An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
BY ALL ACCOUNTS, things are getting worse instead of better in the fight to clean up dirty needles in Kamloops.
While back allies are a favourite place for dropping used needles, they also show up at public parks and private property. And with summer here and water levels steadily getting lower, beaches will once again be littered with them.
A lot of good work is being done in the community to collect and dispose of this dangerous drug-addiction flotsam, but it’s not enough.
The Social Planning Council is proposing that the plungers in syringes be produced in bright colours such as red or fluorescent orange to make them more visible.
That idea has limitations since the needles and syringes often become separated, but it’s another example of the kind of creative thinking needed to deal with the problem.
Another, more radical thought has come up, and that has to do with collection. Until now, it’s been a Commandment of needle and syringe collection that when we come upon one we should not try to pick it up, but instead find one of the many agencies involved in clean-up to come and remove it.
The problem, however, is so ubiquitous, and growing so quickly, that those assigned the official task of collecting sharps simply can’t keep up with it. Kamloops isn’t alone; other Interior cities have the same challenge — Kelowna, Prince George and Vernon, for example.
If we want our communities to be clean and safe from improperly disposed-of needles, we might have to change our way of thinking. Could an awareness campaign teach and encourage the public at large to collect and dispose of them?
Could we as citizens and parents learn to carefully check parks, playgrounds, beaches and other public areas before using them or allowing our kids in to play? Could we shift reliance on organized groups to ourselves as individuals? Would we start carrying with us the necessary gloves and tongs and containers?
We might have to.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.