Friday April 18, 2014





Council to take next step toward gender-neutral washrooms

A move to gender-neutral washrooms is expected to take another step forward when City council meets on Tuesday, but changes at facilities in Riverside and other parks could take a year or two.

"If you look at what's needed in this city, it's a necessity," Coun. Marg Spina said Sunday.

Council agreed to proceed with creating gender-neutral washrooms at City facilities earlier this year.

At the time, it was decided that City staff would fix some of the less expensive facilities and look at the cost of building a family-friendly washroom at Riverside Park.

A report to council says modifications and signs for gender-neutral washrooms at Pioneer, McArthur Island, Prince Charles, Albert McGowan and Westsyde Centennial parks will cost $11,000.

The report also recommends hiring a consultant to provide estimates to create gender-neutral facilities at Riverside Park, McArthur Island south and Charles Anderson Stadium.

Spina, along with councillors Nancy Bepple and Pat Wallace, believe the $11,000 is an acceptable amount. Bepple said gender-neutral washrooms will be a wonderful addition to City parks.

But the trio thinks it's a good idea to explore the costs of more expensive upgrades before proceeding.

Bepple said the first priority should be Riverside, as it's the city's most used park. But the conversion would require more than a few signs and be a big-ticket item.

She would like the final decision left for the next council to include in the City's 2013 budget.

"What the recommendation is saying is this is the first step," said Bepple.

Spina and Wallace also believe this isn't the time to jump into expensive projects.

"If we can convert the ones we've got, I don't see any problem with that," said Wallace. "I just don't want to spend a lot of money doing that or adding new ones at this time."

Gender-neutral washrooms allow people with disabilities or who require caregivers to be accompanied even if the person is of the opposite sex.

Some facilities like Interior Savings Centre, McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre and Tournament Capital Centre already have gender-neutral facilities.


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