Toronto will more than double its supply of winter park washrooms

The City of Toronto and CSI are working together to facilitate a set of meetings between homelessness experts and social entrepreneurs. Our Homelessness and Hygiene lab was created with the goal of of building a socially responsible, community based solution to the issue of hygiene in homeless encampments. The months since the COVID-19 have seen an increase in the number of homeless encampments across the city, encampments that do not have access to washroom facilities, laundry, or clean water.

In the warmer months, the City of Toronto maintains 187 park washrooms. But because most of them were not designed or constructed for winter use, they can lack insulated plumbing and sufficient electrical for heating of the building to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. So all but 64 of them are usually closed by Thanksgiving weekend.

This year, however, City staff have determined that an additional 28 park washrooms can be kept open with minor retrofits 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. 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 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.

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