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City looks to partner with downtown social agencies for more public washrooms

The city is going to work with three downtown social service agencies in an attempt to increase access to public washrooms downtown.

City social planning manager Chris Bone presented four options to council, ranging in cost from the $36,000 for the option chosen to $77,250 to open the washrooms at the Canada Games Plaza from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, with an experienced and skilled monitor on-site during operating hours.

However, council decided to go with the less expensive option to “enhance access to washrooms located in selected downtown service provider locations by providing funding to enable dedicated monitoring services.”

Recommended sites would include St. Vincent de Paul, Positive Living North (Firepit), and AWAC. Under the plan, service providers would continue to cover all operating and maintenance costs.

Currently, washrooms at these locations are available for use. However, access is often dependent upon the ability of staff to effectively monitor use. The one-time grant is intended to offset costs associated with the placement of a monitor during peak access hours.

Agencies would be encouraged to utilize a client/peer employment model.

The anticipated cost represents one time grants of $12,000 per organization to pay for increased monitoring services, while at the same time building community capacity to provide trained and experienced peers to provide attendant services at other locations.

The other options included enhancing services at the Prince George Public Library, at a cost of $63,965 or partnering with Downtown Prince George to develop and implement a grant program providing incentives to businesses to enable inclusive public access through bathroom design upgrades and the engagement of experienced and skilled on-site monitors.