Victoria officials concerned by spike in discarded needle prickings
“Know that the city takes it very seriously,” says director of Engineering and Public Works
A growing number of Victoria residents have reported being pricked by discarded needles as police and city officials warn the public about what they say could be ''deliberately placed" syringes in public places.
On Monday, a woman was pricked by a needle found in a planter box on Johnson Street in Victoria.
This is the third time this month police have issued a warning about incidents with needles, including a three-year-old who was pricked by an uncapped syringe last week.
Fraser Work, director of Engineering and Public Works for Victoria, says the city is taking the incidents as a serious risk to both the public and staff.
"For those who are worried about this, just know that the city takes it very seriously and we are working with our regional partners to make sure that we do all that we can to minimize the risk," he said.
City staff responsible for sanitation daily deal with discarded needles, he told CBC guest host of All Points West Megan Thomas.
Special boxes are placed around the city for people to safely dispose of needles and staff are trained to deal with needles that are found in the streets, he said.
The city is looking at whether more needle boxes, staff training or safety awareness are needed, he added.
"There is a lot of change in the landscape here and we need to be quite flexible and dynamic and make sure that we adjust to what we are seeing in the public spaces," Work said.
Spike in incidents
These latest incidents follow three cases of syringes in public places last year — one was taped to a parkade railing, another tied to a car in the same parkade and one in parking ticket dispenser.
Jack Phillips, director of the peer-to-peer Solid Outreach network for drug users, said in the years of his experience picking up needles off the street, he has never come across one left in an intentionally harmful or threatening way.
"Something is happening but I can't quantify what that is," he said.
He is adamant that, if the needles were placed deliberately, it was not done by a homeless person or drug user.
"Within the street community, most people would be very upset with people for leaving needles behind even just in the street let alone in a more threatening manner," he said.
Police say they are continuing to look for witnesses.
With files from All Points West.