Public washroom app for Ottawa could launch by summer of 2016

A "Where To Go" app should be made to map public washrooms in Ottawa that would help address a growing demand for more washroom access, according to a new report.

App would address campaign pushing for more access to public washrooms

The City of Ottawa has been urged to build more public washrooms and improve access to current ones. Staff members say one solution is a "Where To Go" app. (CBC)


  • The finance and economic development committee approved the app on Sept. 1, 2015.
  • City council must approve the app during its meeting on Sept. 9, 2015.

A "Where To Go" app should be made to map public washrooms in the City of Ottawa, which could help those who have to go and bring in revenue for the city, according to a new report.

The report crafted by City of Ottawa staff members, which will be voted on by the finance and economic development committee on Tuesday, advises city councillors to approve an app featuring a map of public washrooms, plus hours of operation and features of each washroom throughout the city.

Details about each washroom would include whether it has assistive devices, is able to accommodate persons with disabilities, is equipped with diaper-changing facilities or could accommodate a stroller.

This comes after a campaign by a group called GottaGo pressured the city to provide more restroom options to tourists, the elderly and people with medical conditions.

Part of the campaign pushed for more washrooms in new light rail transit stations currently being built in downtown Ottawa.

Coun. Jeff Leiper said the city needs more public access to washrooms, but in the meantime this app would help improve access to those currently located in Ottawa.

"This is something that we need to do if the city is not going to provide us the services that people were hoping they would be provided with," Leiper said.

In the report, city staff members say the app could avoid some costs by reducing a demand to build additional public washrooms from groups such as GottaGo.

If approved, the new app could be up and running before the summer of 2016, according to Leiper.

Advertising to those that 'gotta go'

This app could also turn into a money maker by opening the floodgates to advertising, the report added.

Staff members believe the city could invite private companies to make their washrooms available to the public by listing them within the app, as well as advertise.

James Rilett, the Ontario vice president of Restaurants Canada, says businesses need to be consulted before the City of Ottawa hase any ideas of including them in a public washroom app. (Twitter)
"This could become a revenue opportunity for the city as companies could be asked to pay for logo or other identifying advertisement kinds of dots on the map," the report reads.

James Rilett, the Ontario vice president with Restaurants Canada, partially burst the bubbles of city staff members. He said most restaurants need more incentives than an in-app advertisement to participate in any public washroom app.

"The city should definitely have a serious conversation and consultation with the businesses before they go too far down the road," Rilett said.

Crohns and Colitis Canada recently created its own washroom app for cities across the country to help those with the disease. The app lists businesses nearby that provide access to washrooms.

People living with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or other medical conditions related to incontinence often need immediate access to a washroom.


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