Two local organizations lament the lack of public washroom facilities in Sidney.
Both the Sidney Museum and the Sidney Street Market want the municipality to provide more public washroom facilities in the downtown core.
Peter Garnham, executive director of the Sidney Museum, said his organization is concerned about the lack of public washroom facilities in downtown Sidney, especially along the waterfront at Beacon Park.
“This is an issue that arises almost daily at the museum, as people come to the museum looking for public washrooms, and not to visit the museum itself,” he said. “This issue is not unique to the museum either. Local business owners continue to experience an increased demand on their washroom facilities during large public events.”
One of those events is the Sidney Street Market and its organizer, Laurie McDermid, agrees with Garnham about the lack of public facilities.
“It became increasingly more apparent this year, that we have a noticeable lack of public washrooms ¡n downtown Sidney,” she said. “Our crowds cont¡nue to grow and we were constantly being asked to direct people to the closest public facility, which in many cases, was just not close enough.”
Sidney offers seven public washrooms, but only two of them are near the museum or Beacon Avenue: one on Fourth Street near Tanner’s Books, the other at town hall. Opening hours for the former vary. It is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day between April 1 and Sept. 30 and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day between Oct. 1 and March 31. Opening hours are extended during special occasions. Opening hours for the public washroom at town hall run from 8:30 to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays.
“The current public washroom availability is simply not suitable anymore, to reasonably serve the large increase in event attendance and the growing number of visitors and tourist traffic These numbers are only go¡ng to increase,” said McDermid.
Public washrooms are also available at Iroquois and Tulista parks near the ferry terminal to Washington State, as well as the Mary Winspear Centre near Highway 17, the public library in the 10000-block of Resthaven Drive and the nearby Resthaven Park. This said, they are some ways away from downtown Sidney, although the public washrooms at Iroquois and Tulista service the waterfront.
The apparent absence of public washrooms is not the only aspect of Sidney downtown under criticism, as council recently heard criticism about the cleanliness of the area.
“The downtown sidewalks, street gutters and bus shelters are absolutely [grubby] with sea gull droppings, cigarette butts, gum and litter,” said a recent letter to council.
Brian Robinson, Sidney’s manager of public works and parks, said town staff deal with garbage pickup seven days a week. “Bus shelters are inspected first thing in the morning and cleaned as required and garbage receptacles are emptied daily,” he said. “The main streets are swept on Monday and Friday concentrating on the gutter lines with debris from the sidewalks placed along the gutter for píckup.”
He also noted that Sidney may spend some money on dealing with the effects of seagulls. “[But] being a seaside town, this is a challenge that will not be completely eliminated,” he said.
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