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Public defecation has become a growing issue in the city of Courtenay on Vancouver Island, prompting city councillor Wendy Morin to propose a motion to address the problem. Morin views the issue as a public health concern and is advocating to Island Health and the province for support. The motion, to be heard at a council meeting, will direct city staff to request a meeting with Island Health to discuss the health impacts of the lack of adequate and accessible washrooms. Additionally, discussions regarding capital and funding for a 24-hour washroom facility in the downtown area will take place.

Morin emphasizes that access to proper sanitation and hygiene is a matter of dignity for the unhoused individuals in the community. Many of those impacted are seniors and individuals with disabilities, making it even more crucial to address the issue. The lack of access to functioning washrooms not only affects the unhoused population but also impacts businesses and residents in the area. Human waste has been found outside businesses and residences, causing disruptions and health hazards. While there are public washrooms available during the day, none are open at night due to issues with vandalism.

Island Health has acknowledged the upcoming motion and has reached out to Morin directly. The health authority currently provides access to washrooms during operating hours for individuals accessing their services. However, it is not within their mandate to fund, provide, or staff public washroom facilities. Island Health is open to further discussions with the appropriate partners once the motion is endorsed by Council and they receive formal correspondence. According to Morin, the city has identified 272 unhoused individuals, highlighting the urgency of the situation and the need for action.

The proposed 24-hour washroom facility in the downtown area aims to address the public defecation issue and provide essential services to the unhoused population. Morin and other city councillors are committed to finding a solution that prioritizes the health and well-being of all residents. By collaborating with Island Health and exploring funding options, the city hopes to create a safe and sanitary environment for everyone in the community. Businesses and residents have expressed support for the initiative, recognizing the importance of having accessible washrooms to prevent further sanitation issues and promote public health.

As the motion moves forward, city council will continue to work with Island Health and other partners to develop a plan of action. The goal is to secure the necessary resources and support to establish a 24-hour washroom facility that meets the needs of the community. By addressing the root causes of public defecation and providing proper facilities, Courtenay can create a more inclusive and hygienic environment for all residents. The collaboration between local government, health authorities, and community members demonstrates a shared commitment to improving the quality of life in the city and addressing critical public health concerns.

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