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Public Debate on Needle Exchange Needed says City Councillor

Monday, February 29, 2016 @ 3:50 AM

Prince George, B.C. – A Prince George city councillor would like to see Northern Health do a better job of handling its needle exchange program.

Brian Skakun says he’s received many phone calls and complaints about carelessly discarded needles over the years.

This discarded needle was found near 15th and Spruce - photo 250News

This debris was found near 15th and Spruce – photo 250News

“One of the biggest issues is the van that drops off the needles and the debris that is left in neighbourhoods as a result. Some people are just getting so upset about it.”

He says he understands that Northern Health’s harm reduction strategy is to protect drug users but says that’s not fair to the rest of the population.

“What about other people’s rights to have a safe, clean neighbourhood and to have these needles picked up and taken out of there?”

Fiann Crane, Northern Health’s regional director of preventative health, acknowledges Skakun’s concerns.

“It seems that we hear with some frequency that people are finding areas where there seems to be an increased amount of drug related litter, so we are concerned about that and very interested in understanding where those places are so we can maybe reposition drop boxes if necessary.”

However she still defends the program as a vitally important tool in aiding the city’s most vulnerable.

“The needle exchange is one component of a harm reduction program that’s aimed at reducing the risks for the people who choose to use drugs and risk diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C,” says Crane.

“The harm reduction program is critically important to prevent or to minimize and mitigate the risks to these vulnerable people in the community.”

But Skakun still believes the program needs to be reevaluated.

“Northern Health has to take the lead on this and the whole needle exchange issue and I think at some point there needs to be some kind of public debate,” he says.

“Does it need to move? Then where would it go? Is there still value in it? These are things way beyond my scope but I think we need to have that open community dialogue.”


It stills blows me away that we make a area, or put money into a safe needle exchange so junkies can shoot illegal drugs.. Yet don’t dare smoke a joint..

I know it was brought in with the AIDS scare..but everyone knows about AIDS now.. It is passed through dirty needles.. Time to stop pandering to the junkies and stop this needle exchange.

They call it a “needle exchange” but how many used needles are actually taken back?
That’s not all they give out either. They give crack pipe kits. A glass crack pipe, a plastic mouthpiece, a wooden stick reamer, a bit of steel wool, everything needed to smoke crack!
I wonder why they don’t just give them the drugs to go with them?
I don’t know how much of Northern health’s budget is spent on these things but really?
Its called Northern Health but it seems that they are contributing to the problem or enabling it at least.

    Exactly my thought. You want a needle, or you want 10 needles or whatever comes in a package, you get exactly how many you have returned.

    So, where can we find out how this is supposed to work and why it is not working like that.

    In this case, I think the people who set up the program should be able to figure out how to make it work.

    The only public who should be involved are the users of the needles. The rest only want those who set it up to solve it.

    Start with: Where are there needle exchanges in place that do not have problems of discarding needles all over the place.

    On top of that, are needle exchanges the only place they can be gotten? If they can be gotten somewhere else, how do we know the ones which are discarded are from the needle exchange? Are they marked to identify them?

Why do we need public debate? With the inordinate number of managers at Northern Health there should be one with enough brains to say the program’s not working?

Ship them all out to Shelly and house them in an abandoned barn. Give them all the rehab they need, drug them up, as long as I don’t have to look at their needles and Zombie moves.

    WHAT have you got against Shelley? How about some island in the middle of the pacific

      Planes can’t land there, so they have to paraglide in. Costs too much to teach them paragliding. :-)

A safe Injection site is needed..this will solve some of this PROBLEM !!
See the difference is Junkies use Needles…Pharma Junkies just go to the Medicine cabnet…
Good to see a counciler that will be out picking up the Shiite in New Needle park….if and when!

    i think you will find there is one downtown…or at least there once was.

Put an empty pop can on any street downtown, and it will be gone in 30 minutes because junkies and street people pick them up for the nickel. So easy solution is just to put a 5 cent value on needles, put a deposit box in at the bottle depot, and give them a nickel for every needle they put in the box. Solved by the very people who create the problem.

