Upper Liard dump closure spurs trash talk

The owners of Nugget City are raising a stink over the Yukon government’s decision to close the Upper Liard landfill at the end of June.

The owners of Nugget City are raising a stink over the Yukon government’s decision to close the Upper Liard landfill at the end of June.

Scott and Linda Goodwin have run the restaurant, RV park, gas station and service centre near Watson Lake for 21 years.

They say they rely on the Upper Liard landfill to dump their tourist garbage.

Closing it would mean they would have to start hauling the waste to the Watson Lake landfill instead, where there is a tipping fee and strict sorting rules. They say working 18-hour days means they don’t have time for that.

“We’re getting a raw deal down here,” said Scott Goodwin. “This affects us more than anybody else.”

The couple says they’ve been fighting to keep the Upper Liard landfill open since 2012, when they first heard rumblings that it would be closed.

As it stands, they can dump their garbage at any time of day, at their convenience, they say.

Letters to the government have gone unanswered, and meetings to discuss the closure of the landfill have been held while the couple is down south during the winter, they add.

In a recent letter sent to Dwayne Muckosky, Yukon’s director of community operations and programs, they suggested the government put a locked gate at the site and give Upper Liard residents a copy of the key, or man the facility part-time.

But they were told that would be too costly.

In April, the Yukon government announced it had finalized its solid waste management agreement with Watson Lake. The Watson Lake landfill is now designated as a regional solid waste facility, meaning the existing transfer station in Upper Liard will be decommissioned over the coming months.

“I understand that the cost of garbage and water is astronomical, no matter how you slice the cake,” said Linda Goodwin.

“But I’m not about to go through their garbage to tell you what’s in there, I didn’t sign up for that one.”

If the Upper Liard landfill does close, they say, they will resort to a strategy they used for a month back in 2012.

After buying a one-ton dump truck that would allow them to haul more garbage at a time, they discovered it wouldn’t fit inside the landfill. So they decided to instruct their guests to bring their garbage to a highway rest area about one kilometre down the road, instead.

The mountain of garbage began attracting wildlife and two bears had to be shot, Linda said.

The government eventually revamped the landfill to accommodate the couple’s truck.

Muckosky said the government had been in touch with the couple and would “continue this type of dialogue.”

He explained that some of the waste at the Upper Liard landfill would be moved to the Watson Lake landfill, while other types of waste would be buried at the site.

Ground water wells at the site will be monitored for the next 25 years, he added.

Contact Myles Dolphin at myles@yukon-news.com

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