Raven and Carcross/Tagish play government for Mount Lorne recycling depot

Tin, cardboard and newsprint have been piling up at the Mount Lorne recycling depot. The Mount Lorne Garbage Management  Society hasn’t…

Tin, cardboard and newsprint have been piling up at the Mount Lorne recycling depot.

The Mount Lorne Garbage Management  Society hasn’t been able to afford the money to ship the material to Whitehorse for processing.

It asked the Yukon government for more money — comparable to the money recently given the Marsh Lake dump (in a minister’s riding) — but has, so far, been refused by Community Services Minister Glenn Hart.

Nevertheless, the recycling is being shipped again, thanks to financial support from the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and Raven Recycling.

They stepped in where YTG hasn’t to keep the Mount Lorne operation running at full capacity.

Raven is hauling Mount Lorne’s recyclables for free and the First Nation has signed a cheque for $6,000 to keep the recycling depot running at full capacity for another six months.

“It’s a big deal,” said the depot’s director, Mike Bailie. “It’s really cool.”

The extra $1,000 a month is exactly what the society wanted from the territory.

It would cost $12,000 a year to keep the Mount Lorne facility running at levels comparable to Marsh Lake, which recently received a 50 per cent boost budget increase.

To be fair, Mount Lorne had started paying staff at Marsh Lake-like levels.

But, with its bank account depleted, Mount Lorne had started to suspend services, like shipping non-refundables  —  tin, cardboard, newsprint  —  to Whitehorse.

About six cube vans worth of material accumulated at the Mount Lorne depot.

The assistance from Raven and the First Nation has got the stockpile moving again.

The $6,000 cheque is in the mail, said Carcross/Tagish First Nation lands manager Bill Barrett.

The community’s makeshift recycling operation recently stopped, he said.

A local man did most of the community’s recycling alone, but he retired and empties and other recyclables started to pile up.

There’s no recycling operation at the local dump, so people have to go elsewhere, said Barrett.

“There are a lot of members who stop by (Mount Lorne) and recycle,” said Barrett.

The $6,000 will be split evenly over six months, said Barrett.

“The money will, hopefully, hold them over until something happens and they get the support they need,” he said.

“It’s a wonderful show of support,” said Bailie.

“They really believe in what we’re doing. It’d be nice if all levels of government showed this kind of support.”

Volunteers drive the Mount Lorne operation, which also has one three-quarter-time paid position.

Marsh Lake has more staff and contracts out work to deal with tires, metal and fridges.

Prompted by a 50 per cent funding increase to the Marsh Lake dump, the Mount Lorne Garbage Management Society asked for a comparable funding increase for its dump and recycling depot.

It asked the Community Services department in January for a $12,000 increase to its $24,000 budget.

The Marsh Lake operation received enough funding to pay 100 per cent of its wages.

Raven Recycling hauled two large cube vans worth of material from Mount Lorne on Tuesday.

There’s still about one and a half loads waiting for transport, said Bailie.

Raven will be moving about two or three truckloads of non-refundables per week from Mount Lorne to Whitehorse for the foreseeable future, said Raven executive director Joy Snyder.

“The people of Mount Lorne have worked really hard to set recycling aside, and it might sit there for awhile,” said Snyder.

Supporting Mount Lorne is important because of the model it has set for other recycling depots, said Snyder.

About 40 per cent of material passing through the depot is recycled, compared to the 27 per cent Canadian average.

Nearly 450 area homes use the dump in addition to hundreds more from surrounding hamlets.

“They do a tremendous job there,” said Snyder.

The funding fiasco at Mount Lorne is just a glimpse of a larger problem, said Snyder.

Funding for municipal and territorial governments is inadequate, she said.

There is an $80,000 pot offered by the Environment department that recycling depots can draw from for recycling initiatives, but it doesn’t pay for the two biggest expenses: wages and transport.

Citizens do not pay for recycling through municipal or territorial taxes.

“The Yukon is the only place I know of where people can recycle for free,” said Snyder.

“People recycle for free and Raven pays the bill.”

Most recycling depots make money from the refundable beverage containers but recycling the non-refundables can strain budgets.

Whitehorse already offers landfill-diversion credits based on tonnage of material shipped Outside, but it’s capped at $30,000.

Increasing that could help out operations big and small, said Snyder.

Taxation or a user-pay system should be looked at too, said Bailie.

“We do this because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

“But it’s becoming difficult to adequately serve the community.”

Yukon depots and all levels of government need to get together before the situation becomes untenable for recycling operations, said Snyder.

“All the communities will start to hurt and we have to address the problem,” she added.

Calls to Hart were not returned.