All-Gender Washroom Renovations to be Completed this Summer

June 8, 2020 - 5:15am

From the Library Services Team  

We are excited to share that renovations to create the first multi-stall all-gender washrooms on the VIU Nanaimo campus are now underway and expected to be completed this summer. The washrooms will be in the high-demand, high-traffic area in the 24/7 Library Commons behind Starbucks!

As communicated previously, after careful consideration, we elected to combine the three existing washrooms and renovate them into a multi-stall, all-gender, universal washroom with floor-to-ceiling, high-privacy walls and doors. The VIU Students’ Union, The Positive Space Alliance, Facilities Services and Campus Development department, Human Rights and Respectful Workplace Office, Disability Access Services and the Universal Access Committee were all engaged in the design process, providing critical insights and perspectives.

Gendered bathrooms will remain available on all floors of the Library. During renovations, those needing an accessible or single-use washroom can access these on the second floor of B305, and signage and directional maps will be posted. People needing to use a ceiling lift during the renovations may access the all-gender washroom in the cafeteria (Building 300).

Background

"Welcoming and Inclusive Spaces” is the first objective in the Library’s 2018 strategic plan. Throughout the plan’s extensive consultation process, demand for washroom improvements in the library and 24/7 Library Commons was made clear by the VIU community. Accessibility, privacy, fit and finish, and additional space were top concerns. The existing washrooms behind Starbucks had inaccessible and inefficient layouts, including entry doors that opened into traffic flow.

In 2019, we were able to respond in part to these concerns, with the introduction of a provincially-funded, single-occupant universal washroom in the 24/7 Library Commons. The forthcoming renovations will further respond to community feedback, reflect the Library’s strategic plan more generally and incorporate universal design principles.

All-gender washrooms can be used by anyone, regardless of their gender identity or presentation. The washrooms provide:

  • Provide dignity and privacy for people of all abilities, including those with disabilities, who may require assistance or an attendant.
  • Are an important part of making the campus safe, accessible and welcoming for those who don’t feel safe or welcome in washrooms designated only for men or women.
  • Are intended for use by families with small children.
  • Are increasingly the norm. For example, the University of Victoria, Nanaimo-Ladysmith Public Schools and Simon Fraser University all have at least one multi-stall all-gender washroom.

Next steps

We are excited about these improvements and we hope our community will be too. We acknowledge that the introduction of a multi-stall, all-gender washroom is a first for the campus. We feel it is important to offer this option in one of our busiest buildings – a building the entire VIU community uses heavily. Again, gendered bathrooms will remain available on all floors of the Library.

Our thanks to all who have contributed to the process so far. Please contact research.help@viu.ca if you have questions or concerns.


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