Posts Tagged "washrooms"

17Oct

Vandalism inspired by TikTok challenge forces closure of Okanagan park washrooms | CBC News

by admin

Public washrooms in an Okanagan community park have closed early for the season due to vandalism similar to that seen in schools amid a social media trend known as the “devious licks” TikTok challenge.

On Wednesday, the District of Lake Country announced the washrooms in Swalwell Park were closing earlier than their scheduled closure at the end of October because of repeated vandalism. 

Karen Miller, communications officer for the District of Lake Country, believes the vandalism is connected to the social media challenge.

“We’ve heard people have different philosophies about what this could be … but we’ve heard a lot about a ‘devious licks’ trend on TikTok, and it’s become such a problem all over Canada in every kind of washroom,” she said Thursday to host Sarah Penton on Radio West.

A TikTok challenge called ‘devious licks’ has students across North America filming and uploading videos showing vandalism and theft on school property, often in washrooms. These screenshots give a sense of the destruction. (@hayderr/@trentzalitach03/@devious.sink/TikTok)

Schools across Canada and the United States have been plagued by the TikTok challenge, which encourages people to damage school property and post the aftermath on the video-sharing platform.

“We’ve seen an increased amount of really disgusting vandalism [in the park bathrooms],” Miller said.

“The hardware, the doors for the stalls were torn right off the wall and destroyed, the soap dispensers burned and then even more disgusting, feces spread all over the walls and washrooms — in both male and female washrooms.”

The District of Lake Country had to spend about $2,000 to remove graffiti and fix other damage in the washrooms at Swalwell Park. (District of Lake Country/Facebook)

Miller says the mischief went on for a month, but the damage done last weekend was the worst.

The district had to pay about $2,000 to replace the broken hand dryers, soap dispensers and partitions, and to remove the graffiti on cubicles and bricks.

Miller says the park’s washrooms were only open during the day, and were frequently used by park visitors and heavily patrolled by security guards, so she wonders how the vandals were able to sneak into the facilities.

“The washrooms are checked frequently. The parks are monitored. But obviously, you know, it can’t be 24-7,” she said.

Miller says the park bathroom closure will be an inconvenience to seniors and mothers with young children.

“It does impact a wide segment of the community.”

Last month, TikTok removed all videos, hashtags and search results related to the “devious licks” challenge.

Miller urges young people to have a conversation with their friends who indicate they want to do the social media challenge.

“It doesn’t make you a rat to protect the community that you live in.”

9Jun

3 Alberta washrooms in the running for Canada’s Best Restroom contest

by admin

It’s a title that has been won in Alberta several times and once again, our province has a number of candidates in the running for the title of Canada’s Best Restroom.

Cintas Canada has unveiled its five finalists for the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom Contest and three Alberta loos have made the cut: one in Edmonton, one in Red Deer and one in Calgary.

Read more:
Alberta gas station restroom named best in Canada

The contest is meant to highlight businesses that have invested in developing and maintaining exceptional washrooms.

“These five facilities demonstrate a commitment to prioritizing hygiene and customer service — especially as cleanliness is so important right now — combined with creativity and whimsy not usually seen in washrooms,” said Candice Raynsford, marketing manager with Cintas Canada.

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Click to play video: 'St. Albert car dealership recognized for its bathrooms'







St. Albert car dealership recognized for its bathrooms


St. Albert car dealership recognized for its bathrooms – Jul 17, 2018

Nominees were judged on five criteria: cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality and unique elements.

Here’s a look at the five finalists.

Borden Park – Edmonton, Alta.

This washroom is located in a city park in northeast Edmonton and designed by gh3.

The washrooms are located within a single-level pavilion surrounded by reflective glass. Cintas said an “integrated approach to environmental sustainability” is evident in the choice of materials, which include wood, concrete and glass.

Hands-free elements are used to reduce germs and a stainless-steel trough-style sink prevents water from splashing on the floor.

“The sleek washroom stands as a striking improvement on the typical concrete options, and a sign of outstanding design to come,” according to the Cintas nominee list.

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The washroom at Borden Park in Edmonton, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at Borden Park in Edmonton, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada

Sweet Market Esso Station – Red Deer, Alta.

Located in an Esso gas station, these washrooms in Red Deer include high-end tiles and five-star finishes.

Artwork, herringbone floors, chandeliers and gold-rimmed mirrors make the facilities feel more like a high-end hotel than a gas station pit stop.

