LETTER: Lack of toilets a social justice issue on Surrey’s ‘Strip’

Not having accessible toilets is not just an issue of sanitation, but also one of humanity and dignity.

A lack of access to public washrooms is the reality for many people living on the streets – especially on 135A Street in Surrey

The Editor,

Everyone poops – however, the access to publicly accessible toilets or washrooms is not as universal. When one is used to always having a washroom reasonably available, the idea of not having anywhere to go, or possibly being denied access, seems absurd.

This lack of access, however, is the reality for many people living on the streets – especially on 135A Street in Surrey, or “The Strip” as it is known. Not having accessible toilets is not just an issue of sanitation, but also one of humanity and dignity. The problems associated with poor sanitation are all too relevant to the health care system. This problem is a public health crisis. Alongside these health concerns come dignity, self-esteem, and the issue of safety associated with open defecation.

We recently conducted a survey of the area surrounding “The Strip” and found a scarce number of accessible washrooms, and those that existed had long wait times.

When members of the community, including volunteers and persons living on the street, were asked if access to washrooms was a problem, the answer was always a resounding, “Yes.”

What few public toilets are available are often only open during the day with limited accessibility for those living on the streets. Without the basic necessities such as a toilet, showers, or even somewhere to wash up, people living on the streets have many forces working against them.

Never before had the idea crossed our minds of where one goes while living on the streets. However, it became immediately apparent as we spent some time during a clinical placement at NightShift Ministries. Our hope is to bring awareness of this invisible problem.

Exploring the routes other cities have taken to address this problem, such as the Portland Loo and San Francisco’s Lava Mae, will hopefully lead to a solution in Surrey that is agreeable and beneficial to everyone in the community.

Sharing in humanity and contributing positively towards public health are the potential results of this very important issue.

Elliot Burns, Anna Demian, Dawson McCann and Deborah Gibson (Faculty),

Trinity Western University, School of Nursing Students

Just Posted

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

Health and Technology District breaks ground on new building

City Centre 3 is the third of eight planned buildings: Lark Group

Spawning salmon returning to North Delta’s Cougar Creek

It’s early in the season, but the streamkeepers are hopeful it could be a good year for returns

Surrey White Rock Ringette Association ‘excited’ about world championships coming to Lower Mainland

Ringette Canada says the sport has reached record registration numbers

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

Giants serve up major defeat to Pats at Langley Events Centre

On the ice, Vancouver G-Men wrap up home stand with a 10-4 win over Regina Friday night.

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

New chair of Metro Vancouver board is Burnaby councillor

The 40-person board is made up of elected officials from 21 cities and one First Nation

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Most Read