News / Ottawa

Group says it’s time Ottawa address an urgent matter

GottaGo! Campaign says Ottawa desperately needs public toilets accessible 24 hours a day.

A file photo of one of the self-cleaning toilets in Toronto. One group says it's time Ottawa have something similar.

VALERIE HAUCH/TORONTO STAR

A file photo of one of the self-cleaning toilets in Toronto. One group says it's time Ottawa have something similar.

Though Ottawa has approximately 150 municipal toilets in city buildings, they’re not open 24/7, and one local group says it’s time do something about it.

“We’ve been hoping that in the next year, we’ll be able to get money in the city budget for a lot more public toilets around the city,” Joan Kuyek, chair of the GottaGo! Campaign, which advocates for open, accessible, and easy to find public toilets.

Earlier this year, Montreal committed to building 12 self-cleaning toilets. Kuyek says not only should Ottawa follow suit, but “that Ottawa should be committing to a lot more than that.”

The city has agreed to put some toilets in the hub stations of the LRT and has an online interactive map listing public washrooms in municipal buildings.

It was designed, as part of the city’s Older Adult Plan 2015-2018, to inform older adults especially about public washrooms locations in city buildings, Janice Burelle, general manager, community and social services said.

But Kuyek says it's not enough.

“We would like to see not only money for new toilets, but also money for keeping existing toilets open longer and for better maintenance of the ones that are there,” Kuyek said.

She said there should also be better signage so that people like tourists visiting the city know where to find a place to go.

Last year, a group of Carleton University students in the Master of Social Work program conducted a research project, commissioned by the GottaGo! Campaign to assess the availability, quality and accessibility of municipal public toilets.

It found that 45 per cent of the toilets were unavailable for access, either due to seasonal or daily closures, even though the research teams visited all the facilities during stand hours of operation, Monday to Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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