Mount Lorne Recycling Centre supporters hoped Community Services Minister Glenn Hart would bring his chequebook to a barbecue fundraiser.
Instead he brought water and sausages.
Nonetheless, the Mount Lorne Garbage Society gave Hart credit for showing up.
The fundraiser was, after all, for the government just as much as the recycling centre.
A portion of the $1,400 raised will be donated to Hart’s department for distribution to similar recycling operations across the Yukon.
That’s the fundraiser’s gentle nudge to Hart, a reminder of the lack of equity in support for recycling efforts throughout the territory.
It’s not a facetious attempt to embarrass the government, said Mt. Lorne centre director Mike Bailie.
But it doesn’t look good to have a struggling non-profit donate money to a government boasting a $100-million surplus.
So Hart’s appearance on Sunday surprised organizers.
“His visit gave us a chance to talk, which hasn’t happened to this point,” said Bailie, who ran numbers by Hart.
Mount Lorne wants a $12,000 increase to its $24,000 budget.
Marsh Lake receives $54,000 in funding and can pay 100 per cent of its wages after the government recently increased its budget 50 per cent.
Though Mount Lorne pays its people the same, it can’t cover their wages. So it, too, wants a 50 per cent funding increase.
The government told it to wait for a territory-wide recycling study to be completed.
“That’s 17 months of our people being paid less than people at Marsh Lake for doing the same job,” said Bailie.
“We’ve cut our hours over the years. We could open longer than we do with (comparable funding) or we could cut down to six hours a week and pay ourselves $100 an hour.”
Hart didn’t commit to anything on Sunday.
Almost 400 people attended the barbecue, and $400 of the proceeds will go to Hart’s department.
Such a donation is unorthodox and government officials are trying to figure out how to deal with it, said Bailie, referencing a talk with one of Hart’s assistants.
“They may not accept it,” said Bailie. “Fine. We’ll find something else to do with it.”
The Lorne Mountain Community Association hosted the event. Hart toured the centre and spoke with volunteers and management.
That 400 people would come out on a cold, blustery day should send a message to Hart, said Bailie.
“This showed the Yukon government that (funding inequity) is a large concern not just for Mount Lorne citizens, but the surrounding area too,” he said.
Despite big talk on climate change, there seems to be little action, said Bailie.
Boosting support for recycling centres would suggest the government is serious about environmental issues, he added.
Garbage in Canadian landfills produces about 29 million tonnes of methane — about one tonne per Canadian per year. Recycling centres help reduce that.
With a 40 per cent diversion rate, one of the best in North America, the Mount Lorne operation should be the territory’s standard bearer, said Bailie.
But there’s some interdepartment disconnect, he added.
“There’s a problem with co-ordination,” said Bailie.
“One department is completely focused on climate change and the other doesn’t seem to give a shit.”
The barbecue bonus
Since Sunday’s event drew 400 people to the dump, the centre handed out more refunds and received more material than ever before.
“By far it was our largest day ever,” said Bailie.
Not a bad day for a centre showing off for a visiting politician.