Pubdate: Wed, 13 Mar 2002
Source: Surrey Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Surrey Leader
Author: Kevin Diakiw
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


Surrey is moving toward shutting down Whalley's needle exchange in favour 
of other "delivery models" including the use of medical offices, retail 
outlets and a mobile van bringing new needles to addicts throughout the city.

On Monday, city council unanimously endorsed Coun. Dianne Watts' motion to 
ask the provincial government to devise a new method of providing clean 
needles to intravenous drug users.

The Whalley needle exchange arrived in Surrey in 1990 with the purpose of 
reducing the amount of diseases arising from using "dirty" needles 
including HIV and hepatitis.

It dispenses 25,000 needles a month, with a return rate of 99 per cent. 
However, having the entire service at its current location at 10667 135A 
St. in North Surrey, may be counterproductive, Watts said.

She cited comments made to her by B.C. Medical Health Officer Perry Kendall 
who said that "if a needle exchange is located in the centre of cocaine and 
heroin (dealing) it adversely affects the program for harm reduction."

She also said the community near the Whalley facility have clearly stated 
that they don't want the exchange in their neighbourhood.

For years, businesses and residents of the area have complained about 
having to pick up needles left behind by drug addicts.

Jim Bennett, the head of Whalley's needle exchange, could not be reached by 
Leader press time Tuesday.

Watts assured her colleagues that Bennett would be part of the new process. 
Details of the new system are sketchy, but Watts is looking to several 
other municipalities for examples.

Vancouver leads the list as a promising alternative, Watts suggested. That 
city uses several methods of providing clean needles to addicts, including 
retail outlets, pharmacies and a mobile van.

A copy of the motion will be forwarded to the provincial government in the 
coming days.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager