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The Alberta government has been providing the City of Lethbridge with an annual grant since 2019 to help with the collection and disposal of drug-related debris. The city administration recently brought forward a motion to Lethbridge City Council to approve $115,000 in funding for the 2024-2025 period, which was unanimously passed. With the closure of the ARCHES site, the provincial government reallocated funds for needle collection to the city, which is now contracted out to the Clean Sweep Program (CSP). This funding will support the Needle Debris Collection Program operated by the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ).

The funding from the Alberta government allows the Needle Debris Collection Program to address identified debris hotspots in Lethbridge, with teams conducting cleanups in both the morning and afternoon, five days a week. Last year, the program was able to collect over 5,000 needles in the downtown area and over 18,000 needles in other parts of the city. Additionally, about 3,600 pipes were also picked up. The grant enables the program to respond to changes in drug-related debris hotspots throughout the city. Specially manufactured sharps boxes are used by the teams to safely collect the debris, which is then disposed of by a specialized company multiple times a month. Residents are encouraged to report any drug-related debris they come across by calling 311 or the Needle Debris Hotline directly at 403-332-0722.

Andrew Malcolm, City of Lethbridge manager of community social development, highlighted the long-standing impact of the drug crisis in Lethbridge. The funding provided by the Alberta government allows the city to continue essential services for needle collection and disposal in the absence of the ARCHES site. Sarah Amies, executive director of the Downtown BRZ, emphasized how the grant supports the larger clean sweep efforts in the city. Without the program, the amount of drug-related debris in Lethbridge would be significantly higher, making the ongoing collection and disposal efforts crucial for maintaining community safety and cleanliness.

The Needle Debris Collection Program is vital in addressing the ongoing drug crisis in Lethbridge and ensuring the safe removal of hazardous materials from public spaces. The funding provided by the Alberta government enables the program to operate effectively, responding to changing hotspots and maintaining a regular cleanup schedule throughout the city. The collaboration between the city, the Downtown BRZ, and the Clean Sweep Program demonstrates a coordinated effort to address the impact of drug-related debris on the community. By encouraging residents to report any debris they encounter, the program can continue to target areas in need of cleanup and reduce the potential risks associated with improperly discarded needles and pipes.

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