Burlington residents are flocking to city parks in large numbers and that means all those people need somewhere to go to the washroom.
With summer weather heating up and people anxious to get out with loosening pandemic restrictions, demand for use of park washrooms is skyrocketing.
The need for the outdoor facilities, says Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, couldn’t have been made more clear at popular city parks like Spencer Smith Park and Beachway Park on Victoria Day weekend.
“The washrooms filled up very quickly. . . there were long lineups for the indoor washrooms,” the Burlington mayor told inhalton.com’s Khaled Iwamura. “There were people getting frustrated. We had to call in extra cleaning in the middle of the day when normally we don’t have to, so we know that this is an issue and it’s not just going to be an issue now.”
Ward understands with all the COVID-19 restrictions, parents are looking for safe outdoor activities the family can do and that’s led to increased attendance at city parks.
But that demand will continue even after the pandemic is over and the city must be ready to accommodate increasing numbers.
“Yes during COVID more people are at the parks, but we know with population growth we got lots more people who live in our area in Halton Region,” she said. “We’re not going to get fewer people at our parks.
“We’re going to continue to see growth, so we’re going to have to deal with this washroom issue. I was talking to some of our staff internally about this today.”
In the mean time, Ward says the City has brought in more Porta Potties. It has also made sure to have a cleaning schedule that will allow them to stay on top of things when they fill up.
Still, they need more permanent, decent washrooms, especially at Spencer Smith Park and Beachway.
“We do have a pavilion that has some washrooms, but it’s still being renovated,” Ward said. “That will open soon. It will help, but that’s not enough.”
Ward says the staff brought in double the Porta Potties they had originally planned, but even those filled up.
“So we know we need to get a handle on this, get ahead of this issue and figure out do we need more permanent esthetically pleasing Porta Potties,” she said. “There’s Porta Potties and then there’s state-of-the-art Porta Potties.
“Then there’s bricks and mortar, which is a whole other conversation. We need to address it. It’s great to see people out enjoying our parks.”