Press Release: GottaGo! Campaign Letter to the City of Ottawa Mayor and Councillors to include public toilets as essential public health infrastructure in the current 2020-2021 budget considerations

November 2, 2020

The GottaGo! Campaign is asking the City of Ottawa Mayor and Councillors to adopt a policy to include a network of safe, clean and accessible public toilets as part of essential public health infrastructure. The letter, co-signed by 29 organizations, associations, coalitions and individuals across the city, attests to the broad public support for this proposal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that public toilets are fundamentally a public health issue, while providing an unfiltered look into the highly inadequate situation of public toilets in Ottawa. Access to public toilets is a basic human rights and everyone needs a place “to go” with dignity. Other cities in Canada (Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal, Nelson, Smithers and Victoria) offer models for how to do this. The City of Ottawa needs to provide safe, clean, and accessible public toilets to serve the needs of people and in particular the vulnerable populations. Relying on local businesses and coffee shops to fill the gaps is not a realistic expectation and, furthermore, it is not working.

We are asking the City of Ottawa Mayor and Councillors:

  • to put up signage for existing public toilets (parks, public and commercial buildings) and make it available on the city’s website,
  • to provide subsidies to businesses to open their toilets to the public (e.g. Nette Toilette, Germany, Community Toilet Scheme, UK and Highland Comfort Scheme, Scotland) and
  • to install stand alone permanent public toilets in strategic locations where there are no nearby public toilets (for example: parks; Park and Ride locations; and high pedestrian traffic areas).

There is also the cost of not having public toilets. Many people hesitate to go outdoors risking their physical and mental wellbeing because of the lack of public toilets. There are also the ongoing costs of cleaning human waste in alleyways, streets and parking garages.

We urge the City of Ottawa Mayor and Councillors to take a much needed leadership role in making a network of public toilets part of our essential public health infrastructure. Such a policy is a most tangible way to show that Ottawa is indeed a world class, liveable city.

Co-signers of the letter:

  1. ACORN, Ottawa-Gatineau
  2. Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa (54 member organizations)
  3. Bank Street BIA
  4. Bike Ottawa
  5. Briargreen Community Association
  6. Byward Market BIA
  7. Cetretown Community Association
  8. City for All Women Initiative (CAWI)
  9. Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres (13 community health centres)
  10. Council on Aging
  11. Councillor Catherine McKenney, Somerset Ward
  12. Crohns and Colitis, Ottawa
  13. Crystal Beach-Lakeview Community Association
  14. Ecology Ottawa
  15. Federation of Citizens’ Associations (136 member associations + 2 civic associations)
  16. Glebe Annex Community Association
  17. Glebe Community Association
  18. Healthy Transportation Coalition
  19. Heron Park Community Association
  20. Joel Harden, MPP, Ottawa Centre
  21. Katimavik-Hazeldean Community Association
  22. Lowertown Community Association
  23. Manotick BIA
  24. Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition (16 aboriginal organizations)
  25. Ottawa Disability Coalition (18 member organizations)
  26. Shepherds of Good Hope
  27. Social Planning Council of Ottawa
  28. Somerset West Community Health Centre
  29. The Well

For more information, contact GottaGo!:
Email| [email protected]
Twitter & Facebook| @GottaGoCampaign
www.ottawapublictoilets.ca