100 needles found in 3 hours near Cambridge's Central Public School

After a Cambridge toddler was pricked by a used needle last month, parents in Cambridge felt more needed to be done to keep families safe. A cleanup around Central Public School over the weekend turned up 100 needles, in just three hours.

Needles found near, but not on, school property

A new volunteer group is focusing their efforts on needle clean up around the City of Cambridge. (Submitted by Gabriel Girouard)

A newly formed volunteer group in Cambridge is focusing their efforts on needle clean up in hopes to make the city safer for families.

A Clean Cambridge was created 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.

"It was all over the mom group and it just took off from there," said Mary Jane Sherman, one of the administrators of A Clean Cambridge.

"Everyone was up and arms about over this and said enough is enough. The city is not recognizing this problem and we need to do something about it."

Sherman said since the launch of A Clean Cambridge two weeks ago, they have had over 2,400 people join the group's Facebook page, many sharing their stories and concerns over Cambridge's needle and addiction problem.

Community clean up

A dozen volunteers came out for the group's first community clean up this past weekend.

"It was a very positive experience," said Sherman. "It's a group of people who come together and want to make the community a better place."

She said they group started out at Central Public School in Galt, made their way to Central Park and cleaned up a trail that led to Soper Park.

Sherman said they collected 100 needles in the three hours the group was out on Oct. 21. No needles were found on school property.

Most of the needles were found behind the Region of Waterloo Public Health building, where the region runs a harm reduction program that provides individuals with free needles. 

The group is planning on doing another community clean up Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. at St. Anne Catholic Elementary School in Cambridge. 

Outreach task force

The region's Community Outreach Task Force met on Oct. 20, where Gary Dyke, city manager for the City of Cambridge presented initial steps Cambridge is specifically taking in response to public safety concerns.

Many of these steps revolved around working with community partners such as Region of Waterloo Public Health to help with debris clean up, working with police and first responders and continue to work with The Bridges shelter.

"We will continue to try and address the root cause and help those directly struggling with addiction," said Dyke in a release. 

Other steps mentioned adding security cameras in the downtown areas and trails, offering sharp disposal containers to local businesses, responding to calls on public and private properties about needle debris and patrolling parks for needle debris.