Vernon city councillor setting up needle buyback program | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon city councillor setting up needle buyback program

Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal is putting $500 of her own money into setting up a needle buyback program
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August 02, 2018 - 5:30 PM

VERNON - Vernon city council's decision not to support a needle buyback scheme isn't stopping Coun. Dalvir Nahal who has decided to launch a buyback program herself.

Nahal along with local businessman and addictions counsellor Darrin Taylor are in the early stages of putting together a program that will see drug users receive five cents for every needle they return.

"The intention is to get as many needles off the streets as possible,” Nahal said.

She is putting $500 of her own cash into the program, which she points out would be enough to refund 10,000 needles.

Nahal said she didn't have a location for the program but was reaching out to the Upper Room Mission and Turning Points Collaborative Society.

The issue of discarded needles has been brought into the limelight recently and several cases around the Okanagan where people have been accidentally stabbed and with Interior Health BC's claim that 99 per cent of needles are properly disposed of - a number the health authority later admitted was an "approximation."

Taylor chaired the Activate Safety Task Force whose recommendation to council was to support a needle buyback scheme, but council rejected the idea at their July 23 meeting. Proponents of the needle buyback idea compare it to monetized bottle deposits and point out it's rare to see bottles and cans on the street, but Interior Health has previously said they don't support such schemes.

A needle buyback program set up at the beginning of July in Penticton by Sunrise Pharmacy owner Joelle Mbamy and her daughter Donna Mbamy-Conci had collected over 14,000 within a few weeks. Mbamy-Conci said critics of buyback schemes say they worry people will purposely break into sharp boxes to steal the needles and return.

"I can tell you 14,000 (needles) didn’t come from public washrooms in Penticton," she said.

Kamloops residents Caroline King and Dennis Giesbrecht started a needle buyback program June 20, going out twice a week for two-hour periods. King said she receiving over 700 in one two-hour shift. King also said a nearby homeless camp had also been "picked clean" of needles.

Regardless of the fact council voted against it and Interior Health has said they don't support such schemes, Nahal is hopeful once the program has started she'll be able to get third parties on board.

"We really want to work with the agencies," she said. She hopes once a buyback program was established an agency might then come onboard.


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