Delaying public washrooms frustrates Moncton businesses, advocates for homeless
MONCTON -- The city of Moncton has dropped funding for more public washrooms from its 2020 budget.
The money is being deferred for at least a year and no new restrooms are planned for city parks or trails.
The decision is frustrating those in the business community and advocates for the homeless, who say washrooms are badly needed. Many people in Moncton were hoping to see more amenities, but funding for more public washrooms is not part of the 2020 budget.
"At this juncture, within the budgeting process, funds that could be allocated for public washrooms were not allocated," said Coun. Charles Legere.
It's struck a chord with a downtown business advocacy group that's been hoping for more.
They say the lack of public washrooms means that businesses end up acting as public restrooms.
"It does put a strain on the businesses themselves," said Anne Poirier-Basque, the Downtown Moncton Centre-Ville Inc. executive director.
Legere says the decision was based on a lack of funding and planning.
"I think we need a comprehensive plan in terms of where we're going to install them, what can this look like, and then what are the opportunities acquire additional funding," he said.
It has advocates for the homeless wondering what the options will be as shelters are closed during the day and some public washrooms are closed for the season.
"Not just for them, but for the safety of the community, for health reasons," said Lisa Ryan of the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee. "And really, there's been reports made where, having access to washrooms, it's human dignity and it's a human right."
Ryan says we must take everyone into consideration.
"Looking at the broader picture, as a mom with my toddler being able to access a washroom is important when I'm out in public," Ryan said.
City hall and the Moncton Library are available to use.
Port-a-potties will be installed this winter, however that leaves questions for those with disabilities.
Some believe this is a setback for the city.
"On one hand, we're saying we want the city to grow and we need investors in the downtown and we need people being attracted to come invest in the downtown, but yet we don't have basic needs, let's say," Poirier-Basque said.
Basic needs that many say the city is lacking and want to see more of.
While new public washrooms may not be part of the 2020 budget, Legere did say that doesn't mean we won't see them in the New Year.
It just means a need for more planning and more money before any of that can happen.