The Humane Society Yukon has found itself issuing a public reminder that its animal shelter is not “a free store, recycling depot or garbage dump.”
Dan Moore, the group’s executive director, posted the notice on the group’s Facebook page. He included three photos showing old furniture, clothes and garbage bags packed full of items that were left in front of the shelter.
“I am disappointed, and surprised that I would have to post this notice to inform the community that the Humane Society is NOT a dumping ground for unwanted items ....YES we have a Yard Sale planned for sometime this summer, and I appreciate people donated items that are in good shape and have value to help raise some extra funds for the animals .... But over the last month with the closing of the Free Store we are receiving a lot of items that should go directly to the dump, with those items being dropped off from 10pm-12am (as our cameras time stamp indicates),” Moore wrote.
He was referencing the recent closure of the Raven Recycling Society’s free store at its Industrial Road premises.
That closure has followed April’s shuttering of the former Salvation Army thrift shop and the city’s free store at the landfill.
All of those organizations had been reporting many donations of unusable goods that should have gone to the general landfill rather than free and thrift stores.
Moore highlighted the approximately $170 he estimated the society would be charged in tipping fees to take the waste that had been dropped off to the landfill that night.
The society, he wrote, has had to rent a dumpster four times over the course of one month to deal with unusable items that continue to turn up during hours when the shelter is closed.
“If these items were in good condition then they could be used to raise money...but the couches, chairs are stained, covered in cigarette burns, and have an odor. Clothing has no value to us, and the beds are old and not something we resell,” Moore wrote.
“If you have good items to donate to the Yard Sale please check with us first before dropping them off so we can put them away in our storage shelves and then they do not sit outside in the elements.
“This process then avoids us having to pay to have the items removed. This month alone we have spent close to $1200.00 to remove these items.....money that we should be spending on our animals and not on garbage removal.”
Many responding to the post have expressed outrage at those dropping off their garbage. They have called on the city to waive the society’s tipping fees at the landfill.
The society notes the city turned down its request for a reduction on tipping fees about a month ago.
That had many posting comments that the non-profit shouldn’t be faced with the fees, and that the city should assist.
City councillor Roslyn Woodcock issued a response from her personal Facebook account.
She argued the tipping fees are low at about $15 for a mattress, $10 for a couch and $40 for a fridge, and was questioned by the society’s Brent Slobodin about why the group is saddled with the fees.
Woodcock replied: “The City provided $137,500,000 in grants and contributions to community groups, seniors, recycling, and other worthy community endeavors in 2017.
“The Humane Society Yukon benefited from these grants as well. They received a 100% rebate of their property taxes in the amount of $7,466.20.
“While we would love to be able to cover all costs for all community builders like the Humane Society, it is impossible. We get push back at the least increase in taxes and unfortunately more spending will always mean more taxes. http://www.whitehorse.ca/city-council/council-grants.”
Peter O’Blenes is the city’s director of infrastructure and operations.
He explained in an interview Monday that the city had responded to the society’s request by asking that more information be provided on what sort of operational model it’s seeking around the tipping fees.
The real issue, he argued, is that people are just dropping off waste that should be going to the landfill.
“It’s illegal dumping,” he said.
He pointed out the free and thrift stores have shut down largely for the same reasons: people dropping off goods that were largely unusable, with many that ultimately ended up in the dump.
O’Blenes said the city wants to work with other organizations to come up with a solution for dealing with waste.
The city also has a reuse guide available on its website outlining options for residents looking to get rid of reusable goods such as through consignment stores, and selling or giving them away via buy and sell sites on social media sites.
Some organizations take donations, but residents are reminded to contact officials with the organizations prior to making the donation and to never leave items outside of drop-off locations.