Residents are warned to keep a close eye on their pets and children in the Central Park area, after vets helped to save the life of a dog over the weekend.
Kenora resident and dog-walker Bailey Hall says on Sunday, she and her clients’ dog were taking a walk through the new Central Community Club rink area at Central Park when the dog discovered an area filled with garbage, discarded clothing and items associated with drug use.
“I’m a dog-walker. I only had her for an hour, which made the experience even more frightening,” explains Hall. “We were out for a walk and decided to check out the space. There were no restrictions shown anywhere saying we couldn’t enter, so we went in.”
Hall says she let the dog off-leash and after a few laps, it ran into the players’ benches on the side of the rink and began to investigate the area. Thankfully, Hall quickly knew that something wasn’t right.
“I immediately ran for the dugout to see what she was rummaging around in,” says Hall. “I saw her eating something, so I turned my flashlight on and was horrified to see needles sprawled everywhere. More than needles…condoms, batteries, underwear, knives. I didn’t even get to look at what else because I knew whatever she ingested wasn’t good and had to rush her to the vet.”
Hall says the dog is totally okay after vomiting was induced to remove any substances they may have eaten, as well as x-rays and a sizable bill. Hall then took the time to post on social media to warn the community of the risks of letting your dog or child play in the area unsupervised.
“Very thankful for Kenora vets for being so prompt and taking us in without an appointment,” Hall adds. “This is supposed to be a place where children play and build memories, not an injection site. Either way we look at it, this town is not what it used to be and we desperately need change."
Director of Corporate Services for the City of Kenora, Heather Pihulak, explains that it is the responsibility of the contractor to keep the area clean during construction work, and the city is asking everyone to treat the new rink area with respect.
Solid Construction received the $1.3 million contract in February, which included a $70,000 donation towards the project.
“The city, province and community has invested heavily into the development of Central Community Club and we hope that the public will respect the grounds and the enhancement to our community,” said Pihulak.
Work on the eastern half of Central park continues, but the redevelopment work that was originally scheduled for the western half of Central has been stopped by the province.
Ontario’s Land Tribunal ruled that the city violated proper procedures when they rezoned Central Park in 2021, after a deputation between members of the city, Kenora resident Dawn Mitchell and land use planner Jeff Port – who the city later hired as their new Director of Development Services.
The City of Kenora later decided to not appeal the Tribunal’s decision, meaning that half of Central is set to remain a public space without any housing developments planned as it stands. A developer for the potential housing project was never found.
The eastern portion of Central will include two new outdoor rinks with new boards, a new playground, beach volleyball areas, a bocce ball area and the new Central Community Club after the original was torn down in 2018. It's all set to wrap up by next winter.
The Northwestern Health Unit says they will track any calls regarding used needles and will record any information regarding where the needles were found, how many were found, if they were used and if they were capped or not.
If residents do have to pick up a used needle themselves, the NWHU says residents should:
- If possible, use gloves and tongs to pick up the needle,
- Never put the cap back on a needle,
- Place the needle in a hard-sided plastic container, point-end first, seal and label “Needle”,
- Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer after picking up a needle,
- Return the needle to your local NWHU office,
- Never put needles down the toilet, in drains or in the garbage,
- Call your local NWHU office to pick up needles safely if you cannot.
If the worst happens and a used needle does puncture your skin, residents are asked to:
- Let the wound bleed,
- Wash the wound out with soap and water,
- Go to the emergency department immediately,
- If a needle stick injury occurred at work, report the injury to your employer.
The NWHU adds the risk of contracting a blood-borne illness from a discarded needle hovers around the one per cent range.