Taps turning on in city parks this weekend ahead of schedule

Toronto opened some of its water and washroom facilities at public parks ahead of schedule due to warmer-than-usual temperatures in April.

Currently, 80 per cent of park washrooms are open; the remaining park washrooms will open by Friday.

Drinking water fountains and bottle-filling stations connected to these properties are also being opened; standalone water fountains, like bottle-filling stations and dog bowls, are expected to be ready within the next few weeks.

“Access to facilities such as washrooms, water fountains and other park amenities is critical to ensuring that Toronto’s residents and visitors can maximize their time spent enjoying our parks and outdoor spaces. Opening them sooner is just one of the many ways the City of Toronto is getting back on track,” Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said in a statement.

The City has budgeted more than $180 million annually for all maintenance, staffing, and operation of the more than 1,500 City parks, which includes the opening and maintenance of seasonal park washrooms.

Each spring, it takes crews up to three weeks with overnight and daytime temperatures above zero degrees to open seasonal washrooms to the public. Once there is confidence that the weather will be consistently above freezing, crews get to work opening each washroom in a coordinated and sequenced order:

First, staff go to each site and activate the water sources to facilities, connect individual fixtures (such as toilets, urinals, and faucets), and perform maintenance.

Then, cleaning teams conduct deep cleaning at each site; this includes stocking the washroom with soap, toilet paper, and paper towels.

The washrooms are then open for business. When City staff find that more significant repairs are needed, signs are posted at these sites, letting visitors know that the washroom is temporarily closed for maintenance.

Along with seasonal washrooms, crews are working to open the remaining water facilities in parks, including splash and spray pads (to be open by May 17), outdoor pools and wading pools (June 15), ornamental fountains, community and allotment gardens, and irrigation systems. All remaining standalone water fountains and bottle-filling stations in City parks will be open by May 24, unless more extensive repairs are required, and all remaining outdoor pools will open on evening and weekend partial schedules by June 22. By June 28, all outdoor pools and wading pools will be open on a full schedule.

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