Pubdate: Mon, 10 Feb 2003
Source: Surrey Now (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc., A Canwest Company
Author: John Sarko


The fate of the Whalley needle exchange is the subject of "delicate 
negotiations," says Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum.

Officials from the Fraser Health Authority met with members of Surrey 
council and Minister of State for Mental Health Dr. Gulzar Cheema Wednesday.

"We're working with them," said McCallum, referring to the health 
authority, which operates the program.

The two sides are slated to meet again this Wednesday.

"We're in delicate negotiations right now," said McCallum. "Both parties 
are working well."

The mayor declined to comment on where discussions are heading until after 
next week.

"There's lots of options," he said, referring to different models of 
service delivery, which would see intravenous drug users go somewhere other 
than the 135A Street needle exchange for clean needles.

Council passed a motion in March requesting the health authority look at a 
different style of delivery for the needle exchange program. The program 
currently collects about 15,000 needles a month.

After a rash of violent home invasions in Whalley, McCallum announced he 
would move the exchange as part of a block-by-block cleanup of the area.

Coun. Dianne Watts, who also attended, said the meeting was "positive."

"We've agreed to work together. We'll look at what the health authority has 
to say and we'll be reviewing that next week." Watts noted the health 
authority is under no obligation to move the needle exchange.

Options include collecting and distributing needles through mobile units 
and in health units throughout the city.
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