Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jul 2003
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2003, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Dan Palmer


21 Syringes Found Near Kids' Play Areas

A city couple feared for their two-year-old daughter's safety yesterday 
after she came close to a syringe in a west-end park - later shut down - 
where 21 needles were recovered.

"She was right near them. My first concern was for the safety of my child," 
said registered nurse Stacy Valaire, 29, upset anyone would leave the 
syringes there.

"What a terrible thing to do."

Around 3 p.m., Valaire, her husband and their daughter went to John 
Devoldere Memorial Park near 164 Street and 83 Avenue. As their daughter 
ran toward playground equipment, Valaire spotted some needles on the ground 
and told her husband to quickly pick her daughter up.

A brief inspection later revealed the couple's daughter had come within 
less than a metre of a needle in some sand.

"Thank goodness she didn't run in (to a needle)," said Valaire, adding a 
person risks getting HIV or hepatitis, if pricked by a contaminated needle.

After calling authorities on a cellphone, the couple told members of the 
nearby community league.

"It upsets me and makes me concerned," said Rick Torringa, 42, second 
vice-president of the Elmwood Community League.

Torringa said he's worried if any children found the needles before they 
were discovered. He wants parents to check with their children to see if 
they were in the park yesterday.

"What's our neighbourhood turning into?" said Torringa, who put on rubber 
gloves and picked up the needles.

Torringa said he found eight in the sand around playground equipment and 13 
at a dry wading pool.

City firefighters arrived and taped off a roughly 135 square-metre area to 
keep people out.

"There's no guarantee you're not going to find more. I've seen needles as 
ma ny as 10 or 12 (at scenes) - never 21," said city fire Capt. Bill Quinn, 
a firefighter for 28 years.

Quinn added that at least two of the needles had liquid inside, but he 
wasn't sure what it was.

The city parks and recreation department was also called because the park 
is their facility. That department was to have 24-hour security at the site 
until a contractor could be hired to go through the area to look for more 
needles, said Quinn.

Summer programs which were to begin at the park today were put on hold.

No injuries were reported from the incident last night.
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