What do you do if you’re in Victoria Park enjoying the fresh air and suddenly mother nature calls? You can run across the street to the public library, over to the Cornwall Centre or sprint three blocks to the city hall. But what if a stand-alone washroom provided another option?
It’s a possibility being explored by the city in a report coming before the community and protective services committee on Thursday.
According to the report, administration is recommending a one-season public washroom pilot project in City Square Plaza. Citing programming and events in the downtown have increased over the last decade, increasing demand for additional public washrooms.
“If you’re going to have a vibrant downtown, if you’re going to provide amenities- this should be one of them,” chair of the community and protective services committee, Andrew Stevens said.
Before committing to a permanent facility, which would cost somewhere between $150,000 to $750,000, its usage and maintenance challenges would be tracked.
In the process, administration reached out to 18 municipalities across Western Canada to get a gauge on some of the issues and challenges faced elsewhere, particularly in the downtown.
Cities like Saskatoon pointed to issues with their stand-alone washrooms including drug use and prostitution, particularly during the cold months.
Administration also reached out to the Provincial Capital Commission (PCC) to inquire about the stand-alone washrooms in Wascana Centre. According to the report, the PCC says its experiencing challenges including vandalism, bad behaviour and cleanliness issues.
“I think it’s a poor argument to not build simply out of this fear and instead we should address those concerns and at the same time have an honest look at building, maintaining and making sure these facilities are safe for people to use,” Stevens said.
While administration recommends the project go through, other options include maintaining the status quo but increasing signage and negotiating with developers to include public washrooms in future projects, or take a more in-depth analysis.
After the committee votes on the matter, it will go before city council at the end of the month.