June 7, 2021
Dear Mayor Tory and Toronto City Council,
We are writing in support of the city providing portable washrooms and sinks in City of Toronto Parks. During the COVID-19 pandemic we continue to see people using public space like never before. The importance of public space cannot be understated. It is essential for physical, mental, and spiritual health. It is a place where we can be together with friends and family safely or be alone with others. It’s also a space of survival.
While many people are discovering the benefits of public space, we are also seeing how our current public washroom infrastructure is inadequate to meet the needs of our housed and unhoused community members. People of all walks of life are relying on washrooms in public parks to relieve themselves in absence of the ability to do so in fast food restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, and community centres. The absence of a robust network of public washrooms in this City means that people are using alleyways and parks as places to go. Not only is this an issue for park users, this is a serious public health issue.
The lack of public washroom access makes navigating public space difficult or impossible for people who have chronic health conditions, people who are elderly, people who are pregnant, and families with children. During this time of crisis, we have seen how public space is social infrastructure that is flexible enough to support a variety of activities and needs. We must also ensure that community members (both housed and unhoused) have access to basic sanitation and washroom infrastructure.
Toronto Public Space Committee