A popular hidden corner in downtown Red Deer where drug users get high and leave their needles and garbage behind (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

City calls on province to pick up syringe debris costs

Red Deer city council

Red Deer city council says it’s time the province paid the cost of picking up syringe debris in the city.

A report to council said a shift in the past few years from stimulant usage to increased opiate usage, including fentanyl, likely resulted in increased needle use.

The city’s Public Works and Emergency Services departments expect to spend $33,000 annually on pickups. Public Works staff collected 7,323 needles between January and October 2016.

Parks department is responsible for the most needle pick-up and spent over $78,000 camp cleanup costs in 2016.

Red Deer Downtown Business Association’s Clean Team, which is also city funded, has increased its cleanup efforts and expects to spend $9,000 annually.

Community agency Turning Point gave out 422,675 needles in 2014-15 throughout Central Alberta as part of its harm reduction program that is funded by Alberta Health. That number increased to 529,863 in 2015-16.

Turning Point also collects needle debris. Some may be disposed of in other ways like at pharmacies, but typically about one third does not return to Turning Point.

On Monday, council unanimously recommended that Alberta Health should assume responsibility for needle cleanup by working with the city to either fund the current city program or contract an agency to deliver 24-hour pickup service. In the meantime, the city should promote its 24-hour call line for needle pickup — 403-342-8238 — as well as 211 which can be easily remembered and provides multi-lingual service.

“What has become very apparent is the fact that there are unintended consequences because the provincial government does not have a methodical plan for the return of those needles and that has potentially direct health and safety impacts for our general public,” Mayor Tara Veer said on Monday.

“Our request tonight was to ask the provincial government, because it is a provincial program on the distribution, to accept responsibility and develop intentional, methodical means of ensuring the return of that needle debris to the provincial program.”

Coun. Ken Johnston said many people don’t realize that needle debris is an Alberta Health issue.

“Here we are, another downloaded issue at the feet of the city. It is time that our provincial partners recognize that,”

Johnston said.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

WATCH: From humble beginnings Red Deer-based wrestling promotion is growing

It wasn’t that long ago that Dylon Featherstone and the Canadian Wrestling… Continue reading

Popular Red Deer store to apply for cannabis dealer licence

At least one Red Deer store hopes to sell cannabis out of… Continue reading

Effect of electronics on students to be discussed at Central Alberta Teachers’ Convention

Thousands of area instructors will gather on Feb. 22 and 23 at RDC

Latest Red Deer Hospital Lottery launched

Ticket purchases opened on Friday

WATCH: Day-long hockey game at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School in Red Deer

An all-day hockey game was held at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School Friday

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

WATCH: Cat yoga — the purr-fect de-stresser, says Red Deer-area cafe owner

Felines and humans stretch together each month at Alley Cat Cafe

Effect of electronics on students to be discussed at Central Alberta Teachers’ Convention

Thousands of area instructors will gather on Feb. 22 and 23 at RDC

Judge critical of sentencing laws

Court of Queen’s Bench justice argues sentencing options for first-degree murder too limited

Liberals write off $200 million in student loans feds will never collect

The federal government is writing off more than $200 million in outstanding… Continue reading

Trudeau takes wing on trade mission to India, where Sikh politics loom

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is on his way to India,… Continue reading

Judge: Parole for triple-murderers based on many factors

Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank could have faced life in prison with no parole for 75 years for the Castor-area murders

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month