Island Health and the City of Campbell River have teamed up to place safe needle disposal boxes around the city. This one is at Robert V. Ostler Park. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Safe needle disposal boxes placed around Campbell River

Improperly discarded needles have are a concern in many communities across Vancouver Island

It is now easier to dispose of needles safely in Campbell River, thanks to the installation of five sharps disposal boxes in the community.

“Improperly discarded needles have become a concern in many communities across the Island Health region, and Island Health is working with local governments and agencies to address these concerns,” Dr. Charmaine Enns, Medical Health Officer at Island Health, said in a press release. “The addition of these boxes in Campbell River will increase opportunity and encourage proper needle disposal in order to reduce litter from harm reduction supplies.”

The sharps disposal boxes, provided by Island Health, were recently installed at locations selected in consultation with partners including City of Campbell River Parks and Bylaw staff, the Downtown Safer Working Group, AIDS Vancouver Island, the Campbell River Community Action Team and the Downtown Business Improvement Association.

“Through strong partnerships like the one we have with Island Health, we more effectively address challenges facing our community,” said Ron Neufeld, Deputy City Manager with the City of Campbell River. “This initiative is another example of local governments and health authorities working together to improve public safety and community well-being.”

The yellow disposal box locations are:

· Nunn’s Creek Park – 16th Avenue, on the outside of washrooms by playground

· Centennial Building/Spirit Square – 1235 Shoppers Row, on the north side of building

· Tidemark Theatre – 1220 Shoppers Row, rear alleyway

· Robert Ostler Park – Island Highway 19A, on the edge of Longhouse parking lot

· Dogwood Walkway – 990 Cedar Street, behind Strathcona Regional District building near bottom of walkway

Usage of sharps boxes at the above locations will be monitored and the boxes may be moved if other locations are considered more effective. Additional boxes may be added at other locations in the community in the future.

Access to new needles is a critical harm reduction strategy to prevent and reduce the transmission of bloodborne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

Harm reduction supplies can also lead to increased access and referrals to support services and treatment.

Finding improperly discarded needles in the community can be unsettling. Fortunately, the risk of infection from an unintentional needle stick is very low.

Anxiety and fear are the main cause of concern around improperly discarded needles, rather than an injury itself.

Island Health offers public education and awareness about how to pick up and properly dispose of needles. More information can be found at www.islandhealth.ca/safe-needle-disposal.