City of Red Deer releases guide for how to handle needle debris

While finding used needles on the ground can be unsettling, the City of Red Deer hopes a new guide can help people figure out what to do next.

Red Deer Needle Disposal Guide outlines the steps to take when people encounter needle debris, whether they are uncomfortable handling it themselves or are properly equipped to deal with it.

“We really wanted people to feel comfortable and prepared should they come across something,” said Ryan Veldkamp, Public Injection and Debris Committee member. “The guide equips people with the knowledge and tools they need or the direction towards the appropriate city resources so we can assist.”

The city found, through its downtown community development committee, residents, businesses and community organizations had raised concerns about public injection and needle debris.

Several organizations partnered together to look at establishing a guide to help educate people with the proper response when they do see needle debris.

The guide outlines the two options people have when faced with a discarded needle. Those who do not want to pick it up or are unequipped can call 403-342-8238. The caller will be asked to describe the needle location and depending on the time and location a member of the City’s public works, emergency services or parks or the Downtown Business Association’s Clean Team will take care of it.

Those who are comfortable and equipped with gloves, tongs or pliers and an appropriate container can pick it up and dispose of the needle at pharmacies, fire halls 1 (4941 46th St.), 2 (5839 67th St.) and headquarters (4340 32nd St.), Turning Point (4311 50th Ave.) or needle drop boxes around the city.

Pickup kits are available and at all city fire halls.

“We have daily cleanup in our park system and downtown we have a contractor that provides cleaning services,” said Veldkamp. “Certainly this is being addressed from other avenues, but this way everyone can contribute and it is a shared approach.”

The Public Injection and Debris Committee includes the city, Alberta Health Services, Turning Point Society of Central Alberta, Red Deer Downtown Business Association, Red Deer Primary Care Network, Red Deer Public Schools, Safe Harbour Society and Vantage Community Services.

The guide is available at Red Deer Public Libraries and recreation centres. A digital version can be found at www.reddeer.ca.

mcrawford@reddeeradvocate.com

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