City plans to roll out curbside recycling

The City of Whitehorse is fast-tracking plans to offer curbside recycling collection. On Monday, city councillors approved spending an additional $100,000 to finalize the program design.

The City of Whitehorse is fast-tracking plans to offer curbside recycling collection.

On Monday, city councillors approved spending an additional $100,000 to finalize the program design.

The new program is based on a report prepared by the engineering consultants Morrison Hershfield. The study estimates that households would pay $15 per month for weekly curbside recycling collection.

That money would cover both collection and processing of recyclable materials.

Many details still need to be ironed out, such as which organizations and companies would be involved or when the program would actually begin.

“We still have to figure out all the details of what a curbside program would look like, but we are continuing with meetings with the industry to get ideas from them and continue discussions,” said environmental sustainability manager Shannon Clohosey in an email.

“But the value of a curbside program is that there is a revenue source for the collection and processing of recyclables collected through that program. Unfortunately there are still so many factors to figure out that we cannot commit to a date.”

Whitehorse residents will soon receive a survey asking them about services they’d be willing to pay for.

The new program comes one month after Raven Recyling announced it would no longer be offering its free public recycling drop-off service to Whitehorse residents.

The depot is no longer accepting cardboard, paper, plastics, styrofoam, milk cartons, tetrapaks and tin. But it is still accepting refundable beverage containers.

The Yukon Blue Bin Recycling Society currently offers curbside pick up of all household recyclables once every two weeks in a dozen Whitehorse neighbourhoods for $20 a month. The recyclables are brought to P&M Recyling to be sorted and processed.

Danny Lewis, acting executive director for Raven, said the society is pleased to see the city moving forward with the inclusion of recycling in a waste management system.

“Though we are unsure at the moment how this will affect us and our current situation around the non-refundable items, we are still hopeful that this is a good step in the right direction,” he wrote in an email.

“There is more recycling in our territory than just that produced by the residents of Whitehorse and therefore a larger solution will be needed in the long run to address all of it, but until that happens, at least the residents of Whitehorse have a temporary solution to look forward to.”

Once the city’s program is designed, anticipated for late March, the city will have a “turn-key” plan ready for implementation, Clohosey told councillors.

It would be in council’s best interest to skip the tender process and sole-source the design contract to Morrison Hershfield based on its past work with the city, which includes writing the Solid Waste Management Plan, she added.

Councillors Irwin, Curteanu and Stockdale commended the project and the fact that it is being expedited to fill an urgent need in the community.

“It’s important that we put the spurs to the horse to see how fast we can get this done,” Irwin said.

Coun. Cameron said he had concerns about sole-sourcing any contract, and asked for further clarification.

“I know Morrison Hershfield has done a lot of good work for us but it goes against every fibre in my body to go for sole-sourcing,” he said.

“Being part of the private sector that relies on the competitive process that allows me to get my jobs done, I’d just like a bit more information as to why you think these guys walk on water.”

Clohosey said the firm had completed a number of projects for the city over the years and their staff was familiar with curbside collection programs elsewhere in the country.

Mayor Dan Curtis said that over 60 per cent of citizens mentioned during the budget consultations currently underway that they’d be willing to pay for a curbside collection service.

Under the city’s solid waste action plan, the municipality is trying to divert half of all waste from the landfill by 2015. The Yukon government has made the same pledge.

During question period on Monday, the NDP Opposition’s critic for community services, Kevin Barr, asked Environment Minister Currie Dixon if the government planned to uphold its promise.

“What we’re focused on is taking steps that will benefit the long-term health of the Yukon and focus on taking steps that will improve the structure of our recycling regime in the territory,” said Dixon.

“Whether that takes a year, two years or three years, that’s less important than making those important decisions – those important decisions about Yukon’s future and about the recycling regime in the territory.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at