Saskatoon parks: Why when nature calls, there may be nowhere to go

Most Saskatoon public parks are without washroom facilities
WATCH ABOVE: Saskatoon has over 200 parks that feature sporting areas but most are without washroom facilities. Meaghan Craig talks to park users and the city to see if there’s a need.

No surprise here. Over the summer months, Saskatoon parks are a hub of activity but there’s one important element missing from many of them.

Where to go, when you have to go.

It’s hard to admit but bushes at public parks are often used as bathrooms, trees are tinkled on and not just by children but adults.

“I don’t think there’s very many parks that even have facilities, this one for example now has a porta-potty but typically it doesn’t even have that,” said Shelly Voykin as she watched baseball at Glenn Reeve Fields.

“Many of the ones in the school playgrounds there’s no facilities at all so if anyone needs to go to the bathroom they have to find alternate ways lots of times trees.”

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Parry Dorsey said he pays enough as it is for his kids to be in sports but would be willing to pay for washroom facilities if he had to.

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“You don’t want people going in the trees, people hang onto it, it’s just not comfortable or convenient,” Dorsey said.

“You can’t enjoy the park if you’re dancing because you’ve got to go to the bathroom.”

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In Saskatoon, there are more than 213 parks. City officials say of those 213, very few have washrooms for when nature calls.

“Formally on a seasonal basis and a couple on a year-round basis, 12 out of those entire parks,” said Lynne Lacroix, director of recreation and community development with the City of Saskatoon.

 A dozen restrooms, a number that will not likely change any time soon because of vandalism and cost.

“An average cost for a building that would be a formalized washroom structure to access the water and utilities plus build the structure it’s $100,000 to $150,000 a building,” Lacroix said.

According to Lacroix, if the city were to station porta-potties at parks throughout Saskatoon it would cost roughly $100 per park, per month. By placing porta-potties in 100 parks for four to six months it would end up costing the city $40,000 to $60,000 a year.

At this point, less than half a dozen parks have this temporary option and that’s only because softball associations or baseball leagues stepped up to the plate to rent them.

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“For them it’s then one porta-potty for four months, it’s a $400 cost that they build into their league fees so in some cases that occurs,” Lacroix said.

Lacroix emphasized she’s sat on the sidelines, played in many parks and added it’s something the city is looking at as part of its long-range plans.

“We’re currently doing a full review of our parks amenities and infrastructures. Where we have infrastructure deficits, where we need to do upgrades, where do we need to do some rebuilds,” she said.

“Also as we build new parks where we could incorporate those early on in the design phase.”

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If you get caught urinating or defecating in public, be prepared to pay a $200 fine which is reduced to $150 if you pay within 14 days.