Woman dis­cov­ered in cloth­ing do­na­tion bin has died

The cir­cum­stances that led to her be­ing found in the bin are un­known at this time

StarMetro Toronto - - TORONTO - Ja­son Miller, Gil­bert Ndikub­wayezu and Alexandra Jones thes­tar.com/gta

The On­tario com­pany that man­u­fac­tures cloth­ing do­na­tion boxes used by char­i­ties across Canada has stopped pro­duc­ing the me­tal bins in­volved in the death of a Toronto woman Tues­day while it works to de­sign a safer model.

In the mean­time, Hamil­ton-based Rangeview Fab­ri­cat­ing Inc. is mod­i­fy­ing ex­ist­ing con­tain­ers to im­prove safety, com­pany man­ager Bran­don Agro said Tues­day.

Rangeview has been pro­vid­ing do­na­tion boxes for char­i­ties such as Di­a­betes Canada and B’nai Brith for 25 years with­out in­ci­dent, Agro said. But with at least eight doc­u­mented do­na­tion bin deaths in Canada since 2015, in­clud­ing the Toronto tragedy and the death of a Van­cou­ver man Dec. 30, he said the com­pany felt it was time to act

Toronto char­i­ties are scram­bling to mod­ify their boxes, while a city com­mit­tee that over­sees do­na­tion bin li­cens­ing is sched­uled to dis- cuss safety mea­sures at its meet­ing Jan­uary 14.

Changes to cur­rent de­signs may re­quire char­i­ties to sac­ri­fice some anti-theft mea­sures to pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions, said Agro.

The bins most com­monly in­volved in deaths are mail­box-style de­signs with an in­ter­nal flap prevent­ing peo­ple from reach­ing in­side, Agro said.

The de­signs fea­ture me­tal bars that cre­ate a “pinch point” when ac­ti­vated, of­ten by peo­ple try­ing to get into the boxes. Rangeview is ad­vis­ing char­i­ties to re­move the bars un­til safer de­signs can be de­vel­oped and built.

The bin where the Toronto woman died is owned by B’nai Brith Canada, which runs cloth­ing do­na­tion boxes for its agency The League for Hu­man Rights.

The non-profit has boxes at 19 lo­ca­tions across Toronto, ac­cord­ing to the char­ity’s web­site.

Spokesper­son Marty York wouldn’t con­firm if all of their bins are man­u­fac­tured by Rangeview, but said a safety retro­fit will be “com­pleted within the next few days.”

“We are sad­dened at this ter­ri­ble and tragic in­ci­dent. We are in di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion with po­lice on this mat­ter,” he said in a state­ment to the Star.

Po­lice have not re­leased the name of the Toronto woman who died, pend­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tion of next of kin. But Pa­tri­cia O’connell at Sis­ter­ing iden­ti­fied her as Chrys­tal, a “lovely hu­man be­ing” who was well-known at the dropin, which serves women who are home­less and suf­fer men­tal health and ad­dic­tion chal­lenges.

“We’re all just dev­as­tated,” Mccon­nell said. “Peo­ple have known her for many years. She has been in the neighbourhood for a long time.”

Res­i­dents of the apart­ment tower at 730 Dover­court Rd. where Chrys­tal was found dead say the area is of­ten fre­quented by women from the drop- in who rum­mage through do­na­tion boxes in search of items.

“I will be for sure cau­tion­ing peo­ple not to go into those bins,” Mccon­nell said.

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AN­DREW FRAN­CIS WAL­LACE/TORONTO STAR

A woman died Tues­day af­ter she was found un­con­scious in­side a cloth­ing do­na­tion box be­hind an apart­ment com­plex at 730 Dover­court Rd. Sis­ter­ing iden­ti­fied her as Chrys­tal, a “lovely hu­man be­ing” well-known at the drop-in.

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