UPGRADED PARKS

In WARD 7, we have several beautiful parks, but they don’t have toilets, nor shades!

Public toilets are part of the commons, along with street lamps, sidewalks, and roads—segments of the urban environment we expect governments to provide to every citizen using shared tax dollars. The urban commons are shared resources, plain and simple. When the commons work best, we almost don’t notice they’re there. We have places to walk where we need to walk and places to sit where we enjoy sitting and socializing.

But does it matter who provides benefits, so long as those benefits are there for whoever needs them? Some people say yes, it does. If a piece of architecture or infrastructure is in the commons, then any citizen has a right to it—but if it’s in the hands of a private enterprise, then its use becomes a privilege. Access can be granted. Access can be denied.

As people age, they grow fearful of not reaching the toilet in time or of finding a toilet they have always visited shuttered. They stop engaging with their community. They stop walking in the park. They lose out on chance encounters with friends and neighbors. Eventually, they stop leaving home altogether. They don’t stand up and scream that the public toilets have all disappeared. Most don’t even share their concerns with friends.

Whenever the natural needs appear, there are always concerns about how to handle them, and where to go. It`s time to solve this issue that I have heard about over and over again!

A walk at Sandpoint Beach Park – East Beach

Public parks not only make people happier – but they also help to:

  • Reduce aggression and mental fatigue.

  • Reduce violent crime. Contrary to popular belief, parks are not a breeding ground for criminal behavior — they’re a proven and cost-effective impediment to illegal activity.

  • Increase social cohesion when they are well-maintained, and can act as natural gathering places where community stakeholders form stronger social bonds. These ties have been shown to produce safer, healthier neighborhoods.

Safe public restrooms encourage tourism, making people more likely to feel comfortable visiting parks and other city attractions when they know that they won’t have to search all over for a bathroom.

Let’s face it, without public toilets, the parks won’t be much good to any park-goer who needs to use the bathroom, which, at one point or another, is every park-goer.

A view of Wildwood Park, where there is no shade, and no restroom

When we look at parks through the lenses of the environment or public health, the long-term benefits are even greater than the money required to upgrade and maintain them: Safer communitiesStronger social cohesionGreater environmental awarenessHealthier citizensHappier dogs (and dog-owners).

A view of Blue Heron Lake

Public bathrooms are all about mobility. They’re a tool that allows people to move around the city, to stay later and longer, and to go farther.

Once elected, I will make sure that our Parks:

  • Become adequately upgraded, in design, for Social Gatherings (toilets, shades, eating areas, barbecue pits, etc.);

  •  Are carefully maintained;

  • Include a dedicated «Dog Park»;

  • Increase Environmental Awareness (I will sponsor park-wide cleanups that involve everyone within the community).