Pubdate: Wed, 02 Mar 2016
Source: Cowichan Valley Citizen (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Cowichan Valley Citizen
Author: Robert Barron


Discarded needles are becoming an increasing problem in the downtown
Duncan area.

The city's public works department has sent a memo to businesses
downtown that staff have been encountering a lot of discarded needles
in the area that are being left in garbage cans, public washrooms,
parks, trails and other sites.

The memo stated that the number of discarded needles being found in
the area is up to approximately two dozen a month, a dramatic increase
from just six months ago.

Cpl. Krista Hobday, a spokeswoman for the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP,
acknowledged there has been an increase in discarded needles across
the region.

She said it's likely that most of the needles were used to inject
illegal drugs, like heroin, cocaine and crystal meth, directly into
people's bloodstreams.

Hobday said it's possible that people can catch diseases from these
needles if they prick themselves, and emphasized that they must be
disposed of properly.

"The City of Duncan has a number of needle dropoff boxes in the
downtown area, so we're pleased that something is being done," she

"From a policing perspective, we don't like having to deal with people
that have 'sharps' in their possession for fear of getting pricked by
a needle and getting infected ourselves."

Karen Robertson, Duncan's head of corporate affairs, confirmed that
the city has needle dropoff boxes next to the public washrooms at the
Duncan Train Station and Centennial Park.

But she said people should be careful if they come across discarded
needles and want to place them in the drop boxes.

Robertson said that, during business days, people can call the city if
they don't want to touch the needles and staff will pick up and
dispose of the needles using tongs and protective gloves.

"It's a courtesy that we provide in some of these cases," she

"Discarded needles should never be tossed into the regular garbage
because it puts city sanitation staff at serious risk of being pricked
and possible infected."

Robertson said the city, Island Health and the RCMP have begun
discussions on what can be done to help deal with the issue.
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