Permanent washrooms at Rotary Park and other park facilities throughout the city are still closed. Portable toilets have been installed at these locations.

Permanent washrooms at Rotary Park and other park facilities throughout the city are still closed. Portable toilets have been installed at these locations.

Potty shortage forcing residents to take extreme measures

It may not just be bears and other critters pooping in the woods of Red Deer.

It may not just be bears and other critters pooping in the woods of Red Deer.

I received a copy of a letter in the mail the other day from “A Citizen With Kids and Grandkids.”

It was addressed to the city’s thrones keepers — the mayor and council.

“This is a plea to have at least one Porta Potty placed in each and every park, play space, soccer field, baseball field and exercise park in the city.”

Unfortunately, for those who share a similar sentiment, City of Red Deer Parks manager Trevor Poth confirmed Wednesday that there are no plans this year to add any more bathrooms to any city facilities.

Citizen writer outlined a number of scenarios that could be resolved with more bathroom facilities, and suggested maybe corporate sponsors and community associations could help solve the problem. This brings to mind the Adopt A Highway or Adopt A Park programs. Adopt A Pot has a nice ring to it.

Some of the scenarios the writer noted:

l You have a five-year-old at soccer or T-ball along with a three-year-old in tow. If one has to go potty “you pack them up and head to the nearest place, which may or may not let you use the facility.”

l You are 80 and you won’t walk the three blocks to an exercise park “because you know you are going to have to use the potty by the time you get there.”

l You are with your slo-pitch team, it’s hot outside so you have been drinking a lot of water.

Citizen writer outlines “things that have happened when no potty is around. (This gets a little graphic.):

l One father held his child over a garbage can while the child defecated in the can.

l Mom brings a potty chair. Once the child has used it, it in the nearest bush, no matter what it is.

The writer concedes that vandalism might be a problem. “… you could ask the community association if they could keep an eye on the Porta Potty.”

Poth said the city as whole gets requests for washroom facilities that relate to various departments. For example, it also gets requests from transit users for washroom facilities.

“The city doesn’t have a formal policy on the provision of washrooms but we do … a pretty fair job at accommodating washrooms across the community,” he said.

“We’ve got 2,100 hectares of park space through the city and so how to facilitate an appropriate allocation of washrooms, it’s done very much on a regional basis. So we do actually have a lot of washroom complexes in our park nodes through the Waskasoo Park for example.

“The challenge that we’re faced with is a lot of those are either shallow water servicing with no heating in those buildings or they’re an outhouse-type facility and unserviced washroom.”

For the Parks Department, this is the challenging “shoulder season” where the city can’t open washrooms until the ground thaws.

There are portable toilets in high-use areas such as Bower Ponds, and a number of contractors in the park system, such as at Heritage Ranch, maintain publicly accessible washrooms, Poth said.

It would be a challenge to put a washroom every two or three kilometers along the trail system, and to get a vacuum truck in. The community does have decent washroom provisions in the well-developed urban areas, such as all of rec facilities, City Hall, the public library, Poth said.

“There are some washroom opportunities out there.” If you know you are going to need one, maybe plan around these areas, he suggests.

Poth said they get these complaints every year, but most come in the spring when people are anxious to start using parks and playgrounds.

The city is working on its Integrated Mobility Playbook, and looking at possible amenities along mobility routes. “I know that washrooms will certainly come up in that.”

As for what goes on when there’s no washroom available in the parks, Poth said people are asked to pack out everything they pack in. “It would be our expectation that people aren’t using the woods to go to the washroom.”

Just in case that’s not happening, last word goes to the letter writer — “I hope to see a Porta Potty in my park soon!”

Power to the potty people.

barr@www.reddeeradvocate.com

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