Discarded-needle plan in the works: council

Bonnie Belec
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Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s hoping to have staff trained this month

People need to stop picking up discarded intravenous needles in the town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s before someone gets hurt, says the deputy mayor.

Gavin Will. — Submitted photo

Gavin Will told The Telegram Wednesday if people find drug paraphernalia in the community they should immediately contact the town.

“I’m not aware of any being found in the past week, but from what I gather those finding them have been privately disposing of them, so we have to put a stop to that for their own safety,” he said.

“When dealing with the needles being found you should be wearing puncture-proof gloves and have a proper receptacle to drop them into, so what we want is for residents to phone the town so that we can dispose of them safely.”

The deputy mayor of the Northeast Avalon community said the issue came to the town’s attention a few weeks ago when council was contacted by a concerned resident who reported discovering more than 20 needles since April in an area of the town.

Will, who was elected to council in October after campaigning during the summer, said he became aware of the issue at that time but the latest discovery involves a different area of the town in Portugal Cove, near the ferry terminal, on North Point Road.

Two weeks ago staff contacted the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary about the matter, but since then have been doing work of their own to address the problem.

Will said the town has been in touch with the Newfoundland and Labrador AIDS Committee for guidance and has brought the issue to the attention of the protection services committee during a meeting Tuesday.

“So we have been in contact with (executive director Gerard Yetman) and he said they are willing to co-ordinate a training session for council and staff — recreation, public works and others who deal with the public,” he said.

“We don’t want residents doing it, so we’re trying to get the training later in the month which would be great, because summer is upon us, the kids are going to be out of school and we want to make the public aware when they are out and about if they come across the needles they know exactly what to do,” said Will.

Council also plans to provide residents with information in the town’s newsletter regarding proper protocols for disposal.

Will said the town will also discus with the AIDS committee the possibility of providing collection bins throughout the community or in known hot spots.

Yetman was out of town Wednesday but has told The Telegram in the past that municipalities need to think seriously about installing collection bins in their neighbourhoods.

 He said collection bins are a solution based on research that has worked in pilot projects in Ontario and B.C., and have made a vast improvement in keeping the community clean.

 Around the same time last year, councils from St. John’s, Paradise and Torbay were contending with areas in their communities that were littered with drug paraphernalia.

All are working on different protocols to address the issue and all have called on the RNC for help.

 

 bbelec@thetelegram.com

Organizations: The Telegram, Newfoundland and Labrador AIDS

Geographic location: Portugal Cove, Northeast Avalon, Ontario Torbay

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