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“These washrooms are always a topic of customer conversation in the store where selfies take centre stage. The constant comments regarding the awe of it all — plus the extreme cleanliness — are great reminders of the sheer elegance and grandeur these restrooms provide for the customer,” reads the Cintas website.


The washroom at the Sweet Market Esso Station in Red Deer, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at the Sweet Market Esso Station in Red Deer, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at the Sweet Market Esso Station in Red Deer, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at the Sweet Market Esso Station in Red Deer, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada

The Rooftop – Calgary, Alta.

The washrooms at The Rooftop in Calgary were designed to be inclusive, engaging and unique.

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A life-sized bobblehead greets patrons as they enter “the alley.” Graffiti wallpaper with sections taken largely from the “John Lennon Peace Wall,” originally created in Prague, line the walls of the washrooms.

The bathrooms also include a porta-potty door in the “mostly men” section and hidden selfie walls.


The washroom at The Rooftop in Calgary, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at The Rooftop in Calgary, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at The Rooftop in Calgary, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at The Rooftop in Calgary, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at The Rooftop in Calgary, Alta., has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada

Surrey Park – Surrey, BC

Also located within a park, this washroom is meant to be playful, durable and safe.

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It was designed to be universally accessible, hands-free with no-touch fixtures and configured for solar power. It also features public art panels on all four sides of the structure.


The washroom at Surrey Park has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at Surrey Park has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at Surrey Park has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at Surrey Park has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada

Toronto Zoo – Toronto, Ont.

The new washrooms in the Tundra Trek at the Toronto Zoo have made the list for their mission of connecting people, animals and conservation science to fight extinction.

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They also feature iconic Canadian species, with polar bear figures separating the urinals and paw prints on the floor.

Cool blue mosaic walls are meant to represent the calm transition of horizon to sky, and dark and dramatic overheard features represent the vast night sky across the tundra.

Each handwashing unit features a hands-free faucet, soap dispenser and hand dryer. The trough-style sink eliminates water splashing on the floor and includes hooks on the outside of the counter to hang a purse, backpack or coat.


The washroom at the Toronto Zoo’s Tundra Trek has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at the Toronto Zoo’s Tundra Trek has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at the Toronto Zoo’s Tundra Trek has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at the Toronto Zoo’s Tundra Trek has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada


The washroom at the Toronto Zoo’s Tundra Trek has made the list of nominees in the 2021 Canada’s Best Restroom contest.


Credit, Cintas Canada

Past winners

In 2020, the washroom at Westview RV Park in Wetaskiwin, Alta., was named Canada’s Best Restroom.

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In 2019, the title was also won by an Alberta bathroom when a Lac La Biche gas station took home the top nod.

In 2018, the St. Albert Honda dealership north of Edmonton won the prize.

The winner of the Canada’s Best Restroom contest will receive $2,500 in facility services from Cintas to help maintain their award-winning washrooms.

Canadians can now vote for their favourite washroom on the Cintas website. Voting is open until July 9.




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

4Jun

Letters to The Sun, June 5, 2021: Access to public washrooms on transit is an important issue

by admin

Article content

Re: Dan Fumano: Lack of Broadway subway washrooms has advocate ‘pissed’

Never say the media, print or otherwise, doesn’t contribute an enormous service to community. So many important issues are raised — none more crucial than public washrooms for our transportation systems in Vancouver. The current lack of easily accessible public washrooms on SkyTrain and now the further oversight in 2021 for construction of the new Broadway subway is beyond belief.

Obviously, politicians and most decision-makers and engineers don’t step foot on public transportation in Vancouver. If they did, it might have occurred to them on a very personal level about the need for this essential service.

 Dianne Longson, Vancouver


The last few years I have been involved, along with many other people, in a TransLink feedback program. I was led to believe there would be “accessible” washrooms at the new subway stations. I am appalled at what you say TransLink will provide. I help formulate a seniors’ weekly walking group, and any walk put together has to be near a washroom facility — so most walks run concurrent with
washrooms in nearby parks.

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I cannot believe the powers that be have never travelled to European destinations where washroom facilities are provided, and mostly at a very low cost. I understand and have observed public washrooms being mistreated or used for ulterior motives, and I suspect this is one of the reasons they will not be accessible to the public. But if there was an attendant and a small fee — 25 cents to a dollar, even — this would go toward cleaning and safety.

