Vancouver civic advisors are calling the attention of the city on an urgent matter.
They want city hall to work with TransLink to ensure that the planned subway line underneath Broadway will have washrooms.
Other than the toilets at SeaBus terminals and West Coast Express, TransLink has no lavatories for riders.
The Seniors’ Advisory Committee has prepared and circulated among other Vancouver civic panels a letter suggesting the inclusion of washrooms at the Broadway subway.
Committee chair Colleen McGuinness is dismayed that there are few facilities for an “absolute necessity for people of all ages and all medical conditions”.
“I have to tell you, if the Hong Kong system can have washrooms, and other large international cities can find a way to provide safe accommodation for people who need to relive themselves, certainly we can do that in Metro Vancouver,” McGuinness told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
The Broadway subway is going to be an extension of the Millennium Line of SkyTrain.
From VCC-Clark Station, it will run on elevated tracks for 800 metres, and then go for five kilometres underneath Broaday. The subway will have six stations, and ends at Arbutus Street.
According to the draft letter of the seniors’ advisory panel, washrooms should also be built in future extensions of the SkyTrain.
“You think of mothers with small children, people who’ve had surgeries or any number of things that could cause them to not be able to become comfortable for the duration of their trip, however long that might be,” McGuinness noted in the interview.
The Dunbar resident said that making riders comfortable also ties in with stated government goals of encouraging people to take transit.
“The thing is that, you know, we’re trying to get people out of their cars,” McGuinness said. “And so if you are going to be in public transit, then you need accommodations. You know, if you’re in your car and you know you’re 20 minutes from home, that’s one thing. If you’re at the SkyTrain and you know that it might be an hour, that’s a different thing.”
She is also unhappy about TransLink’s typical response that there are washrooms in shops and stores near transit stations.
“Why on Earth should that be the responsibility of, you know, a mom-and-pop coffee shop, or that you have to go in and pay two or three dollars to buy a coffee so that you can legitimately use the washroom?” McGuinness asked. “I mean it’s just so wrongheaded.”
McGuinness also said that TransLink’s reasoning that it costs money to build, maintain, and secure washrooms doesn’t wash.
According to her, the subway will involve considerable expense, and that it shouldn’t be difficult to include washrooms.
The Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee was one of the civic panels that McGuinness’ group shared its draft letter.
On September 7, 2017, the disabilities advisory panel passed a resolution calling for washrooms at the Broadway subway. The resolution also suggested that public toilets be considered at all TransLink stations.
The seniors’ advisory committee draft will be discussed next by another civic committee. The matter is included in the agenda Thursday (November 9) of the Children, Youth and Families Advisory Committee.