The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce has joined the North Shore Business Improvement Association to table some initiatives to deal with used drug needles littering the streets.
“Poor disposal of needles, inadequate disposal of needles, is causing a problem.”
Chamber Vice-President Joshua Knaak says they would like the province to enable health professionals to better use their discretion when handing clean needles to addicts.
“Today if I walk into needle distribution and I say can I please have 500 needles they have no choice but to hand me 500 needles because that is the mandate they have been provided provincially. So what we are asking for is just the opportunity for them to use their discretion, their discernment, to perhaps say here is 25 needles. Can we get together tomorrow and I will buy a coffee and if you need more needles we will give those to you.”
Why not propose putting a cap on the number of free needles an addict can have at any given time?
“The people that are best equipped to know how many needles should be given out in a case are those who have ongoing relationships with users. Those who have that contact with them. Maybe there is a situation where they need several hundred because that is how we minimize the potential for harm in that situation. I wouldn’t want to put a number on it when we are not the ones that have that expertise.”
Knaak says they would also like to see more staff hired to clean up dirty needles and work with addicts to build relationships and detect and deter potentially deadly overdoses.
He says the initiatives have the support of ASK Wellness Executive Director Bob Hughes.