Let’s stop here, on the southeast corner of Whyte Ave and Gateway Blvd, facing north toward the river. Across the street you will see the Whyte Avenue Public Washrooms – a modern glass and brick building with a beautiful mosaic of the tram that used to grace Strathcona’s streets on its south facing wall! Instead of moving on just now, particularly if it’s winter, stand still as we talk about the washrooms, and allow yourself to feel the cold that so many without shelter feel every day.
The washrooms were built in 2012 at a public cost of $536,000 – the city was concerned about inebriated bar patrons using public and private property to relieve themselves after leaving the bars. Initially, they were open 24 hours a day but the hours have been scaled back a bit so they are now closed a few hours after the bars let out.
They have been designed intentionally to have glass walls so that you can see into them – this provides users with a sense of safety and also discourages any negative activity from going on inside. They are only heated to +5C in winter and have no summer air conditioning. Besides serving the after bar crowd, the majority of users are the daytime shoppers and passer-bys.
In December 2019, the city and Boyle Street Ventures began a project partnership to staff the washroom with an attendant. The attendant serves as a host and maintains the facility. Boyle Street Ventures oversees the logistics of the program, including hiring and training the attendant. Positions are all filled by people who have barriers to employment.
OK let’s turn west and walk down Whyte Ave. At Near the end of the block you will arrive at our next stop, Block 1912 Café.