The Windsor Essex Community Health Centre has introduced a needle disposal drop box in the downtown core.

The sharp disposal kiosk is located in front of the street health location at 711 Pelissier St., meant for people to safely dispose of needles and syringes.

The WECHC says it has repurposed $20,000 of its operating budget to purchase the kiosk for the disposal of needles and the distribution of harm reduction supplies.

Executive director Patrick Brown says it is part of their mandate to support the health and wellness of our vulnerable population, and he hopes more units will follow.

He believes the units will also stop the increase in blood-born infectious diseases.

"From January 1 to July 31, there have been a total of 132 reported cases of Hep C and HIV," claims Brown. "This compares to a five-year average for the same time period of 93 cases."

That's an increase of more than 40 per cent.

Mayor Drew Dilkens says the initiative will improve the safety for residents and neighbourhoods.

“The provision of safe and secure sharps disposal units has proven effective in other communities to reduce the number of needles discarded in public spaces,” says Dilkens. “I applaud the initiative and look forward to the implementation of more best practices from the collaborative of community partners working to improve the community”.

Ralph Ganter, the CEO of the Erie St. Clair LHIN supports the WE CHC initiative.

“The new sharps kiosk will help to ensure that people have access to a safe sharps disposal option and, in addition, it is an important part of opioid harm reduction,” says Ganter. “Today’s announcement is an important step in helping our communities to be safer, more compassionate, and healthier.”

The sharp drop box unit is securely mounted in a highly visible area on the exterior of the building and monitored 24/7 by security cameras for the protection of property and personal safety. It includes a large chute to ensure all needles, syringes and containers are deposited without the ability to be retrieved.