Surrey council has voted against a ban on donation bins, instead deciding to keep the city’s existing approach, following a man being found dead in a bin in West Vancouver on Dec. 30, 2018.
Currently, the city doesn’t have a bylaw that bans or regulates the bins.
Councillors Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial, Steven Pettigrew and Linda Annis voted in opposition of the status quo during a March 11 meeting.
Locke wanted to see a “total ban” noting they’re “just too dangerous.”
“I’m not willing to see another person die a really, really tragic death due to a donation bin,” said Locke, adding there have been five deaths in Toronto in the last five years, and four deaths in B.C. in the last three years including one near Guildford mall in 2016.
“I hope that members of this council will consider joining with other cities, six other cities in Metro Vancouver, that have also banned these bins,” Locke remarked.
But Councillor Laurie Guerra said she would “absolutely not be in favour of ceasing the use of these bins.”
“In my past life I was the president of a non-profit association asnd these bins have provided many, many, many resources,” said Guerra, referring to the Autism Socety of B.C.
“As far as I am aware, every one of the bins now that are in existence are checked to make sure the changes have been made so people can’t get stuck in these bins. So I’m not in favour of discontinuing use of these bins.”
Hundial stressed his desire to ban the bins, saying he believes there are “other mechanisms for non-profits” to elicit donations.
“I find them kind of unsightly as well,” Hundial added.
The City of Surrey doesn’t have a bylaw that either bans or explicitly regulates donation bins. While the city doesn’t allow donation bins on city property, they are permitted at Surrey fire halls.
In a report to council, Surrey staff had recommended the city continue its existing approach to handling donations bins – which was the approach adopted. Two alternatives were provided for council’s consideration: a total ban or establishing a regulation system for the bins.
Staff told council the bins “do not pose a safety risk to the public if used as intended,” and they don’t require additional oversight from the city.
The city’s Bylaw Enforcement, Compliance and Licensing division determined there are 147 donation bins throughout the city. Most of the bins are in private parking lots, Surrey School District sites and various temples and churches. Of the 147 bins, 24 are at fire halls, which are operated by the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society, staff note.
However, the report states that as of late February, 64 of the 147 bins “appear to have been removed by property owners and/or owners of the bins.”
Meantime, the Surrey School District has removed all 42 clothing bins from school properties “as a result of safety concerns highlighted by the recent death.”
– With files from Amy Reid