Snow melt reveals discarded needles in Vernon area

As the snow melts in the Okanagan, online forums in Vernon are buzzing with complaints about discarded needles.

Community groups are planning clean-up events in March and April to address the problem

Resident Kim Logan posted this photo to the Vernon & Area Community Forum showing needles near the local Superstore. "With the snow melting we are seeing a lot of needles on the grass. Be careful!" she said. (Kim Logan/Facebook)

As the snow melts in the North Okanagan, online forums in Vernon are buzzing with complaints about discarded needles.

City hall is coordinating a cleanup in response to the social media attention.

Residents have been taking to Facebook groups — Vernon & Area Community Forum and Vernon Rant and Rave — to complain about needles found in the community this season.  

Ashley Pritchard and her son found needles in Vernon's Polson Park. (Ashley Pritchard/Facebook)

"What I'm looking for here is solutions to the needle disposal problem in Polson and other parks. I'm looking for ways to keep my children and other people safe," wrote Ashley Pritchard, who said her son almost got pricked by a needle while playing in Polson Park.

"He started to grab at the leaves and toss them out and a flash of orange caught my eye and I grabbed his arm to stop."

City of Vernon officials say they see this every year.

"We often see a lot of debris whether it happens to be garbage or cigarette butts, it could also be drug paraphernalia," said Rachael Zubick with the community safety office which will coordinate one of the cleanups.

"It's pretty much standard, it's just in terms of what we're seeing on social media it seems to be a lot bigger."

The Okanagan Community Watch group will be doing a clean-up of the area on Mar 24, according to their Facebook page, and Zubick said the community safety office is also planning an event for Apr 6.

Zubick offered some safety tips for anyone disposing used needles:

  • Protect your hands with gloves or use tongs.
  • Hold the needle away from you.
  • Use a puncture-proof container that seals, like a water bottle, and place the needle inside with the sharp pointed toward the bottom of the container.
  • In Vernon, bring the safely contained needles to the Community Policing Office, North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society office or any health unit for proper disposal.

With files from Daybreak South