August 10, 2015 - 6:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - The long-awaited gender neutral bathroom planned for Riverside Park should be installed this fall, now that staff have figured out a way to heat the standalone washroom during the winter months.
Funding for the universal washroom, aimed at allowing opposite sex caregivers to more easily help clients or family members, was approved under the 2014 city budget, but concerns over the cold metal in winter had council sending staff back to the drawing table in fall 2014.
In November 2014 staff recommended scrapping the current plan because the pre-fabricated Portland Loo would be too cold to use during the winter months. The Portland Loo structure is a standalone, stainless steel facility that offers privacy, safety, and easy cleaning.
Facilities Manager Jeff Putnam says they have since learned the metal container can be heated, making it the top choice of facility once again.
“It’s not going to be room temperature,” Putnam says, adding while the stainless steel toilet seat will be heated, it might be 'uncomfortable' during the winter.
The caregiver washroom will likely be located between Heritage House and the children’s play facilities nearby. The city looked at creating a gender-neutral washroom inside the Heritage House but Putnam says the RCMP took issue with a self-contained washroom that locked in the building, citing it as a safety issue.
Putnam anticipates the project coming to council in September as part of the Riverside Park management plan. Once the project is finalized it will take roughly three months to complete, meaning installation of the washroom could be complete by November.
City council previously approved $120,000 for the washroom. In an effort to improve accessibility in the community, the federal government announced $50,000 in funding at the end of July for the washroom as well.
The heated facilities in the west end of the park will remain open after the gender-neutral washroom is installed, but are not accessible.
Putnam notes the washrooms currently in Riverside Park were constructed 30 to 40 years ago.
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