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HomeNewsSharps bin reluctantly approved by council

Sharps bin reluctantly approved by council

After much discussion and debate over whose problem it is, North Bay city council has elected to fund a community sharps bin. 

Council had $11,000 already budgeted to help community partners with needle cleanup, including the cancelled needle buyback program by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit (Health Unit).

In order to use the allocated $11,000, a motion was brought forward by councillor Scott Robertson and deputy mayor Tanya Vrebosch for the city to fund the collection of the sharps in a community sharps bin owned and operated by the Health Unit. 

“This is not a solution. It’s barely even a bandaid,” admitted Robertson during the discussion of the motion. 

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All councillors agreed that with the opioid crisis, the community feels unsafe at times because of a high volume of needles and glass pipes found in public areas of the city. 

Deputy mayor Vrebosch pointed out the opioid crisis is a public health issue that needs to be addressed by the higher levels of government but admits there is pressure from the community to act on the local level. 

“We’re doing our part in helping the community partners,” she said. 

While he did support the motion, councillor Bill Vrebosch was vocal on his displeasure with the financial aspect of it. 

“It’s a gift that’s going to keep on taking,” Vrebosch said, adding the organizations that give out needles should also be charged with the responsibility of safely cleaning them up. 

Councillor Mark King says that sharps bins “should have been done years ago” and that one bin in the city won’t be enough to address the number of hazardous materials found. He believes that more should be done at the higher levels of government. 

“We’re heading in a direction that takes the pressure off the upper levels of government,” King cautioned. “There will have to be a concerted effort by council to pressure provincial and federal governments.”

Councillor George Maroosis also questioned why the opioid crisis is falling onto the shoulders of council. 

“It just seems very strange to me that we’re accepting this download with this opioid addiction,” he noted, adding “at some point, you have to draw a line in the sand.”

As the last councillor to comment, Johanne Brousseau pointed out that some community volunteer organizations participate in needle pickups and the sharps bin will be a safer alternative for them to dispose of hazardous materials. 

Despite the discussion and apparent hesitancy, council unanimously approved the motion.

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