Needle cleanup around Vernon is being suported by city officials. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Needle cleanup around Vernon is being suported by city officials. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Needle buyback program fails to gain support in Vernon

Existing Folks on Spokes program proving effective

Efforts to clean up improperly discarded needles around Vernon aren’t likely to result in a buy-back program.

The city was investigating the potential for such a program, which operated shortly in Kamloops and Penticton but have since ceased.

Meanwhile Vernon’s Folks on Spokes (FOS) Program visits hotspots five days a week in the mornings, and by the end of August the program had collected 348 needles.

“The Folks on Spokes on-call hotline team, available 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week, have been called out 38 times between April and the end of August,” said Rachael Zubick, Vernon Community Safety Office Coordinator, in a report to council. “Approximately five calls have been received from residential areas and the balance from the business community. Hot Line call outs have resulted in the collection of 161 sharps throughout the city.”

Kamloops’ teams cleaned up 3,369 ‘public safety hazards,’ during the summer.

In Penticton, the Bylaw Services have collected roughly 3,000 sharps and public works 500.

The City of Vernon is recommended to stick with the status quo and support the Folkes on Spokes in the 2020 budget at $27,540 (so far this year the program has cost $11,245).

“The current program structure is the best use of resources,” said Zubick in her report. “It is financially prudent as well as an effective use of time.”

A final decision is expected at today’s council meeting.

READ MORE: Vernon hotspots cleaned of needles and garbage

READ MORE: First responder responds to Vernon’s opioid crisis


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jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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