Dawson Mayor Wayne Potoroka stands for a portrait by the Yukon River. (Maura Forest/Yukon News file)

Dawson Mayor Wayne Potoroka stands for a portrait by the Yukon River. (Maura Forest/Yukon News file)

Dawson unable to negotiate deal on garbage pickup

Municipality scrambles to begin its own service

Dawson City staff are working to ensure waste collection in the community happens as soon as possible as it takes over the service after negotiations with the city’s former contractor for the service broke down Friday without a deal being reached.

“Nobody wanted things to play out this way,” Dawson Mayor Wayne Potoroka said in a Nov. 3 interview.

In a Nov. 1 statement published on the town’s website, mayor and council said the town had been prepared to meet the terms being sought by Ed’s Repair and Services for a new contract.

That would have seen a three-year deal with Ed’s Repair and Services paid a rate of $120 per hour to pick up both residential and commercial waste in town as the company has done since 2005.

“The only change from the past arrangement was the reduced frequency of commercial-waste pickup from unlimited pickup to a set weekly schedule, a standard exit clause for both parties, reporting requirements and the need for insurance and WCB,” Potoroka said noting much of that are standard parts of any contract.

The move to a weekly commercial waste pickup service was proposed for a couple of reasons, Potoroka said.

Without a set schedule in place, it was difficult to estimate how much the service would cost taxpayers, Potoroka said, noting that in the last 10 years cost of the service has continued to rise with unlimited pickup available. While the price the town was paying on an hourly basis did not increase, the cost was going up due to commercial waste being picked up more often.

Potoroka highlighted the importance of trying to better control and reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill.

“We have to stop producing as much waste as we are,” he said.

This was one way to encourage some of the larger producers in the community to cut down on waste.

“We’re trying to extend the life of that facility,” he said of the landfill, noting recent estimates put that lifespan at between 20 and 40 years.

The situation now has the town working to provide its own pickup service to about 1,400 customers and while efforts are underway to make that happen as soon as possible, Potoroka said the community is continuing to wait for a truck that is set to come in and efforts to get some casual employees in.

The previous residential service was offered on Monday and Wednesday (depending on neighbourhood) and Potoroka said the public works department is hoping to have things in place this week to begin pickup again.

“We’re still getting all the pieces in place,” he said, noting the town has been able to install some garbage bins around town after those provided by Ed’s Repair and Services were removed.

Residents are being asked to store their waste until the service is in place or they may also take their waste to the landfill. Similarly, Potoroka said he’s hopeful those who live in areas not on the pickup service will also take their waste to the landfill on their way into town rather than bringing it to some of the bins in town.

The reaction of Dawson residents to the situation has ranged from a number who have been understanding to others who are expressing their anger by leaving waste on the doorstep of city hall.

As Potoroka noted in the interview and in a Facebook post, municipal employees who arrived at work to soiled adult diapers and other garbage didn’t deserve that. Neither did the staff who had to deal with aggressive phone calls over the situation.

“Dawson is well served by the people working for us,” Potoroka stated in his post. “That small crew manages complicated infrastructure, projects, and tasks and provides the services we’d be sunk without, all while trying to meet our outsized expectations. And this year they did all that in the middle of a global pandemic. Tough sledding. Let’s remember that and consider giving them a pat on the back for all the hard work they put in on our behalf.”

While Ed Blattler, owner of Ed’s Repair and Service, did not return phone calls from the News, in an Oct. 19 statement to Dawson residents he argued he could not continue to offer the service without a contract in place and would withdraw the services as of Nov. 1 if a three-year contract could not be reached. He took issue with the city seeking records for the services provided, noting the town’s September invoice had not yet been paid as it was requesting the details before payment would be made.

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

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