Public Toilets: A Missing Priority in Ottawa’s New Official Plan

Dear Councillor,

We, the team of the GottaGo! Campaign, are responding to The New Official Plan of Ottawa policies and strategic directions. We are kindly asking for your support by co-signing our letter addressed to Ottawa’s Councillors and the Planning Committee for The Official New Plan to ensure that Ottawa improves its network to safe, clean, accessible and gender-neutral public toilets. We are requesting that you contact your local Councillor to include public toilets in the New Official Plan.

While the new Official Plan seeks to transform Ottawa into a world class 21st century city, there is one glaring omission: there is no mention of a network of public toilets in the plan. The lack of a network of safe, clean and accessible public toilets is, or should be a crosscutting issue for all strategic objectives.

Ottawa needs an extensive network of public toilets to serve the ever growing community and as the Capital City of Canada. COVID-19 has made it clear just how essential toilets are as a public health service and municipal infrastructure. Pandemic closures have exposed the highly inadequate public toilet access and deeply rooted disparities, inequities and systemic discrimination.

Access to a toilet is not just a basic human right; it is essential public health service, and human and physical infrastructure to keep us healthy, and to build a robust economy and a thriving society. Toilets may not be glamorous, but it is a universal need for everyone to attend to our most private bodily function with dignity.

Great urban planning includes a public toilet provision. Studies in Canada, United States, Asia, UK, Australia and European countries have shown that women and gender friendly; and accessible public toilets with clear and visible signage are critical components of city planning. Many cities in Canada such as Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Nelson, Smithers, Nanaimo, Esquimalt, Toronto and Winnipeg have stepped-up to include public toilets provision in city planning.

Businesses thrive in areas where there are public toilets as it makes the place more inviting. Cities like London, Portland and Sydney; and countries such as Japan, Germany and Scotland are subsidizing businesses for public access to toilets.

Smart, inclusive, livable and vibrant cities include public toilets. The Official Plan offers an opportunity for Ottawa to show strong leadership to achieve its goal to make Ottawa the most liveable city in North America in the 21st century.

The GottaGo! Campaign has documented best practices, lessons learned, options and methods. We would like to support the city’s efforts to enhance the Official Plan that includes public toilets. A network of public toilets is the standard bearer of health and well being; equality and social inclusion; public decency; and sustainable economy and environment.

Thank you.


GottaGo! Campaign for a Network of Public Toilets in Ottawa
Twitter & Facebook: @GottaGoCampaign