Departing Saanich councillors Rebecca Mersereau and Ned Taylor may feel they have to go, but they didn’t want to leave council without a little boost for those who really have to go.
The two, who aren’t running for re-election, are behind a report on the need for more public washrooms and drinking fountains in the municipality, especially as Saanich continues to densify.
“You shouldn’t have to buy a cup of coffee to use the washroom, for example,” said Taylor, adding it’s an issue that’s been raised by Saanich residents. “I think the municipality does have a role in providing these facilities to the public free of charge.”
The report says stations for drinking water could be considered for integration into transportation plans, including current work — such as the ongoing Shelbourne Street Improvement Project.
The report, which was backed unanimously by Saanich council this week, says that because an “urban identity” is somewhat new to Saanich, there is no clear strategy for incorporating such amenities into planning or redesign of streets. Mersereau and Taylor want to see a staff report on the subject.
Public amenities such as bathrooms and water fountains “would make our centres and villages more welcoming for people of all ages, allow them to linger [and] generate social interaction” while patronizing local businesses, says the report, which also calls for benches and shelters to protect people from the sun or rain.
“These specific examples also address some of Saanich’s district-wide objectives related to being an age-friendly community, adapting to climate change and helping to prepare us for a future where greater numbers of residents will not have access to their own private outdoor space,” the councillors wrote.
Taylor said washrooms, fountains and shelters deal with “basic human needs.”
“With the increasing impacts of climate change, with the increasing density and the increasing population that we’re expecting in the future, it’s critical that we start planning for these facilities now,” he said. “Our goal is to ensure that this is a priority moving forward.”