Clothing donation bins have been locked or removed across the Sunshine Coast as part of a widespread response to an incident on Dec. 30, when a man died while trapped inside one in West Vancouver.
That includes the three donation bins operated by the Sunshine Coast Association for Community Living (SCACL). Those bins were located in Gibsons, Wilson Creek and Sechelt. They were removed and placed in a storage facility on Jan. 3.
The bins were ordered by SCACL from Inclusion BC, a disability awareness non-profit that owned the bin involved in Sunday’s fatality. The clothing drop recycling program, which is overseen by Inclusion BC, generated about $15,000 annually for SCACL.
“The bins are removed now and they won’t be re-installed until there’s a thorough investigation,” said Glen McClughan, executive director for SCACL. “I would never put them out again until I’m satisfied and the public is satisfied that they’re safe.”
Inclusion BC also put out a release on Jan. 3 following an emergency meeting where it and its member agencies decided to pull 146 bins located in Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, the Interior, Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. “We will continue to work with our bin manufacturer, municipal authorities, design experts and community partners to formalize and promote the adoption of industry-wide safety standards to keep our communities safe,” stated the release.
Other organizations on the Sunshine Coast have also locked their bins, including the donation bin at the Salvation Army’s Gibsons location and the donation box at the Healthcare Auxiliary Thrift Store in Sechelt.
The Salvation Army’s design is similar to Inclusion BC’s bins, said Maj. Glen Fraser, who said the bins are checked daily. Fraser said the loss of the donation bin will affect operations but that “nothing is worth losing their life over.” Patrons can still donate household items and clothes to the Sechelt and Gibsons locations during business hours. The Sechelt location is closed, however, and will remain so likely until the week of Jan. 13 due to a staffing shortage.
The Healthcare Auxiliary thrift store in Sechelt has a wooden donation bin manufactured by a local carpenter, but the bin will remain closed until an inspection is conducted to determine whether it could pose a risk, said Karen Noon, chair of the thrift store. “Ours is handmade, and wooden and completely different, but we want to do an inspection to make sure the situation can’t happen with ours,” she told Coast Reporter.
The 34-year-old man who died on Dec. 30 was the fifth fatality involving donation bins since 2015.