Marsh Lake group worried about rapidly filling dump

The Marsh Lake landfill is filling up faster than it should be and that's a cause for concern for the non-profit group running it.

The Marsh Lake landfill is filling up faster than it should be and that’s a cause for concern for the non-profit group running it.

Jean Kapala, president of the Marsh Lake Solid Waste Management Society, said people are coming from all over the Southern Lakes region to dump their garbage.

“They’re driving in from Atlin, Teslin and Johnson’s Crossing,” she said, “because everyone has to go to Whitehorse for shopping and it’s on the way.”

“People are bringing in all sorts of things from construction materials to large appliances. That puts a lot of pressure on us.”

As it stands, there are no tipping fees at the Marsh Lake landfill.

A sign at the Mount Lorne landfill directs people to bring their appliances to Marsh Lake, Kapala added.

She believes the influx in traffic over the past year is directly linked to higher tipping fees at the Whitehorse landfill, where fees increased from $87 to $94 a tonne on Feb. 1.

It costs $15 to dispose of a bedspring or mattress at the Whitehorse landfill and $10 for bulky items such as a couch or recliner.

The society has two full-time people working at the Marsh Lake site and one part-time employee who helps out on weekends, Kapala said.

And although the territorial government agreed to double staffing at the site this year, more long-term solutions are needed.

“They’re (Yukon Government) well aware and they know we’ve got a problem,” Kapala said.

“They know we’re busier because they have to haul away our garbage and pile up our construction material way more than they did last year.”

The society began keeping track of who brings what to the landfill about two months ago. People now have to fill out a survey including where they’re from and what garbage they’re bringing in.

Kapala believes the surveys will show the government just how busy things are getting at the site.

On busier days such as during the weekend, the site can see between 90 and 120 cars per day, Kapala said.

“We’d like to have it (the landfill) for Marsh Lake people only,” she said.

“But we have no capacity or mandate to start screening people at all, we have to be open to everybody. We don’t want bad feelings either, we want to feel like we’re providing a service.”

Similar issues have popped up at the Upper Liard landfill in the past, until the Yukon government finalized its waste management with Watson Lake in April.

As a result, the Upper Liard landfill and transfer station has been closed and will be decommissioned over the coming months.

A spokesperson for the Yukon government said the 10-year-plan for the Marsh Lake landfill includes space for expansion.

“And – with sound planning – we will be able to provide significant landfilling capacity well into the future,” said communications analyst Catherine Wood in an email statement.

“Each solid waste site has been designed for a specific amount of waste per capita, based on population statistics. As individuals make the choice to drive to sites not designed to receive their waste, undue pressure is put on the sites.

“We encourage all Yukoners to do our parts: sort and take our waste to the sites designed for our areas.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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