Handwashing stations added to porta-potties installed at Halifax Central Library: city

HRM installed two portable toilets, with handwashing stations to come, to support those in need of public washrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. File / Global News.

With most city facilities closed during the pandemic, many Haligonians have no place to go.

Last week Halifax installed two portable toilets on the Queen St. plaza, just behind the public library.

Halifax Regional Municipality spokesperson Maggie-Jane Spray told Global News on Monday afternoon that external handwashing stations have been added.

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According to HRM public safety officer Amy Siciliano, getting more places for people to go has been in the works for over a month.

“People that rely on our facilities to go to the bathroom no longer could. We knew that the need was there and we wanted to try to meet it,” she said.

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Before Monday, the two porta-potties had hand sanitizer inside.

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The new handwashing feautures are not only a matter of hygiene but a precaution measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Kathleen Peverill, senior service manager at the Halifax Central Library says the library partnered with the city for this initiative because indoor washrooms are a service they normally provide.

“Providing it beyond the walls of the library during these unusual times is really just making sure we meet people where they are.”

The library has several staff on-site monitoring the washrooms and safely engaging with the community, according to Peverill.

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They ensure the washrooms are accessible and safe while providing free menstrual hygiene products to those who need them.

With a food specialist on-site and keeping to safety protocols, library staff have also been preparing snack packs to give out to community members.

Peverill believes this is just a way for the library to reach as many people as possible.

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“The library is an inclusive space. Access to portable toilets will allow for privacy and dignified manner,” she says. “Everyone in our community deserves access to washroom facilities that are safe and accessible.”

The two porta-potties and the newly installed handwashing stations will be a temporary installment, and will be in place until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The municipality is working on a public washroom strategy, expected to go to Halifax council soon, according to Siciliano.

She says recognizing the need for public washrooms is a step in the right direction for the municipality.

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