City of Toronto to more than double its supply of winter park washrooms

The City of Toronto will more than double its supply of winter park washrooms from 64 to 143 as part of its ongoing response to COVID-19.

City staff are presenting a plan and report to November City Council that will add 79 new winter washrooms across the city on top of the 64 locations typically available. The report comes in response to a request by City Council last month to explore expanding the number of public washrooms available throughout the winter.

Most of the City’s park washrooms are not winterized. Given the resurgence of COVID-19 in Toronto and the increased need for access to outdoor space through the winter months, staff have determined that an additional 28 park washrooms can be kept open. These additional locations were inspected to ensure they can remain open without damage to the infrastructure, and in some cases minor retrofits were made to support winter use. The expanded locations include washrooms at golf courses, fieldhouses and stadiums that are not normally kept open through winter months. Additionally, portable toilets will be deployed to 51 high-use locations where winter activities will occur. Snow clearing will be provided at all winter washroom locations in parks.

Washrooms will be also be available at 47 outdoor rinks once the season begins in late-November, weather dependent. The increase of 79 new locations brings the total number of washrooms available from 64 to 143.

The City maintains 187 park washrooms. Most are closed by Thanksgiving weekend. Seasonal washrooms were not designed or constructed for winter use. Generally, they lack insulated plumbing and sufficient electrical for heating of the building. They must be closed in advance of winter to avoid temperatures that would result in water pipes freezing and bursting.

This report to City Council will also outline potential next steps for undertaking condition assessments and a feasibility study for existing seasonal washroom facilities, which will inform the 2021 Capital and Operating Budget. The cost of the current expansion of winter washrooms, including the rental and cleaning of portable toilets and opening additional washrooms, will be accommodated within the existing 2020 Parks, Forestry and Recreation budget and included in the 2021 budget submission.

Winter accessible public washrooms are also available in community recreation centres, libraries and City-owned buildings throughout Toronto. The City is working to post a comprehensive list and map of locations on the City’s website.

The City will present outdoor options for winter activities in the coming days.

The City had also opened a number of facilities with showers and washrooms for all individuals in need of these services, including those experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable individuals. Portable toilets with hand-washing stations are also available in key locations. Detailed information about these facilities, including hours of operation and amenities, can be found on the City’s website at www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-latest-city-of-toronto-news/affected-city-services/?accordion=washroom-and-sanitation-services.

More information about actions people can take to slow the spread of COVID-19 as well as the latest information about changes to City services is available on the City’s website at www.toronto.ca/COVID19.

Quotes:

“This more than doubling of access to public washrooms in parks throughout the winter will be of great benefit to residents who will want to safely enjoy the outdoors more often. We know the increase in park use during the COVID pandemic will continue and it is essential that the City provide services that support these changes in behaviour.”
– Toronto Mayor John Tory

“I applaud City staff for quickly creating a viable plan to increase access to washroom facilities in our parks. This will help make the winter park experience much more comfortable for all.”
– Councillor James Pasternak (York Centre), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee