Sustainable Event Guide

Are you a event coordinator, volunteer, event sponsor, or just a concerned citizen? Learn how you can help reduce the impact of public events, and what you should be expecting from events in Yellowknife.

This Sustainable Event Guide was designed for the City of Yellowknife to help make planning an environmentally-friendly event simple and straightforward to do; just follow the simple checklist for guidance on waste reduction and diversion, energy consumption, transportation and provision of NWT water.

Use this guide for all sorts of events! Private and public events, meetings, festivals, parades, races, and public assemblies!

Click the Link below to open the guide:

Yellowknife Sustainable Event Guide

Composting at Remote Northern Camps

Waste management can be a challenge for operators at remote northern camps. Transporting waste off site is expensive and often not feasible, especially in the NWT. Methods for waste management at these sites typically involve landfilling or incineration of mixed waste.

This project was completed for Environment and Climate Change Canada with the goal of producing a guide to composting at remote sites. Diverting waste from the landfill has many benefits including:

  • reducing wildlife interactions,
  • increasing worker safety,
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and
  • reducing environmental impact of waste management at remote sites.

This is a resource for camp managers to understand and explore the options for composting at remote worksites in Northern Canada.

Trout Lake Water Quality Sampling 2015-2016

The 2015-2016 Trout Lake Water Quality Sampling Project emerged from the Source Water Protection Planning Project that Ecology North undertook in partnership with the Sambaa K’e Dene Band (SKDB) of Trout Lake and Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) in 2014. The source water project resulted in the completion of a draft source water protection plan for the community of Trout Lake (completed in early 2015), the bulk of which consists of two main parts: 1) an inventory of potential water quality contaminant sources within the Trout Lake watershed; and 2) a list of desired management actions to address the potential contaminant sources identified.

Following the completion of the plan in 2015, the next step was to start moving towards implementing the priority source water actions identified in the plan. Although the priorities are diverse, there are several calls for additional water quality sampling near abandoned well and waste sites in the watershed.

As such, this project was developed as a first step towards implementing these calls for action. The purpose of the sampling project was to gain a better understanding of how abandoned well and waste sites may be impacting water quality in the Trout Lake watershed. The intent is that the results from this work will continue to provide insight into the ongoing source water protection planning and implementation processes in the community of Trout Lake. The SKDB and Ecology North, with support from ENR GNWT, initiated and carried out the first year of the sampling program during the summer and fall of 2015.

In total, nine samples were taken from five different sites identified as source water priorities by Trout Lake community members. The majority of samples were collected by members of the SKDB and sent to Yellowknife via charter plane. Parameters test included pH, total BTEX (hydrocarbons), conductivity, major ions, total trade metals and total mercury. All of the results were compared to the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life, which are developed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME).

Overall, the 2015 sampling results are positive. The amount of hydrocarbons (oil and gas chemicals) dissolved in the water was below the level that instruments can detect at all of the sample sites. Furthermore, the amount of total arsenic, molybdenum, nickel, lead, selenium and zinc in the water were below the CCME Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life at all of the sampled sites. Although not alarming given existing water quality data in the area and what would be expected for sites of this nature, there were some exceedances in cadmium, copper, iron, total mercury and silver. Sites with exceedances have been flagged for continued monitoring through future work.

In early January 2016 Ecology North hosted a results meeting and open house in the community of Trout Lake. A plain language summary of the results was presented at the meting, which was attended by nearly one fifth of the community. These results were well received and fostered substantial interest among community members for additional training and continued water sampling in the community.

We used this opportunity to work together to discuss which sites are the main concerns for moving forward and to set community priorities for source water protection planning over the next year. The insights gathered from this meeting and the sampling results collected during the project are being used to inform the development of a more formal source water protection implementation plan for Trout Lake. The plan will provide a more detailed list of actions, timelines and targets for source water protection activities in Trout Lake, including our Hazardous Waste Clean Up Project in Trout Lake!

Sambaa K’e Hazardous Waste Remediation

Ecology North, GNWT- ENR and the community of Sambaa K’e have been working together to remove hazardous waste from the landfill.

Source Water Sampling Revealed Hazardous Waste as a Primary Concern

In 2015, the community completed a draft source water protection plan that identified several potential water quality contaminant sources within the Trout Lake watershed, and a list of desired management actions to address the potential contaminant sources, including hazardous waste in the landfill.

Following the completion of the plan, our team started moving towards implementing priority action items in the plan. Although the priorities are diverse, water quality sampling is a clear priority. During 2015-2016 we focused our implementation efforts on doing water quality sampling near abandoned well and waste sites in the watershed.

Building on the results and capacity developed during the 2015-2016 sampling work, our team decided it was the best time to move towards addressing the actions in the source water plan related to hazardous waste in the community and associated concerns about water quality impacts.


Hazardous Waste Remediation, Phase 1

In 2016, Ecology North received funding from the World Wildlife Fund to continue our source water implementation work with the community of Trout Lake, specifically with respect to hazardous waste!

This project was aimed at addressing community concerns and questions about the potential impacts that hazardous waste materials in the community are having on surrounding water quality. Our team, which consisted of members from the Sambaa K’e Dene Band of Trout Lake and GNWT ENRinventoried, consolidated and removed hazardous waste from the community landfill, while also collecting water samples in streams and wetlands surrounding the landfill before and after the clean up.

In addition to collecting valuable data and completing an important clean up initiative, this project was a great hands-on training opportunity for community members to learn more about hazardous waste management and water sampling.

