Hart dumps on funding equity

Operators of the Mount Lorne waste-transfer station could shut the facility down in protest of funding inequity.

Operators of the Mount Lorne waste-transfer station could shut the facility down in protest of funding inequity.

The board of directors for the Mount Lorne Garbage Management Society may refuse to sign a contract with Community Services that would give it $24,000 for operations and maintenance, after requests for an additional $12,000 were rejected.

The funding request, made in January, was submitted to the territory after the Marsh Lake dump received a 50 per cent increase in its funding for the upcoming year.

“It’s just not fair that they’re getting paid more than we are for the same duties,” said Mount Lorne director Mike Bailie, who has been involved with waste management in the community for a decade.

“I guess I didn’t make enough noise.”

Powered primarily by volunteers, Mount Lorne has achieved diversion rates rivaled only by the most progressive waste-management programs in Europe, said Bailie.

Some 450 households in the hamlet area use the dump, in addition to almost 1,000 outside users from Golden Horne, Cowley Creek and Mary Lake.

In addition to one, three-quarter-time position paid at $15 per hour, volunteers clock up to 750 hours per year, separating compost, reusable household items and clothing.

Twice a week, the same volunteers truck a load of refundables to Whitehorse.

These efforts have cut landfill waste in half, as compared with the national average of 27 per cent for diversion, said Bailie.

“We have become a model,” he said, adding he does not begrudge Marsh Lake its increase.

“In 10 years, there has not been one complaint about our dump. We hear nothing but good news.”

The waste station was built in response to concerns about air pollution in 1998.

Prior to that, the hamlet was burning its garbage, sending a pall of stench over the valley and seriously interfering with outdoor activity and air quality, said Bailie.

Until a year or so ago, when it adopted Mount Lorne’s model, Marsh Lake was also burning its garbage.

Carcross, Tagish and other communities still do, and funding inequities may inhibit the startup of better waste management in these towns, he said.

“By agreeing to take less … we’re basically saying it’s OK,” said Bailie.

“We are in a position now of signing the contract or not signing the contract, and it’s a really tough position, because if we don’t sign the contract, I don’t know where that leaves us, but basically the place shuts down.”

No Yukon transfer stations will receive increased funding until a review of each is completed and recommendations made, said Community Services Minister Glenn Hart.

Asked why the dump at Marsh Lake, located in Yukon Party MLA Patrick Rouble’s riding already received an increase while Mount Lorne, in NDP member Steve Cardiff’s constituency did not, Hart refused to answer.

“We want to be fair to everybody out there,” he said.

The review is scheduled to take place over the summer, with recommendations in the fall.

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