(Black Press stock photo)

Vernon city council approves needle-clean up program

The Folks on Spokes project will include a community “hot line” and a daily clean-up of used needle “hot spots” throughout the city.

With used needles becoming an increasing topic of concern in Vernon over the past year, questions have circulated as to what the best option is in dealing with the persisting issue.

Vernon’s parks were issued two industrial sharps bins; some volunteered to collect used needles; others have launched their own buy-back programs — though Interior Health controversially opposed these buyback programs, calling them “unfeasible.”

Related: Needle clean-up planned

Related: Vernon Fire Rescue clean up needles, garbage in Vernon

Related: Vernon park gains needle bins

But at their meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, Vernon city council threw it’s support behind a new plan when they voted unanimously in favour of a proposed 2019 pilot project.

Working under the umbrella of the Community Safety Office, the Folks on Spokes project plans to provide the community with a “hot line,” which will allow the community report improperly discarded needles. In conjunction with the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services weekly deep clean, they also plan to assemble teams of properly trained individuals who will provide a two-hour morning daily-cleanup of identified “hot spots” in attempt to reduce the amount of improperly discarded needles throughout the city.

Daily clean-ups will take place Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. The hot line will be available for contact from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, during the CSO office hours. Pick up will be available following a request. Weekend and after hour requests will be forwarded to the Bylaw department.

A larger group, organized by NOYFSS and the Upper Room Misson, will also conduct a “weekly deep clean up” from 10 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays to collect improperly discarded needles and garbage found downtown and Polson Park.

The approved $33,000 project to implement Folks on Spokes and Sharps hot line will operate from March – November 2019. Following its completion on Oct. 31, a report on the program will be submitted to Council for review.

Related: Woman steps on used needle at Kin Beach

Related: Vernon Sharps team not in favour of needle exchange

Related: Interior Health against needle buyback programs

Related: Vernon councillor takes IHA to task over needle program

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