UBC Okanagan students are helping get safe clothing donation bins back on B.C. streets.
In 2019, a number of people died after using the bins for shelter and getting trapped. Engineering students at UBCO have helped develop new safety technologies to be added to donation bins so that they can be placed back on the streets across the province after charities removed them due to safety concerns.
“When this last death happened in Vancouver, we decided to move all our bins off the street,” said Slav Gudelj with Big Brothers’ Vancouver office.
“It did have a huge impact on our bottom line and is going to cost us about half a million dollars.”
UBCO students were tasked with coming up with ways to modify existing bins to make them safer.
School of engineering instructor Ray Taheri used a $75,000 donation from Firstline Foundation to retrofit the bins and find reasonable, viable and economically realistic possibilities.
Students introduced various solutions, including self-locking features and sensors inside the bins. Students also researched the specifics of each accident by looking at when and where the deaths happened.
Taheri said there will be four prototypes that will be placed throughout the Okanagan.
“Each (are) a little bit different,” he said.
“Some will come with more bells and whistles, some will be a very basic model. But definitely they are much safer than what we had in the past.”
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