Tag Archives: bathrooms

Sunshine and Good Times

With summer officially kicking of on 12 days, we have been enjoying some great summer weather for the past week. Temperatures around +30 with bright sunshine brings out cyclists, walkers, partiers, moms and kids. The Lilac Festival was crowded on Sunday and the bike paths and cycle track had some minor congestion. There were a couple times, we needed to stop to allow cross traffic from St Patrick’s Island bridge to connect to the River Pathway.

I was encouraged to see that the CMLC east Village restrooms were open and heavily used but as you might expect, two facilities for 75,000 travellers is impossible to manage. I am sure that the Simmons Building and Eau Claire Market drew lots of folks who needed a place to go, if they knew the bathrooms were there and that there is very little stigma for using these private washrooms. Wayfinding is needed for our public washrooms and if we are going to rely on private augmentation signage to those facilities is needed as well.

If you are enjoying East Village and the River Walk, know that there are facilities on the east end of St Patrick’s Island that are well marked and there is no signage directing you to the island (note, it is impossible to access St. Patrick’s Island on foot or bike because of flood prevention work – until 2017).

If you come here and need a place to go, checkout the suggestions above – Eau Claire market (near Prince’s Island, Simmons Building near St Patrick’s Bridge, CMLC high tech facilities in East Village on the River Path near the East Village Experience Centre and St Patrick’s Island)

If you discover additional, accessible, friendly washrooms along the pathways or in a reasonable distance, post them in comments and we will try get them up on the Sit or Squat app.

Help People who Come Here, Have a Place to Go



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Sit or Squat

Whether you live in Calgary or almost anywhere else in North America, you can make a first step at creating accessible public washrooms in your city. The map app ” Sit or Squat” (available at App Store and Google Play) from Charmin.com is a great place to start.

While not all the locations are necessarily ‘friendly’ to all citizens is a question but mothers with children and seniors should feel welcome at any of the locations. You can help build a robust map for your city by downloading and adding public facilities to the database. It all seems quite easy to navigate and I have snooped my familiar haunts and the current map seems accurate.


If you take a look at Calgary, zoom in on the amazing river pathway system and especially  East Village. From well south of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary to well beyond the Pumphouse Theatre there are zero (0) facilities listed. This is the big goal of the YYC Public Loo project – to ensure that our city does what all great cities have and build all season, public washrooms and build a network of citizen supportive businesses who welcome everyone who needs to go.

Next – The GoHere campaign by Crohn’s and Colitis.


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Great Cities

Have you ever found yourself walking, riding or even driving between two points and an imperative biological urge arises? Is the expression ” hold the phone and get a stone” familiar? I am not sure but it seems that as I get older the pressure and urgency and frequency has increased. I know that when I am with young children, the impulse seems to arrive out of nowhere and they “NEED TO GO, NOW”.

In many great cities that we have visited, public facilities are never more than 500 meters apart. They are well maintained, relatively clean and serve as a ‘port in the storm’ for the immediate and compelling ‘perfectly human’ need. Great cities know that when you have to go the pressing need is preoccupying. When you are supposed to be focused on the remarkable scenery, amazing architecture, beautiful landscape and thinking about how much you love this place – the charm is tarnished by unbearable forces bearing down on your urethra.

I know all the available private facilities in a 2 mile radius of the core and am confident enough to enter and relieve myself without feeling additional purchase pressure (McPee) but not everyone has a map app running in their head. Mothers with children, seniors exploring their city, visitors need facilities and waymaking to feel confident in their urban adventure.

Calgary wants to be a great city, in the list of other great cities. We are growing up and out. At 1.2 million residents we are learning together about diversity, walkability, shared resources, diverse economic engines, arts and culture and the importance of design in justice issues but we don’t talk about this important infrastructure. I am not sure if it is willful blindness or a bodily function paranoia but the loo is woefully absent in our planning and design. With nearly 800 kms of shared pathways, we should be planning for more than 800 facilities that are clean, safe and welcoming. In future posts I am going to explore a two pronged approach creating at great city that can say ” When you come here, we have a place for you to go”.


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