Pubdate: Fri, 23 Sep 2016
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Langley Times
Author: Monique Tamminga


Unlimited distribution, but no pick-up

As part of its harm reduction strategy, Fraser Health offers an
unlimited supply of needles to intravenous drug users. But the local
health authority does not recover those needles once they've been used
- - a fact which has become more evident in Langley parks, streets, at
the doorways of businesses and on trails and even school grounds
throughout the Township and City.

A sharps disposal box and its spilled contents was found near the
Cascades Casino parkade recently, and a needle stabbed into the grass
at Douglas Park was pictured from August on the Langley City Crime
Watch Facebook page.

"If anyone sees a used needle they can call Fraser Health or call the
City, and we will come and pick it up," said Langley City CAO Francis
Cheung. "Our staff have been trained to safely handle the needles."

The City is aware of the number of needles discarded around

It is a situation every Lower Mainland community is grappling with at
an increasing rate.

"We face it, so we need to address those safety issues," Cheung said.
"We are currently in discussions with Fraser Health and we may put in
some sharps boxes in parks, but they need to be vandal proof," he said.

Cheung said many users who are living in the camp along the Nicomekl
are using sharps boxes, which they have hung in trees at the camp.

"Many are self-regulating," he said. But not everybody is, as is
evidenced by the amount of (discarded) needles around town."

"We share the public's concern for inappropriately discarded needles.
Substance use is a complex issue and a major concern from a public
health perspective," said Tasleem Juma, Fraser Health's senior
consultant for public affairs.

In neighbouring Surrey, the municipality is struggling with what to do
after the needle recovery program, Rig Dig, lost its funding and shut
down this month.

Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which runs the Rig Dig, didn't receive
a gaming grant this year from the provincial government to keep the
program going.

Fraser Health contributes funding to Lookout, which provides varied
social services to Surrey residents, including the Rig Dig program.

When Rig Dig was running, the team, mostly made up of former and
current users, could collect as many as 250 used needles in two hours
in one neighborhood.

Positive Point Needle Exchange in Surrey empties community needle drop

The organization reports that in Surrey last year it distributed
496,794 needles and collected 592,073 - meaning the group collected
close to 100,000 more than they handed out, according to a recent
Black Press article.

"Best practice in Canada is to provide individuals with the number of
clean needles that they need without requiring clients to return used
needles," Juma told Black Press recently.

Fraser Health said it is currently looking to expand services into

"This would include evidence-based collection strategies such as
public disposal boxes and engaging individuals who use substances to
collect used needles in order to reduce the incidence of improperly
discarded ones," she said.

Anyone who comes across a used needle in a park or school ground is
asked to call the Langley Public Health Office at 604-539-2900 or
Langley City Hall at 604-514-2800.

Fraser Health offers step-by-step instructions about how to dispose of
needles safely at
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