Toronto announces plans to have park washrooms open up earlier this spring

The washrooms in Ashbridges Bay Park are not yet open. As the sign (inset photo) indicates, they are usually open from May to October. However, the City of Toronto announced last week it is hoping to open them earlier this spring, dependent on the weather.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The City of Toronto has announced plans for an early opening of seasonal park washrooms and water fountains.

In a news release on Thursday, April 6, the City of Toronto said that beginning this spring until fall, there will be 128 seasonal park washrooms and more than 700 water fountains available to the public.

The City of Toronto allocates about $180 million for all maintenance, staffing and operation of approximately 1,500 parks annually. This includes the opening and maintenance of seasonal park washrooms, the news release said.

Earlier this year, Toronto Council approved $2.8 million in additional investment to ensure seasonal washrooms and drinking fountains are available to the public as soon as the weather permits them be opened.

Based on the available weather forecast, this year, staff are expecting the earliest ever openings of park washrooms—around mid-April.

The washrooms are also expected to be open till later in the fall than usual. This extension also comes with improved peak season operating hours for park washrooms (open until 10 p.m. this summer) and for park permits and events that run past 10 p.m.

It will take about three weeks to get all seasonal park washrooms, fountains and the attached bottle filling stations open and ready for public use. The entire process will take about six weeks and is dependent on weather conditions.

Last week, the City of Toronto began its annual spring clean-up. During this period, parks staff groom and prepare parks, ravines, beaches, sports fields, and trails across the city.

Before crews can begin working, however, conditions need to be met to help protect the uninsulated seasonal washroom infrastructure from costly damage that can lead to facility closure. These conditions are weather dependent which is why the City of Toronto is “tracking weather forecasts, including the continued presence of ground frost,” according to a press release.

For example, daytime and evening temperatures must be consistently above zero degrees for at least five to seven consecutive days. The ground must also be thawed and frost-free so weather forecast must show signs that the cold season has completely passed.

This year, there will be more specialized staff such as plumbers and irrigation technicians in place to ensure the washrooms are open in a timely manner.

Once the washroom activation begins, new maps will be available online making it to make it easier for residents and visitors to find public washrooms and track their open/closed status.

More than 2,000 water facilities in parks are made available by the City of Toronto every year. These include washrooms and fountains, wading pools, splash pads, outdoor pools, ornamental fountains, community and allotment gardens and irrigation systems.

Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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