Toronto doubles number of open winter park washrooms

The City of Toronto is raising number of open public washrooms from 64 to 143 to help demand through winter

If you’re stuck outside this winter and have to pee, you won’t have to cross your thermal-covered legs or find an available dark alley anymore. Responding to the increased need during the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto is more than doubling its number of open winter park washrooms.

The number of available washrooms will go from 64 to 143. This initiative comes in response to a request by Toronto’s City Council last month.

“This more than doubling of access to public washrooms in parks throughout the winter will be of great benefit to residents who will want to safely enjoy the outdoors more often,” says Toronto mayor John Tory in a press release.

“We know the increase in park use during the COVID pandemic will continue and it is essential that the City provide services that support these changes in behaviour.” 

Most washrooms not winterized

The majority of the city’s 187 park washrooms closed in October, and the dozen or so that remained open had limited hours, some closing as early as 2 pm. Most of the park washrooms aren’t winterized – they lack insulated plumbing and sufficient electrical for heating of the buildings to prevent water pipes from freezing and bursting.

The reopened washrooms have been inspected to ensure they can stay open. The release says that in some cases minor retrofits were made to support winter use.

Some of the reopened park washrooms include high-traffic downtown locations like Bellevue Square Park, Grange Park, Jean Sibelius Square and Trinity Bellwoods, all of which will be open from 9 am to dusk. A full list can be found here.

In addition to park washrooms, washrooms will be open at 47 of the city’s outdoor ice rinks, like Christie Pits, College Park, Dufferin Grove Park and Jimmy Simpson Park. The full list of rinks is here. These open at the end of November.

Portable toilets added

Toronto has also added portable toilets in 51 high-use locations where winter activities will occur, and snow clearing will be provided at all park winter washrooms. 

“I applaud City staff for quickly creating a viable plan to increase access to washroom facilities in our parks,” says councillor James Pasternak (York Centre), who is chair of the infrastructure and environment committee.

With the city experiencing a second COVID-19 wave, it’s harder than ever to get exercise. Walking and hiking in the city’s parks and ravines is one of the best ways to get physically-distanced exercise.


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