In a bid to comply with a B.C. Human Rights Code amendment last year that added gender identity and expression to areas of protection in the code, the City of Kelowna will be changing some signs on its public washrooms.
Kelowna council unanimously approved a recommendation from staff to adopt what it says would be consistent signage, which would focus on the function of the washroom facility rather than the gender of the person using it. And staff says the signs should express a message that all users are welcome.
“This is an emerging issue across Canada and a number of organizations are modifying their practices and policies to ensure inclusivity, including the creation of gender neutral washrooms,”stated the report to council.
“Previous decisions in Canada have found that everyone has the right to define their own gender identity and to use the washroom that conforms with their chosen identity.”
The city says it has 290 washrooms in public buildings, contracted sites, parks, stadiums and at the airport. A total of 108 are single-stall washrooms.
But the report says the existing signage and messaging is “inconsistent.”
Twenty-two of the washrooms—all in parks and stadiums—do not have any single-stall options and the Rutland Fire Hall does not have a single-stall washroom at all.
“Universal spaces are beneficial to everybody, including users with accessibility needs, parents with young children, or other individuals regardless of gender identity,” says the staff report.
“(They) allow caregivers of adults with various cognitive impairments, including dementia, to accompany and assist the individual in a private space. This change benefits all residents and visitors and helps to ensure that public spaces and workplaces are accessible and inclusive.”
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