Ross Turchyn says more than 100 people live in shelters along the 900 and 1000 blocks of Pandora Avenue, but says the City of Victoria has long overlooked a basic need.
“It’s actually surprising that the city hasn’t done this before,” he says. Turchyn, who is unhoused, applauds the city’s ask to the provincial government to provide a temporary washroom facility at or near the 900 block but questions why the city has waited too long to act.
“It makes me angry. As a homeless person living in different parks, we’ve had things like the city locking the public bathrooms overnight.”
Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto and councillors Krista Loughton and Dave Thompson are presenting a motion at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting that, if passed, would see the mayor write to the Provincial Ministers of Housing, Social Development and Poverty Reduction, and Health to pay for the temporary facility.
“The question that we put to the province, or will put to the province if this motion passes is a request to provide the facility but an operator for the facility or at least funds to operate the facility,” says Alto.
“Temporary” means a step up from a port-a-potty but not permanent like a permanent facility on Langley Street, between Yates and View streets.
Some among the city’s unhoused community think the idea of a public washroom is good in principle, but will be difficult to keep safe and sanitary.
“It would be a total mess,” says a man named Laszlo. “I like the idea of being able to stop and relieve myself, but there would be a lot of stuff going on, the drug use and stuff like that.”
In a statement, the Ministry of Housing says, “The City of Victoria is encouraged to work with The Province, through BC Housing, to discuss a public washroom to meet the need on Pandora Avenue.”
For now, there is a urinal in the 600 block of Pandora Avenue as well as a washroom the Langley Street.
Whatever the outcome in council chambers, Ross will have to hang on a little longer. “I expect it will go around and around for another three to six months,” he says.
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