Brandon Bear Clan sees huge spike in used needles on streets

Image taken of needles found by Brandon Bear Clan. Brandon Bear Clan

After two years of patrolling, the Brandon Bear Clan says it’s seen a huge rise in the number of needles it’s finding on the streets.

The organization has been patrolling streets in the Westman city since 2017 as a result of an increase in sexual assaults in downtown Brandon.

In a presentation to Brandon’s city council, the group said it’s picked up more than 900 disposed needles so far in 2019.

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“This problem is not getting better and we’re extremely worried about those who are using, the impact on their families and the impact on the larger family,”  Lisa Ramsay from the Bear Clan tells Global News.

The 2019 number sits higher than last year’s total of more than 500 needles picked up and marks a major difference from 2017’s total of just 30 needles found on Brandon’s streets.

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“I think that what the community is experiencing, the momentum of meth, has certainly had an impact in our community,” Ramsay said.

Click to play video 'Bear Clan Patrol featured on Global News Morning' Bear Clan Patrol featured on Global News Morning
Bear Clan Patrol featured on Global News Morning – Jul 4, 2017

At one point, the group says, it pulled over 90 needles from a dumpster at one time. In another incident, they found two-litre bottles full of needles.

“It’s extremely concerning us. Of course we want citizens to be safe, we want children to be safe, to play and walk around their neighbourhood. So it also represents a concern for people who are using,” Ramsay said.

The Bear Clan was at Brandon’s city council meeting Monday looking to get more funding for next year.

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“We want the city of Brandon to know that when we do patrols and when we do our safe walks home and when we cab people home, when we pick up needles from their garbage bin, that is saving the city money.”

This is the first year the group isn’t solely run on volunteers after an anonymous donor provided funds to secure a staff and manage outreach services in the spring.

The group noted it does not receive funding from the Winnipeg Bear Clan.