Canadian malls add gender-neutral bathrooms to promote inclusivity

TORONTO — Shoppers at one of Canada’s biggest and busiest malls can now use the same bathroom regardless of whether they identify as male or female as Yorkdale Shopping Centre opened its first gender-neutral bathroom.

The Toronto mall is the latest public space to offer such washrooms as schools, restaurants, community centres and other institutions move to be more inclusive.

“The new washroom provides an inclusive option for anyone, including transgender people, people of diverse gender identities and those who may require accompaniment of some kind,” reads a statement from the mall.

The 10-stall washroom has been open to the public for just under two weeks and is in addition to the mall’s seven men’s and women’s washrooms respectively, two family facilities, three nursing rooms and several single toilets.

“Yorkdale strives to offer shoppers and employees the choice to use whichever option is most comfortable to them,” the mall said.

The shopping centre is not the first mall to do so.

Real-estate company Ivanhoe Cambridge, which operates 28 shopping centres across Canada, has had what it refers to as universal washrooms for some time now.

“We identified the need for such facilities sometime ago,” said Roman Drohomirecki, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of retail, as it is the company’s intention to provide shoppers and retail partners with a safe, inviting environment.

Starting with its Vaughan Mills retail outlet north of Toronto in 2012, the company has added 20 universal washrooms at nine of if its properties, he said, and there are ongoing plans for additional facilities at other locations.

“All of our new projects incorporate design-built universal washrooms. All of our renovations or redevelopments call for the addition of universal washrooms beyond our gender specific and family washrooms. In our centres, a universal bathroom is for one single person at the time.”

Cadillac Fairview and Morguard, both which own several malls in Canada, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about gender-neutral bathrooms at their facilities.

Several other public places have incorporated gender-neutral bathroom facilities.

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto also has a non-gender specific washroom with multiple stalls — as do several Canadian restaurants and universities.

Some community centres and swimming pools around the country also boast inclusive changing rooms.

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