A dignified place to do business

The aim of a new set of public washrooms is to offer people downtown a reliable and dignified place to relieve themselves, a necessity taken for granted by many who have never gone without.

The new public washroom at 715 Main St. next to Whaka Pimadiziiwii Pinaysiiwigamic (Circle of Life Thunderbird House) will open its doors on May 30.

The three-storey facility made from repurposed shipping containers stacked on top of one another was designed by Wins Bridgman of BridgmanCollaborative Architecture firm.

“When you look at this building, please, look at it as an opportunity.

“When you look at this building, please, look at it as an opportunity,” Bridgman said during the May 17 opening ceremony.

The building’s narrow and tall frame stature, which is sure to have caused many to imagine a floorplan nothing short of Dr. Seussian, is a façade that will host revenue-generating ads that cover operation costs. Also, the city bylaws dictated the building must be a certain height.

The well-lit, sunflower yellow washrooms contain one accessible and three general use stalls. A sink and foot-washing station are located in the main hallway. And more, two urinals are located at the rear of the facility, blocked from each side by the doors of the shipping container, which act as modesty panels.

Bridgman said this public washroom’s harm reduction approach will make it succeed where others have failed. The architect pointed to the building’s floor-to-ceiling garage door windows as a safety measure.

“That way, when something happens – not if something happens – when something happens, we are all there to protect one another… That is the essence of this building,” Bridgman said.

The doors will be open three seasons a year.

Elder Charlotte Nolin gave the facility its Ojibwe name: Amoowigamig.

“I’ve been where my relatives are, homeless. I’ve lived through the systems and the government that put me there. Today I dedicate my life to helping our people in whatever way I can, ”Nolin said during the launch event.

“As we move forward time, we ask all of our relatives – no matter where they come from, what language they speak, what station in live they may have – to come together as human beings.”

Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Center, a community service provider, will staff Amoowigamig from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm daily. The west portion of the facility is dedicated office space for the workers. The objective is to finally open the facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We’re going to provide support to people who need a connection to resources,” Melissa Stone, co-ordinator for Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Center, said.

Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) voiced her commitment to building more public washrooms downtown during the May 17 opening ceremony.

“We will continue until the people have more dignity in the City of Winnipeg, can hold their chins and their heads high and not be humiliated and not be in pain and not be desperate,” Rollins said.

Rollins added that washrooms are a human right – a right the city has failed to provide for some time.

Amoowigamig has cost roughly $ 875,000. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Community Response Fund for Vulnerable Populations provided approximately $ 633,000, and Whaka Pimadiziiwii Pinaysiiwigamic contributed more than $ 241.00 from its Community Foundations of Canada grant.

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community Journalist

Katlyn Streilein is a reporter / photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She can be reached by phone at 204-697-7132 or by email at katlyn.streilein@canstarnews.com


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