The Good, the Bad, and the Bumpy: When nature calls

The Centretown Buzz, June 2020 Issue (Page 2)
Ryan Lythall

As the weeks have gone by during this pandemic, I have become restless, as I am sure many of you have as well. Typically, during the warm weather of spring and summer, I try to get outside every day or as often as possible. Either I go for a stroll along Bank Street or the Canal with or without friends. And sooner or later, nature calls. Before the pandemic, it was possible to find public washrooms at City Hall or at a mall. With most businesses and malls closed now, it is difficult to find public washrooms and even harder to find a washroom that’s wheelchair accessible.

These days I am not able to stay outside very long largely due to the lack of wheelchair accessible washrooms. While I’ve come across random port-a-potties, most are not wheelchair accessible despite signage that says they are.

It is also important to note that public washrooms are often used for medical reasons as well, including by me. This ongoing issue has also been discussed as it applies to LRT and OC Transpo stops but the city seems to be ignoring it.

Public washroom accessibility is very important to many people. Parents use them to change a baby’s diapers or a mother may nurse her infant there. In fact, family washrooms downtown are scarce and these washrooms are good for people with disabilities, especially if with a personal support worker (PSW). I have had some PSWs who are not
comfortable, especially if they’re female, assisting me in a public washroom.

While I understand the safety issues around public washrooms, where used condoms, needles and other illegal items have been found, accessibility to public washrooms for people with disabilities needs to be addressed. And City Hall needs to keep in mind that not all disabilities are alike.