Gravenhurst council has approved the rental of a temporary downtown washroom and will have staff look into finding a spot for a permanent one.

Annette Gilan with the Gravenhurst Business Improvement Area (BIA) spoke to council Tuesday looking for help from town staff in writing a grant for money to be used to build a permanent washroom downtown. “A standalone public washroom is a dire need in our community,” she told council. 

Access to the public washrooms at the Opera House, library and the Service Ontario building have been closed to the public since the first lockdown in the spring of 2020. While a porta-potty has been installed behind the Service Ontario building, Gilan said it isn’t a long-term solution. She said that the BIA has heard from residents and visitors who are uncountable using it.

That’s why Gilan and the BIA brought forward the idea to install a permanent washroom. “It is extremely unfair and impractical to expect our small businesses to provide public washroom facilities for visitors,” she said. “Many businesses only have staff washrooms with less than optimal ventilation. Not only is there an added cleaning burden on these businesses, but also concern over potential virus exposure from airborne aerosols.”

She suggested they build the washroom beside the water-filling station on Sharpe Street, which Gilan said is perfect since it’s also easily accessible.

The grant that would help fund the washroom would be through the federal government’s Healthy Communities Initiative, with the application due by June 30th.

“I think a washroom downtown at some point in time is an appropriate investment for the town,” Gravenhurst’s Director of Infrastructure Services Andrew Stacey said, but added that it’s unlikely town staff would be able to find a good spot, do the appropriate research, and finish the grant process in time.

Instead of moving forward with what Gilan proposed, council approved a motion to rent a temporary washroom tailor for $10,000. It was not specified when they will get the trailer, or where it will be located. Stacey said the money will be taken from the town’s infrastructure services operating budget.

It was also approved by council for town staff to work with the BIA to find an appropriate place to construct a permanent standalone washroom and report back to council before work on the 2022 budget begins.