A research project to assess the quality of Ottawa municipally-funded toilets called Flushing Inequality has found them sadly lacking.
Despite being the nation’s capital, Flushing Inequality is the first systematic examination of the availability, accessibility and quality of public toilets in Ottawa.
Using feedback from an advisory committee of community members, the researchers created a comprehensive visual assessment tool to assess the availability, accessibility and quality criteria of a sample of 92 public toilets owned, operated and maintained by the City of Ottawa. (almost 1/2 of the “public-facing” toilets the City operates). The surveys were conducted between December 2015 and February 2016 by a team of five graduate social work students.
To ensure consistency of responses, the research team visited all facilities in pairs during standard hours of operation, Monday to Saturday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.
KEY FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
- While 82% of public toilets in the City of Ottawa are equipped with sanitary waste disposal units, only 4% are equipped with biohazard waste disposal units.
- 63% of public toilets in the City of Ottawa deemed to be “wheelchair accessible” pose at least one accessibility barrier to service users with mobility challenges.
- Only 21% of public toilets in the City of Ottawa are equipped with a gender neutral or family facility
- Although assessed during standard operating hours on weekends and weekdays, at time of survey, 45% of the City of Ottawa public toilets were unavailable for access, either due to seasonal or daily closures.
- Among public toilets located within 100 metres of a transit stop, 25% of these public toilets were closed to the public at the time of survey.
- 85% of public toilets lacked signage outside of the facility to indicate presence of a public toilet.
From the point of view of GottaGo! the study makes it very clear that the city needs more and better public toilets with clear directional signage, and it needs them NOW. Call or write your Councillor and let him/her know that the situation has to change.