Councillor Nathan Pachal. File photo

A new approach to needles considered by Langley City

Looking into pilot program with Fraser Health to install outdoor drop boxes where addicts shoot up

Langley City is looking into using outdoor drop boxes to stop addicts from discarding used hypodermic needles in public places.

Council has endorsed a proposal from the Crime Prevention Task Group chaired by councillor Nathan Pachal to have staff investigate with the Fraser Health regional authority “the possibility of a pilot program which would install drop boxes in areas where there is a pattern of discarded needles.”

“I live right next to Portage Park and I’ve seen needles on the ground,” Pachal told the Times.

“No one wants to see that. There’s just people discarding needles where they shouldn’t be.”

Pachal said the task group made the recommendation after it was alerted to the results of a Montreal study that found placing metal drop boxes in places where addicts shoot up produced a dramatic drop in the number of abandoned hypodermic needles.

The report on the five-year study “Assessing a drop box programme: A spatial analysis of discarded needles” published in the International Journal of Drug Policy in 2009 by researchers from McGill University and the University of Washington found “strong evidence” that installing 12 outdoor drop boxes (DBs) in “non-park open spaces” of Montreal including “hot spots” with high levels of discarded needles reduced the number of abandoned “sharps” collected on the ground by up to 98 per cent.

The Montreal program used stainless-steel, locked boxes with a capacity of 450 needles.

“From the perspective of public health and city officials, DBs are attractive because they represent a low-cost intervention that requires little maintenance,” the report noted.

The report said intravenous drug users “in most situations prefer safe disposal to discarding” and will walk as far as 200 metres to use a drop box if they know it’s there.

The Montreal study concluded by noting drop boxes by themselves will not eradicate discarded needles completely.

“Minimizing the harm caused by discards requires a multi-part policy” the report said, one that includes permanent programs to encourage returning needles to distribution sources, convenient drop boxes and rapid-response programmes to collect abandoned syringes.

READ MORE: Letter: Fraser Health working hard to address overdose crisis

Any pilot drop box program in Langley City will have to be co-ordinated with the Fraser Health regional authority which distributes clean needles as part of its harm reduction initiative, Pachal said.

“I think if you were to ask community members, they would say the collection (of used needles by a Fraser Health contractor) is not living up to expectations,” Pachal sad.

“So this is all part of that, to get that full cycle so that, yes, they’re doing their harm reduction but they also have to make sure that they’re picking (those needles) up and they are making sure that our community is also safe.”

The Langley pilot, if it goes ahead, would see “small and discreet” needle drop boxes installed in areas where they are most often discarded, Pachal said.

“If we can get that in our community and we don’t have to worry about a kid running into a needle or a senior seeing a needle that’s a big win,” Pachal said.

“When you get rid of these things, you actually reduce crime. It sends a cue that our community is safe, that our community doesn’t tolerate this stuff.”

The program would be preceded by a public education component.

“We want to make sure that if it does go forward, that residents are informed, that they are given a chance to learn as well,” Pachal said.

The City has already installed depository boxes inside washrooms at Douglas Park, Douglas Recreation Centre and Rotary Centennial Park.

As well, some Langley City business like Cascades Casino have “sharps” depository boxes in their washrooms.

READ MORE: Langley City grapples with problem of discarded needles

Langley City Council created the Crime Prevention Task Group in March with a mandate that includes promoting a CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) review of geographic areas where there are high levels of crime, increasing RCMP foot and bike patrol in the downtown core and at crime hot spots as well as promoting Crime Watch in residential neighbourhoods and Business Watch in commercial and industrial areas.



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Langley City is considering a new tactic to deal with the problem of used hypodermic needles in public parks. It could see the city install outdoor drop boxes in locations where drug users are known to shoot up. Wikimedia file photo

Just Posted

Chilliwack trustee calls LGBTQ school program ‘weapon of propaganda’

Barry Neufeld published the comments on his Facebook page, contradicting board policy

Mother bear attacks Mission woman, conservation officer

Animal charged, knocked down and bit conservation officer before being pushed off and shot

$9,000 in bridge tolls shocks Maple Ridge man

Jeffrey Hann was shocked to learn he owed more than $9,000 in Golden Ears Bridge tolls

Opponents of LGBTQ program to file human rights complaint against Surrey School District

District denied Parents United Canada right to rent Bell Performing Arts Centre for rally next month

UPDATED: Gunfire erupts in quiet Langley neighbourhood

Police have 79A Avenue cordoned off after reports of shots just before 5 a.m.

VIDEO: Mission Strong Youth Challenge

Highlights from the obstacle event on Oct. 21

B.C. NDP convention set for Victoria

Premier, federal leader Jagmeet Singh to add energy

Silver Creek farm search expands north

RCMP were seen collecting evidence three kilometres north of the farm where human remains were found

Ferries re-routed due to fluid spill at Nanaimo’s Duke Point

At least one sailing from Tsawwassen to Duke Point was redirected to Departure Bay

‘Angels’ help save life of Langley senior

Wilf Driedger believes he wouldn’t be here today if not for the quick action of two strangers

Chilliwack homeless camp dismantled on Monday

Mostly co-operative group emerged from the woods with possessions and dispersed

B.C. couple hope boat drone becomes first to cross Atlantic

Colin and Julie Angus of Victoria to have drone collect environmental data en route

B.C. casino accused of illegal activity follows rules: operator

B.C. had launched review after concerns about money laundering at River Rock casino in Richmond

Amazon gets 238 proposals for 2nd headquarters

Submissions were due last week. Online retailer has said tax breaks and grants would be factors

Most Read