Used needles concern Charlottetown councillor

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Coun. Mitch Tweel speaks during Monday nights council meeting at City Hall. Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald

Mitchell Tweel says the City of Charlottetown needs to inject its residents with information when it comes to needles.

The city councillor spoke at Monday night’s regular public monthly meeting about the fact that more and more residents are finding needles on the street.

These are needles that were previously used for drug use and the pose a major health risk to the population, he said.

“I’ve been approached by residents in the community that I represent by email and I’m being stopped on the street about needles being on the street (and) in gangways,’’ Tweel said, “and how dangerous they are considering how a lot of young children are in the area.’’

He wants the city to come up with a communications strategy.

“I’m concerned about the severity of the situation. I would like to see a communications strategy from the Charlottetown police department so that when people do see needles on the street or in parks, or wherever the case may be, to have then immediately contact the Charlottetown police department on non-emergency complaints to ensure that the needles are picked up ASAP.’’

This certainly isn’t a new problem in the capital city. Tim Hortons, for example, acted two years ago by installing sharp disposal boxes in its public washrooms at the Kent Street location after staff began finding needles disposed of randomly around the rooms.

The Island Waste Management Corporation has also said in the past that its workers have been stuck by needles that make their way through in the trash. Anyone who does get pricked has to undergo a series of tests to ensure they’re not infected with Hepatitis C.

Tweel said he has contacted police when he receives an email or is told by residents where they are finding these needles.

The councillor said people need to be told not to pick up the needles.

“A lot of our residents are not aware that we have a mechanism to deal with needles that are on our streets and possibly in the parks. This is not a new phenomenon. This has been going on for the past few years and I’m concerned about the severity of the situation.’’

Coun. David MacDonald, chairman of the committee responsible for the police department, said it’s a good suggestion.

Tweel said he isn’t pointing to specific areas in the city where the needles issue is especially prevalent.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to label one part of the city over another. Drugs and drug usage is prevalent throughout the city.’’

Tweel said Operation Clean Sweep in January proves how serious the drug issue is. That four-month investigation led to close to 40 arrests.

“Needles are being left on our streets here in the city. I just want residents to be aware that they have an opportunity to do something about it. Pick up the phone and call the police department.’’

Organizations: ASAP, Tim Hortons, Island Waste Management

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Kent Street

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