City of Brantford and Brant County Health Unit work to reduce harm risk of discarded needles

Published on: May 16, 2018

Brantford, ON – Today, the City of Brantford and the Brant County Health Unit launched
a new “Harm Reduction – Safe Needle Retrieval and Disposal” campaign. The one-year
pilot project, which was approved by Brantford City Council in December 2017, is part of
the overall Brantford-Brant Community Drugs Strategy, a coordinated local plan created
to address the opioid crisis and reduce the misuse of all drugs.

The Harm Reduction – Needle Retrieval and Disposal Plan is a partnership between the
City of Brantford, the Brant County Health Unit (BCHU) and St. Leonard’s Community
Services. Its goals are to increase the number of locations where needles can be safely
disposed of and, to educate residents about safe needle disposal and pick- up.

“This is an effort to mitigate the number of needles found in public places,” said Maria
Visocchi, Communications and Community Engagement Director with the City of
Brantford. “We recognized the need for additional needle drop boxes in the community
and together with our community partners now have more places for people to dispose of discarded needles safely,” Visocchi said.

The Harm Reduction – Needle Retrieval and Disposal Plan will reduce the number of
improperly discarded needles found on public property through four core components:
public awareness and engagement; increased access to needle disposal locations;
proactive needle discovery; and tracking and evaluation.

Following is a list of 24-hour locations where needle drop boxes have been installed in the community:

  • Adjacent to Hope Pharmacy – 349 Colborne St. (NEW)
  • Brant’s Crossing Park – 150 Icomm Dr. (NEW)
  • Side parking lot of Brantford Civic Centre – 69-79 Market St. (NEW)
  • Outside St. Leonard’s Community Services, 225 Fairview Dr.
  • Outside St. Leonard’s Community Services, 133 Elgin St.

Drop boxes can also be accessed during regular business hours at:

  • The Brantford Clinic – 205 Colborne St.
  • Towards Recovery – 95 Darling Street
  • Colborne Street Clinic – 349 Colborne St.

St. Leonard’s Community Services will also expand its needle exchange to include evening hours and is looking for ways to expand its number of “exchange” locations to encourage higher return rates.

The plan also calls for hiring a full-time community health broker with the BCHU, who will co-ordinate needle discovery and retrieval efforts, including volunteer co-ordination and community outreach regarding harm reduction techniques and proper needle disposal.

The Health Unit is also working on a plan to train and equip a volunteer needle discovery and disposal team, which will regularly patrol high priority areas to properly dispose of discarded needles. Educating residents about how to properly dispose of needles and what to do if they find a needle is also critical to the plan’s success. Anyone planning a community clean up event is encouraged to call the Health Unit for safe needle disposal education and supplies.

“This initiative is an important part of the Health Unit’s harm reduction work,” says
Christina Rajsic, Director, Program Standards. “Our goal is to improve the safety of our
community by reducing the needles discarded on City and private property.”

“People use needles for many different reasons. The needle drop boxes are a place to
dispose of needles, and a place to do so safely so that no one gets hurt accidentally,”
Rajsic said. The needle drop boxes are also available for people to throw out needles
found on their private property.

Needles should never be thrown in the garbage or recycling, or flushed down the toilet. If someone finds a needle on their property they should take the proper steps to pick it up and dispose of it to keep themselves and others safe. The steps can be found on the
Brant County Health Unit website.

For needles found on public property residents can call the City at 519-759-4150. Calls
regarding needles found on private property should be directed to the Brant County
Health Unit at 519-753-4937.