Advertisement

Edmonton tweaks safe needle program to meet demand

Syringes at the supervised consumption site at Boyle Street Community Services (10116-105 Ave.) in downtown Edmonton, where people can carry out safe injection of drugs under medical supervision. March 22, 2018.
Syringes at the supervised consumption site at Boyle Street Community Services (10116-105 Ave.) in downtown Edmonton, where people can carry out safe injection of drugs under medical supervision. March 22, 2018. File / Global News

Edmonton is looking at setting up safe needle disposal boxes in expanded parts of the city.

So far, eight of them are in the greater downtown area, with the furthest in the north at the Bissell Thrift Store on 118th Avenue and the rest between 96 and 100 streets in the core.

Edmonton hasn’t seen an increase in the number of discarded needles that need picking up, however Don Belanger with Capital City Clean Up has seen calls to 311 come in more often than before from south of the river.

“You’re not just going to see it concentrated in the downtown core anymore. We have seen it and we continue to see it out in the outlying areas as well. So a needle on a piece of public property, a needle anywhere is not good, it needs to be picked up and disposed of properly.”

Story continues below advertisement

The main crew has had its schedule changed to match the bulk of the calls, which is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s first safe injection site set to open Friday at Boyle Street Community Services

“We’re tracking needle calls. And we’re tracking locations of needles so that if we need to place a needle box somewhere we would be basing it on evidence-based information from 311 based on the calls.”

The introduction of four safe injection sites has prompted the Kingsway Business Association to work more closely with the Royal Alexandra Hospital site for in-patients, executive director Ellie Sasseville told city council’s executive committee.

“We are receiving updates from the hospital and working to ensure that it is a good business neighbour. We have stepped up our efforts with the hospitals and the Capital City Clean Up to look for new needle solutions,” she said.

READ MORE: Health Canada approves safe injection sites in Edmonton, Lethbridge

Sasseville added that they’re increasing funding to support additional cleanup efforts.

Belanger said while they’re watching the four safe injection sites, the cleanup effort is city wide.

Story continues below advertisement

“Yes, we are doing it around the safe consumption sites. In looking at if the service is there for all areas so that’s how we’re running it.”

So far, he said, there hasn’t been an increase in the number of needles.

The city’s website posts four tips on safely handling any needles you might come across on your private property, however the safest way, Belanger said, is to call 311.

Sponsored content