Water bottle refill stations and 24-hour public restrooms could be coming to the 900-block of Pandora Avenue if an initiative by the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness makes its way into the city’s 2020 budget. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Victoria considers water refill stations, 24-hour washrooms for 900-block of Pandora Avenue

Initiatives recommended by Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness

Water bottle refill stations, 24-hour public restrooms and new “collaborative spaces” could be coming to the 900-block of Pandora Avenue.

The stretch of busy street is home to one of only a few of the city’s green spaces, but is better known for hosting a large population of Victorians experiencing homelessness.

The block is home to COHO co-operative housing and Our Place Society, one of the largest non-profits serving vulnerable community members in the region. Services range from food and shelter to places of worship, education and health and employment resources.

The 900-block is also home to the Harbour Supervised Consumption Service – a safe injection site and harm reduction hub which includes Island Health’s Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams and related clinical services.

READ ALSO: An honest and open conversation about Pandora Street

At the end of November, Victoria city council approved a request from the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness (GVCEH) asking staff to consider three initiatives for the 900-block during the 2020 budget process: Water bottle refill stations, 24-accessible washrooms and collaborative space making (things like sit-down areas or chairs).

Kelly Roth, executive director of GVCEH, says the suggestions come from consultation with community members, city staff, business owners, residents of Our Place Society and people who live – literally – on the block.

“There’s not really a lot of public access washrooms,” Roth says. “Everybody in the community talked about [washrooms] being an important issue.”

The only 24/7 public toilets in the city are the washrooms at Centennial Square and the award-winning Langley Street Loo, known for winning the obscure prize of Canada’s best restroom in 2012.

The 900-block of Pandora Avenue initiatives are for everyone, Roth emphasizes. She says GVCEH supports welcoming community spaces that encourage connections.

“Homelessness is a social issue, it is not an identity,” she says. “It really is a community and a societal responsibility if we’re going to fix it.”

READ ALSO: Victoria’s Our Place Society celebrates belated 50th anniversary with block party

Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe says council recognizes the need for more restrooms.

“We recognize that the right to washrooms is important,” she says. “Many of us can afford to go into Starbucks, buy a coffee and go into the washroom…but many don’t have that ability.”

Thornton-Joe says city council has to consider things like location, costs of installation and the potential need for supervision – whether that’s security or community-led.

GVCEH’s recommendations for Pandora Avenue will be considered by staff for the City of Victoria’s 2020 budget.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pay cuts, seating charts, COVID screening: How one Sidney venue is bringing back concerts

A growing number of bars and restaurants are welcoming back musicians under COVID-19 precautions

CRD cost estimate study looks at regional housing, transportation affordability

Study paints clearer picture of true cost of living in Greater Victoria

Greater Victoria Point-in-Time count finds over 1,500 people homeless

Capital Regional District says count should be treated as an underestimate

PHOTOS: Small crowd gathers to watch 231-tonne stacker-reclaimer loaded onto barge

The Dynamic Beast barge crane, known for work with Johnson Street Bridge, makes a return

Head of Vancouver Island Regional Library says new branch in North Saanich hands

Area poised to see strong population growth, says director of corporate communication

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Canadians can travel to Hawaii in September; no quarantine with negative COVID test

Travellers will be required to pay for their own tests prior to arriving

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Most Read