A group of Vernon volunteers has taken it upon themselves to keep city parks clear of refuse produced by drug users.
The Polson Avengers routinely clean up needles in parks and public spaces around the city.
Volunteer Al Kranenborg said he has found almost 100 needles just in the last two weeks, and the group’s founder has discovered more than 300 since April.
The group often live streams its efforts in the interest of safety. Wearing gloves and using tongs, the volunteers pick up the sharps they find.
The group would rather volunteers find the needles than children stumble upon them.
“It’s a sad situation but the reality is this is life, not just in this city, but everywhere,” Kranenborg said.
But should this type of work be left to volunteers?
READ MORE: Street crime hurts Vernon businesses
In a statement, the City of Vernon said it does employ security, bylaw, and parks staff to work in the parks.
“The City of Vernon’s top priority is the safety of citizens and staff and in the case of local parks, bylaw staff patrol parks daily with Polson Park patrolled an average of five times a day beginning at 7:30 a.m.,” the city said in a statement.
“Parks crews are in the parks for much of the workday with security services patrolling Polson Park at night. Each of these groups looks for discarded trash and disposes of it, and that’s one reason why Vernon’s parks are so clean and inviting. Our crews are in the parks in the early morning and on scene at night and we can assure residents that Vernon’s parks remain safe.”
Still, the Polson Avengers plan to continue their efforts to keep public spaces free of discarded needles.