• By: Keith Whittier

Where are the Accessible Toilets Ottawa? GottaGo!

Nowadays, the most vulnerable members of our population—children, seniors and persons with disabilities—are in search for clean and safe public washrooms in Ottawa. But Rachel Canham, a Carleton University researcher, is steering the pursuit for public toilets in a whole new direction.

“I feel like while the need for public toilets may not be the most major human rights issue out there, I think it’s one of the most basic human rights,” said Canham.

Canham affirms lacking accessible public washrooms results in detrimental feelings, possibly impacting the physical and psychological health of city residents. Canham’s research revealed a shortage in amenities for those suffering with health issues, such as kidney and Crohn’s disease, could mean increased risk to further physical health ailments. Her report also claims wheelchair accessibility is a big problem.

These concerns have initiated the campaign ‘GottaGo!,’ which seeks to increase no-cost accessibility of eco-friendly public toilets and water fountains; specifically near parks and transit stations. Campaign initiatives focus on developing safe, clean, environmentally sound washrooms that are accessible for residents and tourists of ALL abilities. According to the campaign’s media relations, “the Ottawa police service agrees that toilets located in public or commercial settings can be inclusive and safe environments.”

public toiletOttawa is currently lacking public facilities at transit stations, leaving some Ottawans with the reality of being cramped indoors—a health and disability issue that must be addressed through measures of safety, security and sanitation. Ottawa residents sometimes have no choice but to urinate behind a tree, or wherever they happen to be.

GottaGo! supporters argue this is not acceptable.“Our social habits reflect our progress towards a gracious society.”

The public announcement of Canham’s research, accompanied by a petition containing 1,000 signatures, launched the campaign in Ottawa. Accessibility to public toilets and water fountains, investing in proper signage and regular maintenance, unisexed facilities and increased hours of operation are fundamental goals of the GottaGo! campaign.

The reality is tourists and residents are physically restricted as a result of inaccessible public toilets in our Nation’s Capital.

The struggle towards equality in dignity and human rights appears to have progressed in Canada. Law reform is prevalent and social diversity more widely accepted. But is it possible we forgot the most basic of human needs?

We GottaGo!–before we get caught with our pants down!