Sharps disposal container already taking hundreds of used needles off Windsor streets

The container has been set up for only one week and has already gathered an estimated 500 used syringes and needles, according to Windsor-Essex Community Health Centre Executive Director Patrick Brown.

Mayor says more disposal units could be coming

A needle disposal container located in downtown Windsor collected an estimated 500 used syringes in its first week. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Within five minutes of the bright yellow sharps disposal box being set up outside Street Health, a used needle had already been dropped off.

The container has only been set up outside 711 Pelissier Street for a single week and already staff estimate 500 used syringes and needles have been collected, said Windsor Essex Community Health Centre Executive Director Patrick Brown.

"This area has seen a high rate of 311 calls for needles and syringes in public areas and the unit will provide a safe method of disposing of these items," he said.

In the past year, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has recorded a 40 per cent increase in blood-borne infectious diseases, especially HIV and hepatitis C, meaning education around safe injection is desperately needed, Brown added.

"Clearly, the stats show we have an issue with the rise of drugs in our community," said Mayor Drew Dilkens.

The health centre would like to see more containers installed at locations across the city, and Brown said safe injection sites similar to those recently set up in Toronto are something the organization is considering.

"I think you will see more of this as time moves on," Dilkens said, gesturing at the disposal box. "No one wants to see discarded needles in alleys and on streets and in neighbourhoods. It's not safe, it's not pleasant, it's not an image we want to promote."