More than 1,000 discarded needles were among the debris taken from the Cowichan River during a clean up of a section of the river in October. (File photo)

Island group disbanded after picking up 40,000 needles

Temporary contract in place while Cowichan looks for long-term solutions to discarded sharps problem

After collecting approximately 40,000 discarded needles in the Cowichan Valley since it was formed in 2017, the Warmland Sharps Pick-Up Team disbanded at the end of January after its contract ended.

The team was created in response to concerns in the community around discarded needles in pubic places.

It was funded by the Cowichan Tribes/First Nations Health Authority and managed by Warmland House and the Canadian Mental Health Association, Cowichan Valley branch.

RELATED STORY: DUNCAN NEEDLE PICK-UP TEAM FACING ABUSE

Island Health has a new contract with the Nanaimo and Area Resource Services for Families for a short-term contract for the collection of discarded needles in the area that began on Feb. 1 and expires on March 31.

The contract is seen as a temporary fix, and NARSF will be providing services of four hours a day, four days a week during the term of the contract.

Correspondence from Island Health said the time until the end of March “will enable targeted, focused discussions among local key stakeholders to develop a shared approach to this societal challenge”.

RELATED STORY: ISLAND HEALTH LAUNCHES NEEDLE-AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

Stacey Middlemiss is a councillor with the City of Duncan and a coordinator with the local Community Action Team.

Community Action Teams, which include key community stakeholders, were established by the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions in 2016, after the public health emergency due to the opioid crisis was declared, in areas of the province most hard hit by the crisis to try to help deal with related problems and find solutions.

RELATED STORY: OFFICIALS STEPPING UP TO COLLECT GROWING NUMBER OF DISCARDED NEEDLES

She said a meeting will soon be called with community partners in the region in an effort to find a sustainable solution to the discarded-needles issue, but it has yet to be scheduled.

James Tousignant, executive director of the Cowichan branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, said that when the province called the health emergency due to the opioid crisis, it made funding available for projects like the opening of overdose prevention sites, but not for programs to pick up discarded needles.

He said discarded needles became a big issue in the local region, but not in some other parts of the province, so Island Health has agreed to pay for the temporary program to act as bridge funding until the community can find money for the program from other sources.

“The members of the Warmland Sharps Pick-Up Team have been very visible in the community and have made connections with people, so we’re seeing less of a problem with discarded needles than in the past, but it is still an ongoing issue,” Tousignant said.

Just Posted

Tofino beckons Trudeau back for Easter vacation

Environmental group hopes latest Pacific Rim vacation inspires change in prime minister

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

Pacific FC puts its best foot forward for inaugural game

Players ‘counting down’ to kick-off day

Andrea Rondeau column: Why the Notre Dame fire touched us all

None of us could look away from the sight of the fire

Oak Bay double murder trial enters second week

Defence continues to question police handling of crime scene

VIDEO: Police dog in Oregon struck by 200 porcupine quills during pursuit

The German shepherd had to be sedated and was in treatment for more than two hours

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man charged with daughters’ murders

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

B.C. man turned to dating site for pimp operation, court hears

In court the details of how Simon Rypiak lured 4 women into prostitution revealed

Regional district chips in for Parksville goose harvest

City asked regional district to pay one-third of $35K expense

Two dogs rescued from Colwood house fire

Black Labrador retriever rescued and revived by West Shore crews

Lantzville looking to ban beach fires as youths aren’t respecting beaches

Lantzville the only municipality south of Comox Valley that allows beach fires, district staff say

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Most Read