Rise in number of needles

Authorities report an increased number of needles being found primarily downtown

More signs of drug activity are being found in downtown Vernon.

Authorities report an increased number of needles being found primarily downtown.

“We want to keep them out of the hands of children,” said Annette Sharkey, with the Social Planning Council and the Partners in Action program.

A spring clean-up was held March 30 and five one-litre containers were filled with syringes.

Part of the reason for the influx in needles is the closure of the Green Valley Motel, which provided privacy for those involved in drug activity.

Sharkey says the clean-up was important and the event included 11 members of the street community.

“We are hearing that the drugs are more intense and laced with fentanyl,” she said.

“We have lost valuable members of the community due to overdoses.”

However, Sharkey says the situation in Vernon hasn’t been as bad as it could be because social agencies and emergency personnel are trained to use overdose treatment kits.

“We have managed to avoid the spike seen in other communities.”

A public health emergency was recently declared in B.C. because of the growing number of  opioid drug overdoses.

There were 474 illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. in 2015, a 30 per cent increase from 2014.