Parents frustrated by needles, condoms found by elementary school
Published Monday, July 4, 2016 6:56PM PDT
Parents are hopeful that a viral photo of needles and condoms snapped by a parent near an East Vancouver elementary school will bring change to the Cedar Cottage community.
The photo of syringes, condom wrappers and a tourniquet was taken by a mother on her morning walk, just two blocks from a school.
And the find is not unusual for the neighbourhood, area resident Nicholas Urquhart told CTV News.
"I gardened this morning and pricked myself with a thorn and my first thought to myself was, 'Oh my God, I just stuck myself with a needle,'" he said. He also found two used condoms on his way to the interview.
He said many parents are feeling fed up that their concerns aren't being addressed by the city.
Jessica Leung, from the Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood Association, said the unsavory finds are being reported, but no changes have been made.
"This isn't working. We can only make so many phone calls to 311, we can only make so many calls to the non-emergency line, before you feel like there's no point in calling anymore," Leung said.
The City of Vancouver told CTV that the needles and condoms are a health issue, and being left up to the municipal health authority to deal with, since it supports the organization through grants.
Vancouver Coastal Health said it is aware of the situation, and is in talks with the city about expanding services like needle deposit centres.
But parents want action fast, saying the danger is real to children who live in the area.
"I don't think they see it as their problem," Urquhart said of the slow response.
"I think they know what's going on but have chosen to ignore it or chosen to pass the buck to somebody else."
Urquhart said he feels like the issue is not being addressed because few politicians live in the area, and that if the needles were found "in front of the mayor's house," something would have been done immediately.
"It just feels like we're alone and unsupported by those we need the support (from)."
In the meantime, some residents of the area have purchased garbage pickers, so they can remove the debris without touching it with their bare hands.
"It's hard to accept... when you're doing your best to make a safe environment for your family," Leung said.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos