To the Editor,
The Port Alberni Community Action Team is asking the city provide and service permanent public washroom facilities, available 24/7.
We think there are at least two locations in our community where facilities must be provisioned. The first is somewhere on Third Avenue between Athol Street and Angus Street. Perhaps these facilities could be included in the new Public Safety Building tender? The second location would be near the Overdose Prevention Site, on Third Avenue and Bute Street.
Access to washrooms is a fundamental human right. We believe provisioning them is part of basic municipal public infrastructure, just like parks, roads, sewers, rec centres and public art. They are part of the public realm.
We have received substantial feedback from peers, the homeless and the marginalized community on how difficult and dehumanizing it is to find facilities in Port Alberni.
The problem is particularly apparent given the COVID-19 pandemic. Other options people once used are just no longer available.
Other cities have proactively provided state-of-the-art public washroom facilities in their communities to address these basic human needs. For example, Courtenay has just completed such a project.
This concern has been raised several times at our regular monthly Community Action Team meetings. Our individual and organizational members support the concept of available washroom facilities 24/7 and see immediate implementation as imperative.
We are aware that the business community has also raised this issue—no washroom facilities for some impacts all of us. Sometimes, people react to the problem by suggesting stronger bylaws and enforcement. We want to head off what some might see as an easy path and strongly urge addressing the root cause – a lack of facilities.
The measure of us as a community is how we treat our weakest members.
Community Action Team,