FENTANYL CRISIS: Just over 1,600 needles picked up in Kelowna parks last month

Just over 1600 needles were picked up in Kelowna parks last month.

KELOWNA - Hopefully this isn't a sign of things to come in the middle of a province-wide State of Emergency over overdose deaths: More than 1,600 needles were picked up in Kelowna parks last month, up 73 per cent from the same time last year.

Technically, that's the most needles ever collected by Kelowna Parks department, roughly one thousand of those needles were unused, according to Lance Kayfish, the risk manager for the City of Kelowna.

“There was an unusual circumstance in which two boxes of unused needles, each with about 500 needles, were picked up,” said Kayfish.

If you only count the remaining 602 needles, that's still 171 more than this time last year.

“Weather is certainly a contributing factor. A later snow melt means needles are showing up later than usual,” Kayfish said. “Also, it’s not uncommon for an intravenous user to go through 10 needles a day, and if they’re not disposing of them properly that one person can make a noticeable difference.”

The biggest jump recorded by the city was from August 2014 to August 2015, with a 207 per cent increase, from 338 needles picked up to 1,038. The provincial government declared a State of Emergency after a spike in overdose deaths, largely attributed to distribution of the powerful opioid fentanyl in the illicit drug supply. 

If you come across a needle you can make a service request to the City of Kelowna. To remove a needle yourself, make sure you have protective gloves or are using tong-like equipment, place the needle in a hard plastic container and drop it off at local pharmacy or harm reduction service.

The City of Kelowna released data about how many needles were picked up each month, from 2014 to 2017.
The City of Kelowna released data about how many needles were picked up each month, from 2014 to 2017.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of Kelowna

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