Spring cleanup safety tips by Des Ryan

Des Ryan, a retired Toronto police officer and author of the Mike O’Shea Crime Fiction Series, is a CRA board director and our volunteer safety and security lead.

Spring has sprung, and the snow is melting. Really!

And perhaps, like me, you have noticed the dog poop, needles, condoms, and other not-so-nice items that those frequenting our neighbourhood have occasionally left behind.

The dog poop? A bag and a shovel and you’re good to go. And the condoms? A plastic bag and gloves (although you might have worn gloves for the poop clean-up, as well).

The needles? A bit of a different story.

As you may know, the city won’t pick up what they consider to be harm reduction items on private property. Kicking them onto public property is not advisable.

So, what to do?

If they are on public property, call 3-1-1 and the city will arrange for removal.

Needles and syringes found on private property, however, are the responsibility of the home owner or property management to dispose of. What you will need to do is place the item(s) in an approved sharps container or in another type of container (plastic jug, water bottle, etc.) that cannot be punctured by the needle tips and seal it. Clearly label the container “Needles” or “Syringes” and call 3-1-1 to arrange to have the Toxic Taxi drop by and pick up the container. Or, if you like, you can send them an email at http://www.toronto.ca/311/.

The container, by the way, will not be returned to you.

The upside to all of this? Unlike other items, there is no required minimum to have them come by. If you are keen on more details, the city has a 19-page document all about it: Needle Disposal: Guidance for Policies and Procedures (link opens a PDF).

Now that your yard is cleaned up, it’s time to think about planting, but I’ll leave that to much more learned neighbours than me to advise you about that!

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