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Dump fees are here

Lisa Scott
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 15/05) - The week before new dump fees were introduced, Yellowknife residents rushed to drop off old cars, dead batteries and tires.

"We did see quite an increase before the tipping fees came into effect," said Bruce Underhay, the baling facility manager.

Other than that, Underhay hasn't seen much difference in activity at the dump since the fees started July 1. There are no angry masses, just residents and businesses going about their chores, resigned to the fact they now had to pay to drop items off at the dump.

"I think most people were aware of it. Generally I think the public understands," Underhay said.

Businesses and residents now pay to drop off items that were free last month. Car batteries, tree branches and tires are among the items that carry a disposal fee.

Costs on other items like old cars jumped to $100 from $25, while commercial dumpers face an increase for loads of demolition waste to $40 per tonne from $20, and contaminated soil to $60 from $20.

Summer facility attendant Rob Borden said the attitude from dump users is one of "that sucks, but I guess we have to pay it."

"I was expecting people to be upset about it," he said.

Many of the people driving through the gates have a $5 bill ready to hand over to Borden, confusing the new tipping fees with the city's proposed access fee for vehicles coming into the dump to salvage or drop off household garbage.

City council dropped the idea after a public uproar, replacing it with a recommendation to charge those hauling in trash the flat rate fee instead. If adopted, it won't come into effect until Jan. 1.

After Borden points to the sign of fees posted on his booth, people start to understand.

Public reaction mixed

On a busy Monday afternoon, cars and trucks streamed in and out of the facility.

Blair Brezinski came looking for wood for camping. The fees are a "sign of the times" and are commonplace in the south, he said.

The tipping fees haven't affected him yet, though he prefers them to the idea of being charged for scavenging.

An anonymous dumper was angry after he was asked for $4 to drop off each of the three tires he plucked out of Great Slave Lake on the weekend. "If they were mine, I wouldn't mind," he said.

The Yellowknife resident dropped off some wood and headed for the auto mechanic to ask if they would put them on their pile. If not, he contemplated throwing them back in the lake.

Philippe Dipizzo picked up a bike trailer on his way to the beach Monday and wasn't aware of the new fees.

In favour of the costs on any hazardous material, he didn't agree with fees on items like recycled glass, which costs $65 a tonne to drop off.

"Only for hazardous materials, not for regular household garbage and things that can be recycled," he said.

Dump users should also come prepared to use debit or credit cards, because the facility doesn't accept cash for security reasons.