FROM THE FILES OF THE BRANDON SUN
Brandon City Council is considering a proposal to put needle sharps containers in public places around downtown.
Kerri Judd, co-ordinator of the Sexuality Education Resource Centre, and Iuliya Kusnetsova, a Prairie Mountain Health harm reduction co-ordinator, asked council for permission to install 13 sharps containers and educate people on harm reduction.
The goal is to provide more accessible places for people to dispose of sharps and needles when they use them, Judd said. The project is a collaboration between multiple groups, including SERC, Prairie Mountain Health and Brandon Bear Clan.
While there are already sharps containers inside some City of Brandon buildings, the new boxes would be outdoors and accessible around the clock.
“The goal, basically, would be to increase community safety by decreasing the number of sharps found improperly disposed of in downtown Brandon,” Judd said.
The containers could be placed in the downtown core, the area where the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation has jurisdiction. If approved, they will be installed on hydro poles.
The hope is the new containers will help reduce the number of improperly disposed of needles, including those on the ground and entering the city’s sanitation and recycling collection system.
Another part of the project will be education, Judd said, and to reduce the stigma around people using harm reduction supplies with drugs. Prairie Mountain Health will also educate people on what to do if they do find a used needle.
The 13 locations councillors are being asked to approve are: Stanley Park, Princess Park (inside bathrooms), the corner of Park Avenue and Louise Avenue, 430 Princess Ave., the back lane of 11th Street and 12th Street, Coronation Park, the intersection of Assiniboine Avenue and Seventh Street, the intersection of College Avenue and Ninth Street, the Brandon Transit terminal, the intersection of Louise Avenue and Fifth Street, under the 18th Street Bridge, the Sexuality Education Resource Centre, and in between Super Thrift and Helping Hands.
The locations for the boxes were decided on based on feedback from Brandon police, service providers and individuals, Judd said. The locations are negotiable and boxes could be moved depending on the need.
During the meeting, Coun. Shaun Cameron (University) asked how durable the containers are, citing concerns of people breaking them or kids getting into the containers.
Judd said the bins are metal and very durable.
Funding for the project comes from a Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation grant. SERC purchased 15 needle drop boxes and 66 liners with the money.
According to a report to Brandon City Council, Prairie Mountain Health will be responsible for disposing of the sharps in the containers and the education component. The City of Brandon would be responsible for collecting and replacing the needle drop box liners and transporting them to the hospital for disposal.
A spokesperson for Prairie Mountain Health said in a statement before the meeting that partnering with other agencies “provides for a more comprehensive approach.”
“One of the goals of Prairie Mountain Health is to help create a healthy environment, and assisting in providing an increase in the accessibility of sharps bins to allow for proper disposal of used sharps is contributing to that goal,” the statement reads.
Similar sharps container programs exist in Lethbridge, Alta. and downtown Winnipeg.
The plan is to install the sharps containers “as soon as possible,” Judd said, hopefully in the next few months.
The issue was passed on to city administration, which will report back to councillors. Coun. John LoRegio (Meadows-Waverly) asked for a report back in a month and said there is a sense of urgency in the community to get it done.
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I have also compiled some thoughts on this on the blog/update portion of my site. You can read it here.
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