November 13, 2019

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Winnipeggers pumped about public toilets: survey

Pop-up project popular

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/8/2018 (448 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/8/2018 (448 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

More than 80 per cent of Winnipeggers surveyed about the recent public pop-up toilet project say the city should make the plunge and invest in permanent potties downtown.

The bright-orange washroom facility has been moved around to public toilet deserts in downtown Winnipeg for the past two months. There are two stalls, one of which is fully accessible, in the mobile restroom open to the public on weekdays, free of charge.

The collaborative project between the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone, Siloam Mission and Bridgman Collaborative Architecture was launched to raise awareness about the lack of free and accessible public toilets in the city's core.

The feedback from users and community members suggests Winnipeggers think that needs to change.

The bright-orange washroom facility has been moved around downtown Winnipeg for the past two months. The toilet is currently at the corner of Hargrave Street and Graham Avenue. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)</p></p>

The bright-orange washroom facility has been moved around downtown Winnipeg for the past two months. The toilet is currently at the corner of Hargrave Street and Graham Avenue. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

About 35 to 40 people use the bathroom every day, according to Downtown BIZ. The facility has attracted all ages, said Tracey Umali, project co-ordinator for placemaking and transportation.

Users were asked to fill out a survey on the pop-up pilot, provided by Siloam Mission staff who clean the facility and run the attached concession stand. Of the 70 respondents, 81 per cent said they would support the City of Winnipeg spending money to build permanent facilities, while 17 per cent said they might support such an expense.

Despite a small sample size, Wins Bridgman, the architect behind the project, said the results are "delightful."

"It shows that people are interested in how we make a more pedestrian-friendly downtown and, in many ways, it feels like that's what Winnipeg's grappling with right now, over Portage and Main discussions (on whether to reopen the intersection to pedestrians), in all the different initiatives the BIZ is working on."

More than half of the respondents said they would spend more time downtown if there was a permanent safe and available toilet in the area.

The pop-up toilet project was launched to raise awareness about the lack of free and accessible public facilities in the city's core. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

The pop-up toilet project was launched to raise awareness about the lack of free and accessible public facilities in the city's core. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Bridgman said he has received fan mail for the first time in his life, due to his participation in the pilot.

"I've received 18 emails and that's a very unusual thing for an architect... It's people recognizing that we're all working towards a service that's currently not recognized as a need."

The mobile facility spent June outside Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Graham Avenue, July on Portage Avenue between Edmonton and Kennedy streets, and is currently on the corner of Graham Avenue and Hargrave Street. It's set to pop up around Main Street and Henry Avenue for the final month.

Almost all survey respondents — 98 per cent — said the second location, which was behind a busy bus stop on Portage Avenue, would be a good location for a permanent structure in the future.

Umali said the BIZ hopes to do another pilot next year, with an end goal of establishing a permanent location.

The price tag for this summer's pilot is about $100,000. It's being paid for with funds from the BIZ, CEO Sleepout proceeds and individual city councillor budgets.

maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Two stalls, one of which is fully accessible, are available for the public to use. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

Two stalls, one of which is fully accessible, are available for the public to use. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh
Reporter

Maggie is a cub reporter who covers every beat in the newsroom. She appreciates alliteration, when newspaper ink stains her fingertips and, more importantly, tips on social and environmental equity issues.

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