The Bottle Shop-Recycling Depot in Yellowknife remains closed and it’s unclear when it will open, leaving Yellowknifers literally holding the bag.

Bottle depots are among the businesses and services permitted to open under the first phase of the GNWT’s Emerging Wisely Covid lockdown recovery plan.

Establishments seeking to resume operations must implement a series of safety measures before they can open their doors, such as completing Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission risk assessments, developing an exposure control plan and having enough supplies of personal protective equipment and sanitation products on site.

The Bottle Shop-Recycling Depot in Yellowknife remains closed and the GNWT said it is working with the operator to ensure its health and safety measures plan is ready before it can open. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

But while some beauty salons, barber shops and fitness gyms in Yellowknife have opened, all bottle shops in the NWT are still closed.

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“No NWT depots are open at this time,” said Joslyn Oosenbrug, spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).

“We do not have a specific date for the Yellowknife Bottle Shop to reopen, but ENR is working with the operator to open as soon as possible. The Yellowknife depot is the NWT’s largest and services nearly half the population, and reopening is a priority.”

Depots aren’t subject to any additional rules on opening, Oosenbrug said, but ENR wants to ensure all operators have the right plan ready before they can open.

“Like any other businesses, individual bottle depots will open as soon as they can,” she said.

Efforts to contact Yellowknife Bottle Shop owner Adam Pich were not successful.

Public confused

Questions and concerns from Yellowknife residents about the depot are piling up just as fast as the empties.

“I feel bad because I have no place to put my bottles,” said Benjamin Lacroix, who showed up at the shuttered depot on Friday with $100 worth of bottles in his vehicle. “The website says it’s open, but it’s not. I don’t want them to throw them in the garbage. Why isn’t it open yet when other things are opening?”
Jilisa Chernecki said her family has been leaving their empty containers on their balcony while they wait for the depot to open.

“It would be nice to know when they might open, but I understand why it’s not open yet,” she said.

Les Rohac and his wife Margita were less patient, saying that when they drive around town they see residents’ balconies full of bags of empty containers.

“It’s easy to control the flow of people (at the depot). I don’t understand why it’s still closed. I have a place to store the empties at home but it’s bothering me.”

Community steps up

Some Yellowknife residents are stepping up with their own solution while the depot is closed.

Range Lake North School started a collection program for refundable, recyclable bottles and containers on Tuesday as a fundraiser for its Forest and Nature School Program.

People can drop off the items every Tuesday between 9 a.m. and noon.

On June 3, the school will begin a free recycling pickup drive from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. using a large cube van from Yellowknife Beverages.

“We’re trying to help people out who might not have transportation or who have large amount of bottles accumulated over the winter and who want to get rid of them before the weather gets too warm and it makes a smell,” said organizer and teacher Andrea Harding. “We set up an account at the bottle depot last year, where all of the money collected was put towards our Nature School Program. We raised just over $1,100. This year we’re hoping to raise $5,000 by the end of June for the program. We might do more bottle drives after next week if it’s successful.”

Harding and a staff member from Yellowknife Beverages will do the pickup drive on June 3.

Funds raised will go towards buying additional equipment and safety supplies for the Forest and Nature School, such as a stove for a wall tent, first aid kits, tarps for the tent’s roof, tools, a hand-washing station and animal hide scraping tools. The tent still needs additional work, such as adding canvas and secure doors, Harding said.

The collected containers will be stored at Range Lake North in an outdoor storage facility and passed on to the depot once it resumes operations.

Residents who wish to have their recyclable items picked up can email with their address and a pick up time.

In the meantime, ENR recommends that residents remove caps, rinse bottles and store the bottles in a dry place so they’re ready once the depots open their doors.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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