Pubdate: Wed, 26 May 2004
Source: Red Deer Advocate (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 Red Deer Advocate
Author: Susan Zielinski


People were quick to start using a 24-hour collection box for used syringes
near the Arlington Hotel, with 170 dropped inside the first five days it was

The bright yellow converted Canada Post mail box in a nearby alley is one of
two outdoor, secure biohazard disposal boxes put in place on May 17.

The boxes are an expansion of Central Alberta AIDS Network Society's needle
safety project to dispose of needles used by people who inject street drugs.

Lindsay Young, harm reduction co-ordinator for CAANS, said the number of
syringes collected so far qualifies the outdoor box program as a success.

"Those are needles that could have been on the ground," Young said.

Other Alberta cities also have outdoor disposal boxes. Grande Prairie, the
city closest in size to Red Deer, has collected only 600 needles since July

"We've collected almost a third of that in one week," Young added.

Duane Lalonde, the Arlington Hotel's owner and manager, said he'll be
spreading news of the project's success to naysayers.

"This is good for me. My intention is to clean up Red Deer, in specific
downtown Red Deer," Lalonde said. "If you don't try it, you don't know if
it's going to work."

He used to regularly find needles scattered around a nearby garbage
dumpster, along with a few in his parking lot.

"Since the box came, I haven't seen one needle."

And it's a discreet disposal option, Lalonde added.

"I'm here day and night. I've never seen anyone use it."

The other syringe collection box is located in Rotary Recreation Park at
47th Avenue and 48th Street, where the ice skating oval is set up each
winter near the Red Deer and District Museum and the Golden Circle.

Young said the few concerned calls that have come in about the outdoor boxes
were due to confusion regarding location.

Some people mistakenly thought the box was located near playground equipment
at Rotary Park, at 43rd Street and Spruce Drive.

No syringes have been dropped into the Rotary Recreation Park box so far.

The location and use of the outdoor boxes will be re-examined in a year.

Prior to the outdoor boxes, needles could only only be dropped off during
regular business hours at the CAANS downtown office and at Hilltop Pharmacy.
They are also accepted by the Helping Hands Mobile Outreach motor home.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 syringes are exchanged monthly through a CAANS
program. Monthly disposal reached a peak of 10,000 prior to the Central
Alberta Methadone Program opening its doors in November 2002.
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