Kenora merchants would like to get help from the city, as well as the health unit, when it comes to cleaning up needles downtown. The president of the downtown BIZ, Lisa Lyle, is arguing for more inspections and bylaw enforcement.

"I've picked up these on Main Street," she said, displaying items from a harm reduction kit.

The items include needles, spoons, as well as tourniquets from kits put together by the Northwestern Health Unit for use by intravenous drug users. They're meant to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

"Lots of them on Main Street. Lots of them in the back alley," Lyle said, noting the needles from the kit. "The bank has an issue with needles on the roof, constantly."

"I find them across the street at the liquor store, in the grass... It's just not safe. It's not safe for emergency workers, either, to go into buildings that have this problem," she added.

She suggested a lot of problems related to drug use, vandalism and property damage downtown could be prevented, if bylaws regarding property standards were enforced.

Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield says the situation isn't as bad as other communities. Still, he says he's willing to work with merchants and the health unit on improvements.

"We've had these discussions with the health unit before, because they're ultimately responsible for the needle exchange program -- both the distribution and the collection," he said, noting the location of disposal sites could be reviewed.

Staff at the health unit weren't immediately available for comment yesterday.

For more information:
Needle exchange program
Hospital open to talks on safe injection site