Contributed photo Red Deer resident Rhonda Berger recently came across this broken tree-mounted bin designed to collect drug users’ needles.

Red Deer woman concerned after encountering busted needle drop box

A woman is concerned for the public’s safety after spotting a drug needle drop box while on her walk.

Rhonda Berger was recently walking among the bushes in the Pines area when she saw a container for used needles mounted to a tree.

The Red Deer woman posted her concerns on social media, saying the plastic container was full of needles and the lid was busted.

“These shouldn’t be so easily accessible to the public,” she said Thursday.

She worries the needles could fall out of the container, onto the ground, where they could present a public heath risk.

“The needles could be on the ground in the snow, for all we know,” she said.

Berger said the containers are necessary, but should be more secure – such as made of metal, like steel.

The Michener Centre area resident said she believes people could do anything with the needles, and therefore should have no access to them.

“Kids could be grabbing those needles, and it’s a bit concerning. And it should be.”

Turning Point’s Aisley Miles said there are approximately 15 tree-mounted needle containers in Red Deer. They’re spread around the city to cut down on debris.

There are a few out of the way locations in the city frequented by people either camping or hanging out, who leave behind debris, she said, adding the plastic containers are different than the metal drop boxes located downtown, which look like mail boxes.

Turning Point staff check on most drop boxes and containers about once every six weeks. Each container features a phone number to call, in case the public finds them broken or overflowing, for instance.

“When someone calls us and lets us know, we respond immediately, whether it’s vandalized or broken, or there’s debris around the box. We send someone out right away,” said Miles.

Containers used less often are checked less frequently, she said.

“Sometimes, they don’t have many contents in them. There have been times when they’re broken, unfortunately, and there are times when they’re just not there anymore – so maybe that’s someone upset that it’s there, so they take it down.

“It’s not very often that we get the ones that are broken.”

Having a metal tree-mounted container might not be feasible, said Miles, when asked about Berger’s suggestion. They would cost more and perhaps harm the tree, she said, adding the plastic containers are taped to the trees, so they don’t cause damage.

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