Shannon Nakatsu, acting president of Layritz Little League, stands outside one of the diamonds at the park, with the now closed washroom in the background. (Dan Ebenal/News Staff)

‘They pee in the bushes’: Washroom closure a problem for Island ballplayers

Questions of safety around nearest washroom mixed with septic system issues causing problems

There’s no relief in sight for ballplayers at Layritz Park in Victoria.

Since the washroom facilities at the park were closed a couple years ago, the players using the half-dozen ball diamonds at Layritz have had to make the trek along a trail through the bush to the new washrooms put in at the Prospect Lake soccer pitch.

“We have kids from the age of three and four all the way up to teenage years,” said Mark Ward, who coached at Layritz from 1988 to 2014. “A lot of them don’t bother going to that washroom. They pee in the bushes.”

Ward said it isn’t so much a question of distance, as the Prospect Lake washrooms are only a couple hundred metres from the diamonds, but more of a safety issue, as the children have to travel along a trail in a wooded area and would be outside the view of their parents.

Gary Darrah, manager of Saanich Parks planning and development, said the washrooms were closed due to concerns with the septic system.

“That septic system in there must have been at least 40 years old, our maintenance guys reckoned, and it had just stopped functioning,” said Darrah.

Compounding the situation was the proximity of a nearby grove of Garry oaks.

“[Replacing the septic field] would have meant quite a bit of disturbance, in fact we probably would have lost some Garry oaks. We were reluctant to do that, given that we were working with the Prospect Lake soccer folks on a better alternative.”

Complicating matters is the sewer enterprise boundary running right through the middle of the park, meaning while the Prospect Lake facility is connected to sewer, facilities on the other side of the park are not allowed to hook up to the municipal system.

Shannon Nakatsu, acting president of Layritz Little League, said she has heard an earful from parents and other visitors about the lack of access to washrooms.

“Parents can’t just let their kids walk off to the bathroom,” said Nakatsu. “They’re completely invisible to the naked eye from any ballfield. They’re in behind trees. That’s the bigger issue than the distance.”

While porta-potties have been brought in to the park, she said those aren’t accessible for people with mobility challenge. And youngsters aren’t the only ones unable to make the long trek to the Prospect Lake facilities.

“We saw an older lady walking up to the washrooms that had been existence all those years,” Nakatsu recalled. “She didn’t have the time, or didn’t know to go to Prospect Lake, and she ended up squatting in the bush.”

It’s a situation that’s unlikely to change, as Darrah said there are no plans to construct a new washroom at Layritz.

“If we were to try and provide clear sight lines to every single washroom building in every single one of our parks, it’s just not feasible,” he said, adding the district is currently undertaking a washroom strategy for the entire park system.

“Probably washroom buildings are the No. 1 amenity that the public tend to request. But it’s not feasible to put a washroom in every park,” said Darrah, who didn’t want to put a pricetag on the cost of a new washroom.

“I don’t even want to guess, because if I give you a number that’s the number you’ll remember. Let’s just say they’re probably more expensive than people think.”

Additional ports-potties will be brought in when Layritz plays host to the 2020 Canadian Little League Baseball Championships.

editor@saanichnews.com

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