Raven calls for city’s long term support

Raven Recycling board members appeared before Whitehorse city council on Monday and made an impassioned plea for support.

Raven Recycling board members appeared before Whitehorse city council on Monday and made an impassioned plea for support.

Jacqueline Bedard, president of the board, was the first to speak and presented a somber situation to council members.

“We’ve been talking about changes to the system since 2008, and at least eight reports have been created since 2009,” she said, carefully weighing her words.

“Nobody has taken action because they haven’t had to. We had to.

“It’s time to finally address how we’re going to pay for recycling. It’s time for the city and the government to develop and implement a system that encourages people to recycle and support businesses and non-profits who do the work.”

As of Oct. 16, Raven Recycling will stop offering its free public recycling drop-off service.

They will no longer accept cardboard, paper, plastics, styrofoam, milk cartons, Tetra Paks and tin.

It will, however, continue to accept refundable beverage containers and offer other services and programs.

The society has said in recent weeks that a long-term solution would be for more materials to carry an up-front fee to cover recycling costs at the end of their life.

The territorial government is consulting on how to do that but changes aren’t expected to come into effect for another year.

Raven can’t hang on that long, it has stated, but Bedard said “we have no interest in a bail out.

“We are a society that is passionate about this issue. This is about a system of managing waste that is not sustainable or adequate.”

Bedard closed her speech by suggesting the city and territorial government take one more look at recommendations made in 2012 to the Solid Waste Advisory Committee.

One recommendation is to develop comprehensive legislation that supports a financially sustainable recycling system in the Yukon.

“You each have many tools at your disposal,” she said, “and it’s your job to ensure there is a framework in place that will work in the future.”

Councillors took turns sympathizing with Bedard and the society’s situation.

Dave Stockdale said he’s been losing sleep over this situation as of late.

“It’s the most stressful I’ve had to face here, even above WalMart,” he said, referring to the contentious decision to allow the big box store into the city.

The comment drew laughter from the audience.

“I feel sick that we’re at an impasse and we can’t do anything quickly. We are hearing you.

“We are discussing things. You need a long-term solution. We can’t make any promises but I’m sure we’ll find a solution.”

Stockdale also raised the question of the potential impact to the landfill once the drop-off service closes next week.

Porter Creek resident Cameron Eckert spoke to council and said his family of five would feel the pinch immediately.

“Our family has relied on Raven for 20 years and it’s an incredible service,” he said.

“They’ve asked for a long-term solution and everybody here is on board for that. But as someone who takes his recycling to the centre every week, I’m looking for a short-term solution, too.”

Eckert said he is “absolutely” willing to pay for the drop-off service, adding the society has saved Whitehorse taxpayers money over the years by providing the service for free.

He said it’s important to have a plan in place for next week so that P&M Recycling isn’t overwhelmed and the landfill doesn’t get an influx of recyclable goods.

P&M, the city’s other recycling outfit, only handles about one quarter of the total volume of recyclables.

Eckert said he’s worried the interruption in service will have a negative effect on his family’s routine.

“We go down to the recycling centre on the weekend and see people down there, it’s a good atmosphere and there’s a real community,” he said.

“My son is 19 years old, these kids have grown up with Raven and the whole culture of doing this in our community.”

Coun. Mike Gladish asked Eckert whether he believed Whitehorse residents could stockpile their recyclables for a period of time.

Gladish said he only goes to the centre roughly once a month.

“We can try to hold on to it,” Eckert said.

“We create a glacier of recycling every two weeks. Our family is at the peak of using cans, bottles and paper.

“To avoid a crisis I think we have to act quickly to get something in place.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at