Sharps containers coming to all Vancouver community centres

Cost for 224 boxes at all public city pools, rinks and rec centres costs $24,000

The park board is spending $24,000 to put 224 sharps boxes for needle and syringe disposal at community centres across the city.

NPA commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung withdrew her motion at a park board meeting Feb. 6 to debate providing the public with access to sharps boxes at community centres because park board staff was already addressing the need.

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Kirby-Yung said she supported the staff initiative.

"It was apparent there were not sharps containers available for public use at all the centres. I do understand they were available for staff use but not for public use and at only three centres. Staff took that feedback and those safety concerns to heart," said Kirby-Yung. "That means the work proposed in the motion is already underway." 

A sharps container is a plastic receptacle for medical waste, superficially needles or sharp medical equipment after it has been used to inject intravenous medicine and drugs.

There was public furor after a child handled an improperly disposed syringe in a public washroom at the Creekside Community Centre while it was open as a warming centre during a prolonged cold snap. The multi-need, shared use of the building prompted a temporary closure of warming centres at Creekside and Westend community centres.

The new boxes will be located at all park board facilities, said General Manager Malcolm Bromley.

“It was a patchwork quilt of containers, mostly available for staff, mostly in a temporary form” said Bromley, pointing out the gaps are now being filled and the work will be completed by the end of February. “We are blitzing the network of facilities. All of our pools, all of our rinks, any recreational location and parks-supporting facility will have a sharps container."

There are permanent containers at Creekside and Westend community centres, which are still being used as extreme weather shelters.

The elected park board also granted the general manager full discretion to open community centers during extreme weather, be it dangerously cold or hot temperatures, as long as the city covers costs.

mstewart@vancourier.com

Twitter: @MHStewart

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