How can we reach our 2020
Greenest City Targets?

How can we reach our 2020 Greenest City targets?

install many many more public washrooms

Install Many Many More Public Washrooms ... no this idea is not off topic! There are so few public washrooms in Vancouver that it’s a barrier to walking, biking and taking transit even for people with mature, healthy bladders, let alone when one considers the needs of Seniors and parents with young children. With the the paltry offering of public washrooms, who can reasonably view this City as transit and alt. car friendly? The ready access to washrooms is one reason people plan car trips to Shopping Malls and Big Box retailers rather than walk, bike or take transit to a local Commercial district. Take a look at the ample supply of washroom stalls at a Home Depot or urban Shopping Mall! The private sector is providing a public amenity that is sorrily lacking where it belongs ... in public places. At least when a person is commuting to work, they know they will have a washroom once they get there, but the longer the commute, the greater the challenge. Additionally, if we are going to focus on eating local, shopping local, and living local, we’ve got to make it a competitive alternative to the car-trip model. At a minimum, public washrooms should be placed at intervals along all bike ways, green ways, pedestrian corridors, bus routes and commercial streets. If we fail to provide basic public facilities in the public realm, telling people to “do the right thing” while failing to support it, will be a wasted effort, and worse, seen as propaganda with no substance.

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Janna L. Sylvest shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
started  ·  AdminGreenest City Planning Team (Admin, CG2020) responded  · 

Good idea! In the past few years, the City has installed 8 of 16 self-cleaning toilets as part of its street furniture contract with CBS-Decaux, and is looking for additional locations. (As an aside, locating them can be challenging due to limited public sidewalk space, a lack of utility connections, and concerns from adjacent businesses.) New public restrooms have also been installed as part of recent park upgrades. There is also a huge opportunity and need at transit interchanges, but this is outside the City’s jurisdiction — Vancouver has repeatedly requested (and will continue to ask) that TransLink install restrooms in its rapid transit stations.


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  • Reid Kaufmann commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I agree completely. By not providing well-maintained public washrooms, people sometimes must relieve themselves in public. This is both illegal and gross. A Loss-Loss situation.

    Providing more public washrooms align both the private and public good, tourists and locals, rich and poor, men and women, etc in a positive way. It is a Win-Win situation.

    Planners and Engineers must realize that if they want to advocate for a more active citizenry, they need to provide basic infrastructure for both fueling and draining the human body: i.e. public washrooms AND high quality public WATER FOUNTAINS

  • Linda commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I have two children (under 5 years). I have had to ask them to relieve themselves in the bushes or behind a tree in the city due to lack of facilities. I hate having to have them do this ... but there is often no option....

    There also needs to be cleaner facilities where they exist. I was at Sunset Beach and went into the women's washroom. There were feces on the floor and the toilets were leaking water. It was the most unhygenic washroom I have ever seen (and I have travelled to Third World countries). Again, I had my children relieve themselves in the nearby bushes - I would not have them walk on that filthy floor or use these facilities.

  • Toby Barazzuol commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is a great idea and definitely on topic! Sustainability is largely about livability, and if we're asking people to spend more time on the streets either biking or walking, then we need the appropriate support facilities throughout the city.

    Where I live and work, in the Downtown Eastside, there is a dreadful lack of public washrooms. So much so that every day dozens of people are forced to relieve themselves on the streets, in driveways and in doorways. It's unacceptable in terms of human dignity and in the health hazards that it creates for everyone. In many ways, it's worse than many undeveloped countries I've visited.

    The City needs to provide more public washrooms in some capacity. If they can't be standalone washrooms, then work in partnership with social housing to make their washrooms available publicly.

  • karen commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is indeed a huge program. The amount of public urination I've seen around Metro Van (but even in Yaletown during the Olympics) really shows a lack of forethought for the entire hydrological cycle of people. I understand the logistical challenges of keeping public washrooms clean, but it really shows this city, and its streets especially, are not made for people after the hours of 9pm.

  • NorthShore commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    i agree. go to Paris, Berlin and any more civilized city and they have public facilities. the modern ones are self cleaning. once you step out, it goes through a cleaning cycle and is sanitized for the next user.

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