Officials are concerned about abuse against members of a team picking up discarded needles in the Valley. (File photo)

Duncan needle pick-up team facing abuse

Team members spat on and kicked at

People who help the community by picking up and removing discarded needles should be treated with respect, according to Duncan Mayor Phil Kent.

Kent was responding to concerns raised by the RCMP in regards to the Warmland Sharps Pick-Up Team, which has picked up over 12,000 needles in the area since the creation of the team in July.

A press release from Const. Pam Bolton, from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment whose members have spent time with the team, said team members have encountered “many hurdles” from the public.

“They have been spit at, their vehicle kicked and many times, cursed at for cleaning up used needles,” Bolton said.

“This group of individuals is a dedicated team who tirelessly drive throughout the area picking up discarded needles. They put themselves at risk daily while performing their job that nobody else wants to do. They have been a great addition to the resources we have in the Cowichan Valley.”

The Warmland Sharps Pick-Up Team was created last year in response to community concerns, through consultation with community partners.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Cowichan Valley branch, through Warmland House, manage the team, who are funded by Island Health.

RELATED STORY: OFFICIALS STEPPING UP TO COLLECT DISCARDED NEEDLES

Kent added that the team deserves respect for playing such a big part in making the community safer.

“Drug issues and sharps had been raised as major safety issues in the area and this team is the community’s response to try to deal with those concerns,” Kent said.

“They deserve our full respect. Even one case of abuse against team members while doing their work is one too many.”

People are reminded that if they encounter any needles in the Cowichan Valley that need to be picked up, call the team at 250-732-3330.

This is not an emergency number, but can be called 24/7 and the team will respond.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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