A group wanting to increase the number of public toilets in Ottawa is targeting the city’s future light rail stations.
The GottaGo campaign held a presentation Wednesday about its campaign to get public toilets at the stations, which haven’t been built yet.
Joan Kuyek chairs the campaign and said there are many people who need regular access to public toilets, which they aren’t getting now.
“We think these are major nodes where the public comes together and needs access; people with children, people with urgency issues who have irritable bowel syndrome or diabetes, or are gluten or lactose intolerant,” she said to Ottawa Morning’s Stu Mills.
“There are all sorts of people who need to go to the toilet and if they can’t get access to it they’re going to refuse to take transit.”
Currently, Kuyek said public restrooms in Ottawa aren’t well labeled and laws only require there to be public washrooms at the ends of light rail lines.
Washrooms left out for safety, security
Pat Scrimgeour, manager of transit service planning at OC Transpo, said light rail planners didn’t include public toilets at the stations for safety and security reasons.
He also said city councillors had their chance to weigh in and were against the plan.
Kuyek said they don’t want to pretend safety concerns don’t exist around criminal behaviour at public washrooms, but the issue is bigger than many may think.
“People are embarrassed and ashamed to admit they’ve had accidents but Crohn's and Colitis Canada, for example, interviewed its members and donors and says 75% have had issues with getting caught and soiling themselves,” she said.
“There are 7,000 people in that position in the area. This is not a small number.”
Kuyek said she suspects part of the reason public washrooms were left out of the plans is the operating cost of cleaning and staffing.
The GottaGo campaign’s Facebook page says they are working “to create a network of safe, accessible, free, clean and environmentally responsible public toilets and water fountains in parks, major transit stops and key public places to meet the needs of residents and tourists in Ottawa.”