Family of Victoria man found dead in recycling truck pleads for action

WatchThe family of a homeless Victoria man found dead in a recycling truck last week is angry and frustrated that nothing is being done to prevent people from dying in dumpsters after the second death of its kind in a year.

Shawna Bradley is grieving the loss of her 25-year-old nephew.

“He was goofy, he was really goofy and he made his aunties laugh, a lot,” she said.

“We loved him, all of us loved him, his mom really loved him.”

The family isn’t ready to publicly identify the young man but say he had been living on the streets of Victoria for the last several years. For some reason, last Tuesday, he ended up in a recycling dumpster downtown.

“A recycling bin could look comfortable, it’s insulated, it’s warm, it’s dry, it’s been wet lately,” said Grant McKenzie, director of communications for Our Place Society.

Police say the dumpster was one of six picked up that morning and brought to the Waste Connections facility in Central Saanich. The man’s body was discovered when the truck emptied its load.

Central Saanich Police on Tuesday said the cause of death was asphyxiation, but the BC Coroner says it hasn’t reached any conclusions or released its findings. The family says it was blindsided to hear the police details on the news.

“It was extra terrible this morning to see a cause of death we hadn’t been made aware of,” said Bradley. “We don’t know the cause of death and we won’t know that for some time.”

What they do know is that their nephew was somehow able to crawl inside the bin.

“What we don’t understand is why the bins don’t have to be locked? So how can people get in there to begin with?” Bradley questioned.

There were similar questions last August after a man was killed when the dumpster he was sleeping in was picked up, crushing him inside. It led to calls for the City of Victoria to create a bylaw requiring locks, similar to what they have in Vancouver. But Mayor Lisa Helps, at the time, said it is up to businesses to act.

“The city shouldn’t need to make bylaws about common sense. If businesses want to secure their bins, then they are going to secure their bins. What are we going to have city bylaw officers wandering around checking every night to see if there is a lock? I mean it’s not the best use of taxpayer resources,” Helps told CHEK News on Aug. 2, 2018.

Waste Connections wouldn’t comment on whether they’re taking any preventative steps, but others say part of the problem is lack of shelter spaces.

“On October 1st, we opened 35 spaces in our basement because we saw the need out on the street, it filled up the first night and there’s a waiting list every night,” said McKenzie.

For family of the young man who died last week they just want action whatever it takes to prevent another family from losing someone in such a senseless way.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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