when bad governments do good

The current Yukon government politicians are not loved by local environmentalists. The list of green gripes is long, and the readers shall not be subjected to pages and pages of it.

The current Yukon government politicians are not loved by local environmentalists.

The list of green gripes is long, and the readers shall not be subjected to pages and pages of it.

Instead this column is going to focus on a rather awkward topic, at least as far as the Yukon green movement goes.

The current government has actually done something positive for one particular sector of the environmental field.

It has tossed Raven Recycling a rather substantial financial lifeline.

The Raven Recycling Society is a non-profit organization and the main recycling organization in the Yukon.

Basically the territorial government has committed to giving Raven a $160,000 line of operating funds per year for two years.

If Raven needs money, it can dip into the $160,000. It does not have to be repaid.

Raven has to justify its spending of these dollars and the Yukon government has access to—and essentially is in a position to either approve or modify—Raven’s business plan for the next two years.

The reason Raven Recycling needs this financial support is due to the collapse of commodity prices for recyclable items such as plastics and cardboard.

In the past Raven received enough money from the sale of all the items it recycled to cover most of its operating costs.

Since the collapse of the world economy in October of last year, Raven can no longer function based on this operating model.

There have been staff cutbacks. Even I, who serve as an occasional contract worker for Raven, have seen my hours dropped dramatically.

If commodity prices recover during the two years covered by the funds, Raven will not require access to the Yukon government’s fiscal resources and the funds will not be touched.

There are many sectors in the environmental field and recycling is but one of them.

Most importantly it is one that most Yukoners use on an almost daily basis and is now considered a part of everyday life.

It is just something all Yukoners do. It has become background noise, like mowing the lawn and walking the dog.

Whether it is taking beverage containers back to a recycling depot for a refund or placing used paper in a recycling container at work, recycling is part and parcel of the our daily life.

If Raven did not have access to this government funding some of the recycling options available in the territory would not be available.

This would have affected everyone, including supporters of the Yukon Party.

Given that a reduction in recycling services would have irritated such a wide section of the populace it was perhaps prudent for the Yukon government to provide Raven with financial support.

Now does this mean environmentalists are going to stand up and praise the various politicians involved, particularly when it means praising the current crop of Yukon politicians?

One can bet rather large sums of money that this is not going to happen.

There are so many other environmental sore spots currently plaguing the current government that any good deeds, such as the recycling funding, are getting drowned out by all the bad.

The bad ranges from garbage burning at community landfills to perceived political interference with the Peel Watershed Planning Commission.

It is not so easy to hand out praise on the recycling front, partly because it is hard to praise a government that has clearly dropped the ball on so many green issues.

In spite of all the ongoing environmental boondoggles the current Yukon government finds itself involved in, we must recognize it has done something positive on the recycling issue.

A bad government did some good.

And that is hard for any environmentalist to admit.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse based part-time environmentalist.