It sure would be good to have more city washrooms open in the winter.
That observation and a request came in a letter to the City of Salmon Arm last month from the Health, Wellness and Life Skills program of the Shuswap Association of Community Living.
Signed by James, Lauren, Joseph, Kathleen, Jannet, Brad, Diane, Julie, Ben, Robert and Adam, the letter states they sometimes need to use the facilities when they go out on walks.
“If the washrooms are not open so we can use them, then we have to go back to our program on Hudson Avenue or use other washrooms,” they write, pointing out it can be difficult.
“We think keeping the bathrooms open all year round is good for everyone in Salmon Arm. Some city bathrooms that are closed that affect us are: Blackburn Park, McGuire Lake, Wharf parking lot and Canoe Beach.”
They say they realize it costs a lot of money to keep all the washrooms open year round, so could at least the washrooms at McGuire Lake and the Wharf parking lot stay open all winter.
Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, told the Observer that the Ross Street Plaza washroom is the only washroom that was designed for winter use and is open year round.
He said the other city washrooms are not capable of being open in winter because of no heat in the buildings and a high rate of vandalism during periods of low use.
“The mechanical rooms have a baseboard heater to take the chill out of the air; however, the washrooms themselves were designed and constructed to be seasonal use and have no means of maintaining temperatures above freezing in the winter months,” he says.
He says keeping them open year round would mean high costs to upgrade them with insulation and electric heat, staff time to maintain them, additional utility costs as well as after-hours security to make sure they’re empty and the doors are secure.
Mayor Nancy Cooper echoed Niewenhuizen’s view, and added that in the 2018 budget, council approved keeping the pit toilet along the nature trail at the foreshore open year round.