North Okanagan man launches needle buyback scheme from back of minivan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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North Okanagan man launches needle buyback scheme from back of minivan

Lyle O'Sullivan has launched a needle buyback scheme from the back of his minivan in Vernon.
August 22, 2018 - 2:03 PM

VERNON - Inspired by a similar initiative in Kamloops, a Spallumcheen resident has launched a needle buyback scheme in Vernon run from the back of his minivan.

Lyle O'Sullivan, 58, set up shop at 10 a.m. today, Aug. 22, in downtown Vernon offering five cents for every used needle given to him. Within about 10 minutes he'd had two people drop off needles.

He's named the project the Needle Incentive Program, or NIP for short, and launched it with $122, money he says he got from collecting cans. He's set a maximum limit of 250 needles for an individual to return per day.

O'Sullivan says he was inspired by a similar program set up by volunteers in Kamloops.

Running the needle return program from the back of his Dodge minivan parked on 34 Street near the Upper Room Mission, O'Sullivan said he plans to be there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. till noon. He says he'll feed the meter with quarters to pay for the city parking space.

He knows there is opposition to such programs from the Interior Health Authority, but says no one in Vernon is dealing with the issue of discarded needles successfully.

"Why is this still a problem? I thought this would have been dealt with years ago," O'Sullivan says.

O'Sullivan says he is a former intravenous drug user and alcoholic who was diagnosed HIV positive in 1998 and has hepatitis C, both illnesses, he says, are a result of his former drug use.

Now 12 years sober, O'Sullivan says Hogarth's Clinic Pharmacy gave him the sharps box and he will return it to them when full. He stresses the pharmacy had not officially endorsed his initiative. He also says he'd hadn't heard from city hall although he had left a message telling them about his initiative.

Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal says she thought O'Sullivan's heart was in the right place and felt his frustration, but worried about how sustainable his program was in the long run. Nahal is currently in the process of implementing a program to get needles off the street.

Of the two people who dropped off needles at O'Sullivan's van this morning, one man gave him a bucket containing around 200 needles. He didn't count them and instead gave him $7. O'Sullivan said he knows the man will be back.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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