Vigil held for homeless woman found dead inside clothing donation bin
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Thursday, January 10, 2019 6:47PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 10, 2019 9:40PM EST
Those who knew a 35-year-old homeless woman, who died after becoming trapped inside a clothing donation bin in the city’s Bloorcourt Village neighbourhood, said she was clearly loved by her community.
“She was amazing,” Kira Hamilton said while attending a vigil on Thursday evening. “She was really funny. We used to laugh all the time.”
“She loved kids, she loved animals, she loved everyone really.”
On Tuesday at around 2 a.m., Chrystal Papineau was heard by witnesses screaming for help after she became stuck inside a clothing donation bin near Bloor Street and Dovercourt Road.
Officers said her body was half out of the bin when they arrived at the scene. She was found without vital signs and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Papineaul’s death was ruled a “death by misadventure” by police.
“Deaths like this are totally unnecessary,” another attendee of the vigil, Lesley Wood, said. “There needs to be 2,000 more shelter beds available. We need to have easy access sites where people can go, women and trans people can go, when it’s not safe to be out in the streets.”
“This is really a no brainer. People should not be dying on the streets.”
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty issued a news release on Thursday ahead of the vigil saying women’s shelters across the city were full on the night that Papineaul died.
“The sub-standard back-up respite centres were also packed and the two 24/7 drop-in centres for women and trans people, which function as under-resourced de-facto shelters, were overcapacity,” the news release said.
The clothing donation bin that Papineau was found in was a relatively new addition to the neighbourhood and it has since been removed.
A representative from the company that makes the bins, Rangeview Fabricating Inc., said they stopped making the model after a 34-year-old man was found dead inside one in West Vancouver on Dec. 30.
A new prototype with better safety features is in the works, according to the representative.
In the meantime, crews were reportedly dispatched across the Greater Toronto Area on behalf of the manufacturer on Wednesday to cut the metal bars that cause the doors of the boxes to pinch.
Mayor John Tory said on Wednesday that he wants city council to conduct its own review into the bins located in Toronto.
The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty said Tory’s comments have “turned the issue into one about the design and location of donation bins, diverting attention away from the underlying housing and homelessness crisis his administration is responsible for, and can do something about.”
In the news release, the coalition said at the vigil they will make demands for the city to combat this crisis, including opening more shelters that can support women and trans people, adding 2,000 emergency shelter beds in 2019 and funding harm reduction programs and overdose prevention services across the city.
“There is not enough being done,” Hamilton said. “We need more affordable, low-income housing, more shelter beds, we just need more and people are dying and that’s the reality.”