The New Bedford City Council decided to move forward with discussions of implementing a "Neighborhood Needle Recovery" program during Thursday night's meeting.

The program is modeled after a similar one in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and was supported by Councilors at Large Ian Abreu, Naomi Carney, Debora Coelho, Councilors Kerry Winterson, Steven Martins, Dana Rebeiro and Henry Bousquet.

Councilors at Large Brian Gomes, Linda Morad and Councilor Joe Lopes voted in opposition.

Ward 1 Councilor Jim Oliveira was not present for the vote.

The proposed program would take steps to clear hypodermic needles from city streets and public areas through several means, including installation of needle drop boxes across the city and needle sweeps through playgrounds and public parks.

There was some opposition to the motion, though it will receive more discussion at a future Committee on Public Safety meeting.

Gomes said he's not going to allow the boxes to be placed on city streets because it creates the wrong image of New Bedford.

"I don't like the appearance of it," said Gomes after the meeting. "I understand the situation but putting boxes out on the city streets, downtown and across this city, is not the answer to getting rid of the needles."

Gomes said better ways of combating the problem is thorough education during neighborhood meetings and other public campaigns.

Ward 4 Councilor Rebeiro said she is more concerned with keeping children and other vulnerable residents safe than worry about the city's appearance to visitors.

"If a tourist is turned off by that then that is what it is," Rebeiro said. "I'm more concerned with a child getting stuck by one of those needles."

Some other councilors had mixed feelings of the idea and say they look forward to further discussions in committee, as well as input from other city and public health officials.

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