

Landfills will be regionalized and illegal dumping fines will increase

Municipalities are welcoming announced changes in how landfills and waste transfer stations will operate throughout the territory.

“It’s something all the municipalities (have been) working towards,” Association of Yukon Communities (AYC) president Tara Wheeler said in an interview May 13.

Community Services Minister John Streicker told Yukon municipal leaders at the annual AYC conference May 9 to 12 that the territory has a plan to deal with waste management issues communities have been facing for years.

“It’s going to a regional model,” Wheeler explained.

Under the changes, tipping fees would be in place at all landfills and waste transfer stations, with fines for illegal dumping to rise to a maximum of $10,000 from the current $100.

The proposal would effectively prevent people in Whitehorse from driving their waste to the Marsh Lake facility, for example, to avoid tipping fees charged at the Whitehorse facility while also making residents think twice about dumping their waste elsewhere, Wheeler said.

The issue is one that communities have been wrestling with for many years. Wheeler recalls the discussion in her community of Carmacks going back to at least her first days on council in 2009.

The changes would also see the closure of four landfills — in Braeburn, Johnson’s Crossing, Keno and Silver City — as a regional system is adopted.

As municipalities welcome the move to a regional waste management model, AYC also passed a resolution calling on the territory to provide finances to municipalities for training and project management on the solid waste agreements that will be signed.

It was one of seven resolutions passed by AYC at the meeting.

The only other resolution specifically dealing with waste would call on the Yukon government to include hydrocarbon containers as part of the designated materials regulations for recycling, with petroleum products to be added under extended producer responsibility for waste.

Other resolutions call for the Yukon government to provide meaningful consultation with communities and First Nations before any new or revised policies are adopted that would impact a community or First Nation; to develop a long-term plan for infrastructure investments in the community; to provide a transition package that would assist newly-hired senior Yukon government staff who will be dealing with communities; and to change Community Development Fund eligibility to the same criteria used before June 2018, which would mean First Nations development corporations could no longer apply to the fund which has not seen an increase to account for more potential applicants.

The only other resolution passed changed the AYC annual fees beginning in 2020 for Local Advisory Councils to the greater of a flat rate of $500 per year or one per cent of the LAC’s operating grant from the territory.

Along with the resolutions passed, delegates also took in a number of presentations, got a tour of Haines Junction that was done Amazing Race style and heard about a variety of initiatives underway in other communities.

Overall, Wheeler deemed the entire weekend a success.

This marked the first AYC meeting where territorial ministers set aside time for individual municipal officials to meet with them, providing each community an opportunity to address their concerns one-on-one with the appropriate minister.

AYC also handed out its annual awards.

Former Marsh Lake LAC chair Perry Savoie was awarded the Hanseatic Award, which goes to “a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of Yukon municipal government and furthered the goals of the Association of Yukon Communities.”

Whitehorse city manager Linda Rapp received the AYC Municipal Employee Award of Excellence and the Town of Watson Lake received the Yukon Sustainable Community Award for its asset management plan.

The 2020 AYC conference will be held in Watson Lake.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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