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Regina Beach residents say lack of public washrooms leading to ‘human waste’ along walking paths

Regina Beach residents say lack of public washrooms leading to ‘human waste’ along walking paths
WATCH: Regina Beach and its public washrooms remain closed amid the pandemic, but residents say visitors are still coming to the area — and they're making a mess.

People who live and work in Regina Beach say recent visitors to the resort town are leaving behind waste — including human feces — because public washroom facilities are closed.

The Saskatchewan government has closed the popular beach, located about 60 kilometres northwest of Regina, and the adjacent public washrooms and change rooms in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Pandemic highlights need for more public toilets, experts say

It will remain closed until further notice, which residents say is forcing visitors to resort to other options.

“It’s been really unfortunate, and really obvious, especially down by our walking paths,” said Denny Joyal, who lives and works in Regina Beach.

“There’s been human waste left there, we’ve seen things like used tampons, dirty diapers — garbage we’re not used to, because again, there’s been no facilities.”

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Joyal is the managing partner of the Waterfront Beach Bar and Grill. He told Global News that despite the beach closure, groups of people have been coming to the lake recently to enjoy the warmer weather.

He said he’s seen visitors ignore the barricades and signs, and enter the closed service centre.

“Where my anxiety comes in is that when we reopen on (June 8), with no public facilities at the lake, we by de facto become the public washroom for Last Mountain Lake, which is not something we’re set up or prepared for,” he said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Overnight stays at Saskatchewan parks and campgrounds allowed Monday

Joyal added that once the business reopens, at 50 per cent capacity with social distancing rules, having someone monitor the washroom for non-customer use isn’t feasible.

“What we really need is someone from the parks department to either open up those washrooms and make them available, or do a better job of enforcing the closure of the beach,” Joyal said.

In an email statement Monday, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport said both RCMP and conservation officers are conducting “periodic checks of the site to educate about mandatory public health orders.”

Swimming advisory issued for Regina Beach
Swimming advisory issued for Regina Beach

The province added that RCMP is also responding to concerns and violations of mandatory public health orders reported via the toll-free COVID-19 hotline.

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“Every human needs to use a washroom from time to time and does it make sense to expect the visitors to hold it until they get home?

“As per the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan, the Service Centre, being a shared facility, needs to remain closed until further notice … at this time, beaches are closed and we are asking for cooperation from the public in respecting the rules and these public spaces,” the statement read.

“We currently have signage throughout the recreation site as well as advisories posted on our website to inform the public about park-use restrictions and new protocols. Our staff will continue to remove litter and other hazards at locations where it is safe to do so.”

The province says this single-toilet bathroom near the Regina Beach Boat Launch will stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is receiving “enhanced cleaning” by park staff.
The province says this single-toilet bathroom near the Regina Beach Boat Launch will stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is receiving “enhanced cleaning” by park staff. Daniella Ponticelli / Global News

On Monday, there was one, single-toilet bathroom — which residents refer to as an outhouse — open at the boat launch parking lot.

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The province noted that the facility will stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is receiving “enhanced cleaning” by park staff.

In an email to Global News, Brent Cant from the nearby Village of Beuna Vista said a big problem is visitors not knowing about the lack of washroom facilities.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan parks set for busy summer. Here’s what to expect

“There has been an increase of human feces and toilet paper along the walking path just west of the main pier parking lot as well as some residents have actually found human feces in their neighbouring yards,” Cant said, adding he would like to see the main washrooms reopen, even if the beach stays closed.

“They could post signs indicating to use at own risk and practice social distancing at all times. Block off the change room and shower rooms. Every human needs to use a washroom from time to time and does it make sense to expect the visitors to hold it until they get home?”

Cant noted that since the Town of Regina Beach and Village of Buena Vista are entirely on septic tanks, most businesses don’t allow non-customer use as they have to endure the cost of pumping the tank.