News / Edmonton

Edmonton homeless centre pushes for public washrooms downtown

Coun. Scott McKeen submits motion to task city administration with need for inner city public washrooms

Cheryl Hogan-Rutley says more inner city public washrooms could help with the long line-ups at Edmonton’s homelessness agencies.

Jeremy Simes / Metro

Cheryl Hogan-Rutley says more inner city public washrooms could help with the long line-ups at Edmonton’s homelessness agencies.

The washroom line-ups at the Bissell Centre can be so bad that the city’s homeless use mop buckets to do their business, according to the Drop-In Centre Team Lead Cheryl Hogan-Rutley. 

“It’s not meant to be obscene,” Hogan-Rutley said. “They just had to go and couldn’t wait. After it happens, they’re ashamed. But it’s either that or wet clothes.”

Earlier this week, Coun. Scott McKeen presented a notice of motion that tasks city administration to look at the need for year-round washrooms in the core. 

Officials will determine communities’ needs and analyze designs used by other cities. 

Hogan-Rutley said it would be good for the city to install public washrooms in the core, as long as security mechanisms are in place. 

“There’s a need for it,” she said. “Line-ups cause confrontations because there isn’t enough support.”

Roy Moyan, a client with the Bissell Centre, said he sees a lot of people do their business behind bins.

“It’s not nice to see all of that,” he said. “They leave a big pile behind. And I see a lot of it downtown, so they should have a public washroom available.”

Currently, the city has a 24-hour, year-round washroom on Whyte Avenue and Gateway Boulevard. It’s intended to let bar-goers use the public space when establishments are closed. 

But McKeen noted dignity for the city’s homeless when he delivered the motion earlier this week. 

Hogan-Rutley said public washrooms could also reduce line-ups at the Bissell and other agencies. 

“It would be beneficial not only for them, but for everyone in general,” she said.

Moyan, who frequents Calgary, noted that city’s public washroom cleans itself with water jets. Its doors also open after 10 minutes and, if someone is still inside, a piercing alarm goes off.

“That system would work here,” he said. “The inner-city people move. They’re never in one place. When you gotta’ go, you gotta’ go.”

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