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Calgary YMCA’s universal locker-room open to all genders

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WATCH ABOVE: In a progressive move for a city facility, a new YMCA in Calgary’s Quarry Park neighbourhood will open with a universal locker-room to accommodate all genders. Jill Croteau explains how it’s designed – Jun 30, 2016

The YMCA in Calgary’s southeast Quarry Park neighbourhood is officially opening to the public on Canada Day. What makes it unique is a universal locker-room that is designed to accommodate all genders.

It’s the only one of its kind in the city and only one of a handful in the country, but it’s a widely popular concept in parts of Europe.

The design is similar to a large family locker-room in other recreational facilities in Calgary. It is an open concept.

Universal locker-room
A look inside the universal locker-room in a new Calgary YMCA. Jill Croteau / Global News

The chief operating officer of the YMCA toured similar facilities before committing to this feature.

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“Part of the discussion was: how much resistance would there be?” Kelly Smith said. “We kept an open mind and wanted to design something that would work well into the future, something we wouldn’t have to re-design shortly after opening to meet new [LGBTQ] legislation coming down.”

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The washrooms and showers remain segregated for males and females, and there are private changing stalls. It allows parents to bring children of both sexes into the common room and still have a private cubicle. It’s also intended for people with disabilities who have an attendant of the opposite sex.

Universal locker-room
A look inside the universal locker-room in a new Calgary YMCA. Jill Croteau / Global News

Some people taking a tour of the new facilities embraced the idea.

“I think you still have private change rooms,” Dale Dobson said. “I don’t think it should affect anything. We are in 2016 so I think it’s alright—it doesn’t bother me. If it bothers them, there’s a still a private washroom available to them.”

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Others like Darcy Marshall said it won’t stop him from purchasing a membership, but he feels unsure.

“I’m not overly impressed with it,” he said. “It seems weird and I don’t see the need for it. I would be more comfortable changing in a normal change room.”