Parksville’s discarded needle situation may improve in the near future, following discussions by city staff, Island Health and the Ministry of Health.
Areas prone to discarded sharps were identified by city staff and the Ministry of Health committed its clean team to conducting sweeps for needles, according to a verbal report to council on April 20 by the city’s CAO, Keeva Kehler. Kehler added the areas identified are mainly city parks, downtown alleys and lanes.
Island Health installed new sharps disposal boxes at locations it owns or controls, according to Kehler’s report.
Island Health reached out to other provinces about distributing of “retractable needles,” which become blunted after use, for unhoused people. So far Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Newfoundland’s health authorities responded and indicated they are not using that model.
Kehler indicated Dr. Sandra Allison, of Island Health, planned to check with the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) for information about agencies that distribute syringes in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
Kehler also mentioned Island Health has an open posting for a registered practical nurse with addiction specialization, a peer support worker and for supportive resources including an outreach worker for mental health.
Island Health is also working on a request for proposal for additional treatment and recovery beds in PQB and Nanaimo. It hopes to increase PQB beds from nine to 20, according to Keher’s verbal report to council.
City staff memers will meet with health officials in May and report back to council.