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Woman dies after getting trapped inside clothes donation box in Toronto

11 January 2019

Police said the woman did not have any vital signs when firefighters pulled her from the bin behind a building near Bloor Street and Dovercourt Road.

Maria Ventura said the woman who died often struggled to find a place to stay at night.

Following the man's death, the District of West Vancouver announced that it had closed donation bins and is "looking into options for removing them or using bins that are more secure". But with at least eight documented deaths in Canada since 2015, including the death of a woman in Toronto on Tuesday morning, Agro said the time had come for immediate action.

"Shut them all down", she said.

Ray Taheri, who teaches Engineering at the University of British Columbia, told CBC: "Unfortunately, in the initial stage of design, they never considered, 'What if someone got inside?'"

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The woman's death prompted Toronto Mayor John Tory to write to the city's licensing committee, which was in the midst of reviewing the clothing dropbox bylaw.

The bins need to be removed within 24 hours or, if not logistically possible, they must be locked until they can be removed, according to city spokesperson Ted Townsend. The company has been advising charities to remove those bars until safer designs can be implemented.

Jeremy Hunka of Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver said homeless people often turn to the bins for clothing items or shelter without being aware of how risky they can be.

Two similar incidents were reported in Vancouver a year ago.

It remains unclear how she became trapped in the bin, but police believe the incident was unintentional.

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Toronto Police Const. Genifferjit Sidhu said that deaths such as these can be horrific.

Patricia O'Connell, executive director at Sistering, a west-end charity-run women's shelter not far from where the woman was found dead, confirmed the woman, named Chrystal, had stayed there in the past.

One manufacturer, Green Inspiration, said in an emailed statement it is replacing its donation bins throughout the Lower Mainland with a new design that does not allow "unauthorized entries" at all.

Tory said the review will also address whether the boxes are placed in proper locations and if they are the best way to go about collecting used clothing in the first place.

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Woman dies after getting trapped inside clothes donation box in Toronto