I guess the powers that be don’t use public transit. Let them take a bus downtown to a station and then ride all the way to Surrey and see if they don’t have a problem. Kids that need washrooms need them now, and so do seniors as well as other transit users.

Carol Attenborrow, Vancouver

There must be accountability for this atrocity

Re: Remains of 215 children found at former Kamloops residential school: First Nation

There is nothing that can be said or written to describe the shame that all Canadians should feel for the treatment of Indigenous children and their families in regard to what was essentially forced detention in residential schools. The tributes and open displays of mourning by non-Indigenous citizens of Canada can in no way make up for the grievous transgressions that took place.

While it is easy to blame our respective provincial and federal officials for marginalizing the plight of Indigenous communities in so many issues — ranging from residential schools to clean water — we, collectively as a nation, need to demand that our elected and non-elected government officials make Indigenous grievances a sincere priority. In the end, all that is left to do is mourn.

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We hope that our leaders will do the right thing, but as a nation we must stop hoping and start demanding it. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that the government will take concrete steps to support Indigenous families through this tragedy. Too little, too late. Innocent children were reduced to mere numbers, 215 of them before we openly acknowledged the tragedy. But superficial acknowledgment will no longer be enough. It never was enough. These children must have their identities returned to them. Their names should be on everyone’s tongues. Just as important, there must be accountability for this atrocity.

Reconciliation, “the restoration of friendly relations,” is becoming a worn-out concept, one that is bogged down in rhetoric and excuses. Our Indigenous communities don’t need “friendly” relations if we as a nation cannot deliver fair relations to their peoples.

Karl Marits, West Vancouver


Finding 215 graves of Indigenous children in Kamloops is no surprise. It is the inevitable result of forcibly removing young children from remote villages and lodging them in crowded, poorly heated premises and feeding them poorly. Residential schools were breeding grounds for disease, tuberculosis probably topping the list.

It is hard to visualize a greater trauma inflicted on both parents and communities of forcibly removing generations of children from their homes. In many cases, children did not survive their confinements, ending their lives in unmarked graves. Families and communities had no sense of closure, more questions than answers. What happened in Kamloops was replicated in dozens of other Canadian communities.

The final Truth and Reconciliation Report was issued over five years ago, but not a lot has changed. Words are cheap, freely given by leaders, but action is what is matters.

We cannot change the past. Only the present and the future can be changed.

John Shepherd, Richmond

Comments

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30May

Dan Fumano: Lack of Broadway subway washrooms has advocate ‘pissed’

by admin

Analysis: Advocates, councillors raise concern about lack of public bathrooms, a long-running problem in Vancouver.

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Vancouver council recently tackled an issue that concerns a particularly large special interest group: people who use the bathroom.

In other words, everybody.

Last month, a “virtual groundbreaking ceremony” marking the start of major construction of the Broadway Subway drew five B.C. cabinet ministers, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, TransLink interim CEO Gigi Chen-Kuo, and federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna.

The online press conference struck a celebratory tone.

“Today’s a great day,” McKenna said. “We’re celebrating a really important milestone in the lives of so many folks in the Greater Vancouver area: the beginning of construction of the Broadway Subway.”

It is, indeed, a big project: a $2.83 billion, 5.7-kilometre rapid transit connection linking Vancouver’s east and west sides, with ties to the downtown core and several neighbouring municipalities.

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But less than a week later, Vancouver’s council — most councillors support the Broadway subway project and want to extend it to the University of B.C. campus — unanimously expressed their “serious accessibility concerns” about a key element of the project: the lack of accessible public washrooms (indeed, any “public” washrooms) at stations.

But the push for accessible public washrooms at the Broadway subway stations goes back at least four years, to before the federal and provincial governments even funded the project.

The council motion was introduced by Green Coun. Michael Wiebe, council liaison to Vancouver’s persons with disabilities advisory committee. That committee advises the city on improving inclusion for people with disabilities, unanimously approved a motion in 2017 calling for “universally accessible gender-neutral public washroom facilities be installed at ALL stations along the Millennium Line Broadway Extension and be considered for ALL TransLink stations.”

In 2018, TransLink’s board approved a policy to increase access to public washrooms at transit stations. At that time, Laura Mackenrot, a member of the persons with disabilities advisory committee member, told Postmedia News she welcomed the transit authority board’s decision as “a great first step.”

Mackenrot said she and her committee colleagues believed the board’s decision meant there would be accessible public washrooms on Day 1 of the Broadway subway. But she was “dismayed,” she said, to learn last year that wasn’t the case.

