In four months, 85 per cent fewer needles were cleaned off Vernon’s streets compared to last year, along with 140 bags of garbage.
The Community Safety Office Folks on Spokes (FOS) program off-shoot Bridging Program began Nov. 30, 2020, and ran through the winter, ending on April 2, 2021.
In partnership with Turning Points Collaborative, staff at the Emergency Shelter worked with FOS Peer Outreach Workers, to coordinate neighbourhood cleanups.
Three times a week, with up to 10 participating emergency shelter guests, they would head out to pick up trash and improperly discarded sharps.
“The program was a success with many positive comments from the predominantly senior residents living around the shelter,” city staff said in a report to council.
Even after a particularly heavy snowfall, participants, of their own volition, borrowed shovels from the shelter and helped shovel around the neighbourhood when garbage removal was challenging.
First piloted in April 2019, the Folks on Spokes program has seen continued success. Between July and September 2020, 129 needles and 145 bags of garbage were collected.
By the end of August 2019, the program had collected 348 needles.
The Folks on Spokes will be back on the streets April 22.