Victoria posts warning signs amid rise in needle injuries in city parks
VICTORIA -- The City of Victoria has installed new signs at some municipal parks warning families to search for “hazards” before playing in the area.
The signs, accompanied by a large green checkmark, read, “Safely sweep before you play: Identify any hazards.”
The new warning signs have been installed after a surge in accidental needle pricks have been reported across the city.
In August, a man was pricked by a needle while walking in Beacon Hill Park. Similarly, a landscaper has come forward saying that she will no longer work in downtown Victoria after she was jabbed by a discarded needle this summer.
A city worker was also pricked by a needle earlier this month, marking the fourth such incident to occur to a city worker this year. Last year, city workers reported just three accidental needle pricks for all of 2019.
Earlier this week, police also warned of a syringe found taped to a bench near Victoria city hall.
Victoria police Chief Del Manak says there has been an increase in public safety and social disorder calls this summer, which includes the discovery of “more uncapped needles in and around playgrounds and parks.”
The police chief believes that the increase in needle sightings could be linked to homeless encampments in city parks.
“I think the fact that we have more people camping in our parks has led to more needles, and we’re certainly seeing an increase (in reports compared) to what we’ve seen in previous summers,” Manak told CTV News Friday.
The police chief says that if you spot a needle, you should wear gloves if possible and safely move the object into a “proper receptacle” and not a garbage can.
Further information on what to do if you see a discarded needle, or if you are pricked by one, can be found on Island Health’s website here.
Manak says the rise in uncapped needle reports could also be related to the province’s ongoing overdose crisis, which has seen three consecutive record-breaking months.
“The number of people who are dying here locally, right here in Victoria, is staggering and it’s really important that we all come together with our health authorities and our social service providers and do what we can,” he said.
“But I think that the fact that there are more people experiencing homelessness – more people that are out on our streets that are perhaps addicted to drugs or who have substances abuse disorders – is more than likely leading to what we are seeing on our streets, which is more uncapped needles and more needles being found.”