City of Winnipeg could start examining increased public washroom access
A porta-pottie beside Knox Presbyterian Church in downtown Ottawa, placed to allow people including those who are homeless or precariously housed to access a washroom, is seen on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)
WINNIPEG -- The City of Winnipeg may be exploring where permanent public washrooms are needed Downtown.
A report to the city’s community services committee is recommending the city do an analysis with outside agencies to determine “gaps” and “high needs” areas, and find the best locations for the installation of Downtown public restrooms.
The report also says the city should come up with criteria to encourage business owners to provide public washroom access.
Costs of the washrooms are not included in the document, but it suggests advertiser-funded restrooms and Public-Private Partnerships with local businesses could pay for the facilities.
Councillor Sherri Rollins, who chairs the committee, said she will be bringing a motion to amend the report hinting she supports the Public-Private Partnership model.
“The motion would jump off that point,” said Rollins.
If the recommendations are approved, a followup report with costs is expected in December 2021.
Rollins says she’d like to see the followup report a lot sooner.
“For over a decade, Winnipeg has been debating the need for Downtown washrooms,” said Rollins.
A 2019 report from the Downtown Biz estimated permanent restroom units at $185,000 to build, with $12,500 in annual operating costs under a PPP system.
The report says the need for washrooms is universal but says some groups are disproportionately impacted, including people experiencing homelessness, pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, people with disabilities, seniors, and children.
“Because the need is universal, lack of publicly-available restroom facilities often contributes to the incidence of public urination and dedication, and consequential negative impacts on public health and human dignity,” the report states.
An attachment to the report says seven of 14 Canadian cities examined have public washroom systems in place including Calgary, Edmonton, and Regina.