An accessibility champion from Sudbury is applauding a restroom initiative in Sault Ste Marie.
The Sault is developing an interactive public washroom map that will include directions, hours of operation, and images of buildings with public restroom facilities.
The map is expected to be released by the end of the summer.
Joan Kuyek is the creator of a 24-hour accessible washroom campaign in Ottawa called "GottaGo!" Every municipality should create a map similar to the one in the Sault, she said.
“If there aren't adequate toilets available and open when people need them, it's not an option. They're either going to stay at home so they don't get embarrassed. Or they're going to find the nearest place to go, whether it's the side of a building, an elevator or the bushes nearby.”
The Sault Ste. Marie map got its start when Nancie Scott noticed the need for more accessible washrooms after she was out with someone who had a mobility issue.
They were near a restroom in Sault Ste. Marie, but it wasn't wheelchair-accessible. They had to drive five miles to find another one.
"It opened my eyes that they were very aware of the challenge because they deal with it daily."
As the city's accessibility co-oordinator, the experience didn't sit well with Scott.
So, she assigned summer students to create an interactive map of public restrooms in the Sault.
"It reaches [beyond] people who use wheelchairs. It's for anyone as they age or anyone with a temporary disability."
Kuyek agreed, noting that having more available washrooms is a basic human right.
"There should be signs indicating where the toilets are. There should be money invested in the operating costs to make sure that they're safe and cleaned properly,” she said.