Kitchener-Waterloo

Public health wants outdoor needle disposal boxes in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge

The local public health unit wants to install three tamper-proof needle disposal boxes in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.

The local public health unit wants to install three tamper-proof needle disposal boxes in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. 

Right now the yellow or red needle boxes are often placed in public bathrooms but public health wanted to make them even more accessible, said Chris Harold, manager of information and planning.

"Right now there's no 24/7 disposal options in Waterloo Region. Many of the disposal units that do exist are in municipal buildings, so those would close at a certain hour. So having outdoor disposal would allow people to dispose at all hours," Harold told CBC News. 

It's a harm reduction initiative, by Waterloo Region Public Health, based on a survey it did of needle-users, who said they wanted improved needle disposal options. 

Locations to be decided

According to the 93 people surveyed, 36 per cent said they had not disposed of used needles in the past year. One third said that was because there were no disposal options around, and another third said they didn't have a proper container in which to put them.

The boxes are also useful for diabetics or people undergoing certain medical treatments, and keep needles out of public waste and off the ground, said Harold. 

An outdoor needle disposal unit is emptied by a city worker in Edmonton. Waterloo Region Public Health wants to install three of these outdoor tamper-proof boxes. (City of Edmonton)

"It could easily tear through the garbage bag, which puts the individuals who may be removing that garbage or taking care of it at risk, in the event that they were to be punctured by that needle."

The exact locations still have to be finalized, but they will be in central areas of the three cities. One will go near Kitchener's central core, another in uptown Waterloo and the third will be in Galt. 

Regional council still needs to approve the idea, so it's likely they won't be installed until the spring or summer.

With files from the CBC's Kate Bueckert

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