Mom finds seven used needles in Vancouver elementary school garden
'It's disturbing and completely unnerving,' says Shiloh Sukkau after finding needles at West End school
A Vancouver parent is sounding the alarm after finding seven used needles in the children's garden of Lord Roberts School Annex on Sunday.
"It`s disturbing and completely unnerving," said Shiloh Sukkau, who videotaped the needles outside the kindergarten-to-Grade-3 school.
"The weather is just starting to get nicer and the kids have just started going out to use the garden."
Sukkau says she found a single needle in the West End garden Saturday and removed it. But Sunday morning, when her family returned to work in the garden, they found seven new ones scattered around the planters.
"It's definitely escalating," she said.
Needle found in fence
A few weeks ago she also found one jammed in the fence that separates the garden and the school, with the sharp end just feet from the school's playground equipment. As well, needles have been found in the adjacent Nelson Park.
"There`s a washroom that was installed [in the park] last summer but there`s no disposal unit that I know of nearby, which would be a good idea," she said.
"I don`t know if people who [shoot up] in a kids' garden are necessarily going to use a disposal unit but at least that would be an option."
Sukkau is a member of the Lord Roberts Annex parent advisory council and constructed the children's garden after securing the space for the school from Nelson Park.
Howard Normann, Vancouver director of parks, said needles are a problem in downtown parks, especially when the weather improves.
"It's a big city issue, Normann said. "In Vancouver we have a large transient crowd and we provide free needles in a needle exchange program.
"So people that use are finding spots to use. Our parks are convenient, they're dark, and they're the perfect spot at night time."
Normann said parks staff are trained in disposing of needles, and park users should call 3-1-1 if they come across one. The Portland Hotel Society also runs a needle pick-up service, and has also given Sukkau a container to deposit found needles.
Sukkau says the Lord Roberts PAC has yet to discuss a solution for the needle problem, but given the recent issues, she no longer feels the children's garden is a project she can promote.
"I can`t encourage other parents and teachers to use the garden if it's a huge safety hazard," she said. "I hate to think what the summer months will bring if this problem isn't adequately dealt with."