Sy­ringes prompt swift ac­tion

Town of Bay Roberts in­stalls sur­veil­lance cam­eras out­side Bay Arena

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

The dis­cov­ery of a sig­nif­i­cant quan­tity of used med­i­cal sy­ringes in a trash can on the park­ing lot of the Bay Arena ear­lier this month has prompted of­fi­cials with the Town of Bay Roberts to take swift ac­tion.

On Thurs­day, t e chnici ans in­stalled five cam­eras on the build­ing’s ex­te­rior, pro­vid­ing 24-hour sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the sprawl­ing park­ing lot.

The cam­eras are linked to a mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem in­side the arena, and the footage is recorded. The video feed can also be viewed from wire­less de­vices and home com­put­ers.

The sys­tem was pur­chased by the town at a cost of $3,500.

The sys­tem was promptly in­stalled fol­low­ing a trou­bling find by arena staff on March 13 — a yel­low “bio-haz­ard” plas­tic con­tainer bristling with used nee­dles, at least one pre­scrip­tion bot­tle and other med­i­cal sup­plies. Such a con­tainer is or­di­nar­ily found in health­care fa­cil­i­ties. It ap­peared to have been ripped off a wall.

“It sends cold shiv­ers down your back,” said Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood.

The town had long con­sid­ered the idea of cam­eras as a way to de­ter loi­ter­ing and com­bat the on­go­ing prob­lem of lit­ter on the prop­erty.

The March 13 in­ci­dent was the fi­nal straw, added the mayor.

“It really made us move as soon as pos­si­ble,” said Wood.

The Bay Arena is an ex­tremely busy sport­ing com­plex, serv­ing a big re­gion and at­tract­ing sev­eral thou­sands users weekly, in­clud­ing many chil­dren.

The no­tion that some­one could have been pricked by one of th­ese nee­dles and po­ten­tially ex­posed to a virus or some other disease had town lead­ers scram­bling.

“We can’t have nee­dles around where there’s been so many young peo­ple,” said Wood. “We don’t want any­body stab­bing them­selves.”

Bay Arena man­ager Norm Hill said sta­dium staff have found used sy­ringes be­fore, but noth­ing on this scale.

“It’s fright­en­ing,” he told The Com­pass.

As soon as the drug para­pher­na­lia was dis­cov­ered, Hill in­formed the RCMP.

“They came over, took it and dis­posed of it. I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “They said this is prob­a­bly one of the worst places around the bay.”

Arena of fi­cials have al­ready no­ticed a re­duc­tion in the amount of loi­ter­ing on the park­ing lot, and at­tribute this to the pres­ence of the cam­eras.

Pop­u­lar han­gout

Many morn­ings there are cars parked out­side the arena, some­times as early as 9 a.m., with some spec­u­lat­ing that drug ac­tiv­ity is what draws their oc­cu­pants to the lot.

With the dis­cov­ery, Hill is pur­chas­ing nee­dle-re­sis­tant gloves for his staff when they are out clean­ing up garbage.

“It’s bad enough that peo­ple are do­ing it, but then just to dis­pose of it right there; it’s un­be­liev­able,” said Hill.

A report by CBC News on March 12 high­lighted in­tra­venous drug use as a grow­ing prob­lem in Con­cep­tion Bay North.

The report stated that U-Turn Drop-in Cen­tre, an ad­dic­tions cen­tre in Car­bon­ear, has some 450 vis­its per month. Most vis­i­tors un­der the age of 25 are in­ject­ing drugs.

Pol­icy say the drug of choice ap­pears to be Di­lau­did and Fen­tanyl, which are both sig­nif­i­cantly stronger than mor­phine. Fen­tanyl is 100 times more pow­er­ful than mor­phine.

Garbage con­cerns

The Bay Arena lot is no­to­ri­ous for its pop­u­lar­ity amongst the younger pop­u­lace in the com­mu­nity as a place to park their cars, hang out and eat food from one of the numer­ous fast food es­tab­lish­ments in the area.

Of­ten, the pa­trons will eat the food and then dis­card the wrap­pings and bags by open­ing the car door and drop­ping it onto the as­phalt. Even though there are a num­ber of garbage cans in the vicin­ity, this is a com­mon prac­tice, and it has long frus­trated town lead­ers and arena users.

Wood and Hill hope this new sys­tem will dis­cour­age peo­ple from lit­ter­ing.

“This way, with the use of cam­eras, any­thing il­le­gal or any­one break­ing any by-laws are dis­cov­ered, ob­vi­ously they will be pros­e­cuted,” said Wood.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Submitted photo

This large quan­tity of used med­i­cal sy­ringes found at the Bay Arena prompted the Town of Bay Roberts to pur­chase a new se­cu­rity sys­tem for the fa­cil­ity.

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