CTV News Ottawa
Friday, May 29, 2020
OTTAWA – Parks, green spaces and businesses are open all over the City of Ottawa during the pandemic, but there’s one thing missing, the washrooms.
Public washrooms remain closed everywhere due to COVID-19 and it is causing problems for everyone.
Caroline Bergeron says she was denied washroom access at a grocery store. She then tried six other places with no luck. That is when desperation set in.
“I was begging, I couldn’t do anything, everyone was refusing,” says Bergeron. “I needed to use the bathroom, so I ended up buying a jar at the grocery store and I had to go pee in my car.”
Bergeron says she felt “super embarrassed.” And it’s not the first time she has heard of this happening.
“My three year-old niece had the same story and my sister had to help her go pee in an alley behind a dumpster,” says Bergeron.
Bessa Whitmore is part of the GottaGo Campaign, a citizens group advocating for safe, accessible and clean public washrooms. She’s not happy at how things are being handled.
“Everything is closed down now as you know, including coffee shops,” says Whitmore. “So all of those normal things aren’t available.”
The city has put out-houses in popular areas like Britannia Beach to try to help with the lack of washrooms.
“It’s definitely a shame that public washrooms aren’t available to many people who are homeless, many people on the street, or just people in the community,” says Peter Tilley, Director at The Ottawa Mission. “What do you do if you’re elderly and you suddenly have to go to the washroom and you’re out in public.”
During the pandemic, the lack of washrooms has become a serious health concern.
“When those facilities are gone we have an increase in unhygienic behaviours, we have a threat to public health, and we have a loss of human dignity,” says Epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan.
With city parks now open, some say the washrooms should be too.
Whitmore says, “There aren’t enough public toilets left in the city and things like sports fields and splash pads are just one example.”
Bergeron agrees, “People now go to parks and the public bathrooms aren’t available, what do they do.”