Community sweeps of discarded needles coming to Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)

Community needle sweeps coming for Chilliwack

A new part-time prevention worker is set to hit Chilliwack streets later this summer

A new part-time worker is set to hit the streets later this summer to help with intensified needle recovery in Chilliwack.

Community sweeps, sharps containers, and peer engagement will be part of the effort to dramatically reduce the number of inappropriately discarded needles.

City hall has fielded lots of angry calls and messages about used needles since Chilliwack began dealing with an obvious increase of homeless and addicted people.

“We can only hope this will help things get better,” said Coun. Ken Popove, chair of Chilliwack Healthier Community. City of Chilliwack staff will be working with Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) in the coming months to establish new locations for extra sharps containers.

As part of a regional opioid overdose response, harm reduction, more commonly known as needle exchange, offered locally by PCRS, is only one aspect of a very complex HIV/HCV Prevention and Education program, with service delivery from Chilliwack to Boston Bar.

Citizens have expressed outrage about needles piling up, citing the risk to public safety. Community partners, including city, health and social service agencies, got to work months ago, seeking ways to address it.

The new part-time PCRS worker will be under a six-month contract, which includes weekend work, to round out and build on existing services.

Part of the idea is to establish a “Peer Engagement” program which will feature “community sweeps” where peers and staff clean up local hotspots or places where needles are known to be found, said PCRS spokesperson Jutta Wykpis, who is also manager of Chilliwack Health and Housing Contact Centre.

“Peers” in this context means people with lived experience. So they may have current, or previous experience with substance use.

“So the focus is not only on educating peers how and where to safely dispose of needles, but also getting out and conducting sweeps to remove any inappropriately discarded syringes,” Wykpis said.

They’ll be trained and paid to do it safely, and looking at best practices from other communities in the Lower Mainland who have had experience with “peer engagement” was part of the brainstorming process.

“I think it will enhance what is already being done here,” said Popove, about the expansion.

The longstanding needle exchange run by PCRS from a blue bus has been operated by a full-time staffer but there’s no weekend coverage.

“And as we know, drug users don’t take the weekends off,” said Coun. Popove, talking about the visible nature of discarded syringes.

“There are a lot of layers involved with this work, and on the communication side of it we have more work to do to get the word out on what we are doing.”

The new PCRS job posting closes June 9. Part of the job description reads:

“The primary role of this position is to develop and deliver programming to any communities that request information and/or outreach support for HIV/HCV, sexually transmitted illness, harm reduction and issues relating to IV drug use, sex trade work, and high-risk youth.

“To engage in assessment, provision of harm reduction supplies, referral and counselling with the target population who are registered with the program.

It’s a “combined outreach and site-based” position using the blue harm reduction bus in appropriate locations in various communities, from urban, semi rural to rural areas. The new position will assist in running the mobile needle exchange (MEx) bus, collect data and provide one-on-one treatment and support services.

The program is integrated with other local services which allow participants to request health, employment, detoxification, or treatment service referrals from outreach workers.

The expanded services are the upshot of efforts by Fraser Health, PCRS, and City of Chilliwack to be proactive and take action on several fronts to reduce the number of syringes, and to increase harm-reduction awareness among people who use substances and the wider community.

The services also align with a commitment made by Fraser Health to support the opioid overdose crisis including distributing Take Home Naloxone and connecting the most at-risk populations with care and overdose prevention interventions.​​ Fraser Health reps attended a public safety meeting in early February at Chilliwack city hall and mapped out a proposal for the expanded harm reduction efforts that would include more education, expanded syringe pickup and more sharps containers.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Dying days for 25-bed mental health facility on Chilliwack/Abbotsford border

Closure of Mountain View criticized by NDP in opposition but hasn’t reversed Fraser Health decision

B.C’s Indigenous tourism sector takes centre stage in Chilliwack

One-day workshop will look at ways to embue the industry with authenticity

IIO seeks witness in Dodge Ram who may have seen fatality after Taser incident in Chilliwack

Second police watchdog release of vehicle images asking for driver/occupant to make contact

Lower Mainland could see spring flurries

Snow expected at higher elevations

Chilliwack RCMP seek ID of man caught by bait car camera

Police say man is wanted for identity theft connected to incident downtown on Feb. 5

Local rock hound carves a 9-tonne granite grizzly bear

Chilliwack’s Paul McCarl’s about to complete a carving project 14 years in the making

Harsher fines, new off-road vehicle rules in effect to combat B.C. wildfires

Anyone who starts a wildfire could be ordered to pay up to $1,000,000

Muddy water found in taps at B.C. hospital prompts investigation

Northern Health to hire consultant to examine three facilities for potential contamination

Lower Mainland based rabbit rescue pleads for foster homes

The Langley-centred Small Animal Rescue Society needs foster families to take new bunnies.

RCMP officer charged after pedestrian struck at crosswalk

A man suffered a broken leg and head lacerations after being struck by the police vehicle in 2017

B.C. gives tax breaks to jumpstart LNG in northwest

LNG income tax scrapped, break on sales tax for producers

BCHL Today: Wenatchee goes Wild against Vernon Vipers

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

B.C. landlords collect too much personal information, watchdog says

Report suggests low vacancy rates lead landlords to believe they can collect whatever info they want

BC theatre group brings their original hit, Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch, to Chilliwack

The award-winning Axis Theatre group is performing Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch on Mar. 25

Most Read