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Laura Mackenrot, a member of Vancouver’s persons with disabilities advisory committee, with Green Coun. Michael Wiebe at the construction site for a Broadway Subway station.
Laura Mackenrot, a member of Vancouver’s persons with disabilities advisory committee, with Green Coun. Michael Wiebe at the construction site for a Broadway Subway station. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

A Ministry of Transportation representative confirmed last week that when the Broadway subway starts running, slated for 2025, “All stations will have single-occupancy washrooms accessible from the public areas of the stations with the assistance of a SkyTrain attendant, similar to the existing situation throughout the SkyTrain network.”

Mackenrot said that is not acceptable. A locked bathroom only accessible by asking a SkyTrain attendant — who may need to come from a couple stations away — to unlock the door, Mackenrot said, is “basically a staff bathroom.”

Frequent SkyTrain riders might be surprised to learn there are bathrooms in the existing stations that can be accessed by asking an attendant to unlock them.

“They’re secret,” Mackenrot said. “No one knows about them.”

The Ministry statement said two Broadway stations — City Hall and Arbutus — “will be designed to accommodate accessible washrooms in the fare-paid zone in the future.”

But that simply means those two stations have space for a hypothetical future public washroom. And, Mackenrot points out, when someone has to pee, a hypothetical toilet is not helpful.

Mackenrot’s committee’s call for accessible washrooms was also backed by Vancouver’s children, youth and families advisory committee, the transportation advisory committee, and the seniors’ advisory committee.

Wiebe said it was unusual to see four distinct advisory committees get together around a single issue like that, and it speaks to the subject’s importance.

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When Wiebe’s motion came to council last month, many councillors used strong language to express their support.

“I think it’s absolutely absurd that we have to be begging to get washrooms in transit stations,” said COPE Coun. Jean Swanson. “We’re supposed to be a civilized country.”

Independent Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung said: “It is unfathomable and shocking that it’s just not a given we would have washrooms in facilities.”

Some councillors described close calls they’d experienced riding transit with young kids who needed bathroom access.

The only councillor not to support Wiebe’s motion was independent Coun. Colleen Hardwick, who abstained, saying while she supports more public bathrooms, she is opposed to the Broadway Subway.

Green Coun. Pete Fry called it “bizarre” public washrooms are not a fundamental part of the planning of Metro Vancouver transit stations, the way they are in many other cities around the world.

Wiebe’s motion also raised another concern: the lack of paired elevators in all stations. Current plans include a single elevator in most stations, which means one out-of-service elevator renders the station inaccessible for many people. The Broadway-City Hall station is an exception, and will have paired elevators.

For Mackenrot, the lack of paired elevators at the station closest to Vancouver General Hospital is particularly “ridiculous,” considering its proximity to all kinds of health facilities, including the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, B.C. Cancer agency, and the Mary Pack Arthritis Centre.

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In an emailed statement, TransLink spokeswoman Jill Drews said: “In the past, factors like safety and cost have been reasons to not provide TransLink owned and operated washrooms in fare-paid zones.”

Following the board’s support for the new washroom policy in 2018, Drews said, TransLink is developing an “implementation strategy” to increase washroom accessibility at high-volume SkyTrain stations and bus exchanges.

“Costs are being determined,” Drew said. “The next step would be including washroom implementation and operation in a future investment plan, as set by the Mayors’ Council.”

In other words, it sounds like it’s up to Stewart, now armed with his council’s support on Wiebe’s motion, to make the case to his colleagues on the Mayor’s Council for getting public bathrooms into the Broadway stations now under construction.

This problem isn’t unique to the Broadway subway. Vancouver has a long and well-documentedshortage of public washrooms, as do some other big Canadian cities. Last month, a feature in the British newspaper The Guardian described Toronto as a “no-go area” due to its “unreliable patchwork of restrooms.”

For Mackenrot, the correct direction is clear. The issue might be particularly felt by some groups — including people with disabilities, seniors, and parents with kids — but, Mackenrot says, “this is an everybody issue.”

Asked to describe her feelings on Metro Vancouver’s transit station washroom situation, Mackenrot said: “I’ll tell you the word I generally use because I like the pun: I’m pissed.”

