City of Toronto plans for early opening of seasonal park washrooms

2023 April 6

The City of Toronto is tracking weather forecasts, including the continued presence of ground frost, and actively finalizing plans for the early opening of seasonal park washrooms and water fountains this spring.

This spring, the City will activate 128 seasonal park washrooms and more than 700 water fountains which will be available to the public into the fall. Through the winter months, 54 public year-round washrooms in parks as well as washrooms at 47 outdoor rinks are publicly open and available. Portable toilets (porta-potties) are also placed in 46 higher-use winter park locations.

The City budgets more than $180 million annually for all maintenance, staffing and operation of approximately 1,500 parks, including the opening and maintenance of seasonal park washrooms. In 2023, Toronto City Council approved an additional $2.8 million in new investment to ensure seasonal washrooms and drinking fountains in City parks open as soon as weather conditions permit in the spring and stay open later in the fall.

Based on current available forecasts and conditions, staff expect to begin opening the first seasonal park washrooms by mid-April. This would mark one of the earliest-ever openings of seasonal park washrooms. Once the first washroom is open, staff expect it will take crews about three weeks to get all seasonal park washrooms, including any fountains and bottle filling stations that may be attached to those washrooms, open and ready for the public. It will take approximately six weeks from when the first washroom opens for crews to get all other water fountains and bottle filling stations open and tested for drinking.

In order to protect uninsulated seasonal washroom infrastructure (such as water pipes and drains) from damage that could result in costly long-term repairs, and facility closures, certain conditions must be met each spring before crews can get to work, including:

  • daytime and evening temperatures must be consistently above zero degrees (for at least five to seven consecutive days)
  • the ground must be thawed and free of frost around seasonal buildings
  • available weather forecasts must provide confidence that the threat of sustained cold weather has passed

Some service improvements residents and visitors to Toronto can expect to experience this year include:

  • More staff in place, including specialized roles such as plumbers and irrigation technicians, to start opening seasonal park washrooms as soon as temperatures and ground frost allows.
  • Plans for a new online map to make it easier for residents and visitors to find public washrooms and track their open/closed status. The map will be available once seasonal park washroom activation begins.
  • Improved peak season operating hours for park washrooms, open until 10 p.m. this summer, and later for park permits or events that run past 10 p.m.
  • Extended season so that seasonal washrooms and water fountains will be open sooner this spring and later in the fall.
  • New and updated signage that makes operating hours clearer.

Last week, City crews began annual spring clean-up efforts across Toronto. While overall maintenance and litter pickup happens year-round, Parks staff are also actively grooming and preparing parks, ravines, beaches, sports fields, and trails across the city to welcome millions of residents and visitors for spring, summer and fall.

The City annually makes available more than 2,000 water facilities in parks, including washrooms and fountains, wading pools, splash pads, outdoor pools, ornamental fountains, community and allotment gardens and irrigation systems.