The snow is melting away this week, exposing a winter's worth of trash — and some of it is dangerous.
Outreach workers in Sudbury are sweeping city streets daily to stay ahead of used needles emerging from the snowbanks.
Len Frappier, the co-ordinator of The Point, Sudbury's needle exchange program, said for the last 20 years the group has supplied clean needles to reduce harm to injection drug users. The majority of those needles are returned after they are used, but some still end up on the ground.
"All our outreach teams have a biocontainer and they are trained to pick them up and dispose of them properly," Frappier said.
On his walkabouts, Frappier’s eyes dart left and right, scanning snow banks, flower boxes or any other nook or cranny that could hide a used needle. He also carries tongs with his plastic biohazard container, as he walks around Sudbury's downtown.
"In the last three years I think I had one call that was park-related," Frappier said. "People throw them in a city receptacle, or they will throw them beside a building, or in between laneways, [or in] little corners."
He noted that education over the years has helped reduce the number of needles left behind. But he said anyone who finds one should call the Sudbury Action Centre for Youth, where the needle exchange program is based. Someone usually responds within an hour, he said.
"We wouldn't want any of our community members to get stuck by a needle or get Hep C," Frappier said. "Because Hep C is the most vibrant and long lasting virus that can stay on the needle. And that is why we have all the proper equipment to pick them up."
He says outreach workers are sweeping the downtown core every day.