“I think everyone is going to be pissed … that there aren’t going to be accessible public washrooms in the SkyTrain stations,” she said. “How can we be a world-class city without washrooms?”

dfumano@postmedia.com

twitter.com/fumano

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

18May

City councillor on future of outdoor washrooms in Saskatoon | Watch News Videos Online

by admin


A city committee has turned focus towards public outdoor washrooms, with the city preparing to apply for a federal grant. Hilary Gough talks to Global News Morning about the importance of the investment.

12Apr

Lack of washrooms increasing issue for Crohn’s and Colitis patients amid pandemic

by admin

We’ve all been dealing with having to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic, but one ongoing issue for a number of people with medical conditions is the shortage of available public washrooms. This is especially the case for Whitby resident Claudia Tersigni.

“It’s been fairly difficult. It’s been a challenge for me on numerous occasions.”

For the 25-year-old, doing errands has never been an easy task. She lives with Ulcerative Colitis, a chronic condition meaning she can sometimes face uncontrollable urges to go to the bathroom. At any given time, she could use the washroom from four to 20 times a day.

“My symptoms are not only frequency but urgency, so when the need to use the washroom comes over me — it’s an immediate need,” Tersigni said.

“I either have either five minutes to go or an accident ensues, which is of course embarrassing.”

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Read more:
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The Whitby woman has lived with what is called the ‘invisible’ disease throughout her life, but says during the pandemic — knowing where she could go when faced with an emergency became increasingly difficult.

“As washrooms in restaurants started closing as well, those were no longer my safe spaces,” says Tersigni.

The lack of washrooms has been an ongoing problem for a number of people, as thousands of businesses were forced to close their doors over the alternating shutdowns. Last year a movement was pushed to open temporary bathrooms for truckers who were being shut out of establishments as well. But for people like Claudia — the issue remains the same.

“Ultimately I began to develop anxiety about leaving my house for fear of not being able to find a washroom on route.”

She’s not the only one. According to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, there are over 270,000 people living with either Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Siam Javeid with the organization says the shortage has always been challenging.

“They almost have to plea, like beg to use the washroom,” Javeid says.

Before the world changed — the organization saw the problem, and created a washroom locator app called ‘GoHere’. This is where businesses can register their washrooms. Since its creation, more than 3,500 businesses and establishments have signed on. But Javeid says now it’s harder to maintain service with rotating shutdowns and the increasing fear of COVID-19.

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“You don’t have a guarantee of whether a business is going to stay open or not.”

Read more:
Rates of Crohn’s disease, colitis rising among Canadian children under 5

“After the recent events in the last few months, we are now seeing a decline,” she says. “They are really concerned about the spread of the virus and they refer it to a public health concern.”

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has been pushing for an access to restrooms act, but so far has only had success with the Federal Government adding a handful of locations to their GoHere app.

In the U.S., several state legislatures have enacted Ally’s Law. This requires businesses to give access to public restrooms for people with medical conditions.

Read more:
‘It’s so frustrating’: Lack of public toilets leaves Downtown Eastside residents with few options

At this time — there isn’t anything in the works for a law, but the Canadian organization is advocating for something similar. Claudia says it also comes down to getting as many public settings involved as possible.

“If businesses knew how important it was go keep their washrooms open for people like me, I think we might be onto something.”

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A gesture that can make all the difference to someone like her.




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

25May

Washrooms open in heart of Prince George to give homeless people a place to wash hands | CBC News

by admin

The City of Prince George has opened washrooms for homeless people in the heart of downtown to help stall the spread of COVID-19.

It comes after years of pressure from the homeless community and advocates to make a public facility available.

Now the pandemic has spurred the city into action so that everyone in the area is guaranteed a place to wash their hands.

“Handwashing is really critical, especially with hot water. So … it was a matter of urgency,” said Chris Bone, the City of Prince George’s associate director of strategic initiatives and partnerships. 

Bone says the recent COVID-19 closures of downtown businesses and civic facilities, like the pool and library, made it even more difficult for people to access washrooms.

The new facility at the civc plaza is open for two five-hour stretches — 5 a.m.-10 a.m. and 7 p.m.-midnight — to cover off hours during which few services are available for those sleeping rough.

‘Silver lining’ of pandemic

The washrooms’ location is marked by a large, bright-orange shipping container, which acts as a shelter for the people who staff and monitor the facility.

Marcus Smaaslet​​​​​​, one of the peer support workers in high-visibility vests who monitors the restrooms, pulls open a door to reveal shiny metal sinks and toilet stalls. 

“I’m not going to make a speech,” he says.

