Territory to help clean up Watson Lake garbage problem

Yukon ministers met with Watson Lake officials this week to discuss a stinky problem. The town continues to burn garbage at the dump despite originally announcing the intention to stop 10 years ago.

Yukon ministers met with Watson Lake officials this week to discuss a stinky problem.

The town continues to burn garbage at the dump despite originally announcing the intention to stop 10 years ago.

“We’re getting a lot of pressure from people in the municipality about burning, and I agree, and all of council agrees that it’s not an option to burn anymore,” said Mayor Richard Durocher.

Ministers Elaine Taylor, Wade Istchenko and Mike Nixon met with Durocher to discuss the file.

The meeting lasted almost two hours, said Durocher.

“We agreed that waste management is a complex file, and that nothing should be taken off the table,” he said. “Explore all opportunities.”

That could include raising waste collection fees or even privatization, he said.

The Yukon Party pledged in 2009 to end the burning of garbage in Yukon’s communities by the end of 2012. Watson Lake is the only community that continues to burn its trash.

The municipality fears its landfill would overflow if it stopped burning. The town’s waste-management team is currently working on an action plan to keep garbage out of the landfill. The mayor has told them to deliver a plan to the town council by summer.

“We think the best option is recycling, and educating the community on what goes in the landfill and what can be recycled.”

Taylor has struck a landfill committee with the Association of Yukon Communities and Yukon’s Department of Community Services with the intention of co-ordinating waste management across the territory.

The communities have to work together if they’re going to be able to develop short- and long-term solutions, said Durocher.

“Minister Taylor heard that loud and clear last night and she definitely has given us the word that they will work on that file as a priority, so I have to thank her for that for sure,” he said Wednesday.