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New guide aimed at safe needle disposal

Do Grande Prairie residents know what to do if they come across a needle? The City hopes to make sure the answer is yes.

It has released its own Needle Disposal Guide, which includes information on the risks of touching a discarded needle and how to dispose of one safely. Manager of Community Social Development Angela Sutherland says it’s important for everyone to learn as they could be found in any neighbourhood.

“People need to know that this is a current reality of our community and that drug and needle debris is a challenging issue for Grande Prairie. We just want to make sure that people understand how to confront them when they see them.”

Among the instructions are to call HIV North for pickup, or to get rid of the needle using tongs, gloves and a puncture-proof case. There are nine public disposal containers around the city that can be used, which Sutherland says are helpful.

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“I think the more that we can share that they exist, what I’ve heard from HIV North is that it’s helping minimize needles across the community. If there’s certain areas where people know they can go, I think it helps with the cleanup.”

The boxes are located on the north side of Shoppers Drug Mart, by the Prairie Mall, on the north side of the alley behind Better than Fred’s, the Rotary House parking lot, the parking lot south of the Industry bar, the Muskoseepi Park trail south of St. Paul’s United Church, the Salvation Army parking lot, the parking lot south of the Islamic Centre, the parking lot at the Community Village, and at the Northern Addictions Centre.

Discarded needles were a growing concern in some neighbourhoods near downtown last year, but Mayor Bill Given says he’s heard there have been fewer complaints this year. Mayor Bill Given expects to see that continue with more concentrated efforts by local agencies.

“The permanent supportive housing approach that has been piloted at the Parkside Inn has really focused that issue and that debris and has a lot better opportunity for them to collect it directly from the people who are using the needles.”

A physical Needle Disposal Guide will be available at some city facilities and related associations, but it is also online. It is the result of the Mayor’s Community Opioid Response Task Force.

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