Parksville council seeking changes to reduce discarded needles problem

WatchParksville's Mayor says city staff have found hundreds of used needles discarded in the community.

Hailey Sacree regularly takes her dog Jasper for walks. But last week on Parksville’s beach, she came across something she’s never encountered before.

“I was extremely concerned for Jasper. I was absolutely horrified,” Sacree said.

There were a number of discarded needles.

“You just don’t think there’s going to be that danger when you go to the beach,” she said.

Parksville’s mayor says discarded needles are becoming a bigger and bigger problem for the city.

“We’re figuring probably in the last four or five years somewhere between 500-600 needles have been found spread throughout our community,” said Ed Mayne.

Mayne says four people, including two city workers, have been pricked by discarded needles.

Now Parksville council wants new regulations for how needles are distributed, including registering those getting them and better controlling how needles are released.

“It should be some kind of exchange so if you want 10 needles, come and get 10 needles but bring us the 10 needles that you’re replacing them with so there’s always flow back and forth.”

Council also wants needle exchanges to only distribute retractable needles, which they say would be safer.

But the region’s medical health officer says Parksville’s proposals may not work.

“They’ve already been demonstrated as being unacceptable to the group that is actually going to be using them and if they’re not going to use the needles then that puts a greater risk out there,” said Dr. Paul Hasselback.

Parksville’s council says it wants to meet with the medical health officer to discuss potential changes.

Meanwhile, Hailey Sacree says she might not walk Jasper on that section of the beach anymore but she also says governments should really be focusing on addressing the root causes of substance abuse.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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