Through this project we were able to provide a unique hazardous waste training opportunity. Ecology North invited other communities to send candidates for the documenting, organizing and the final removal of Trout Lake’s hazardous materials from the local landfill. We held two training opportunities, one in the summer for the documenting, and organizing of hazardous waste ready for removal during the winter road season.

Hazardous Waste Remediation, Phase 2

Our second session commenced in March 2017 for the loading and removal of the hazardous waste on the winter road. We’d like to thank, World Wildlife fund, ENR and the following individuals from their respective communities in the successful removal of hazardous waste form the community of Trout Lake;

  • Brian Ekotla
  • Audrey Landry
  • Michael Landry
  • Travis Kotchea
  • Victor Nande
  • Victor Jumbo

Backyard Composting

Previously a joint-project between the City of Yellowknife and Ecology North, the Backyard Composting Program is now housed under the City of Yellowknife’s Solid Waste Facility.

Backyard Composting is a fun way for residents to manage their organics recycling at home. Citizens directly benefit from their own efforts by producing valuable compost for their yards and gardens. The City benefits by reducing collection and management costs.

The City of Yellowknife continues to sell backyard composters at a subsidized rate of $35.

Please see the City’s website for details on how to contact the gatehouse about buying a composter:
City of Yellowknife Solid Waste Management

For tips on how to backyard compost please see the links below:
Backyard Composting North of 60
Northern Backyard Farming: Composting

Compost fun fact: George Washington, the United State’s first president, was also the nation’s first recognized composter. (Source: ASCP Journal)

Bio Diesel Project

Restaurants in Yellowknife produced approximately 84,000 litres of waste vegetable oil in 2010.  Funded by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency in 2011, Ecology North worked with Dwayne Wohlgemuth conducted research to find out how feasible it would be to transform this waste oil into biodiesel for use in diesel powered vehicles.  The study found that burning used vegetable oil in boilers to heat buildings was a more economically feasible solution to the problem. If you’d like  to know more about this project you can read and download the final report here.

Waste Reduction Week

Every October Ecology North, in partnership with GNWT Environment and Natural Resources, hosts a number of events in recognition of National Waste Reduction Week.  Past events have included film screenings and panel discussions on waste reduction.  In 2014 a ‘Fix it Fair’ was held in both Hay River and Yellowknife, during which residents could bring damaged goods and be paired with a skilled volunteer to repair them!  Ecology North has also partnered with Waste Reduction Week Canada to host the ‘Recycle My Cell’ school challenge in the NWT as part of their national campaign.

Have a look at our events page to see what activities are running this year for Waste Reduction Week.


Northern Communities face unique challenges in Waste Management.  Producers of food and goods transport materials into our remote communities, but local governments are responsible for dealing with the waste that is left behind.  Transporting waste out of communities is expensive and innovative solutions are needed to help our local governments keep waste out of their landfills!

Ecology North was instrumental in helping the City of Yellowknife establish their current recycling program and continues to offer assistance and recommendations to the City on the program.  We look forward to helping the City of Yellowknife increase their overall waste diversion and to working with other communities in the NWT to find effective ways to keep waste out of their landfills!

Here is a handy resource to help you reduce waste if you live in Yellowknife!

Worm Composting

Would you like some information about how to set up your own indoor worm composting system? Are you looking for some red wigglers?

Thanks to our red wiggling friends, it IS possible to produce lovely compost in our northern climates, even during the winter! Worm composting, or vermicomposting, is a great year-round way to compost in your house, apartment, classroom or office. The worms will reduce your waste and produce rich compost that may be used to help gardens and houseplants grow. Plus, the kids will love them!

Ecology North offers the resources to help you start up a bin. If you would like free red wigglers, or more information, please contact us or feel free to drop by and ask us in person.

Yellowknife Centralized Composting Program

The Yellowknife Centralized Compost Program diverts organic waste into the YK Centralized Compost Facility, where it is processed into finished compost. The program began in September 2009, diverting food and yard waste from the landfill, and we continue to look for ways to increase the participation of residents and businesses.

Normally, all of this waste would just be landfilled, where it would sit, rot, and release methane into the environment. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 21x more potent than carbon dioxide! In its first five years, the Yellowknife Centralized Compost Program managed to reduce the release of over 1,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses into the environment. This is like taking 45 cars off the road every year for the last five years. Way to go Yellowknife!

Who participates?

In November 2014, curb-side collection was introduced to Range Lake residents as part of the City of Yellowknife’s four-year compost program roll-out. The program has since expanded to include all neighbourhoods in Yellowknife as of September 2017, as well as several businesses.

How can out-of-town/off-grid residents participate?

There is a special bin for household food scraps and yard waste located next to the salvage area at the Solid Waste Facility. It is labeled “Organic materials only”.

There is also a red bin located behind Ecology North.

Residents can drop off food scraps and yard waste at either bin free of charge.

What Goes In?

Unlike backyard composting, the centralized compost program can accept materials such as meat, fish, bones and dairy products. The large windrows (long piles) at the centralized compost facility reach sustained high temperatures (above 55°C) that properly decompose and destroy any harmful organisms associated with these items.

Things that DO NOT belong in your green bin include: glossy magazines, biodegradable bags, any sort of plastic (including plastic bags and fruit trays), clean cardboard (which should be recycled), disposable coffee cups, styrofoam.

Click here for more information on Dos and Don’ts

Interested in comics about compost?