This morning the City of Winnipeg held a ceremonial opening for a new public washroom facility located downtown on Main Street that will open later this month.
The official name for the facility is Amoowigamig and it's located at 715 Main Street next to Circle of Life Thunderbird House. Amoowigamig will provide an important amenity and dignity to area residents and members of Winnipeg’s more vulnerable population who will rely on using the facility.
According to the news release, Amoowigamig is expected to be available for public use on Monday, May 30. The City has partnered with Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre to provide staffing and operational support. The facility will be staffed 10 hours a day, from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Staff will be responsible for monitoring the site of the washroom and performing safety checks as needed with those using the facility.
"Every person deserves the right to safe and clean accessible washrooms and not everyone has that," says Councillor Sherri Rollins, Chairperson of the Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services, and Parks. "This project is about providing that vitally important amenity and it’s also about giving dignity and respect to those who will rely on it. This beautiful facility has been built with safety in mind, with ample lighting and safety-graded glass. I am deeply grateful to our partners at Ma Mawi for their role in operating this facility going forward and helping ensure it remains a safe and welcoming space for the community."
For quite some time Councillor Vivian Santos of Point Douglas has heard that there is a need for public washrooms in the core of Winnipeg.
"The negative consequence of this is both evident and damaging," says Santos. "The temporary washroom program has been a valuable resource in this area, and this new permanent facility will give hope and a sense of pride to people who have no other option."
The facility will offer more than just a bathroom.
"I want to first thank Elder Charlotte Nolin for her prayer and ceremony to start this ceremonial event in a good way," says Melissa Stone, Coordinator, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre. "We will be supporting individuals through an Indigenous and harm reduction lens for connections to resources, harm reduction supplies, washrooms, a foot-washing station, and freshwater.”
The facility will be staffed by up to five Indigenous persons for 10 hours a day to start. Damon Johnston, the Chairperson of Circle of Life Thunderbird House shares that he is looking for funding to staff the facility 24/7 as soon as possible.
"We know that the demand is there for that type of service," says Johnston.
The Council-approved budget for the project was $874,289. $633,087 of the budget was funded by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Community Response Fund for Vulnerable Populations. A grant of $241,202 was contributed by Circle of Life Thunderbird House, funded by the Community Foundations of Canada on behalf of the Government of Canada.