Marcus Smaaslet helps keep the washroom clean and safe and monitors the stalls for drug overdoses. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC )

Smaaslet was hired by the Pounds Project, a drug users’ support group, to keep the stalls safe and sanitized and to stay vigilant for overdoses. 

“If you don’t have … a sink or soap, handwashing is really hard,” said Jordan Harris, executive director of the Pounds Project.

Harris says people on the street may be the ones using the facility’s toilets and sinks, but everyone in the city benefits.

“You can wash your hands as much as you want, but if other people aren’t you are still at risk. So this … reduces the number of infections that we could potentially see in this community,” said Harris, who is also a registered nurse. 

Harris said it’s unfortunate it took a “public health crisis” to get washroom access, but it’s a “silver lining.”

For years, people living on the street — about 160 of them by the city’s estimate — have pushed for more public restrooms. When people have to leave shelters or meal programs for the day, they may have had to use back alleys and sheltered spots instead.  

Late last year, as a pilot project, the city extended the hours of washroom access at some social service agencies.

Feedback has been positive, city says

Local businesses and residents appear to approve of the new washrooms, Bone says.

Last year, several downtown store owners complained about homeless people congregating in the area and some demanded that services supporting them be moved out of the area. Businesses were upset about thefts and assaults and about needles and human feces being found on the ground.

The City of Prince George opened the washrooms as part of its COVID-19 response. They’re located beside a bright orange shipping container that houses Pounds Project staff who monitor the facility. ( City of Prince George/Supplied )

But a month after Prince George quietly opened the downtown washrooms, Bone says “individuals from all walks of life” are giving positive feedback.

“People are remarking how clean it is in the civic plaza and how pleased they are that people have an option to use a washroom,” said Bone.

It’s not yet clear if the washrooms will remain open after the pandemic. 

To hear a virtual tour of the washrooms, tap here

5Mar

‘It’s appalling’: Homeless advocates say Metro Vancouver desperately needs more public washrooms | CBC News

by admin

It’s a New Westminster-based petition, but it addresses an issue that’s common all over Metro Vancouver — it’s tough to find a bathroom when you need one, especially if you’re homeless.

SkyTrain stations don’t have them, many businesses only make facilities available to paying customers and washroom doors are usually locked after dark at parks.

Rhonda Cummings, whose organization New Westminster CAT Peer Group started a petition calling for more public bathrooms, says people on the street don’t have many options.

“I’ve seen human feces right outside my parking garage,” she said.

“I just think it’s appalling that there’s nowhere for people to go.”

Cummings’ campaign deals solely with New Westminster, but homeless advocates in other cities hope it sparks a regional discussion.

New Westminster CAT Peer Group Chair Rhonda Cummings says vulnerable people are forced to defecate and urinate in alleys when there are no public toilets available. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Long standing issue

The issue received national attention in 2018 when a video was posted online showing a woman defecating on the floor of a Langley Tim Hortons after she wasn’t allowed to use the washroom.

Friends of Langley Vineyard Church Pastor Leith White says he wanted a portable toilet on his church’s property after the incident but it wasn’t allowed because of zoning issues.

“It’s the No. 1 for homeless people,” he said.

“We’re opening up our doors here all the time for people who need to use the bathroom at our church.”

White says he’s had conversations with municipal officials and local businesses, but little has changed since the Tim Hortons video went viral.

Mike Musgrove, who runs Surrey Urban Mission, says he’s also been arguing for years that bathrooms are a basic human right.

He says concerns about costs, drug use and maintenance should be outweighed by the community’s responsibility to let its most vulnerable citizens live with dignity.

“Let’s build them and then let’s monitor them,” he said.

“We need to invest in these things.”

Friends of Langley Vineyard Pastor Leith White says zoning issues prevented him from installing a portable public toilet on his church’s property. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Relief in sight?

Emily Scoular, who has a master’s degree in architecture from the University of British Columbia, says the biggest deterrent to building new public bathrooms is the cost of maintaining them.

Scoular, who wrote her thesis on washrooms, argues the investment is well worth it.

“I don’t think it’s right to deny people to use a washroom,” she said.

“It is a public issue and it’s something that I think local governments and local government agencies need to address and take ownership of.”

TransLink’s long-awaited customer washroom implementation strategy, which has been in the works since late 2018, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“We’ve heard from our customers for years that making washrooms available should be a priority,” spokesperson Jill Drews said in an email.

