Quesnel to install needle disposal boxes in city-maintained washrooms

Quesnel to install needle disposal boxes in city-maintained washrooms

Between September 2016 and September 2017, at least 35,527 needles were handed out in Quesnel

The City of Quesnel will provide needle disposal boxes in public washrooms as soon as possible.

The boxes will be located in the four city-maintained washrooms at Spirit Square, LeBourdais Park, West Fraser Timber Park and the washrooms near the Search and Rescue building that serve the River Front Trail.

The motion was put forward during a council meeting Nov. 21 by Coun. John Briscoe and was passed unanimously by other councillors.

Mayor Bob Simpson says this is the first phase in a public health and safety initiative.

The second phase will see councillors take the project to the Joint Planning Committee to propose to the Cariboo Regional District that jointly held recreation facilities also receive disposal boxes. These facilities include Alex Fraser Park, the soccer complex, the arenas and the Quesnel & District Arts and Recreation Centre.

He says beyond that, the city hopes to include Northern Health and other organizations that provide services to people with addictions in locating areas in the community where spent needles are often found, and discuss whether disposal boxes should also be put up in these areas.

“Some communities have had success with reducing the number of needles that are lying about by placing disposal boxes in these areas,” comments Simpson.

A representative from the needle exchange program run by Quesnel Tillicum Society, who also manages the harm reduction supplies at Seasons House, says between September 2016 and September 2017, 35,527 needles were handed out between the two facilities. This number doesn’t include harm reduction supplies handed out by public health.

He says 70 per cent of those were given out by Seasons House, and 30 per cent by the Tillicum Society.

The representative says the number has likely increased from last year, although they don’t have specific numbers.

“We’ve been working on trying to get users to bring back needles; we support them to take sharp containers, and we take back needles and take them to the hospital for disposal,” he comments.

“It would be great if we could do more, and have users bring back needles in exchange for clean needles. But as long as they are getting clean needles, that’s the most important thing.”

He notes that Seasons House does have a team that scans “hot spot” areas for needles and disposes of them properly. The most prominent area they find used needles is the area immediately surrounding Seasons House on Carson Ave.

Mayor Simpson says the city’s program is more comprehensive than just the disposal boxes and will include clean up as well.

Public work staff – who maintain and clean Quesnel’s public spaces – will receive updated training on how to handle needles, and will now be deliberately scanning for needles as part of their regular duties.

“This is a public health and safety initiative. The safety component is what most people pick up on, but this is also a way to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases,” says Simpson.

“Giving people the ability to safely dispose of needles is a way to prevent others from injecting with an infected needle that they find, and also prevent spread of disease to the non-user population.

“The failure to have safe disposal could end up costing taxpayers a lot more money if people have to be treated for hepatitis or HIV. And even for people who are inadvertently poked, the treatment is a very expensive 10-day course.”

Simpson says the city is preparing additional information for the general public about safe handling of needles, which will be posted on the City of Quesnel website in the next few weeks.

The disposal boxes will be installed as soon as they can be ordered and delivered, as the matter will not have to go back to council for costing. Simpson says the boxes are inexpensive and the cost can be absorbed into existing budgets.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Williams Lake area family living on Knife Creek Road lost everything to a house fire on Wednesday, March 3. (Photo submitted)
House fire destroys rural family home south of Williams Lake

The Macdonalds built their home on Knife Creek Road about 30 years ago

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Public input sought for B.C.’s police act review

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

A new daycare in Tl’etinqox (Anaham) will be located across the road from the Datsan Chugh building. (Tl’etinqox Government Facebook photo)
Daycare approved to be built at Tl’etinqox First Nation

“We’re excited,” said Chief Joe Alphonse

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

Williams Lake Accessibility Advisory Committee chair Maureen Straza is an advocate for others after she experienced a spinal cord injury in 2014. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘Come On In’: New program aims to make Williams Lake businesses more accessible

Williams Lake Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) is leading the project

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Most Read