New committee to delve deeper into needle concerns
ANGELA MULLINS, METRO LONDON, February 01, 2012
The city is forming a working group to examine the issue of used syringes being discarded on public and private property.
The committee plans to take on pretty much anything that could fall under the “discarded sharps” umbrella, said Jan Richardson, who manages homelessness, hostels and special populations for the city.
“There are many individuals affected … property owners, merchants, landlords, community agencies, parks staff,” Richardson said. “We’re ready now to say, ‘Let’s make the table bigger so that we can start looking at some of the broader solutions.’”
That readiness comes after the city rolled out needle-disposal boxes in 2008 as part of London CAReS (community addiction response strategy) — a plan to improve the health of homeless people by addressing addictions. A few boxes were put in place during the first year, and staff have been adding more since then.
Now, 13 bins have been placed in an area bounded approximately by the Thames River, Oxford Street, Rectory Street and the SoHo neighbourhood.
The first boxes east of Adelaide Street were added late last year. Through outreach by London CAReS staff along with input from groups including business and neighbourhood associations, 10 more hotspots have been identified as places that would benefit from bins, Richardson said.
While the new committee could lead to more discussion about where bins should be placed, Richardson also expects many other results.
The group doesn’t have set parameters, so anything — including a possible redesign of the city’s needle bins — is up for grabs. Some cities, Richardson said, have blended the bins with the urban landscape, fashioning them into pieces of art.
“In Edmonton they have them on telephone poles.... They’re much smaller and all over the place. In Vancouver, they have a variety of different designs,” she said. “We have a serious problem in this country related to addiction and injection-drug use,” Richardson added. “Needle bins are one part of the overall picture.”