Lang commits to burning ban

Yukon will stop burning garbage, says Community Services Minister Archie Lang. "We can't be burning. We can't be doing these things around these communities.

Yukon will stop burning garbage, says Community Services Minister Archie Lang.

“We can’t be burning. We can’t be doing these things around these communities. It isn’t healthy and our commitment is to change that,” Lang told the legislature on Wednesday.

But it remains unclear when acrid, toxic smoke will cease to waft through communities such as Carcross, Tagish, Watson Lake, Ross River and Deep Creek.

Lang said he’s waiting for the completion of a territory-wide review of solid-waste disposal practices.

The report, awarded to EBA Engineering in late July of 2008 for $315,564, should be ready by the end of the month and will serve as a “blueprint” for waste-disposal upgrades, he said.

That’s not fast enough, said the NDP’s Steve Cardiff.

He wants Carcross and Tagish to start hauling their waste to Whitehorse by the end of this legislative sitting.

“Burning garbage releases tonnes of toxins into the air—contaminants linked to many serious health problems in humans, including cancers, thyroid diseases, development and reproductive problems and respiratory diseases,” said Cardiff.

It’s also worrisome that the 2009 budget has little money identified for solid-waste upgrades, he said.

The territory will tap the federal government’s Building Canada fund to make the needed upgrades, replied Lang.

Yukon’s Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board recommended in early February that the territory stop burning garbage “immediately.”

But the Department of Environment said it needed until 2012 to phase out the burning of garbage.

Communities must have a plan to phase out burning by 2010, Environment Minister Elaine Taylor said on Thursday.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.