A Whitehorse curbside recycling service is no longer bringing the material it collects to P&M Recycling, thanks to a zoning dispute between P&M and the city.
Instead, Whitehorse Blue Bin Recycling is now delivering all of its material to Raven Recycling.
Until the beginning of December, Blue Bin Recycling was using a warehouse near P&M as a drop-off point. The warehouse is located in the alley north of Ogilvie Street, between Whitehorse Beverages and a municipal service building.
The warehouse used to be owned by the Boys and Girls Club, but P&M owner Pat McInroy said he bought the building a year ago.
The issue is that P&M is in an area zoned for mixed residential and commercial use, but all recycling operations are considered industrial.
The existing red P&M building is allowed to operate because it’s been grandfathered in. But that’s not the case for the warehouse, which McInroy began to use more recently.
Pat Ross, manager of planning and building services with the City of Whitehorse, said the city first warned McInroy about the warehouse earlier this year.
“We issued a notice of violation back in May that wasn’t adhered to, and then we issued an order more recently.”
The order requires McInroy to shut down the warehouse by Jan. 15.
McInroy said closing the warehouse means he no longer has enough room for Whitehorse Blue Bin Recycling to drop off material.
“It was a nice Christmas present.”
He said he plans to apply for a zoning amendment that would let him keep using the building. But in the meantime, he’s had to lay off four of his 13 employees because of the loss of business from Blue Bin Recycling.
“It’s significant. Obviously if I have four people that were working that side of the building, it’s a significant impact.”
Ross believes McInroy plans to apply to use the warehouse to store and ship cardboard. He will have to present his application to city council in the New Year. If council decides to allow it, however, the process will take several months to complete.
“It’s a two-stage process that we’ll have to go through,” Ross explained. First, the official community plan would have to be modified to allow industrial use in that area. Then, a specific zoning amendment would be required for the warehouse itself. Both steps involve public hearings.
Ross and McInroy both said the dispute stems from complaints from local residents and the Downtown Residents’ Association.
Ross said the city began hearing complaints after P&M got an influx of traffic in October 2014, when Raven Recycling shuttered temporarily.
“That kind of coincided I think with when (McInroy) picked up the other building and started using it more intensely.”
Nathan Millar, president of the Downtown Residents’ Association, said the group recently put forward a resolution asking the city to reduce the impacts of P&M Recycling on nearby residents. Those impacts include traffic, noise, dust and garbage.
“Normally, an operation like this would probably not be located in an area where there are a lot of people living around,” he said.
But he said the association never specifically requested to have the warehouse shut down.
In the meantime, Whitehorse Blue Bin Recycling has been dropping off its material at Raven Recycling since Dec. 1.
“We reached out to them and they were very excited and very enthusiastic about it,” explained Taylor Tiefenbach, general manager of the curbside recycling business.
Tiefenbach said his services have not been affected by the switch. His company currently provides about 800 customers in Whitehorse with biweekly curbside recycling collection, at a cost of $20 per month. He now serves every Whitehorse subdivision that has curbside garbage collection, and he’s looking for new customers.
The City of Whitehorse has plans to develop its own municipal curbside recycling service, but has yet to release a request for proposals.
When that happens, Tiefenbach said, he plans to submit a bid.
“We can’t exactly say what would happen, but we’re definitely keeping our eye on it,” he said. “We’re pretty confident we can make something work.”
Joy Snyder, executive director of Raven Recycling, said the organization has the capacity to handle the new material, though she’s had to hire two new employees to sort it.
She said the arrangement works as a “nice pilot” to see how things may work when municipal curbside recycling is established.
Contact Maura Forrest at