The City of Surrey is reviewing the safety of clothing donation bins as well as an outright ban following two recent deaths in West Vancouver and Toronto.
On Dec. 30, a man died in West Vancouver after he tried to climb into a donation bin and got stuck. Then on Jan. 8, a woman in Toronto died in much the same way, prompting a nation-wide conversation on the safety of the apparatus.
In a similar incident, a man was found dead in a Surrey donation bin in 2016, near Guildford Town Centre, close to the intersection of 150th Street and 104th Avenue.
“In light of recent incidents involving these bins,” said Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke, “I would like to request my fellow council members consider a resolution asking staff to precisely determine the inventory of the bins located throughout the city, how they are regulated, what safety precautions may be in place or may be required to further prevent incidences, determine if certain types of bins should simply be banned and subsequently to provide a report back to council on this matter with their recommendations.”
Surrey council passed the motion during a Jan. 14 meeting, and staff will report back at a later date.
Surrey Councillor Jack Hundial expressed concern for the organizations that would be financially impacted by any changes.
“I would like to propose that we include them in the discussions as we move forward,” said Hundial.
Mayor Doug McCallum said he received an email on Jan. 14 from “one particular agency that’s involved in most of the bins.”
“I’ve sent a copy to all of council,” McCallum added. “Be sure you read it because they’re doing some actions very quickly to try to solve the problem.”
Meantime, Surrey Schools spokesman Doug Strachan told the Now-Leader on Jan. 15 that the district has removed all 42 clothing bins from school properties “as a result of safety concerns highlighted by the recent death.”
Also on Jan. 14, Delta Council ordered the removal of donation bins in that city, after determining the bins create “unsafe conditions” and pose “significant risks to human health and safety.”
This came the week after the Delta school district decided to decommission all bins located on school grounds.
Other B.C. cities have enacted outright bans after the deaths, including Richmond, West Vancouver and Burnaby. Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are also considering banning the bins, and Inclusion BC has pulled all 146 bins it has in the province.
According to a poll released this week by Research Co., 70 per cent of B.C. residents want to ban the bins. The poll asked 800 people if they would approve banning the bins and taking their clothing and other items directly to the charity instead.
According to the survey, women were slightly more likely than men to support nixing the bins, and those living on Vancouver Island and in northern B.C. were slightly less in favour.
Eight people have died involving donation bins in Canada since 2015, and a major Canadian manufacturer has announced it would stop making them until they sorted out the safety concerns.
With files from Black Press