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

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

ANKORS held a small demonstration outside Nelson City Hall and the courthouse Wednesday to mark the five-year anniversary of the province declaring the toxic drug supply crisis. Photo: Tyler Harper
‘We’re all supposed to take care of each other’: 5 years of toxic drug supply crisis marked in Nelson

Over 7,000 people have died in B.C. since the crisis was announced in 2016

COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in the Kootenays. Illustration: BC Centre for Disease Control
Highest weekly number of new COVID-19 cases in 2021 for Nelson

The Nelson local health area had 13 new cases in early April

The 300 block of Victoria Street will be the site of the city’s transit hub, after further discussions with businesses and residents on that block as well as the 200 block of Victoria and on Kootenay Street. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson sticks with Victoria Street for transit hub, promises further discussion on design

Council resisted calls to reconsider the 300 block of Victoria Street

RCMP say a fire that killed a Balfour woman in April 2020 is no longer considered suspicious. Photo: Phil McLachlan
Balfour house fire death not considered suspicious: RCMP

A woman died in the blaze on April 8, 2020

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

Tyler’s facial expression was a bad idea.
VIDEO: Wednesday Roundup

This week we talk about a COVID school exposure and more on the transit hub

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Most Read