Vancouver Sun

Task group to create a fix for deadly donation bins

- RANDY SHORE rshore@postmedia.com

A task group is forming to find an immediate retrofit design to make clothing donation bins safer after a man died in a bin on the weekend.

B.C.’s coroner is investigat­ing four such deaths since 2015.

UBC-Okanagan engineerin­g professor Ray Taheri is recruiting other professors, students and bin manufactur­ers to come up with a life-saving fix and hopes to have the group together “in the next 24 hours.”

“Current designs don’t address the question: what if people don’t do what they are supposed to do? What if they try to take out instead of putting in? What if they try to get inside?” he said. “From that perspectiv­e, (the existing bins) have a major flaw.”

A 34-year-old Vancouver man died late Sunday night or early Monday morning after becoming trapped in the access point of a Community Living Society bin in Ambleside Park in West Vancouver.

In July 2018, a woman died in a Developmen­tal Disabiliti­es Associatio­n bin at the West Point Grey Community Centre in Vancouver, while others have died in Surrey and Pitt Meadows. One man died in a bin in Ontario last month, while another died in Calgary in 2017.

In August, Taheri tasked his firstyear engineerin­g students with the redesign of donation bins and they created dozens of potential solutions. His fourth-year students will take the best from those ideas and create prototypes for an entirely new bin design later this year in a quest to permanentl­y solve the problem.

But the latest death has given the project new urgency, and the professor is pressing for a quick way to fix the existing bins to prevent further loss of life in the short term.

“I’m sure there are things that can be done immediatel­y,” said Taheri, who cancelled travel plans to work on the project. “We have a maker space on our campus to find a solution to the immediate problem.”

There are thousands of bins across British Columbia and several designs, so Taheri is asking local manufactur­ers to send the different versions to the Kelowna campus so his engineers can get started.

“It might be possible to do a little welding here or there and add a ( bracket) that will prevent people from getting in,” he said. “This is a serious problem and we would like to solve it as soon as possible.”

The Developmen­tal Disabiliti­es Associatio­n, which has about 300 donation bins in southweste­rn British Columbia, has been working with Taheri on potential solutions to the box design problem, said spokesman Kevin Chan.

Associatio­n staff helped judge student designs in last fall’s competitio­n.

“We would like to work with Ray and his engineers on a collaborat­ive project regarding donation bins,” said Chan. “Community safety is always a top priority for DDA, whether it’s for our clients or the general public.”

 ??  ?? UBC-Okanagan engineerin­g professor Ray Taheri is leading a project to create new designs for donation bins. Over the past few years, four people in B.C. have died after getting trapped in a donation bin.
UBC-Okanagan engineerin­g professor Ray Taheri is leading a project to create new designs for donation bins. Over the past few years, four people in B.C. have died after getting trapped in a donation bin.
 ?? PHOTOS: UBC OKANAGAN ?? UBC-Okanagan engineerin­g students have designed this donation bin as part of a competitio­n.
PHOTOS: UBC OKANAGAN UBC-Okanagan engineerin­g students have designed this donation bin as part of a competitio­n.

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