Folks on Spokes has removed 72 bags of garbage and properly disposed of 52 needles in Downtown Vernon since the clean-up program returned in late July, 2020. (KEVIN N.HUME/S.F. EXAMINER)

Needle clean-up crew returns to North Okanagan

The Folks on Spokes program has removed 52 needles and 72 bags of garbage in the past five weeks

A successful needle clean-up program has returned to the streets of Vernon.

The Folks on Spokes team has been back in the downtown area for the past five weeks, thanks to a grant from the Community Action Initiative (CAI) and support from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and the Overdose Emergency Response Centre.

First piloted in April 2019, the program mobilizes a clean-up team that sweeps a list of known needle hot spots in the downtown area. Hot spots are cleaned early in the morning to support businesses as they open, and again in the mid-afternoon. Other areas of concern are added to the list as they surface.

The funding was originally earmarked for the hiring of a dedicated program coordinator, but those plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Fatal overdoses continue to spike in B.C. as July sees 175 illicit drug deaths

“The Folks on Spokes program was incredibly successful last year, so we were looking forward to taking the next step of hiring a coordinator,” said Rachael Zubick, Vernon community safety coordinator. “Thankfully, the CAI generously redirected the funds to allow for the project to run with a few administrative and program adjustments instead.”

Zubick says in the five weeks since the program restarted, the team has removed 72 bags of garbage and properly disposed of 52 needles.

The program engages people with lived experienced with substance use, helping to build relationships between peers, businesses and the broader community while also providing pre-employment opportunities.

“The FOS program helps build skills and confidence for peers who are taking part in the program,” said Christy Poirier, city of Vernon communications manager.

Folks on spokes is coordinated through the City of Vernon Community Safety Office in partnership with Partner’s in Action Sharps Action Team.

To report an improperly discarded needle or an emerging hot-spot downtown, call 250-550-7841 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. After hours, call Vernon Bylaw Compliance at 250-550-3505.

READ MORE: Grieving Okanagan mom raises overdose awareness


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

overdose

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local MLA ‘disappointed’ premier has called snap election

Doug Clovechok will be seeking re-election on Oct. 24.

Morning Start: One Year on Uranus Is 84 Years on Earth

Your morning start for Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020

Two candidates declared for Columbia River Revelstoke

Incumbent Doug Clovechok (BC Liberal) and NDP candidate Nicole Cherlet; nominations close Oct. 2

Okanagan College expands ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ to all students this fall

Wellness Wednesday workshops are designed to be psycho-educational

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

EDITORIAL: Clearing the smoke

Wildfires have resulted in heavy smoke and poor air quality

Kelowna man’s child porn collection ‘traversed the spectrum of depravity,’ court hears

Terry Krock was caught in possession of between 7,000 and 12,000 child porn files

COVID-19 exposure at Merritt pub

The exposure happened on Sept. 19 at the pub of the Coldwater Hotel

UPDATE: Person safely pulled from Vernon creek culvert

First responders from multiple agencies assist in getting individual out of the creek

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Police watchdog investigating after man injured in Penticton RCMP cells

Man suffers serious injuries after being lodged into cells at the detachment

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Most Read