By Lethbridge Herald on September 19, 2020.
The ARCHES-run supervised consumption site is closed, and needle debris continues to be a concern in the city.
Many in the community suggested the problem might go away once the SCS closed, and there is no doubt ARCHES in its earlier incarnations was distributing large quantities of clean needles to local drug users to prevent the spread of disease. This added to the problem, but report after report produced in the past two years suggested drug users were getting many of their needles from the dealers themselves even as clean-needle distribution was drastically curtailed.
When the City instituted its Clean Sweep program the needle debris numbers went noticeably down in the downtown area, but the concern expressed by local officials when the SCS closed was the problem would spread to other areas of the city where it had been fairly centralized before.
That is obviously not a reason to keep the Supervised Consumption Site open given the other issues with the former site, but it is now incumbent on both provincial public health officials and municipal organizations to pick up the slack on the problem of improperly disposed needles and other drug debris.
It is also incumbent on local residents to not get complacent on the issue. Local schools and daycares continue to sweep their grounds daily for discarded needles. City staff keep an eye on public parks and streets. But obviously school monitors and City employees can’t be everywhere, and parents must also keep a good eye out when bringing children into public areas.
If you find a needle, the pick-up hotline number has not changed. It’s 403-332-0722.
By working together as a community, we can continue to help keep everyone safe. And if you see a needle, don’t just walk by and think it is somebody else’s problem, because that puts everybody at risk.
Call the hotline. Or if you have a safe collection capability and sharps box nearby, pick it up and have it disposed of properly.
Public health is everyone’s responsibility, and it is important for us to be active and engaged citizens to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.
Comment on this editorial online at https://www.lethbridgeherald.com/opinions/