Washroom attendants in two downtown parks starting in May
The City of Calgary is launching a Downtown Washroom Attendant Pilot Project this spring in two busy parks—Olympic Plaza and Century Gardens.
"To make downtown a place that fosters connection and brings people together, we must improve the safety of our public spaces,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek. “I'm excited for this pilot project to take shape as these washrooms will be more accessible, clean, and safe for everyone."
The City is partnering with Alberta Alliance Who Educate and Advocate Responsibly (AAWEAR) for this pilot. AAWEAR will hire, supervise and train the washroom attendants.
“AAWEAR is excited to be partnering with The City of Calgary on this pilot project, which is geared towards increasing safety in our parks for all citizens,” said Kathleen Larose, AAWEAR executive director. “This washroom attendant project will expand the continuum of care for community members who currently face barriers to paid work. This is a project that will benefit the entire community by making the washrooms more accessible, inclusive and safe.”
AAWEAR’s Calgary peer outreach team has been helping people navigate the web of resources, drawing from their own lived experience, since 2004. This project will create connections amongst service providers and the people in need of services. All AAWEAR staff members are either people who come from lived or living experience of mental health, substance use and houselessness, and/or individuals who are empathetic to the cause. AAWEAR’s impact in the community has created pathways to essential care and employment. This project is an ideal continuation of that work.
Starting May 8 until mid-October, attendants will report incidents and provide light cleaning and litter pickup daily at both parks from 10 am until 9 pm, except during ticketed events like festivals. Attendants will also have information about community resources on hand to share with the public as needed.
Olympic Plaza and Century Gardens were chosen for this pilot due to their central locations, existing public washrooms, past incidents and data collected from emergency services, City staff and outreach groups such as the Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP) team.
“The City wants these public washrooms to be a welcoming space for everyone,” said Carmen Hindson, manager of Centre City Parks Operations. “The City of Edmonton operates a similar program which has been successful at reducing incidents and repair costs for public washrooms. We want to test out if having attendants helps improve user experience of these washrooms.”
The pilot project, funded in part by the Government of Alberta, is expected to cost up to $600,000. Information about incident trends and feedback will be collected throughout the pilot by The City and AAWEAR. Once the pilot wraps up in October, results and the potential for sustainable funding will be discussed to determine if the program will be extended.
Citizens are encouraged to visit Calgary.ca/washroomattendant for more information and to contact 311 with questions or comments.