Island Health promises action after string of needle incidents in Victoria

Island Health promises action after string of needle incidents in Victoria
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WATCH: Island Health has come up with an action plan after an emergency meeting with Victoria police, social service agencies and the City of Victoria. April Lawrence reports.

Saanich Public Works and Saanich police were called to Greenridge Crescent on Wednesday after a member of the public discovered three large garbage bags on Greenridge Crescent near the Lochside trail.

The bags had a mix of household garbage and hundreds of hypodermic needles. Some of it spilled down the bank.

None of the needles ended up on the trail, and Saanich staff cordoned off the area while they cleaned up the hazardous material.

The cleanup came the same day Island Health held an emergency meeting with the City of Victoria, Victoria police and social service providers about what to do about the sudden increase in needle encounters in Victoria.

Three people have been pricked by discarded needles in the past week, although one has since been confirmed to be a medical needle.

Following the meeting, Island Health noted service providers are actually seeing fewer needles on the streets, so the incidents may just be an unfortunate coincidence.

“In terms of needles that were being found on the streets, or are being improperly discarded are not worse and may even be better than previously in part because of the overdose prevention sites,” Island Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick said.

The group discussed ways they could improve the needle distribution program so fewer needles are discarded improperly.

“There were some really novel ideas, such as in addition to handing out in terms of needle distribution that what we would do is actually hand out a sharps return container with the needles. We’re looking at a situation in which individuals would not only have the needles for safe injection but also safe disposal,” said Stanwick.

Some other actions they plan to take are expanding needle sweeps and creating one central agency that the public can call if they find a needle.

 

 

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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