Vancouver's lack of public washrooms isolating seniors, councillor says

“If you don’t know if there’s going to be an accessible washroom and you have any issues with bladder or any other issues, you’re not able to go out. And then you’re isolated, you stop participating in community centre events.”

Coun. Ball wants more accessible public washrooms and not just in places like community centres

A public washroom near Main Street-Science World SkyTrain station. A Vancouver city councillor says the lack of public washroom facilities in Vancouver neighbourhoods is bad for seniors. (CBC)

A Vancouver councillor says without more accessible public washrooms in the city, seniors will be more isolated and at greater risk of health problems.

Coun. Elizabeth Ball will put forward a motion Tuesday morning at the city council meeting calling for more public washrooms throughout the city for the benefit of seniors.

"As we grow older, our bladders are not able to hold as much … the need to be able to use a facility is something that can come on urgently and certainly curtail your enjoyment of life," Ball said, adding seniors holding onto urine too long can lead to bladder infections

"If you don't know if there's going to be an accessible washroom and you have any issues with bladder or any other issues, you're not able to go out. And then you're isolated. You stop participating in community events."

Ball says there are accessible, clean and safe washrooms for seniors and physically disabled people in the city but there aren't enough.

Outside of community centres, along walking routes for instance, she says they're few and far between.

"There certainly aren't enough in the city to serve the very large seniors' population we have, which is growing more and more and our seniors are becoming more active," she said.

Seniors want input, Ball says

Coun. Elizabeth Ball wants to see more stand-alone washroom facilities throughout the city. (NPA Vancouver)

Ball, who sits on Vancouver's seniors' advisory committee, says concerns over washroom access are constantly raised throughout the city's neighbourhoods.

Ball says she would especially like to see more stand-alone washroom facilities in the city's "nooks and crannies," so seniors can move about their neighbourhoods more confidently, knowing there are safe and accessible washrooms.

"It sounds like, 'oh, there's more expense,' but if we do that, then we get seniors being able to contribute to their communities far longer. We get people who aren't depressed, aren't isolated. We get people who are actually feeling good about their life," she said.

She says the exact number of washrooms needed is still to be determined, but adds she wants seniors to be involved in the planning.