Increase of used needles at Vancouver park prompts more safety patrols

File photo of discarded drug needle.
File photo of discarded drug needle. Jim Douglas / Global News
The City of Vancouver is taking steps to keep children safe in a popular downtown park. Residents raised concerns recently over the large number of used needles found in Andy Livingstone Park, located on Expo Boulevard and Carrall Street. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said Tuesday, “[he takes the] concerns raised about needle hazards seriously, particularly around schools and parks where children and families are at risk”.

On June 15, Park Board stepped up patrols to seven days a week. Two park rangers will be on site in Andy Livingstone from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The city will be working with the Vancouver Police Department in the park and the surrounding area.

Poorly discarded needles have been a major concern for residents and parents visiting the park.

In 2015, Vancouver Coastal Health released data indicating that an average of 355 needles per month were found in the park.

“Fourteen months into B.C.’s most serious public health emergency in history, managing discarded needles in public spaces has become a significant challenge,”  said Robertson in a statement. “We need partners at all levels of government to work together to keep our public spaces clean and safe.”

In April 2017, Vancouver Park Board unveiled the new Andy Livingstone Park playground. This comes after the city completed construction on Crosstown Elementary, a new public school scheduled to officially open its doors to students in September 2017. The elementary school was designed without a playground, and students will spend recess and lunch hours in Andy Livingstone Park.

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“We hope our efforts send a message to residents that they’ve been heard and their concerns are important to us.  This is a process that requires all of us to work closely and diligently together as we strive for safety in our parks and a great experience for all park users,” says Park Board chair Michael Wiebe.

People can contact Vancouver Coastal Health’s needle-pickup hotline at 604-657-6561.