Despite incentives, Yellowknife's homeless still have little access to overnight washrooms
Only one business has taken City subsidy to open their washrooms to the public
It's still not clear whether or not a City of Yellowknife plan to create more public washrooms downtown will work, but homeless people say that even if it does, it won't address their need for a 24-hour public washroom.
In June, Yellowknife city council approved a plan to pay downtown businesses $500 a year to open their washrooms to the general public.
So far, only one business — restaurant and nightclub Twist and Shout — has taken the city's offer, but it closes its doors at 10 p.m. during the week and 2 a.m. on the weekends.
Yellowknife resident Phillipe Assiline, who spends much of his time downtown and is friends with many of the city's homeless, says there is a need for public washrooms so homeless people aren't left with the bushes as their only option late at night.
"The city should just do it so we don't have people peeing all over the place," he said.
Richard Andre lives on the streets of Yellowknife and says it's not fair to criticize homeless people for making a mess while not giving them any other options.
"Why do you think you see people squatting in the trees?" He said. "Because that's the only place to go."
During business hours, washrooms at all city facilities, including city hall, are open to the public. Washrooms are also available at the day shelter and the Salvation Army. Between 1 p.m. and 6 a.m., the city's new sobering centre has four port-o-potties, but it is located about a 20 minute walk from downtown.
Later this year, the city will take another look at whether its plan to provide more public washrooms is working.