Bathrooms to be inclusive

The City of Kelowna is beginning a process that will make all city operated, single-stall washrooms gender inclusive.

Infrastructure manager Ian Wilson said signage will be changed at city washrooms over the next three to six months to indicate it's an "all-user washroom."

Wilson said a majority of facilities in the city have single-stall washrooms, however, signage is inconsistent. The re-signage will address that inconsistency.

The decision was made after reviewing practices and studies in other cities across the country.

A survey in Vancouver, which he says mirrors others, shows washrooms and change rooms in public recreational facilities are a major issue and barrier for people in the trans community, particularly in regards to anxiety and feeling unsafe and afraid.

"Everyone has the right to define their own gender identity, and use the washroom that conforms with their chosen identity," said Wilson.

Wilson did indicate some parks and arenas do not offer single stall options because they are older facilities.

He did say those solutions will be looked at in the future.

"What the school district has told us is in areas where they have had to do some retrofits, they have looked at developing some stalls within the washroom that provide more privacy."

Wilson says staff discovered universal spaces benefit everybody, regardless of gender.

"It's not just around gender with accessibility needs, it's parents with young children, caregivers with adults with cognitive impairments.

"That is one of the key things we found. So, having more consistent messaging we see as a benefit."

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