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Dawson City residents want municipality to reconsider waste management draft plan

A garbage bin located Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin First Nation subdivision of C-4. The municipality has placed bins in some residential subdivisions outside of the downtown core. The rental and servicing of these bins costs the municipality approximately $90,000 annually.   (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)
A garbage bin located Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin First Nation subdivision of C-4. The municipality has placed bins in some residential subdivisions outside of the downtown core. The rental and servicing of these bins costs the municipality approximately $90,000 annually. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)

The gallery at Tuesday night's council meeting in Dawson City, Yukon was full of concerned residents who said the municipality should reconsider some recommendations outlined in its draft solid waste management plan.

Those recommendations include discontinuing solid waste collection services for commercial, institutional, and multi-residential properties, adopting a limit of one or two bags of waste a week per household and extending pick-up services to subdivisions that currently do not receive the service.

"I stand here urging you to halt the proposed waste management policy," said resident Justine Hobbs.

Hobbs said she spoke at the meeting to represent over 70 community members, 55 of them local business owners. She said people feel there hasn't been any meaningful consultation between residents and council.

"I sat down with these people," she said. "I did the consultation you did not do."

Hobbs said although she understands that commercial properties and multi-residential units produce around 75 per cent of the city's waste, "it's not that black and white."

"These are our grocery stores. Our restaurants. Our hospital. The McDonald Lodge. It's our daycares."

Dave Robinson owns and runs the town's Trading Post on Front Street. He said the town should stick to providing three services: water, sewage, and garbage.

"We do our jobs," Robinson said to council. "We need you to do yours."

Household trash, and cardboard thrown in one of the city's rented garbage bins.
Household trash, and cardboard thrown in one of the city's rented garbage bins.

Household trash, and cardboard thrown in one of the city's rented garbage bins. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC)

West Dawson resident Cud Eastbound  was quick to point out what he thinks are inconsistencies with some of the data shared in the proposed plan, including in waste management revenue.

"The city's calculations and plans are inconsistent," Eastbound said.

Eastbound also said the town reported that private garbage bin rentals and collection cost it around $85,0000 a year, but when questioned further the city reported it cost around $45,000 a year.

"Why is the city not using true figures in its reports?" he asked.

Eastbound echoed Hobbs saying there needs to be more consultation with the public before moving ahead with the proposed waste management plan and a comprehensive study should be done.

"We think council should pause. Educate. And evaluate for one year," he said. "It's clear that neither we nor you are prepared for its implementation."

City says plan will create less waste, save money 

The city said the reasoning for limiting households to one or two bags a week is to encourage people to produce less waste and divert solid waste from the landfill.

It said doing so would extend the life of the landfill site, reducing future costs on the municipality, and would be more environmentally responsible.

The city currently provides large commercial waste bins to several residential neighbourhoods.

The rental and servicing of those bins costs the municipality approximately $90,000 annually. Extending collection services to these areas and discontinuing the bin rental presents a cost saving that replaces revenues lost from stopping commercial services, the city said.

The city also said if commercial pickup services are discontinued, then commercial, institutional, and multi-residential properties will contract private sector waste collection tailored to their specific needs, which will ultimately save money and reduce waste.

Discontinuing commercial pickup will also free up municipal waste collection staff time, which then can be reassigned to residential service extension and curbside residential recycling collection.

Each councillor at the meeting thanked everyone for sharing their feelings about the proposed plan.

Council also passed a resolution for administration to facilitate a public town hall meeting within the next two weeks to give the Dawson public a chance to offer further feedback on the town's proposed solid waste management plan.