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Gender-neutral washroom on its way to Riverside
A Portland Loo may be on its way to Riverside Park in 2014, but folks up at the Saturday Kamloops Farmers’ Market will have to stick with porta-potties.
Kamloops city council visited bathroom issues twice during its regular council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 20.
At the recommendation of the city’s co-ordinated enforcement committee, councillors voted unanimously to have staff develop a pilot program for a gender-neutral washroom in Riverside Park — though they will still have to decide whether to pay for the program come budget time in 2014.
Jeff Putnam, parks and civic facilities manager, said the plan is to buy a pre-made, stainless-steel washroom and install it on a cement pad in the park.
The cost of the unit, pad and running the necessary services to the site would be about $125,000.
The city is eyeing units made by the Portland Loo Company, which Putnam said are considered the best style of accessible washroom.
The small metal boxes have horizontal bars at the top and bottom, rather than full doors, giving the public a view of people’s feet and, for taller users, the tops of heads.
“They’re kind of space age but, when you think about it, they make a lot of sense because they’re easy to clean and they’ve got some visibility, so you know what kind of activity might be going on in there without actually seeing the people,” Putnam said.
The see-through portions of the bathroom are meant to address worries of the Kamloops RCMP that the bathrooms could become a security concern in the park.
Advocates of the gender-neutral or family-style bathrooms say they will make Riverside Park more accessible to those who need help from an opposite-sex spouse or caregiver when using the washroom.
While the city is moving forward in Riverside, councillors declined to help the Kamloops Regional Farmers’ Market Society secure more permanent washroom facilities for its Saturday market at Stuart Wood elementary.
Society director Frank Blom said the market is spending about 10 per cent of its operating budget each year providing portable washrooms at the market, noting a more permanent and accessible solution would be preferable.
Coun. Nancy Bepple suggested looking at the nearby Kamloops Museum and Archives as a bathroom option for the event.
Byron McCorkell, the city’s parks, recreation and cultural services director, said that’s not an ideal solution.
“The museum has its own customer base, the washroom’s in the back, you have to go through the kids’ section,” he said.
“It’s difficult for two staff and no janitor to deal with the impact of potentially 3,000 users.
“It doesn’t work.”
Bepple suggested the city look at hiring extra staff, including a custodian, for a special Saturday shift in the summer, but only Coun. Donovan Cavers supported the idea.
Coun. Pat Wallace suggested the society talk to School District 73 about using the Stuart Wood elementary bathrooms.
Coun. Ken Christian, a former school trustee, said it’s unlikely that idea would fly, but doesn’t think the market needs more permanent facilities.
“This is a temporary market. It operates during the summer. It’s at a temporary location. It should have temporary facilities,” he said.
“Every farmers’ market I’ve been to has port-a-potties.”
Councillors did, however, opt to help the market out with its other request.
The city’s service agreement committee will look at giving the society a two-year permit for its markets, which, Blom said, will allow for more stable planning.