Clothing donated for tenants affected by a fire in Yellowknife has ended up at the dump, according to the woman who led that donation drive.
Cynthia Grandjambe took in dozens of donations from Yellowknife residents to help tenants who lost everything when the Polaris Apartments building burned down on June 14.
Many of those donations were stored outside her apartment building. This week, according to Grandjambe, Northern Property REIT – her landlord and the owner of Polaris Apartments – took all the remaining clothes to the dump.
Northern Property says that’s not a fair assessment. The company says it left the clothes at the dump’s recycling centre, for residents to reuse, after being turned down by local charities.
“I just don’t understand,” Grandjambe told Moose FM. “I assumed they would have taken it to the Salvation Army or St Pat’s Church, or donated it to all these different organizations, but they didn’t. Instead, they just threw everything in the dump.
“A lot of it still had price tags on. A lot of it was nice, nice clothes that could have been used, easily.”
Read: City hails firefighters who rescued trapped Polaris tenant
The fate of the clothes has also become a topic of some concern among residents on Facebook. We asked Northern Property’s Kelly Hayden to account for what happened.
“We as a company reached out to the Salvation Army and the YWCA to help us,” said Hayden.
“The Salvation Army weren’t interested in having any donations – they were at full capacity. They had literally a thousand bags of clothing already.
“So we put a notice in the newspaper and thanked everybody for their help, and told everybody to please help themselves to what was there. Then we took everything out to the recycling centre at the landfill – where, again, things were able to be redistributed through the community. Right from the minute we pulled up our trucks and started putting things in the recycling area out there, people started reusing and repurposing them.
“Maybe people get offended that it’s in or beside the dump, but it’s still a recycling area.”
Read: Video – Yellowknife apartments destroyed by ‘suspicious’ fire
Hayden says the build-up of clothing outside Northern Property’s apartments on 52nd Avenue was becoming a “fire and exiting hazard” and had to be moved after two weeks.
Grandjambe told Moose FM she knows of a vacant unit inside Northern Property’s buildings that would have been the perfect place to store the clothes instead. She wants to know why that couldn’t have been arranged.
She says if a similar incident happens again, she won’t be dissuaded from helping out once more – but admits she will need to be “more organized”.
“It’s not only me,” she said. “There were a lot of people involved helping me. A lot of time and effort went into this and for it to all end up at the garbage dump? That’s what hurts.”
Both Hayden and Grandjambe asked Moose FM to thank the community of Yellowknife for all help received in looking after the Polaris tenants’ needs.
Grandjambe says the tenants now need household items like sheets, blankets, pots, pans and towels, plus electronics like TVs and DVD players.
This time, she says the donations will stay in her living room – and not outside.