Yellowknife needs a downtown recycling depot to help people who would otherwise have to walk across the city to exchange their recyclables for cash, Yellowknife North MLA Rylund Johnson says.
Johnson said establishing a form of downtown recycling depot would be an example of the territorial government taking small actions to address residents’ struggles.
The GNWT said it broadly supported the idea, but it would be more than a year away at the earliest.
Johnson described talking to a man who collected bottles in downtown Yellowknife but had to haul recyclables across the city to the one existing bottle depot.
“He would collect bottles from wherever he could, mostly out of the trash, then would slump the bags over his back and walk them out to the recycling depot across town for the few dollars he earned,” Johnson told colleagues at the Legislative Assembly on Thursday.
The MLA said it was common to see people walking with their recycling down Old Airport Road.
“The small and simple solution to address this problem is to offer a second recycling option,” he said, suggesting a small satellite station could feed the main recycling depot.
Johnson said a downtown depot could be as simple as a “reverse vending machine,” which collects recyclables and issues cash refunds in return, or a drop-and-go service as was recently introduced at the Old Airport Road location.
“Surely there is such a way to extend this drop-and-go sevice to an area downtown for our elderly, disabled, and those with mobility issues,” Johnson said.
Shane Thompson, the environment minister responsible for overseeing the territory’s recycling programs, said his department has been examining options for an automatic bottle deposit in Yellowknife.
He said staff were researching the kind of equipment that would hold up in the NWT’s cold temperatures.
“We’re very supportive of piloting an automatic deposit,” said Thompson.
The minister said the current contract for the Yellowknife recycling depot expires on July 31, 2022, at which time the territorial government will launch a new licensing process that could include piloting an automatic deposit.