    Difference is I paid for that pop can and they aren’t paying for anything…free money.

    Needles are dangerous to handle. They need to be dropped into a secure box such as they have in hospital rooms so that those who use them can drop them there. As someone wrote, injection sites would have those. Still doe not guarantee people will deposit them.

Really good idea ski51 . Another never mentioned tack is that no one is following the money . The money made by the injector manufactures should not be over looked . They must know that they make huge money selling needles to the illegal drugs trade . It’s high time ( no pun intended ) they pony up their share of responsibility .

This has been argued and debated in length by prior councils, so Brian Skakun, take a holiday and give it a break.
otherwise you will just be wasting money rehashing something that has already wasted a ton of money.

1. Business’s in the downtown are issued sealed boxes from the Needle Exchange and they then pick up the empty needles in the alleys put them in the boxes, return the boxes to the needle exchange, and get a new box. Not all business’s participate but many do. So in effect we have concerned citizen’s making the exchange work.

2. In addition to the needles being thrown in the streets and back alleys, we also have people urinating and excreting in the alleys on a regular basis. When you consider that there are no washrooms available and many people who live on the street, you can use your imagination as to what is actually taking place.

Sooooo. We need to discuss more that just the needles. We have an overall health risk in the middle of our City and it is being ignored by the City.

I suggest that Councillor Skakun deal with the whole issue of a healthy downtown, rather than cherry picking an issue.

    “When you consider that there are no washrooms available and many people who live on the street, you can use your imagination as to what is actually taking place.”

    I find it amazing how many public washrooms there are in Washington State both accessible on the street as well as in small business as well as larger retail outlets.

    On top of that the level of cleanliness is astonishing.

    I absolutely do not understand why we cannot do that in this province and this country.

    There are many more people than street people that use such services.

Thank You Brian for having the courage to try to tackle this BIG problem. We need a healthy doowntown and we also need healthy neighbourhoods . People have been complaining about this problem for quite some time and contacting Northern Health and being told Its a harm reduction program for the addicts safety. Now what happens if a child picks up a dirty needle?? what dose that program come under maybe its the we are focused on us program, as one feeds off of the other. There was a big blue van driving in residential neighbourhoods handing out needles and condoms in front of peoples houses and Apts. this should not be going on in residential neighbourhoods , it now changed to a white truck. I think this has made the problem worse as there is NO clean up plan in place. The needle exchange should be one for one. Do not even think about moving the needle exchange into the residential areas.

    They deliver too…..

bcracer; what ton of money has been spent on this program ?? it has been ignored. people in the affected areas have been trying to get help for a long time I guess you live in a high class area of town and you do not have to see the problems the City transfer program has sent to certain areas of the City. You want to talk about a waste of money ,how about the park planned for the downtown ,that will not be used except for the downtown crowd.

If someone is harmed by a discarded needle northern health should be held liable. Interesting to see a court case.

    First thing that would have to be shown is that the needle was actually handed out by Northern Health. Second is that it has to be shown that they did not practice due diligence or committed an act of reckless disregard.

    I doubt that they can be found responsible simply by association.

Wouldn’t handing out needles to drug addicts with no attempt to have the used needles returned or accounted for be construed as an act of reckless disregard.??

The mere fact that they hand out containers too business’s in the area to pick up discarded needles is an admission that these needles are being discarded in public places.

In fact you could go even further and state that without the program the addicts would use the same needle many times before discarding it. With the system they (supposedly) discard the needle after each use. So in effect the system allows for more dirty needles to be discarded in public.


Handing out needles and condoms to drug addicts with no attempt to have the used needles returned or accounted for be an act of reckless disregard?? its been going on for quite some time it called harm reduction , for WHO? It is reckless disregard for public safety, and we are paying for it. I hope the new plan won’t be to set injection sites in residential areas and use the front its harm reduction.

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