In late August, Kelowna resident Gina Petrovich was taking out the trash when she came across an unsettling discovery.
A large unlabeled bag had been left beside her dumpster containing nearly a hundred used needles, the majority of which left uncapped after being used.
“I crouched down for a better look and right away I saw needles hanging out of the bag,” explained Petrovich.
“There was blood on some of the needles along with used alcohol swabs, right away I decided the situation was beyond what I was willing to deal with."
Stepping away from the scene and back into her home, Petrovich typed “what to do when you find a used needle” into Google, but found minimal answers.
Eventually, she called the RCMP’s non-emergency line, where she was then directed to call the fire department, who initially told her the situation was technically outside of their jurisdiction.
After some conversation with dispatch, an engine was sent to the scene where several firefighters properly disposed of the disturbing pile of needles.
Luckily, Petrovich walked away from the event unscathed, but the lack of knowledge surrounding what to do in such a situation did leave her concerned.
According to Kelowna’s Public Safety Liaison Bill McKinnon, the city is currently working with Interior Health to update the policies surrounding “sharps” at City Hall.
“The update keeps it as simple as possible, if you find needles on public or private property you are to call the non-emergency number for the Kelowna City Fire Department,” explained McKinnon.
There are little consequences for people who don’t dispose of their used needles properly, but McKinnon says the city is working to create an environment that eliminates unsightly and dangerous needles.
“The city is very proactive in dealing with areas identified as places having a higher incident of discarded needles,” explained McKinnon.
“Parks are checked regularly, beach sweeps are conducted each morning, we’ve installed over 20 safe needle containers and bylaw and RCMP officers are instructed to be vigilant.”
According to the City of Kelowna, which tracks the number of needles removed from parks and public places each month, 931 discarded needles were picked up this year in May, 365 in June and 411 in July.
Contact the Kelowna RCMP's non-emergency line at (250)762-3300 or the City of Kelowna's fire department non-emergency line at (250)469-8801, if you encounter a needle in public.