City of Regina looking at downtown washroom pilot project

Regina's city administration is proposing a pilot project to explore the feasibility of a temporary, seasonal washroom facility in City Square Plaza.

Facility would open in 2020 if $20,000 project is approved

The City of Regina's administration is proposing city council approve a pilot project that looks at the feasibility of adding another public washroom in the downtown area. (CBC)

The City of Regina is set to explore a pilot project that could mean badly needed relief for some.

A report to be presented to council on Thursday says the city should explore a pilot project to bring another publicly accessible washroom to the downtown area. 

The pilot project would see a temporary, seasonal washroom facility installed in the downtown plaza between May and September of 2020. The city's administration proposed using $20,000 from the 2020 budget to fund the pilot.

What we're trying to gauge is how much usage a third public washroom downtown would get.- Janine Daradich, Regina's planning and partnership manager

Administration would then report the results from the pilot project back to council before looking into a permanent facility.

Of the city's 50 or more public washrooms only two are accessible downtown — one in city hall and one at the Regina Public Library Branch at the corner of Lorne Street and 12 Ave. 

While no formal requests have been made for a new washroom facility in the downtown area since 2012, city administration acknowledged activity in that area has increased over the last decade. 

"What we're trying to gauge is how much usage a third public washroom downtown would get," said Janine Daradich, the city's planning and partnership manager . 

She says administration would also see what additional maintenance and security a third bathroom might need before deciding to make it a permanent facility.

Depending on its design and functionality, a new, permanent washroom facility in the downtown area would cost between $150,000 and $750,000.

Location key for some

Those who use downtown plaza during the Farmers' Market say the location of the bathroom should be carefully considered. 

Dolores Shire, a market vendor, says putting a public washroom in city square plaza could force some vendors to move their stalls during the market, which could cause confusion for customers.

"I personally don't really want one down here, because I think it would affect [the Farmers' Market]," Shire said. "If it was in the park, it would be something different."

But not everyone at the market on Wednesday agreed with Shire.

 Ross Teneycke believes the move would be excellent for the downtown area. 

"People who are in the area need a spot for convenience, and I think it's a good thing for the downtown area, and certainly a very good thing for the public market," Teneycke said.

While saying it would be a good thing for the downtown, Teneycke says he hopes the location is somewhere that works well with what's already there.

Daradich says a location has not been selected, but said internal departments and external partners in the downtown would be consulted prior to making a decision about location.

18 municipalities consulted

The city's administration team reached out 18 municipalities to learn about some of the challenges. Ten different respondents contributed to the report, with multiple publicly accessible washrooms in their downtowns.

"They're all very different," Daradich said, adding none of the responses she received suggested anything out of the ordinary. 

Nine of the 10 respondents reported problems with illicit activities, including vandalism, squatting, prostitution and drug sales.

Daradich  says each municipality deals with the issues they face differently. Some have working relationships with local police, others provide security, while others don't see enough illicit behaviour to warrant extra protection. 

City council is expected to discuss the report at Thursday's community and protective services committee, and then forward it to city council for a vote on the matter on Oct. 28.

WIth files from Cory Coleman, The Morning Edition