Whitehorse city councillors are still toying with the idea of a user-pay curbside recycling program, but first they want some hard numbers.

"What we're saying is, we don't know what to do. We need the business community to come forward with some solutions," said mayor Dan Curtis at Monday's council meeting.

Councillors were split on whether to pursue a curbside pickup program, but in the end, a majority agreed to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP). That way, the city would have a clear idea of how a program might work — and what it would cost.

"We're not here to take over the recycling services. We're not here to charge more fees, or taxes to line our own pockets," said Councillor Jocelyn Curteanu. She said the city can't continue to keep its recycling processors afloat with diversion credits, so those businesses are "going to go under" unless a new solution is found.

Jocelyn Curteanu

'We're not here to take over the recycling services. We're not here to charge more fees,' said councillor Jocelyn Curteanu. (submitted)

"We're here to ensure that the choice of most Yukoners, which, as we see due to the volume that we're receiving, is to recycle, is that we can make it sustainable," Curteanu said.

Councillor Samson Hartland, however, argued that the current system involving private collectors and processing facilities is already sustainable.

"The private sector is already perfectly well and able to provide a service," he said.

A 2014 study estimated that curbside recycling would require a $15 fee for all households. Any bids on the RFP would allow the city to determine more exactly what a program would cost homeowners. If it's deemed too expensive, council can ignore the bids and scrap the whole idea.