Father of child with disability suggests outdoor bathroom, other facilities aren’t truly accessible

Father of child with disability suggests outdoor bathroom, other facilities aren't truly accessible
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A local Victoria resident and the father of a child with cerebral palsy is raising a concern that facilities in the city — including a new outdoor toilet — are being labelled as accessible when they actually aren’t.

David Willow is raising this concern after the City recently voted and approved plans for a new outdoor public washroom to be installed near the corner of Broughton and Douglas streets downtown.

On Thursday, Victoria councillors unanimously agreed during a Committee of the Whole meeting to spend $400,000 on what is being described as a universally accessible public washroom — similar to one that already exists on Langley Street.

According to Willow, these outdoor toilets don’t meet the basic requirement of a universally accessible washroom under the BC Building Code.

“The most simple and obvious issue is there’s no sink. For many people with disabilities, a sink is necessary for cleaning up,” Willow tells CHEK News. “For my son, after we have changed him, we may need to wash our hands.”

Willow’s son Nick has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair and he says that the outdoor toilets are not fully equipped for his accessibility requirements.

“For people who have other disabilities or other medical conditions, such as those who use colostomy bags, they need a place where they can keep some of their equipment, shelves where they can place their equipment while they’re conducting their business,” he noted.

The other concern that Willow is raising is that the plans for the new outdoor toilet were only forwarded to the City’s Accessibility Advisory Committee earlier this week, only a few days before Council voted on the concept.

“The City of Victoria needs to start addressing fundamentally how they address accessibility. This washroom from my understanding was only ever forwarded to the city’s own Accessibility Advisory Committee for information and they were never asked to comment on it,” stressed Willow.

“Until the city starts using their Accessibility Advisory Committee to actually provide advice on accessibility, mistakes like this are going to continue to happen.”

As part of the approved project, a new sidewalk and curb bulge will be constructed on Broughton Street, resulting in the removal of two on-street parking stalls while a third parking stall will be converted into an accessible parking stall.

A new curb ramp and improved crosswalk alignments will also be made at Douglas and Broughton intersection and the city will be upgrading the nearby sidewalk, lighting fixtures in the area.

During Thursday’s meeting, councillors expressed “sticker shock” at the cost of the project but felt having another public washroom downtown was not only necessary but beneficial for the city.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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