By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The City of Toronto has completed its earliest-ever spring opening of seasonal park washrooms with the activation of 122 locations this week. This brings the total amount of year-round public washrooms to 174.
There will be six more park washrooms added later on, however, they remain closed for repairs or planned construction at the moment and will open as soon as possible, according to a City of Toronto news release on Friday, May 5.
The activation includes drinking water fountains and bottle filling stations connected to these washrooms.
The city plans on opening about 750 standalone drinking water fountains and bottle filling stations in parks by May 26. All fountains will be tested for water potability upon activation.
Before crews could begin working on opening these facilities, certain weather dependent conditions needed to be met to help protect the uninsulated seasonal washroom infrastructure from damage that can lead to closures.
Although many of the washrooms are officially open, city staff continue to monitor the weather and plan for overnight frost conditions as temperatures must be consistently above zero degrees for at least five to seven consecutive days to prevent costly repairs.
In the May 5 news release, Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park) thanked city staff who have been monitoring these conditions and working on opening the washrooms and water fountains in record time since mid-April.
“Extending the availability of our seasonal park washrooms is key to ensuring Toronto residents get the most out of their parks,” said McKelvie. “Their efforts help ensure we can all fully enjoy our parks as early in the year as possible.”
The City of Toronto’s 2023 budget included an additional $2.8 million to ensure seasonal washrooms and drinking fountains become active as soon as spring weather conditions permit, remaining open until later in the fall.
In addition, the city is also opening more than 2,000 water facilities in parks. This includes splash and spray pads which open on May 20 and will be activated by many of the same crews and staff that open washrooms and water fountains.
There will also be outdoor pools and wading pools which open on June 30; ornamental fountains; as well as community and allotment gardens and irrigation systems, says the news release. All these activities are expected to run until the end of June.
During this period, 10 outdoor pools are expected to open on an evening and weekend partial schedule beginning on June 17 while the remaining 49 outdoor pools open on June 24.
The City of Toronto budgets more than $180 million annually for all maintenance, staffing and operation of approximately 1,500 parks, including the opening and maintenance of seasonal park washrooms.
To learn more about the daily status of washrooms, drinking fountains, bottle fillers and dog fountains, visit www.toronto.ca/ParkWashrooms
Amarachi Amadike’s reporting for Beach Metro News is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.
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