Pubdate: Sat, 15 Aug 2015
Source: St. Thomas Times-Journal (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Sun Media
Author: Jennifer Bieman
Page: 3


Before the year is up, Talbot Street could be home to a brand new 
needle disposal box - if city staff and Elgin St. Thomas Public 
Health have their way.

Months after announcing a year-long pilot project, representatives 
from both organizations will be meeting in the coming weeks to hammer 
out the management plan for the disposal box. If all goes smoothly, 
the unit could be installed and ready for use by year's end.

The most recent proposal would see the box installed on the west side 
of city hall near one of the entrances after initial plans to locate 
the box in Green's Parkette fell through.

The joint venture will do more than just keep dirty needles from 
bring improperly disposed of, it will help the health unit measure 
community demand for the units. The organization will closely monitor 
how much waste is collected, how often the boxes need to be emptied 
and the cost to manage the units.

"We don't know how well used the bin is going to be. That's all part 
of the investigative process," said Jaime Fletcher, manager of health 
protection programs at the health unit.

"We're hoping to really give a measurement of is this a need in our 
community and if it's a need, how much of a need it is."

The health unit's needle exchange program handed out more than 30,000 
clean needles between December 2013 and August 2014. During that same 
time period, they received over 20,000 used needles in return. The 
program receives 27 visits per month on average.

Fletcher said many needle exchange users are looking for safe and 
discrete places to dispose of sharps after hours and is hoping the 
needle drop box will fit the bill.

In the early stages of the proposal, the health unit had suggested a 
second sharps disposal box in the north end, but city staff were 
unable to find a suitable location on public property for the unit.

"We thought we could start with the one in the core to see how that 
went and evaluate after a year to see if there's need," said Michelle 
Shannon, waste management coordinator for the City of St. Thomas.

At the end of the 12-month pilot project, the health unit will 
prepare a detailed report outlining disposal box usage and estimated 
maintenance costs. Shannon said the city will use the data to decide 
whether to continue with the project or install more boxes.

"We're always looking to mitigate the risk to our employees and 
contracted employees and residents," she said. "If it is successful 
then maybe it's something the city would want to consider taking an 
active role in."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom