An abundance of needles springing up around town has the public outraged with safety concerns.
The snow melt is revealing discarded needles in various locations around town – including Anderson Way, near the Civic Arena and walking trails around town.
“I already collected a whole bunch along Pleasant Valley Road last week,” said Maaike van Zwaaij, responding to a picture shared on the Vernon Morning Star Facebook page (originally from the Vernon Rant and Rave site).
And it’s not just Vernon.
“Same things being found in Enderby,” reports resident David Lautsch. “Sad state of affairs.”
A Cache Creek resident reports the situation is worse there.
Unlike some other garbage and debris the snow melt is uncovering, the safety hazard needles present to children and pets is of particular concern.
“Last time I was in Vernon at a school playground with my daughter we found needles littered around the school yard. It is a terrifying site when you have little ones playing near this trash,” said Zachary Linderman. “I hope a solution is found for the small group of people doing this!”
One solution is somewhere those using needles can go to safely dispose of them – a safe injection site.
“Time to shift our paradigms and see addiction for what it really is – a health issue, not a criminal issue,” said Jinny Rhodes.
Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund says this is not a matter of more needles around town.
“It may not be a case of increased needles but in fact that the snow has hidden them for a longer period of time,” said Mund.
According to Interior Health: “Anyone using a needle to inject should dispose of it safely. However, that’s not always the case, and sometimes discarded needles and drug paraphernalia are found in public areas.”
Therefore those who are cleaning up needles are urged to use safe needle disposal.
– Do not try to replace the cap on the needle, snap, break or bend the needle.
– Pick up needle using work or latex gloves and tongs or tweezers, holding needle point away from you.
– Put the needle in a metal or hard plastic container that has a lid, such as a product or drink bottle.
– Replace cap on container firmly and label it.
– Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
– Drop off the sealed container at your local health unit or at a community drop box.
The Vernon Health Unit offers disposal of used needles and distribution of clean needles, as well as information to encourage safer injection practices.
The Community Safety Office will also accept found drug paraphernalia for destruction providing it is properly contained in a lidded puncture-proof container.
The city of Vernon recently released an warning about debris being uncovered with spring melt.