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West Van to shut down clothing donation bins following death

Last Updated Jan 2, 2019 at 7:11 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Firefighters had to use the jaws of life after fearing another person had been trapped inside a clothing donation bin

Although the call was a false alarm, the district says it will be closing all donation bins until something is done

This follows the death of a 34-year-old man who was found stuck in the opening of a donation bin in Ambleside Park

WEST VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Following the death of a 34-year-old man who was found unconscious stuck in the opening of a clothing donation bin on Monday, the District of West Vancouver says it’s shutting down all donation bins.

The District says it will be closing all donation bins until they can be replaced with a “more secure option.”

In an effort to avoid another death, the District of West Vancouver says it will be closing down all clothing donation bins across the city until it can replace them with a “more secure option.”

“This is a tragedy that we need to make sure does not happen again in West Vancouver,” said Donna Powers with the district. “We’re looking into all the locations of the clothing bins located in our municipality and what ways we have of regulating them.”

Powers says people should instead drop off donations directly or schedule a pick-up.

She says it’s unclear how long the bins will be closed off for, adding experts will have to look at the issue on a case by case basis.

So far the district has tied off seven bins while staff will work on closing others in the days ahead.

The decision also comes after firefighters had to use the jaws of life on Wednesday to cut open a clothing donation bin, fearing someone was trapped inside.

The call turned out to be a false alarm, but the district remains on high alert following the death of the 34-year-old.

At least seven Canadians have died because they were stuck in clothing donation bins, and an advocate for the homeless in the province says he can’t imagine why they haven’t been fixed or removed.

“To have five deaths over the past four years is unimaginable, it’s unthinkable,” says Jeremy Hunka with the Union Gospel Mission. “There are too many people dying.”

He says something has to be done, calling the bins “death traps.”

WATCH: Safer donation bin designs


Professor Ray Taheri of the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus says his first-year students began working on designs to change the bins after a woman died in Vancouver last July.

He says bins could be designed to lock if someone tries to place anything over a certain weight inside.

“You know one of the designs that students came up with is that a bag is about 20 pounds, so if it’s more than 20 pounds, which the weight of a person is obviously more than 20 pounds, it automatically locks itself, so you cannot move it,” he adds. “So if you lean towards it somehow to get something, you can’t actually because it locks itself. So that could be a solution.”

-With files from The Canadian Press and Toby Kerr