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No used-needle pickup available in Nanaimo's north end

Residents and business owners in Nanaimo’s north end have to fend for themselves when it comes to picking up discarded drug paraphernalia.

The problem came to light recently when staff at Delicado’s North, located at the corner of Aulds Road and Metral Drive, were getting ready to open for the day.

Ashley Thorp, a restaurant employee, responded to an anxious knocking on the restaurant’s front door by a woman warning her about five used syringes and a spoon left near the business’s entrance.

“These joggers that came by in the morning, they let us know and thank God they did,” Thorp said.

It was the first time anything like this had been found around the area.

When staff phoned the city about having the items picked up, they were told to put the syringes in a tin, bucket or other container that couldn’t be pierced by the needles.

“They said to put it in there and just throw it in the garbage,” Thorp said.

John Horn, the city’s social planner, said Nanaimo currently does not have anyone on staff to pick up discarded syringes, but there are proper disposal sites downtown.

The Harris House Health Clinic at 375 Franklyn St. offers a needle exchange program and will send the items on to the provincial syringe disposal program. “They’re not going to pick them up for you,” Horn said. “You have to bring them to a needle exchange and then they’ll dispose of them properly through a provincial program, so they’ve continued to fund that piece.”

The city maintains syringe disposal boxes at various locations downtown.

If persistent complaints did come from an area the city would install a box, John Horn said, but noted it would also mean additional costs to have someone service it.

Sandy McLean, a nurse with Harris House, said when people do find syringes they should handle them with the same caution they would any sharp object, put them in a closable container that is puncture proof.

“If we’re not open, there’s a red pail by the side gate they can drop them in and it’s available all the time.”

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