Dealing with needles – How inner-city condo owners can cope with the social ills of drug addiction

How inner-city condo owners can cope with the social ills of drug addiction

Dear Maria; Help! Our Condo is situated in the inner-city neighbourhood of Mission, and we’re constantly finding needles, clothing or someone camping in the back carport. What options do we have and can we call someone?

Our New Concept Management team has experience in dealing with these situations, which can become quite dangerous. Drug addiction is a social ill that has no easy answers, and sometimes, especially those of us living in urban areas, have to deal with its consequences.

Many of our clients have reported problems that include drug use in their back alley, campers in the back carport, and often finding needles, clothing and shopping carts laying in the back corner of the lot.

Normal precautionary measures like beefing up security around the condominium building and adding extra bright lights to try and persuade these activities can work – but not all the time. Here’s what else you can do.

A great resource for dealing with such eventualities is the Calgary Alpha House Society. It was established in 1981 as a committed response to a marginalized population of men and women who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs and living vulnerable on the streets of Calgary. Alpha House currently runs four programs: Shelter, Outreach (DOAP/Encampment), Detox, and Housing. They also have a needle response team.

If you find a needle and you’re comfortable picking it up, you can do so by following these steps.

  • You will require gloves, tongs or pliers, and a puncture proof container (pharmacy supplied “sharps” container, bleach or laundry detergent bottle)
  • Put on the latex, rubber or leather gloves. Use tongs or pliers to carefully pick up the needle with the tip pointed away from you. The tongs or other tools can be disinfected after use and remain part of a clean-up kit.
  • Make sure the puncture proof container (pharmacy supplied “sharps” container, bleach or laundry detergent bottle) is on a stable surface (do not hold it while putting the needle inside) and put the needle, tip down, into the container and tape the lid tightly closed (with duct tape, if you have it). Use a marker to label the container “Needles”.
  • Puncture proof containers can be disposed of in one of the following ways:
  • Drop off at local pharmacy (confirm your pharmacy accepts needles)
  • Sheldon M. Chumir Centre – Supervised Consumption Services (1213 4 St SW)
  • Put in your garbage bin

As a condominium owner, if you spot a needle on the property you can call or text Needle Response Team at 403-796-5334. They operate Monday to Friday from 8am-6pm. The NRT is trained to properly dispose of needles. When calling or texting, be sure to give them as much information as you can to assist them including; the exact address, location, number of needles.

Another thing you might notice as the weather continues to warm up is an assortment of “rough sleepers” – this is a term used to describe individuals who are camping or sleeping outdoors in public areas.

Alpha House’s Encampment Team are a mobile response unit that connects with individuals who are “camping” or “sleeping rough” outside, with the goal of helping individuals secure housing, visit the doctor, get to a shelter, or anything else they might need. If you notice a camp, we encourage you to call the Encampment Team at 403-234-7388.