At Monday’s Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee recommended that the Accessible Washroom in Victoria Hall be left open. Currently, it is locked but a key is available upon request. It seems the EDI committee felt that it was asking a lot of potential users to go ask for the key. Brent Larmer explained that it was locked to minimize an abuse of it – there have been cases where someone would lock themselves in and stay for an excessive amount of time thereby denying access to others. Since it has been locked, usage has actually increased. However, despite this, Councillor Beatty moved that the EDI Committee’s recommendation be followed and that the washroom be left open.
Brian Darling said that leaving it open was a “Health and Safety” issue since someone could be using drugs and no-one would know. Or they could be just lying down and denying access to others. His position was supported by Suzanne Séguin – she noted that there are other places where a key is required. Councillor Emily Chorley said that improvements were needed in this washroom. Councillor Beatty was unmoved and said that an open washroom was a basic human right.
The vote to remove the requirement for a key was passed 4-3 with Councillors Nicole Beatty, Emily Chorley, Aaron Burchat and Adam Bureau in favour. Mayor Henderson, Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin and Councillor Brian Darling supported Staff’s recommendation to continue to require a request for a key.
Councillor Darling then asked staff to keep track of incidents where being unlocked caused a problem.
CAO Tracey Vaughan agreed with Councillor Chorley and commented that the facility needs to be reviewed and implied there would likely be Capital required.
At the regular Council meeting on 22 August, Councillors voted the same way except for Mayor Henderson who changed to now want the washroom unlocked. So the motion was confirmed 5-2.