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'This is deadly serious': Littered gloves and masks disgust Coquitlam mayor
VANCOUVER -- As residents enjoy their one walk a day, or head into the grocery store, they’re being met with a disgusting — and dangerous — new phenomenon. Used gloves and masks are littering city streets, sidewalks and parking lots.
“It’s thoughtless in my opinion,” said Anastasia Rolland, who lives in Vancouver. “I’ve noticed quite a lot of masks and gloves.”
So has Coquitlam’s mayor, Richard Stewart, who took to Facebook this week to air his frustrations after finding a pair of used gloves in a shopping cart.
“Seriously how could anyone think that’s where they go?” Stewart asked in disbelief in the video.
“The number of disposable gloves that we’re now finding in the streets and in parking lots is really an epidemic in and of itself,” Stewart told CTV News Vancouver.
Twitter is filled with photos of used gloves and masks lying on the ground, and it wasn’t difficult for a CTV News reporter to find many examples of disposed personal protective equipment, also known as PPE, in a three-block stretch off of Broadway in Vancouver.
In many cases, municipal workers or grocery store staff are the ones who end up cleaning up the hazardous garbage.
“People who are taking off their gloves or their masks, and leaving them on the next grocery cart, or on the ground in the parking lot out outside of a grocery store,” said Teri Towner, a Coquitlam city councillor. As B.C. grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, all of those discarded items "could potentially have a deadly virus on it,” Towner noted.
In the midst of his frustration, Stewart pitched a $10,000 fine for those littering medical equipment.
“Ultimately that’s the maximum fine that you’re allowed to do, so that’s where the number comes from,” he explained.
While Stewart said it’s unlikely a fine that high would be levied, the city does need to find a way to make people understand “this is deadly serious.”
Towner said she’d support a fine, but questioned whether it would be enforceable.
“We do have to increase public awareness with this issue,” she said. “When I went shopping last Saturday I counted over 20 discarded gloves in the shopping cart parking area.”
There is also a specific way to remove protective gear to ensure you don’t touch whatever it's protecting you from.
“Every pair of gloves I’ve seen discarded this way have been removed wrong. You lose all the benefit of wearing the gloves if you don’t remove them properly,” said Stewart.
So he suggests, simply wash your hands with soap, or use hand sanitizer. Because you have to do that anyway when the gloves come off.