Kitchener-Waterloo

City needs help to tackle discarded needles, says Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig

A community group in Cambridge collected 648 needles and five crack pipes during a group cleanup on Sunday. Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig says the city needs more help to tackle the growing problem.

'This is not a city issue. This is a regional, provincial and national issue'

Sixty volunteers came out for A Clean Cambridge's second community clean up where volunteers found 648 needles and five crack pipes. (A Clean Cambridge/ Facebook)

Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig is calling on the Region of Waterloo to do more to help them tackle the growing problem of discarded needles in the city's parks, trails and near schools.

Before a community cleanup Sunday, Craig spoke with volunteer members of the group A Clean Cambridge. The message was shared in a video posted to A Clean Cambridge's Facebook page.

"We need more help," Craig said in the video. "This is not a city issue. This is a regional, provincial and national issue."

Craig later told CBC News the city needs more money to help tackle the issue.

As well, he would like to start a dialogue with regional staff on how to better deal with "the handing out of needles." 

City to ask region for help

Craig said there were three groups organized by A Clean Cambridge who picked up needles alongside city staff on Sunday. Volunteers picked up 648 needles and five crack pipes that day.

"I think it's important to thank these people and say to them that we are doing a number of things at Cambridge city council, which I outlined," Craig said.

In the video he outlined three main steps the city is taking to address the needle issue in Cambridge to volunteers:

  • The city will collect any needles found in public or private property.
  • They are having discussions with police about increasing police presence in certain areas of downtown.
  • The city will be going to regional council on Wednesday to ask staff to be more involved. 
Sixty volunteers with A Clean Cambridge came out on Sunday to help with the group's second community clean up. (A Clean Cambridge/ Facebook)

More community cleanups

Mary Jane Sherman, an administrator with A Clean Cambridge, said volunteers split into different teams Sunday afternoon to cover the areas of St. Anne Catholic Elementary School, Alison Park area, Elgin Street and into Soper Park.

She told CBC News volunteers found the most needles in some tunnels that lead to Elgin Street.

"There's so much garbage back there," Sherman said, "You can't even walk in there ... and it's full of needles."

She added some volunteers found 25 needles in the area where the group did their first cleanup in the Central Public School area, Central Park and the trail that led to Soper Park.

The group was started after a Cambridge toddler was pricked by a used needle in late September and parents felt more needed to be done to keep children safe. 

Sherman said the next step is to continue to do more community cleanups throughout the city and inform the public. 

"We want to push the community clean up and get the community involved," she said. "I want to see if [the city] can keep up with the demand."

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