'It's a public health concern': Driver finds needle stuck in car parked downtown
Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Tuesday, March 7, 2017 6:00AM PST
Dorian Holmes got quite a shock when she discovered a needle stuck into her car’s tire. She had just finished a day of work and had entered the Easy Park garage on Vancouver’s Seymour street to drive home.
“I heard a hissing sound!” she explained.
A security guard had left a note on her vehicle warning her about the problem and left a contact number. But when she called the number she says she was advised to remove the needle herself.
“I didn't think that was the safest thing to do considering that there was no place to dispose of it. This is something that needs to be taken care of. It's a public health concern," said Holmes.
Vancouver Coastal Health has a coordinated needle pickup program. Groups like the Street Youth Job Action get training on how to dispose of drug paraphernalia. With gloves and tongs, and sharps boxes. 31 groups go out each week, answering calls from the city’s 311 line for help.
However, Holmes says they didn’t rush to help her. She was told that because Easy Park was private property VCH couldn’t help.
“[311 said] it’s not our responsibility. You have to contact the private sector to deal with that,” she explained.
Vancouver Coastal Health’s Harm Reduction Coordinator told CTV News that the group is looking into the case.
"This is the first time that I’ve heard about it so we'll follow up with the city and 311 to find out what happened. I did talk to the needle recovery service and I understand that they got there as soon as they could," said Sara Young.
Clearly there are so many needles lying around not even VCH can’t keep up. Last year more than 250,000 needles were picked up, nearly double the amount recorded three years ago. However, getting rid of used needles in parks and playgrounds in their first priority.
"I'd like to reassure people that the risk of HIV or Hepatitis C from any needle that they find on the ground is essentially zero," said Young.
That wasn’t much assurance to Holmes, who had no desire to touch the needle. She also found other drug paraphernalia scattered around the garage.
EasyPark told CTV News that it had offered to fix her tire but because it was a busy time they couldn’t get to Holmes for at least two hours.
The garage has now been cleaned up and while we were interviewing Holmes in the garage, an Easy Park security guard drove by on patrol.
But Holmes is still bracing for next time.
"What's really happening in this city? What's happening in this garage?” she asked, ”How come we have to step over, take care of, figure out ways to handle what is a health concern."
If you want more information on what to do when you encounter needles lying around you can log onto to the VCH website.
Sharps bins are located in various areas around the Downtown Eastside but if you're not comfortable, call the 311 line to be transferred to the needle recovery hotline.