It seems innocent enough, a colourful bin the parking lot or grounds of local business. Got gently used clothes that are taking up room in your closet? Well, drop them off and let some charity pick them up and give them to needy people elsewhere. Expect, while the clothes do usually get to needy people either elsewhere in Canada or in impoverished places around the world, there's actually a lot of money being made by the middle men between you and those being helped by your charity. Starting tomorrow, the City of Guelph is going to be doing something about that.
In a press release, the city says that over the next several weeks, they'll be removing so-called charity bins that have not applied for the proper licenses for such bins with City Hall. According to the new by-law, a proper donation bin will have to be placed by a business who applied for a business license with the City of Guelph, and will prominently feature that business license number on the donation boxes themselves.
But what about the items already donated? The city says that charities and businesses will be able to recover the items before they end up in the dump, and then, hopefully, make their way to properly registered charities in the area. The goal, says the city, is to increase donations to legitimate charities, as opposed to filling the pockets of middle men out to get their piece of a $174 million per year industry, according to 2010 figures quoted by this CBC article.
With that kind of money at stake, it's no wonder then, as the CBC reported, that there are fights and violence and threats of violence between operators over donation bin spaces. There's nothing published about gangland-like fights over turf here in Guelph, but this Guelph Mercury article published in 2012 features a conversation with a local property manager who according him ordered the removal of 15 donation bins from his Crimea Street property.
The City of Guelph will begin this new regulatory era for donation bins tomorrow with a media event at the Starwood Dr. Branch of the Guelph Library from the ceremonial removal of the first unlicensed bin.