Toronto plans to add more winter park washrooms across the city this year as Torontonians continue to grapple with a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
City staff are presenting a plan to council this month that will add 79 new winter washrooms across the city on top of the 64 locations that are typically available. The addition would more than double the total amount of winterized washrooms currently available from 64 to 143.
Most of Toronto’s 187 park washrooms are closed by Thanksgiving weekend for the winter season. Mayor John Tory said many of these washrooms are not winterized and could pose problems if left open year-round.
“A lot of the public washrooms that were put into parks were never put there, many years ago, decades ago, with a thought that they would be open in the winter. So as a result, all the pipes under ground leading to those washrooms and all the mechanics in the washrooms are not winterized. So if you kept them open they would freeze up,” Tory told CP24 Friday morning.
But after some inspection staff have determined that an additional 28 park washrooms can be kept open during the winter months.
The expanded locations include washrooms at golf courses, fieldhouses and stadiums.
In addition, portable toilets will be placed at 51 high-use locations where winter activities are planned this season.
Fourty-seven outdoor skating rinks will also open public washrooms once the season begins at the end of the month, depending on the weather. And winter accessible public washrooms are available in community recreation centres, libraries and city-owned buildings across the city.
City staff said the cost to expand winter washrooms will be accommodated within the existing 2020 Parks, Forestry and Recreation budget and included in the 2021 budget submission.
Tory said the city is also planning more outdoor activities for residents to enjoy this winter.
“We’re going to be announcing shortly some additional activities that we’re going to be initiating as a city to keep people healthy and able to be outside exercising and having a good time in the winter as best one can in the pandemic,” he said.