Some things are not just meant to be left lying around, including hazardous materials including needles/syringes and other types of paraphernalia. Staff at our Ward 28 office and Toronto Public Health have advised us that we can contact 311 to pick up hazardous material like needles or other paraphernalia. They move pretty quickly when it is reported that needles or pipes have been found in our parks and laneways. 311 is staffed 24/7.
They have also suggested that people can use a pair of kitchen tongs to safely pick up an item if you need to dispose of it before the city arrives. If you are attempting to pick up a needle, please put it in some kind of a hard container (ex. metal coffee can, Tupperware container) before throwing it in the trash. When contacting 311, make note of your reference number and if making multiple reports keep referencing that prior reference number. This helps the city track requests and ultimately deploy more resources where they are needed.
Disposing of a small baggie that might have contained drugs requires less caution than a needle. Certainly do wash your hands after handling, and you may wish to use gloves or tongs, but there is little danger to just picking up and throwing away an empty bag. Street drugs, even when cut or laced with fentanyl and other adulterants, do not pose a significant risk of opioid toxicity unless ingested. However, spotting a bag might be a sign that a needle or pipe is nearby.
Below are images of what a harm reduction kit might contain. In the images you will see two “spoons” used in the injection of drugs, as well as a blue tie off, alcohol wipes, and needles. Spotting one of these items on the street might mean there is other paraphernalia nearby. Other kinds of spoons are illustrated in the other image.