“We have found that it’s possible to offer customers access to washrooms that are clean and safe.”

The transit authority, which currently has washrooms at each of its SeaBus terminals and onboard West Coast Express trains, is considering building washrooms on TransLink property, working with partners to offer a network of third-party washrooms or a combination of the two.

This screen capture from a video posted online appears to show a woman arguing with restaurant staff before she defecated in front of the counter and threw it at staff. (LiveLeak)

Still waiting

Cummings says she doesn’t understand why it’s taking so long and in the meantime, she’d like to see portable toilets placed in high-traffic areas.

Eventually, she’d also like to see the city offer showers and laundry service to its homeless population.

She says the first priority, however, is providing people with a place to do their business.

“We’re all human beings,” she said. “We all need to go to the bathroom.”

CBC Vancouver’s Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email impact@cbc.ca.

 

4Jan

Vancouver parks ponder non-gendered washrooms for all

by admin


New washroom signage at Vancouver City Hall is being updated to state, “Trans people welcome.”


City of Vancouver / PNG

Vancouver parks could soon be home to non-gendered washrooms designed to be shared by people of all abilities, families, transgender and gender-diverse people.

A draft report being reviewed by the City’s advisory committees calls for improved “privacy, safety and efficiency through universal design.” About 20 new washrooms are being proposed for Vancouver parks, while others could be altered if they are deemed inaccessible.

The park board has already set an important precedent with universal change rooms at the Hillcrest Community Centre.

The Washroom Strategy draft document is currently being reviewed by the City’s advisory committees for seniors, the LGBTQ2+ community, persons with disabilities, children, youth and families, women, and urban Indigenous peoples.

It asks point blank: “Do you think that all park washrooms should be universal?”

The City has already installed “trans people welcome” signage on washrooms at city hall and other city-run buildings as part of its Supporting Trans* Equality and an Inclusive Vancouver plan.

Gender-inclusive washrooms are becoming a fixture on many university campuses, including UBC.

The Point Grey campus has several dozen single-user unisex washrooms and also communal gender-neutral washrooms that include signage indicating gender inclusivity that have operated without incident.

“We’ve not had any complaints,” Sara-Jane Finlay, associate vice-president, Equity and Inclusion. “The communal facilities feature stalls with floor to ceiling doors for privacy and of course there are always single stall washrooms. People have a choice.”

Gender-inclusive communal washrooms are still relatively rare. But Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre opened a communal, 10-stall gender-neutral washroom about one year ago. The mall has seven gender-specific washrooms, as well.


The Vancouver park board is taking feedback on a Washroom Strategy that includes a transition to non-gendered washrooms in Vancouver parks.

Vancouver Board of Parks and Rec /

PNG

The notion of shared, non-gendered washrooms sparked a lively debate and a considerable amount of support in a Facebook poll, which was punctuated by concerns about sexual harassment, sexual assault and the unsanitary condition of washrooms used by men.

“Having to touch a toilet seat, to put it down or wipe extensive urine spray from it, in a public washroom grosses me out,” offered broadcaster Jody Vance. “As does standing in a puddle of pee associated with bad aim. So — I’m cool to share with whomever — as long as we can maintain cleanliness for those who don’t have the option to stand and relieve themselves.”

Many respondents who support “inclusive” washrooms and argued they might actually be safer for people in parks that might be isolated.

“Violent predators already have access to any washroom they want,” said Kevin Moroso. “Having a single bathroom increases the likelihood that there are more people present, rather than a woman being alone in a woman’s washroom with a male predator.”

Not everyone agreed.

“Homeless people use those washrooms disproportionately,” said Stuart Parker, broadcaster and former leader of the Green party of B.C. “I don’t want there to be yet another policy change that makes homeless women feel even less safe and in control of their space.”

Short term priorities in the draft report include creating a task force to visit existing washrooms and direct renovations to ensure accessibility, increase staff to better focus on safety and cleanliness and standardize signage to make washrooms easier to find.

More mobile trailer toilets could be used to meet the needs of parks that see heavy seasonal use.

Consultations for the City’s VanPlay parks masterplan revealed a need for add washrooms at playing fields, destination playgrounds, and beaches, and to ensure facilities are kept clean.

Almost 43 per cent of washroom-related calls to the City’s feedback line concerned cleanliness.

According to the draft, John Hendry Park Masterplan about three quarters of all respondents support a new washroom building at the South Beach and expanded facilities on the north east side of the park, known locally as Trout Lake.

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