Dennis Giesbrecht makes presentation to Vernon council about volunteer needle refund program that he says has been a success in Kamloops (Pete McIntyre/Beach Radio photo
It’s worked in Kamloops — and Vernon may be the next community to try out a discarded needle refund program.
Councillor Dalvir Nahal says she has initiated talks to gauge the interest in that type of program.
“I haven’t started it — I’ve started the discussion. I’ve had a few businesses reach out and offer money, but I don’t want to rush into anything, I want to set it up for success,” Nahal told the media.
“We’ve had people wanting to be a part of it, whether its volunteering or financially. We’ve just started this discussion.”
Nahal is critical of Interior Health for distributing thousands of needles in the community without a plan to get them back.
She says I-H has to “put its ego aside” and focus on treatment rather than harm-reduction.
Several other members of Vernon council are backing an idea for a used needle refund program in the city.
Councillor Brian Quiring says after hearing about the success of a volunteer-driven program in Kamloops, he’s more convinced it would reduce the number of discarded needles here.
“You just use the analogy of pop cans and water bottles that have refunds, and you don’t see them lying around on the street. Now that we had that presentation from the folks in Kamloops, it just reinforces the fact it would be a great thing for Vernon,” Quiring told Beach Radio News.
Kamloops volunteers Caroline King and Dennis Giesbrecht told council, they have collected 7-thousand sharps since starting the five cent per needle refund program in June.
“Lot of other people have questions about people running out to collect needles to make money. That’s not the case. What we find is 100 percent of the people that are bringing us the needles are the ones that are using them. Once we get them in the mindset, that these aren’t disposable needles anymore– that they are worth a nickel — they will bring them back 100 percent of the time,” Giesbrecht told council.