UBC Okanagan engineering students have come up with a number of retrofits to make clothing donation bins safer, the school says. (Contributed)

UBC students develop safer clothing donation bins after deaths

Banned in Pitt Meadows and other cities following deaths

UBC Okanagan engineering students have solved a problem that took several lives and cost Canadian charities thousands of dollars of lost income – unsafe clothing donation bins.

The students have been working on the problem since early in 2019, after the latest case of an unfortunate person being found dead inside one of the bins, which used to be a common sight around Lower Mainland cities.

Pitt Meadows was one of the cities that banned the bins in January 2019. It was a move praised by Loretta Sundstrom, whose daughter Anita Hauck was killed when her neck became stuck in a clothing bin at Meadowtown Centre in Pitt Meadows on Sept. 28, 2015.

Hauck died of anoxic brain injury, caused by asphyxiation, according to a coroner’s report.

READ ALSO: Pitt Meadows bans clothing donation bins

Hauck had lived on the streets for parts of her life in Maple Ridge, was an advocate for homeless people, and the Anita Place Tent City was named for her.

Charities across Vancouver pulled their clothing donation bins off the street after a number of people had climbed inside the bins and died.

READ ALSO: Inclusion BC to pull 146 clothing-donation bins after man’s death

Big Brothers Vancouver said pulling the bins cost the organization about $500,000. The donation bin industry is a multi-million dollar enterprise across North America, raising funds for charitable organizations including the Salvation Army, Diabetes Canada, Big Brothers and Sisters, Goodwill and many others.

UBCO School of Engineering instructor Ray Taheri had students to come up with a way to modify the bins and make them safer.

They found most deaths happened within a few hundred yards of a homeless shelter, and took place between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.

The students came up with a number of solutions, including suggestions about where the bins should be located, timed self-locking features, and a sensor to alert the organization they were almost full.

“We ended up with a number of different models and eventually settled on four prototypes – each a little bit different,” said Taheri. “Some will come with more bells and whistles, some will be a very basic model. But, definitely, they are a much safer than what we had in the past.”

The Salvation Army is looking at having nearly 180 of the newly retrofitted bins back into the community over the coming weeks and months. He credits the engineers for ‘stepping up’ and not ignoring a chronic and dangerous issue.


 


ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Federal justice minister consults with British Columbians on assisted-death law

During a coast-to-coast tour this week, federal Justice Minister David Lametti has… Continue reading

One last blast of winter tonight for the Valley before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

YANA celebrating its 30th annual Big Love Benefit Feb. 28

“The extra touches that the committee has added this year are going to knock some socks off.”

Comox’s Cooke wins Boating BC scholarship

Highland grad is currently studying in VIU’s marine mechanical tech program

Comox hit with record-breaking snowfall amid winter storm

Comox area saw 10 centimetres more snow than previous 70-year-old record

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

BC Green Party leader visits northern B.C. pipeline protest site

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada, British Columbia and First Nations

‘Extensive’ work planned at Big Bar landslide ahead of salmon, steelhead migration

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan visited the site of the slide from June

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Royal deal clears way for Harry, Meghan part-time Canada move: experts

Keith Roy of the Monarchist League of Canada said the deal is exactly what Harry and Meghan asked for

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

Most Read