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

VIDEO: Newbie Giants helps defeat Victoria 4-1 in Langley Friday

The G-Men play Saturday in Victoria before hosting Kamloops on home ice at LEC on Sunday afternoon

Aldergrove newspaper boys brave the snow

Aldergrove Star carriers are doing their best to deliver the news to you

Young curlers ready for national tournament in Langley

The teams practiced on Friday in preparation for the official start Saturday

Not over yet: Mixture of snow, freezing rain on way as winter storm tapers in Lower Mainland

Environment Canada releases weather alert for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley

VIDEO: Contest winner pays it forward in Langley

Jan Janzen will share her $200 prize with the food bank, homeless shelter, and grandkids

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Coquihalla, Highway 3 to be hit with freezing rain, sparking warning to commuters

Hard to say when the freezing rain will turn to regular rainfall, Environment Canada says

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Should winter tires be mandatory in the Lower Mainland?

ICBC dial-a-claims go up as winter storm takes toll

Canada Post driver in hospital after ice smashes windshield at Massey Tunnel

Incident happened on Richmond side of the Massey Tunnel

Abbotsford bank ATM robbery thwarted by woman standing her ground

Police arrest alleged known robber running down South Fraser wearing balaclava

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Most Read