Yukon government officials are getting set to work with municipalities on changing the way regionalizing waste management operates throughout the territory.
A press conference to detail the changes was held May 15 at the Yukon government’s main administration building, though the announcement of the plans was made at the Association of Yukon Communities annual conference May 9 to 12.
Yukon’s director of community operations, Dave Albisser, said tipping fees will first be introduced at the landfills closest to Whitehorse and will mirror the fees at the Whitehorse facility as part of the effort to prevent “dump shopping” where residents will drive their waste to the nearest free landfill to avoid paying the tipping fees.
The phased in approach aims to have tipping fees instituted at Mount Lorne, Marsh Lake, Carcross, Tagish and Deep Creek before the end of the fiscal year on March 31, 2020.
It will then move to tipping fees at all other communities, though Watson Lake and Dawson City already have their own fees, with the exception of Old Crow and Beaver Creek.
Watson Lake chief administrative officer Cam Lockwood said via video conference that tipping fees have been in place there since 2014 with a number of areas outside of the municipality now using the landfill. An updated regional agreement with the Yukon government will be drafted in light of the plans announced.
An arrangement with those communities would follow.
At the same time fines for illegal dumping are set to rise up to a maximum of $10,000 to discourage the act.
As it was emphasized at the press conference, Yukoners have to start taking responsibility and paying for the management of their waste.
“Our municipalities know the cost of waste and handling that waste is rising,” AYC executive director Bev Buckway said.
While the effort aims to end dump shopping and could result in more Whitehorse residents bringing their waste to the Whitehorse landfill, officials are not anticipating a major increase in the amount of waste coming in there.
As Bryna Cable, the director of the territory’s environmental programs branch, said, the waste from nearby facilities is brought to the Whitehorse landfill already.
It’s more of a shifting in how waste is handled, she said.
Approximately eight to 10 per cent of the waste coming into the Whitehorse facility is from nearby facilities.
The changes come out of an Association of Yukon Communities report that goes back to 2016, Buckway said. From that, the government committee was struck to work on the recommendations for regionalization and illegal dumping fines.
AYC president Tara Wheeler recalled waste management discussions going back as far as her first term as a Carmacks councillor in 2009. She said municipalities are pleased with the change.
While the first part of the plan will see tipping fees instituted at landfills near Whitehorse, Albisser said he’s ready for discussions to begin with any municipal governments ready to get to work on the regionalization. He noted he has upcoming talks already booked with officials in Mayo.
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